Pinot Noir is often described as being a 'difficult' red grape varietal to grow, work with in the winery and to find truly great examples. But fans are passionate about this varietal, 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, providing ideal drainage.

 

Pinot Noir seems to reflect more pronounced 'Gout de Terroir', or 'flavour of the soil', than other red grape varietals, making vineyard and site selection critical.
There are some 200 recognised 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 grape 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 varietals - 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 dark cherry aroma, frequently accented by a pronounced spiciness that suggests cinnamon and dried herbs. Ripe tomatoes, mushrooms and forest floor are also common descriptors for Pinot Noir. Medium-full-bodied and rich but not heavy, good level of alcohol, yet neither high in acidity or tannins, with substantial flavour despite its delicate nature. The most appealing quality of Pinot Noir may be its soft, velvety texture. When physiologically ripe and crafted correctly, Pinot Noir is like liquid silk.