Chapter 9.3. General View on Red Grapes Varieties


Peloursin is wine grape best known for its crossing with Syrah to make the red wine grape Durif.

The grape is believed to have originated in Isère from the northern Rhône-Alpes region. Today it can be found in some quantities in California and Victoria, Australia.

Petit Rouge

Petit Rouge is a red Italian wine grape variety that ampelographers believe is indigenous to the Valle d’Aosta region of northwest Italy. However, there is some confusion about whether Petit Rouge is the same variety as the red Swiss wine grape Rouge de Valais.

The grape is somewhat obscure and is not widely grown outside the Valle d’Aosta where it is primarily a blending variety but some varietal wines are produced. In blends, it adds floral aroma notes and dark color to the wines.

Petit Rouge is primarily found in the Valle d’Aosta region of northwest Italy between Piedmont and the Alps separating Italy from France and Switzerland. In general, altitude determines which varieties of grapes may be grown in a particular location, with reds growing at lower elevations and whites at higher elevations. However, despite its high altitude and mountainous location, nearly 90% of the wine in the Valle d’Aosta is red or rosé with Petit Rouge playing a considerable role in many of the blends produced under the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) designation of the region. This is because the variety thrives during the hot, dry mouths of the summer, allowing time to develop sufficient sugar levels and physiological ripeness.

Petit Verdot

Petit Verdot is a variety of red wine grape, principally used in classic Bordeaux blends. It ripens much later than the other varieties in Bordeaux, often too late, so it fell out of favour in its home region. When it does ripen, it is added in small amounts to add tannin, colour and flavour to the blend. It has attracted attention among winemakers in the New World, where it ripens more reliably and has been made into single varietal wine. It is also useful in ‘stiffening’ the mid palate of Cabernet Sauvignon blends.

When young its aromas have been likened to banana and pencil shavings. Strong tones of violet and leather develop as it matures.

Petit Verdot probably predates Cabernet Sauvignon in Bordeaux, but its origins are unclear. There are records of it in the eighteenth century, but its characteristics suggest an origin in much hotter climes than the Gironde.

It is one parent of Tressot, the other parent being Duras, a grape from the upper Tarn valley near Toulouse. It’s possible that both were brought to the region by the Romans as they moved inland from the Mediterranean.


Piedirosso is a red Italian wine grape variety that is planted primarily in the Campania region. The grape is considered a specialty of the region, being used to produce wines for local and tourist consumptions.


Pignolo is a red Italian wine grape grown predominantly in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northeast Italy. Believes to have been cultivated in the hills of Rosazzo, the grape is now a prominent variety in the Colli Orientali del Friuli Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC). In Italian the grape’s name means “fussy” which does describe the viticultural profile of the grape which often produces low and uneven yields. The first recorded mention of the grape was in Abbot Giobatta Michieli‘s late 17th century book Bacchus in Friuli in which he described the grape making “excellent black wine“. Today the grape is used to make rich, deep colored, full bodied wine that does well with some time in oak.Well made examples of the wine have good balance between the grape’s acidity and tannins with flavor notes of plum and blackberry. Most experts believe that it is not related to the Lombardy Pignola grape of the Valtellina region.

Pineau d’Aunis

Pineau d’Aunis, also known as Chenin noir is a red wine grape variety that is grown primarily in the Loire Valley around Anjou and Touraine. A favorite of Henry Plantagenet, wine made from the grape was first exported to England in the thirteenth century. Today the grape is blended with the white grape Arbois to make the rosé Cheverny and Coteaux du Vendômois.

Pinot Meunier

Pinot Meunier, pronounced: [ mø.nje], also known as Meunier or Black Riesling, is a variety of black wine grape most noted for being one of the three main grapes used in the production of champagne (the other two are the black Pinot noir and the white Chardonnay). Until recently, champagne makers did not acknowledge Pinot Meunier, preferring to emphasise the use of the other noble varieties, but now Pinot Meunier is gaining recognition for the body and richness it contributes to champagne. It is believed to be a mutation of Pinot noir. It was first mentioned in the 16th century, and gets its name and synonyms (French meunier and German Müller – both meaning miller) from flour-like dusty white down on the underside of its leaves.

Pinot Meunier can be identified by ampelographers by its indented leaves that appear downy white, like flour has been dusted on the underside of the leaf. The name “Meunier” comes from the French word for miller with many of the grapevine’s synonyms (see below) also hearkening to this association-such as “Dusty Miller” which is used in England, “Farineux” and “Noirin Enfariné” used in France as well as “Müllerrebe” and “Müller-Traube” used in Germany. This characteristics derives from fine white hairs on the underside of the leaves. However, some clones of Pinot Meunier have been found to be completely hairless which has led ampelographers to more closely draw a link between Meunier and Pinot noir.

