Pinot Noir is often described as being a 'difficult' grape, to grow, to deal with in the winery, and to find truly great examples of, but fans are passionate about this variety, as expressed by the dialogue between Miles and Maya in the 2004 movie 'Sideways'.
The reputation that gets Pinot Noir so much attention, however, is owed to the wines of Burgundy France. For most of wine history, this 3.5km-wide, 50km-long stretch of hills, called the Cote d'Or ("Slope of Gold"), is the only region to achieve consistent success from the Pinot Noir vine. The quality of Burgundy is due to a number of factors. Its vineyards slope gently down toward the east, providing the vines with long sun exposure yet avoiding afternoon heat. The soil there is very calcareous, offering good drainage. Pinot Noir seems to reflect more pronounced Gout de Terroir, or flavour of the soil, than other black grapes, making vineyard site selection critical.
There are some 200 recognized clones (genetic variants) of Pinot Noir in the Burgundy region. There is estimated as many as *800+ clones of Pinot Noir worldwide. Nearly every affliction known to affect vines is common among Pinot Noir vineyards. There is one component in which Pinot Noir is naturally quite rich, three to four times higher than other varieties: resveratrol. While this may not affect the aspects enjoyment, it may draw the attention of health-conscious consumers.
Great Pinot Noir creates a lasting impression, its aroma is often one of the most complex of all varietals and can be intense with a ripe-grape or black cherry aroma, frequently accented by a pronounced spiciness that suggests cinnamon, and dried herbs. Ripe tomato, mushroom, and forest floor are also common descriptors for Pinot Noir. Full-bodied and rich but not heavy, high in alcohol, yet neither acidic nor tannic, with substantial flavour despite its delicacy. The most appealing quality of Pinot Noir may be its soft, velvety texture. When right, it is like liquid silk.