The first mention for Pinot Noir appears under the name of Pinoz (plural for Pinot) back in 1394 in Saint-Bris-le-Vineux, at the Yonne department. At the very same year and place, a letter by Charles IV makes notice of a fifteen-year-old boy who had been hired to withdrew the Pinot Noir grapes harvest in order to avoid them being mixed with other varieties, who died as a result of the tremendous beating received from his master.
Pinot Noir has an early budding and ripening, so it is likely to suffer from spring frosts and acariosis. It adapts well to temperate zones and clay-limestone soils. In warmer climates Pinot Noir ripens very quickly and its delicate berries tend to dry themselves and are exposed to sunburns. Limiting the production and fertility is recommended, especially when the clones are productive. It can produce many small clusters; it is delicate and sensitive to powdery mildew, downy mildew, botrytis cinerea, leafhopper insects and to the grapevine fan leaf virus (xiphinema index and closterovirus).
Pinot Noir is one of the most successful varieties worldwide. The best examples are produced in Burgundy, and show different features depending on the terroir where the grape has been produced, so it is proved the difficulty in adapting it to other climates so many wineries have given up after obtaining poor results. Due to its early ripening only the colder areas can have a long enough growing season to yield interesting wines.
Far from Burgundy, the most renowned regions for Pinot Noir wines are: continental (Jura, parts from Germany, Switzerland and Canada); low latitude regions (New Zealand, Tasmania and Patagonia); high latitude regions (Alto Adige); or cold areas with marine influence (Oregón, Sonoma, Carneros, Monterrey, California central coast, Chile coastal regions, and subzones from Victoria and Tasmania in Australia).
In contract to the aggressive tannins of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir wines are relatively smooth, fruity and easy to drink. The excellent Grand Cru Burgundy red wine can be tough when young and need one or two decades to develop its complexity but, in general, these are wines to fall in love with. When Pinot Noir wines are young, you can taste cherries, raspberries and a wide range of red fruits. As they age the aromas turn to compost, moss, truffle and mushrooms, but always with an appealing and underlying sweetness.
But Pinot Noir can be used to produce other wines such as sparkling wines: in Champagne, Pinot Noir (blended with Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay) is the key grape. Pinot Noir berries are pressed very lightly to produce a pale pink juice with aggressive tannins. You can find more Pinot Noir plantations in Champagne than in Burgundy.