Paul K. Boss and Mark R. Thomas of the CSIRO Plant Industry and Cooperative Research Centre for Viticulture in Glen Osmond, Australia, found that the meunier strain has a mutation (VvGAI1) that stops it from responding to gibberellic acid, a plant growth hormone. This leads to different leaf growth, and also to a slight stunting in growth, explaining why Pinot meunier plants tend to be a bit smaller than Pinot noirs. The mutation exist only in one cell layer of the cultivar, the L1 layer of the epidermis, making Pinot Meunier a chimera. This makes it possible, through tissue culture, to separate out plants containing both the mutant and non-mutant genotypes, yielding a normal Pinot noir type and an unusual looking mutant vine with compressed internodes and thickly clustered leaves. The mutants could not produce full-grown tendrils, it seems that gibberellic acid converts grapevine flower buds into tendrils.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir (French pronunciation: [ nwaʁ]) is a black wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera. The name may also refer to wines created predominantly from Pinot noir grapes. The name is derived from the French words for “pine” and “black” alluding to the grape variety’s tightly clustered dark purple pine cone-shaped bunches of fruit.

Pinot noir grapes are grown around the world, mostly in the cooler regions, but the grape is chiefly associated with the Burgundy region of France. It is widely considered to produce some of the finest wines in the world, but is a difficult variety to cultivate and transform into wine.

Pinot noir’s home is France’s Burgundy region, particularly on the Côte-d’Or which has produced some of the world’s most celebrated wines for centuries. It is also planted in Austria, Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan,Canada, Chile, north parts of Croatia, the Republic of Georgia, Germany, Italy, Hungary, the Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, New Zealand, South Africa, Serbia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, United States, Uruguay, Ukraine and Slovakia. The United States has increasingly become a major Pinot noir producer, with some of the best regarded coming from the Willamette Valley in Oregon and California‘s Sonoma County with its Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations. Lesser known appellations can be found in Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley as well as the Central Coast’s Santa Lucia Highlands appellation and the Sta. Rita Hills American Viticultural Area in Santa Barbara County. In New Zealand, it is principally grown in Martinborough, Marlborough, Waipara and Central Otago.

The leaves of Pinot noir are generally smaller than those of Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah and the vine is typically less vigorous than either of these varieties. The grape cluster is small and conico-cylindrical, vaguely shaped like a pine cone. Some viticultural historians believe this shape-similarity may have given rise to the name. In the vineyard Pinot noir is sensitive to wind and frost, cropping levels (it must be low yielding for production of quality wines), soil types and pruning techniques. In the winery it is sensitive to fermentation methods, yeast strains and is highly reflective of its terroir with different regions producing sometimes very different wines. Its thin skin makes it susceptible to bunch rot and similar fungal diseases of the bunch. The vines themselves are susceptible to powdery mildew, and in Burgundy (and elsewhere) infection by leaf roll and fanleaf viruses causes significant vine health problems. These complications have given the grape a reputation for being difficult to grow: Jancis Robinson calls Pinot a “minx of a vine” and André Tchelistcheff declared that “God made Cabernet Sauvignon whereas the devil made Pinot noir.” Those who have had experience with contemporary, high health, Pinot noir clones in good vineyard sites would not however be so ready to endorse this oft-cited, but less than entirely accurate, generalisation; in the right conditions, and when of good clonal lineage and health, the vine can be more than adequately robust. It is nevertheless much less tolerant of hard, windy, hot and dry, harsh vineyard conditions than the likes of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, or Grenache.

Pinot noir wines are among the most popular in the world. Joel Fleischman of Vanity Fair describes Pinot noir as “the most romantic of wines, with so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, and so powerful a punch that, like falling in love, they make the blood run hot and the soul wax embarrassingly poetic.” Master Sommelier Madeline Triffon calls pinot “sex in a glass”. Peter Richardsson of OenoStyle christened it “a seductive yet fickle mistress!”

The tremendously broad range of bouquets, flavors, textures and impressions that Pinot noir can produce sometimes confuses tasters. In the broadest terms, the wine tends to be of light to medium body with an aroma reminiscent of black and / or red cherry, raspberry and to a lesser extent currant and many other fine small red and black berry fruits. Traditional red Burgundy is famous for its savoury fleshiness and ‘farmyard’ aromas (these latter not unassociated with mercaptans and other reductive characters), but changing fashions, modern winemaking techniques, and new easier-to-grow clones have favoured a lighter, more fruit-prominent, cleaner style. The wine’s colour when young is often compared to that of garnet, frequently being much lighter than that of other red wines. This is entirely natural and not a winemaking fault as Pinot noir has a lower skin anthocyanin (colouring matter) content than most other classical red / black varieties. However, an emerging, increasingly evident, style from California and New Zealand highlights a more powerful, fruit forward and darker wine that can tend toward Syrah (or even new world Malbec) in depth, extract, and alcoholic content.

Pinot noir is also used in the production of Champagne (usually along with Chardonnay and Pinot meunier) and is planted in most of the world’s wine growing regions for use in both still and sparkling wines. Pinot noir grown for dry table wines is generally low-yielding and of lesser vigour than many other varieties, whereas when grown for use in sparkling wines (e.g. Champagne) it is generally cropped at significantly higher yields.

In addition to being used for the production of sparkling and still red wine, Pinot noir is also sometimes used for rosé still wines, and even vin gris white wines. Its juice is uncoloured.

Published on August 18, 2011 at 07:30  Leave a Comment  

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