The region of Burgundy has become synonymous with high quality red wines, but in actual fact the region consistently produces a wide variety of fine wines of many different styles, rigorously protected by French wine laws designed to keep reputations and quality at a very high level. The region benefits greatly from a warm and sunny summer climate, which, coupled with the excellent quality soils which typify the region, and centuries of experience and expertise, has led to the region being known all over the world for the excellence of its produce. The majority of grapevines grown here are of the Pinot Noir varietal, which has helped Burgundy become known as the definitive region for elegant and smooth red wines, but Chardonnay grapes and many others are also grown in abundance and used to make both still and sparkling wines. Regularly described as being the grape varietal responsible for producing the world's most romantic wines, Pinot Noir has long been associated with elegance and a broad range of flavors The name means 'black pine' in French, and this is due to the fact that the fruit of this particular varietal is especially dark in color, and hangs in a conical shape, like that of a pine cone. Despite being grown today in almost every wine producing country, Pinot Noir is a notoriously difficult grape variety to cultivate. This is because it is especially susceptible to various forms of mold and mildew, and thrives best in steady, cooler climates. However, the quality of the fruit has ensured that wineries and vintners have persevered with the varietal, and new technologies and methods have overcome many of the problems it presents. Alongside this, the wide popularity and enthusiasm for this grape has ensured it will remain a firm favorite amongst wine drinkers for many years to come.
The important grape variety of Burgundy, Pinot Noir is the most evocative, provocative, mysterious varietal grown by man or woman. It is extremely difficult to grow, more difficult to make, and perhps, the most difficult to understand and appreciate. It is the perfume, the deliciously exciting and intriguing bouquet that makes Pinot Noir unique. The best efforts at Pinot Noir are lush, exotic, spicy and packed with bright cherry fruit and underlying ripe berry fruit of cooked strawberries and black raspberries. The middle palate is rich with a velvet outer edge. Recently, the finest U.S. Pinot Noirs have developed great structure and have even begun to show evidence of the soil and minerals in which the vines are grown. This is a sure sign that the Pinots of Santa Barbara Country, the Willamette Valley of Oregon, the Russian River Valley, Carneros, Monterey and other areas of the Central Coast are at least close to demonstrating the nobility of their Burgundian counterparts. Only since Americans have finally started to make American Pinot Noir, rather than a facsimile of Burgundy, that we are beginning to understand the truly limitless potential of this grape in this country. As if all that wasn't enough, Pinot Noir adds flavor, aroma, structure, body and, in Blanc de Noirs styles, color to U.S. sparkling wines.