How do you like your pinot: black, grey, white or speckled? Sparkling, still, red, white or rosé? Perhaps a serious Burgundy or a cheeky little blanc de noir? Confused? Don’t be, here’s everything you need to know about one of the world’s most versatile (and delicious) grapes. Pinot is a very old grape variety, which means it’s had plenty of time to mutate; likely pinot noir came first and mutated into pinot blanc, pinot gris and pinot meunier, to use their French names. The name ‘pinot’ may come from the pinecone-like appearance of the grape clusters, with the noir (black), blanc (white) and gris (grey) referring to the colour of the grapes (though pinot gris is in fact more of a coppery colour between ‘white’ and ‘black’, thus the ‘grey’ designation). Each mutation is also known by Italian and German names, just to complicate things further. A quick look at five of my favourite Australian pinots will help explain things further. See the FAQ section below for more details.
Pinot Gris Curly Flat (Macedon Ranges, Vic)
French pinot gris is rich and aromatic, while in Italy (called pinot grigio) it’s leaner and crisper; Australia uses the names interchangeably. Curly Flat pinot gris walks the line, aromatic with a crisp, creamy, savoury finish. The grey skins can add a hint of colour to some wines. German: Grauburgunder (grey Burgundy).
Pinot Blanc Granite Hills (Macedon Ranges, Vic)
A classic grape of France’s Alsace region, pinot blanc is called pinot bianco in Italy and Weissburgunder (white Burgundy) in Germany. Like all pinots it prefers cool climate, but it’s less common in Australia. Granite Hills is a cracker, with fragrant honeysuckle, pear notes and a refreshing crisp finish.
Pinot Meunier Murdoch Hill The Surrey (Adelaide Hills, SA)
Meunier means ‘miller’, as the speckled leaves of this lesser known pinot look flour-dusted. Most commonly blended with pinot noir and chardonnay in Champagne, single varietal versions are rare. The Surrey balances cherry notes with forest floor in a delicious soft red wine. German: Schwarzriesling (black riesling).
Pinot Noir Grey Sands Blanc de Noir (Tamar Valley, Tas)
Best known as French red Burgundy, pinot noir can also be sparkling, rosé or even a still white. Named for white Champagne made from red grapes (literally ‘white from red’), this one has a faint blush, slightly funky nose and savoury finish. Italian: pinot nero; German: Spätburgunder (late Burgundy).
Blend Logan Clementine Blushing Minnie Pinots (Orange, NSW)
Left on skins for a while, pinots noir, meunier, and even gris, produce great rosés. It’s not uncommon to combine them, as happens in this blend of noir and meuniere. Don’t let the dark cherry colour and aroma fool you, this is rosé with substance and a food-friendly dry finish.
For more classic examples of red pinot noir wines, see my Top 5 Aussie Pinot Noirs
What does pinot mean in wine?
Pinot may refer to various grapes in the pinot family: pinot noir, pinot blanc, pinot gris, pinot meunier.
What colour is pinot?
Pinot noir and pinot meunier are red grapes, while pinot blanc and pinot gris are white grapes. All of these can be used to produce red, white or rosé wines that are still or sparkling.
What’s the difference between pinot gris and pinot grigio?
People often ask ‘are pinot gris and pinot grigio the same thing?’ Yes they are. This grape has slightly grey coloured skins and ‘grigio’ is the italian word for grey while ‘gris’ is the French word.
Why is pinot gris (or pinot grigio) sometimes a very pale pink?
The skin of pinot gris is slightly grey, giving a pink blush to wines that aren’t stripped of colour to remove it.
Do you chill pinot noir?
Most red wines made from pinot noir are light to medium bodied. Many lend themselves well to a light chilling, especially in summer. See more on Chilled Red Wines here.
What’s the difference between pinot noir and Burgundy?
Burgundy, one of the most famous wine growing regions in France, is most famous for wines made from pinot noir. Burgindy is the region, pinot noir is the grape. So, is Burgundy pinot noir? Yes it is.
Which pinot is used to make Champagne?
Only three grapes are allowed in the production of the famous sparking wines of the Champagne region of France: chardonnay (a white grape) and, perhaps surprisingly, two red grapes, pinot noir and pinot meuniere.
What does ‘blanc de noir’ mean?
Blanc de noir literally means ‘white from red’. This term is most commonly used in Champagne to refer to a white Champagne made from one or both of the two red grapes permitted in the region: pinot noir and pinot meuniere. By running the juice off the skins as soon as the grapes are crushed, winemakers can produce a white wine from red grapes.
What are the pinot grapes called in different languages?
– pinot blanc (French); pinot bianco (Italian); Weissburgunder (German)
– pinot gris (French); pinot grigio (Italian); Grauburgunder (German)
– pinot meunier (French); Schwarzriesling, Müllerrebe, or Müller-Traube (German)
– pinot noir (French): pinot nero (Italian); Blauburgunder or Spätburgunder (German)