People get passionate about Pinot Noir – perhaps because it's one of the most difficult grapes to grow but is also one of the most desired. It has the wonderfully heady perfume of raspberries, mulberries, cherries, strawberries, violets, peppermint and even green tea.
Pinot Noir was popularised by the film Sideways which did more for the grape than any sustained marketing effort. Sales rose due in large part to sustained moviegoers’ enthusiasm for their new found wine. It may be a new found wine for some but Pinot Noir has an ancient and noble history.
This is the famous grape variety used for the greatest Burgundy wines and Champagnes. Pinot Noir takes its name from the French for “pine” and “black” as the the grapes resemble pine cones with their tightly clustered fruits. It's an old variety which is only 1 or 2 generations removed from the wild grape vine itself and is thought to have originated in Burgundy. Reference is made to it in the 1st century AD growing there and the vines were probably transported to France by the ancient Greeks.
The grape is rich in resveratrol – the anti-oxidant in red wine that been widely associated with health benefits ranging from anti-ageing to boosting anti-viral treatments. Pinot Noir is 3 to 4 times higher compared to other varieties. It is also the first fruit plant to have its genome (genetic map) decoded. Last year French and Italian scientists unravelled Pinot Noir's genes and it showed the handiwork of master wine growers going right back to the Stone Age.
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