Pinot Noir, A Very Versatile Grape

How can we begin to describe the complex nature of the Pinot Noir grape?  We can start by describing it as a red wine, that is typically medium bodied, often a bit earthy, with flavors of cherry, raspberry, vanilla and spice.  Not only does Pinot Noir produce flavorful red wines, but did you know that these grapes can make fantastic sparkling, white, and rosé wines too?

Ripe Pinot Noir clusters hanging on the vine.

Here at Black Star Farms, our winemaker Lee Lutes specializes in Pinot Noir and has expanded our Pinot Noir program over the years to include specialty wines such as the 2017 Arcturos Pinot Noir Blanc, which is a vin gris, or a white wine made from red grapes.  This unique wine is currently sold out, but could return if mother nature decides to give us a bountiful Pinot Noir harvest in the future.  We can produce a white wine from Pinot Noir grapes by removing the skins prior to fermentation. Color in wine is derived from skin contact with the juice during fermentation.  This extraction of color is known as maceration.  Unlike red wine made from Pinot Noir, the white, rosé and sparkling wines made from Pinot Noir see very little, or no skin contact, and are not aged in oak barrels, therefore the flavors remain bright and fruity.

Example of red grapes fermenting with their skins.

Pinot Noir craves intermediate climates with long, cool growing seasons and prefer growing near bodies of water, thanks Lake Michigan!  Because these finicky grapes grow in tight clusters and have delicate skins they are more susceptible to rot and therefore normally produce low yields.  With these challenges there is less room for error, so our team must take extra precautions to ensure these grapes are happy and healthy.

What is the result of healthy Pinot Noir grapes you ask?  Why, a delicious array of wines such as our Bedazzled, which is a dry sparkling wine blended with Pinot Noir, and our 2018 Arcturos Pinot Noir Rosé.   This elegant dry rosé is full of fresh berry flavors and perfect for summer sipping.  For the red wine lovers, our current offerings are:

Black Star Farms Pinot Noir—light-medium bodied, fruity, vanilla aroma

2016 Arcturos Pinot Noir—medium bodied, red berry flavors, spicy finish

Vintners Pinot Noir—medium bodied, blackberry flavors, velvety finish

We recommend pairing our 2016 Arcturos Pinot Noir with pork tenderloin on the grill, roasted duck or mushroom pizza.  The 2018 Pinot Noir Rosé will go perfectly with many summer salads like the spinach salad with sliced strawberries, blueberries, toasted almonds and feta served at our Hearth & Vine Café. The Bedazzled is great served with cheese and fruit or light appetizers like the locally revered white fish pâté .

A spinach salad with fresh berries and feta cheese.

Pinot Noir happens to be one of the world’s most popular wines, and Pinot Noir grapes are some of the oldest grapes in the world.  Wines made from Pinot Noir have been consumed for centuries, way before Michigan came onto the wine scene.  We will always be searching for new ways to entertain our guests with the flavors our region by experimenting with this classic varietal.  Join us at one of our Traverse City area tasting rooms and experience for yourself the versatility of this special grape.  If you visit us during mid-late October you might have the chance to see our winery team in action processing the 2019 Pinot Noir harvest.

About the Writer, Olivia Kiel

As a Tasting Room Representative and the new blogger for Black Star Farms, I get the opportunity to write and learn about wine (two of my favorite things!) every day. I’ve worked at both Traverse City area tasting rooms and developed a passion for everything Black Star Farms by working alongside the company’s best and pouring its finest wines. I have a Bachelor of Science degree from Ferris State University where I studied Writing and Business and have been a Northern Michigan resident for about three years. When I’m not at work, you’ll likely find me with a good book, enjoying the outdoors, or at a local winery tasting something new and exciting.

Photo of Olivia Kiel Black Star Farms Blog writer and Old Mission tasting room manager.

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