Introduction of Pinot Noir Wine
Pinot Noir enjoys relatively large popularity amongst all wine drinkers. Certainly, some of its fame can be attributed to the fact that the grape has been around for a very long time.
Considered the second-most widely planted grape behind Cabernet Sauvignon, it is surprising to discover that Pinot Noir is quite challenging to grow. While popular, the production is somewhat limited by a smaller supply than some other grape types.
Despite being challenging to cultivate, the grape can be found in almost every wine producing region including countries like Australia, Chile, and of course, the United States.
Pinot Noir may owe some of its popularity in the US to a movie called Sideways. This movie delved into the world of wines and wine snobbery. Pinot Noir was treated like the piece de resistance in the film and subsequently saw a surge of interest amongst American wine drinkers.
A majority of Pinot Noir is considered more expensive than other varietals and blends; however, the surge in popularity led to a concurrent increase in affordable options on shelves. How does Pinot Noir get so expensive? What makes it so special? Let’s examine some thoughts around how Pinot Noir is priced.
Pinot Noir Wine Prices
Pinot Noir represents one of the more wide pricing spectrums amongst wines. Sure, every varietal or blend has its bottles with prices that will make your eyes pop. However, none have so many at each level of the spectrum.
Like many wines, there are multiple factors that impact pricing one way or another. From growing region to scarcity, each factor plays a role in the final price tag.
As mentioned earlier, Pinot Noir grapes are grown in a variety of regions and countries. The ground the grapes are planted in plays a vital role in the finished wine’s taste. This role is referred to as the Terroir.
The premium Pinot Noir landscape rests in the Burgundy region of France. In fact, Pinot Noir grown in this area are called Red Burgundies. These bottles represent the most expensive options available but are respected for their superior quality.
With history and reputation on its side, it does not look like any other Pinot Noir growing area will usurp the crown from Burgundy anytime soon. For those who cannot stomach the price tag of a prestigious Red Burgundy, the rest of the world steps in.
Each region presents its own terroir and unique qualities that are imparted to its Pinot Noir wines. The global expansion of the ability to grow Pinot Noir makes it a far more affordable option than ever before.
Deciding between wines often comes down to the vintage. Some years are good for the grapes and some years are not. Different environmental impacts can make a significant difference in the final product for most winemakers.
Pinot Noir is such a fragile, delicate grape that vintage goes out the window most of the time. It is more about who is making it and how good they are at it.
Pinot Noir is not known for its survival skills. If it made it to the bottle, it was likely a good year for the grape. Top wineries produce good Pinot Noir and that is the typical price driver.
Once a producer proves their worth, their Pinot Noir can be trusted to be good each and every time.
Like people, some wines age well and some do not. As wine ages, it continues to develop distinct tastes or notes. Many people interested in purchasing Pinot Noir do so in hopes to age it and experience a fuller bodied wine.
Not all wines fit the appropriate bill and not all wines within a varietal do either. Some Pinot Noir is made to be enjoyed relatively quickly after bottling while others can stand the test of time.
Those that are storable tend to cost more than those that are not. A high-priced Pinot Noir is not necessarily great to age though. Here are four factors that impact how a wine holds up to the test of time:
Speaking of Storage
How wine, or shall we say where wine is aged before distribution plays a role in overall cost. Most notable Pinot Noir producers age their wines in some combination of New French Oak barrels.
These barrels are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain and are quite expensive when purchased (around $1200). On average, only three rounds of wine aging occur before the barrel loses its ability to impact the flavor. Thus, a new barrel must be introduced.
Wines aged in New French Oak only can attribute some of their cost to this factor. It costs about $4 per bottle just to age the wines this way. Middle tier Pinot Noirs likely age in a combination of new and neutral oak while the inexpensive options are probably just not using oak at all.
Pinot Noir Is a Tricky Grape
As mentioned earlier, Pinot Noir is challenging to grow. Much of the problem is because of the natural design of the grape itself. Pinot, meaning “Pine Cone”, grows in a pine cone shaped cluster.
As such, the grapes grow very closely together. This can prevent air from flowing properly, allowing moisture to promote mold and mildew. Of course, these harm the grapes and make them unviable.
It takes a lot of hard, manual work to keep a Pinot Noir vineyard in top shape. Trimming and pruning is not a once a season task. Sometimes workers will be required to do this up to four times in a year. Obviously, labor is not free and impacts the final cost.
Most of the work of harvesting and sorting the grapes is done by hand. Machines are not used in this process as Pinot Noir is sensitive and quite literally thin-skinned. Finally, when it is time to pull the grapes from their stems, an expensive machine that treats them delicately is used.
As you can see, a lot goes into this wine before the winemaking process even begins. This certainly impacts the overall cost of a quality Pinot Noir.
Finding Affordable Options
While Pinot Noir often brings about the imagery of large estates and extravagant soirees, it is indeed possible to find affordable options. As the grape and its namesake wine have grown in popularity, so too have the options.
A quick scan of our pricing list below reveals that there is a massive selection of affordable options. You may need to select something from outside the Burgundy region but many areas are known to offer great tasting and high-quality selections.
It is important to remember that Pinot Noir is especially susceptible to its terroir. As such, a bottle produced in Chile could taste very different from one made in Oregon, USA.
Pinot Noir is a wine that may require some experimenting to find your preferred region. An adventurous mentality could lead you to the best Pinot Noir you have ever had from a place you have never heard of!
Common Pinot Noir Wine Prices List
Meiomi Pinot Noir
Mirassou Vineyards Pinot Noir
Mark West Pinot Noir
La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Line 39 Pinot Noir
Central Coast, USA
Barefoot Cellars Pinot Noir
Yellow Tail Pinot Noir
South Eastern Australia
Noble Vines 667 Pinot Noir
HRM Rex Goliath Giant 47 Pound Rooster Pinot Noir
Cavit Pinot Noir delle Venezie IGT
Erath Pinot Noir
Cline Cellars Estate Pinot Noir
Sonoma Coast, USA
Acacia Vineyard Pinot Noir
Alouette Pinot Noir
Sonoma County, USA
The Great Oregon Wine Company 'Rascal' Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley, USA
Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir
Estancia Estates Pinot Noir
Monterey County, USA
Black Box Pinot Noir
Wild Horse Pinot Noir
Central Coast, USA
Cupcake Vineyards Pinot Noir
Central Coast, USA
Belle Glos 'Las Alturas Vineyard' Pinot Noir
Santa Lucia Highlands, USA