Have you noticed how Pinot Grigio has become nearly synonymous with “easy-drinking white wine,” and Pinot Noir has emerged as the red wine that can do no wrong? What makes the Pinot family of grapes so drinkable? Why is just about every wine-producing country trying to grow Pinot? Eileen Whittaker and Jim Fox invited the Wine Stewards to an evening of “Pinot to the People Wine Tasting” exploring the Pinot family of Grapes. First, Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are in fact the exact same grape variety. It is a white grape with a grayish/brownish pink skin (hence the name gris, or gray in French). The grape originated in France and is known as Pinot Gris where it is most cultivated in Alsace. Across the border in Italy it is known as Pinot Grigio. While French in origin, it is really the Italians that we have to thank for bringing such huge global recognition and fame to the variety. The Italian style wines are typically lighter-bodied, crisp, and fresh, with vibrant stone fruit and floral aromas and a touch of spice. In contrast Alsace Pinot Gris wines are more full-bodied, richer, spicier and more viscous in texture. They also tend to have greater aging potential.
The Pinot Noir grape is 1,000 years older than Cabernet Sauvignon. It is also the most highly prized wine in the world. Despite difficulty in growing the grape, prices for a bottle of Pinot Noir are generally more than a similar quality red wine. In March 2013 a magnum of 1995 DRC sold for $27,300 in U.S. dollars. It was deemed the most expensive wine in the world. It has flavors of cranberry, cherry and raspberry with hints of vanilla, clove, licorice and caramel.
White Pinot Noir (Pinot Blanco/Pinot Blanc) is richer than many white wines because it is made with red wine grapes. It has flavors of baked apple and pear with zesty notes of honey, orange and ginger. The Wine Stewards enjoyed a glass of Louis Bouillot Blanc de Noirs upon arrival. The wine is made with old world harvesting and sorting done by hand. The grapes are placed in small individual crates to minimize damage, and limited juice is extracted to endure the best fruit concentration. The wine is a mixture of chardonnay and pinot noir grapes. History is so much more enjoyable sipping a glass of wine.