Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, and Rosé of Pinot Noir – What’s in a name?
While most everyone knows that Pinot Blanc is white, Pinot Noir is red, and Rose of Pinot Noir is pink, many wine enthusiasts get a bit more fuzzy about the relationship of the grapes. At Saffron Fields, we produce two of the three: Rose of Pinot Noir (also called Pinot Noir Rose) and, of course, Pinot Noir. Other Oregon wineries commonly produce Pinot Blanc.
Both Rosé of Pinot Noir and Pinot Noir are produced from the Pinot Noir grape. In the case of the Rosé, skin contact is allowed during the maceration phase, where juice and skins remain in contact for a limited period of time before being separated for further tank and barrel fermentation. The length of time they are in contact can vary between a couple of hours and a few days. The longer the contact, the darker the color and the more pronounced the tannins. The perfect amount of contact is really a function of the winemaker and their goal for the wine.
A traditional Pinot Noir, of course, is allowed further skin contact to achieve a deeper color and more developed tannins. While most Pinot Noirs will appear dark in the bottle, swirled in your glass, they can present from dark blush red to lush deep purples, though almost never as dark as a Bordeaux wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged too long, the reds of Pinot Noir may begin to present an orange tint, often an indicator that they are near or past their “consume by” date.
Pinot Blanc is a different beast, but not altogether. While it is a white grape associated with crisp, floral white wines, the variety is indeed genetically related to the Pinot Noir grape.
So next time someone offers you a glass of Pinot, you can demonstrate your deep knowledge by demanding, Pinot what? Or you can just be polite and graciously accept the proffered glass.