Erin Doman on November 4, 2015 0 Comments Pinot wines are a fan favorite, and a staple in almost every wine cabinet. There are several varieties of Pinot wines, including Noir, Blanc, and Gris, as well as others. An often-overlooked fact is that these varietals are not just related to one another, they are in fact the same kind of grape and are differentiated by a mutation that occurs during their maturation, and there is no parent grape to the bunch. There are many hidden and interesting facts about this delicate drink. From food pairings to tasting tips, here is a guide for what you need to know about all of the Pinot varietals. 1. One and the Same Pinot comes in many variations, primarily because it is over 1,000 years old. While many may argue that there are several different types of this wine, they are actually one and the same, all just mutations of the same variety. This means that there is not true parent grape. Crossing grapes is a normal practice, and it has quickly become common. Another example of this practice was the combination of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc, which created Cabernet Sauvignon in the 1700s. There are six primary clone variations: Noir — Made with a black grape with green flesh that originated in Burgundy Gris — Produces a white- to rose-color and is made with a pink-skinned grape Blanc — Often confused with Chardonnay and is made with a white grape Meunier — Used in Champagne mostly and is made with a black-skinned grape Teinturier — Made with a black-skinned grape with red flesh Noir Precoce — A mutation of Noir and ripens two weeks quicker 2. Origins This wine was first documented in the 1300s in Burgundy, France. It was first mentioned when a harvest worker failed to separate the Pinot grapes from the others. Cloning became popular when winemakers realized the different levels of aroma, taste, and quality they could achieve through mutation. Many producers in Burgundy believe that blending several of the clones is better because it preserves diversity in the vineyard. Some clones create pale colors with floral aromas, and others create robust and bold varieties. To date, there are over 40 different clones, and 15 of those are popular worldwide. 3. Popular Clones If you are interested in learning about the intricacies of the Pinot grape family, it is good to understand the most popular clones in this variety. One of the most common clones is the Pommard Clone 5, which is available primarily in California. Pommard Clone 5 is well known for its gamey and meaty edge, but it also expresses darker fruit notes. The Dijon clones are also very popular. Dijon Clone 113 is very elegant, and it has high-toned elements on the nose. From the same category is number 115, which has become one of the most important clones in California vineyard development in recent years. 4. Pinot Noir Despite the fact that these grapes are difficult to grow and are prone to a variety of diseases, the cost of a bottle of Pinot Noir wine is generally more than a red one of similar quality. Its color is pale and translucent and the flavors are subtle. Depending on the style, it is aged anywhere between two and 18 years, often in French oak barrels. It has medium-high acidity and medium-low tannin. The most famous region is around Dijon, France. 5. Pinot Gris The Pinot Gris variety is made with a pink-skinned grape, and is typically known as a white wine. However, if the skins are left on during fermentation for a longer period, the color will have more of a rose pigment. This blend is one of the most difficult to blind taste due to its wide range of flavors. The advantage of this is that it can be crafted into range of styles. 6. Pinot Blanc One of the least talked about varieties in these top three mutations is the Pinot Blanc. This variety is also known as Bianco or Weissburgunder in Italy, but it can also be found in Austria, Germany, and France. This variety grows mostly in the north where crisp, white wines are made, and it is known for its beeswax, honeycomb, and lemon notes. In Austria, it is typically blended with Chardonnay grapes and is sometimes aged in oak for a creamier flavor. In Germany, it grows best in warm areas to produce a dry, light, and crisp taste. In France, it often produces a floral, peachy aroma and a subtle, smokey taste.` 7. Tasting Notes and Aroma As with any wine, the taste of this wine will vary greatly depending on the region in which it was made. The differences in taste and aroma are more pronounced if you compare the grapes from the United States to those of European nations. In Burgundy, Pinot tends to be very light and herbaceous. It has an earthy aroma, similar to the scent of wet leaves or mushrooms in a brown paper bag. Sometimes, there may also be faint smells of roses, violets, and raw cherries. In Germany, however, this wine tends to have a more sweet cherry or raspberry aroma, with subtle notes of earthiness. Then there is Italy, where Pinot often grows best, the fruit flavors are very similar to those in France, but it can also lean toward a smokier aroma with notes of tobacco, white pepper, and clove. On the other hand, in the U.S., particularly California and Oregon, Pinot wine has a more fruit-forward flavor, ranging from black raspberry and cherry. In California, the aroma is known to lean more towards Coca-Cola, caramel, and vanilla, while in Oregon, the aroma can have more of a dandelion stem or mushroom scent. 8. Food Pairings Often known as a catchall drink for food pairings, Pinot wines can be paired with a variety of dishes, no matter how tricky the dish might be. This wine is complex enough to pair with richer meat, such as duck, but also light enough to pair with salmon and other types of fish. When unsure of what to drink with your meal at a restaurant, Pinot is often the way to go since it can complement most dishes. Duck is one of the best dishes because the acidity in the wine can cut through the gamey, fatty flavors of the duck. If the duck is spiced, it often marries well with the nuanced flavors of the Pinot. Earthy dishes, such as a mushroom risotto or similar dish, are also great to pair with Pinot wines. The earthy, fatty flavor might highlight the fruitiness of the drink. As for cheese pairings, this wine is best when paired with softer cheeses, particularly Comte. A few other popular food-pairing dishes include: Pea ravioli with lobster Trout with bacon and potato hash White pizza with herbs Spiced duck with confit ragu Chicken with beurre rouge Grilled trout with bacon 9. Decide Where to Start With its origin dating back over 1,000 years, all of the different varieties of Pinot wines are among the most popular and well known. Whether you are a seasoned wine enthusiast or newbie wine taster, this guide can help you decide where to start, the different types of clones, food pairings, and more.