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Varietal: Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is responsible for some of the world’s finest wines. Famed for producing the red wines of Burgundy and the Côte d’Or in particular, it is now widely grown in cool climates across Califonia and Oregon, and with increasing success in New Zealand. Although typically used to produce varietal wines, Pinot Noir makes a significant contribution in the wines of Champagne, where it is vinified as a white wine and blended with Cardonnay and Pinot Meunier. On the whole, fresh summer fruit of strawberries, raspberries and red cherries tend to be the identifying qualities, however richer versions express darker fruit including black cherries (kirsch), cherry cola, leather and violets to name a few.
A country viewed by many as the home of fine wine, it is almost unique in terms of how embedded food and wine is in the nations culture. Given the diverse geography, with so much of the country providing the climate and soil suitable for viticulture, it is no surprise that its produces such an extensive and varied selection of wines. It is the country from where the vast majority of the New World's most popular "international" grapes and stylistic influences originate. While there might seem to be an alarming disparity between the most sought after wines (were a case might set you back as much as a deposit on a small house) and the millions of gallons of vin de table filling up the European wine lake every year, there is so much great value to be found between the two extremes. Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, and the Rhone may still dominate the market for fine wine, but regions including the Loire, Alsace, Languedoc & Roussillon and the South West are increasingly becoming excellent sources of good quality, affordable wines.
Two hundred miles south east of Paris lies the famous and historic wine region, known in French as Bourgogne. The Cote d'Or, the heartland of the region, consists of two distinct sub-regions split on either side of the town of Beaune.The Côte de Nuits to the north, includes the famous villages of Vosne-Romanee, Gevrey-Chambertin, and Nuits-Saint-Georges and are known primarily for making red wine from Pinot Noir.Although The Côte de Beaune to the south still makes some magnificent reds (see Volnay and Pommard), white wine made from Chardonnay is the main focus. The most famous villages are Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault. Burgundy has three other important regions. The village of Chablis (exclusively Chardonnay) encompassing the region's most northerly vineyards. The Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais to south are quantitatively speaking more important. Agriculture is more diverse with a significant portion of the land devoted to livestock and arable farming.
Beaune is the center of Burgundy’s wine production, where most of the region’s negociants, such as Champy, Joseph Drouhin, Louis Jadot, and Louis Latour, were founded and continue to operate. The town’s name is also given to the Cote de Beaune district, which, with the Cote de Nuits, completes the whole of the Cote d’Or. Its wines are mainly red, and although more varied, are somewhere in the middle between Pommard’s richness and Volnay’s fragrant and elegant qualities. With a whopping forty-four premier cru vineyards, nearly three quarters of the total vineyard area is premier cru. While the finest vineyards are said to be those northwest of the town, climbing up the hill of Les Mondes Rondes, such as Les Greves and adjoining Les Bressandes. Clos du Roi and Blanche Fleurs in the northeast also perform consistently, as do the likes of Clos-des-Mouche bordering Pommard at the opposite end. In fact, of the little white wine made (about 6%) Drouhin’s Clos-des-Mouche is one of the most expressive and age-worthy.
Red wine is wine made from dark-coloured grape varieties. The color of red differs based on the grapes variety or varieties used.
Interestingly, black grapes yield a juice that is greenish-white. The actual red color comes from anthocyan pigments (also called anthocyanins) from the skin of the grape (exceptions are the relatively uncommon teinturier varieties, which produce a red colored juice). Most of the production centers around the extraction of color and flavor from the grape skin.