Ratings: The Best Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs to Drink Right Now | Wine Enthusiast
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Pinot Noir

About Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir, one of the noble red grapes, is behind some of the world’s most prized wines. France is the grape’s spiritual home, where it’s the sole variety used in cellar-worthy red Burgundy. It’s also widely planted in the New World, with CaliforniaOregon and New Zealand producing some of the most prized bottlings.

Pinot Noir grapes have been crafted into wine for more than 2,000 years. In the field, the variety is prone to mutation, which results in the propagation of many clones. Pinot Noir’s mutations are the most cataloged of the Vitis vinifera grapes.

Infamously prone to root rot, fungus and mold, Pinot Noir’s vast number of clones offers a breadth of disease and blight resistant genetics. Growers select clones for a specific resistance or for the site’s soil, microclimate and acreage.

Different clones grown in the same vineyard will vary in flavor, color, yield size and cluster density. This variety works to the advantage of the winemaker, and it is not uncommon to create an assemblage to play off each clone’s characteristics.


The top echelon of the word’s Pinot Noir comes from Burgundy, specifically the hillside vineyards of the Côte d’Or, which is further divided into two sections, the Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits. While both areas produce Pinot Noir, the Côte de Nuits is most well-known for producing powerful, structured examples of the variety.

Many of the most sought-after bottlings come from villages like Nuits-St.-Georges, Vosne-Romanée, Vougeot and Chambolle-Musigny.


The vineyards of Northern California are well suited to Pinot Noir. Regions within the greater Sonoma County American Viticultural Area (AVA) produce a wide array of styles, from the richer expressions in the Russian River Valley to the more taut, linear expressions produced in the coastal appellations of the Sonoma Coast and Fort Ross-Seaview. Farther north in Mendocino County, well-made examples of Pinot Noir can be found from Anderson Valley.


Pinot Noir is the main grape of Oregon and predominately grown in the Willamette Valley. Overall, this is a cool climate wine-growing region with mild winters and a number of sub-appellations that denote different microclimates and soil types.

Global Production

Pinot Noir is grown around the world in many cool-climate regions. New York, Chile, South Africa and Australia are some of the New World examples, with Germany, Austria and Italy providing Old World bottlings.

Are you looking for a Pinot Noir to remember? Explore our extensive Pinot Noir wine reviews. Our expert tasters rate and review thousands of options to make it easy to select a wine you’ll enjoy.

Synonyms: Pinot Nero, Spätburgunder, Blauer Spätburgunder

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