The Pinot Noir grape elicits quite a bit of emotion in the wine world. Its admiration is due to the grape being very difficult to grow, thus making a great bottle of Pinot Noir wine a challenging find.
Pinot Noir was born in the Burgundy region of France, so this is where it grows the best. In France, it is often referred to as a Red Burgundy instead of Pinot Noir. The wines from Burgundy have flavors of ripe red berries, sweet black cherries, mushrooms and what sommeliers call forest floor, that smell you get from freshly fallen damp leaves.
Today, many great and affordable Pinot Noir wines are being produced in California, Oregon, Australia, Chile and New Zealand. Pinots from these regions tend to be bigger and richer in flavor, tasting fruitier than the Pinots from France.
The modern history of Oregon wine dates back only to 1966, when David Lett founded the Eyrie Vineyards. Lett had the belief that Willamette Valley, just south of Portland, could be an American paradise for Pinot Noir. Today, there are some 250 Oregon wineries, almost all producing Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir is a thin-skinned wine grape that develops a natural defense against botrytis (mold) in the moist, cool Oregon climate: the antioxidant resveratrol. It is also the most widely used grape for champagne production.