The fascinating world of Pinot

The fascinating world of Pinot

The Enjoy Discovering Wine Alumni Club meet on the last Wednesday of the month at The Corner House in Winchester for an evening of wine education, tasting and socializing. The purpose of the Alumni Club is to offer wine education in a fun and relaxed environment. Erica discusses a new topic at each event and this month we delved into the fascinating world of the Pinot grape. Erica opened our event with an explanation of the history of Pinot which is believed to have begun over 2000 years ago. Today, there are more than 1000 registered clones of Pinot Noir; plus grapes varieties that have been created by natural crossings of Pinot Noir with other grapes.

The clones of Pinot

During the 1960s Burgundy was affected by a huge number of viruses which were attacking their vines. To overcome this an inspection, and consequently registration, of virus free Pinot Noir and Chardonnay clones took place. Of the Pinot Noir one of these clones, Pinot Droits, was selected as it produced large grapes (so lots of juice), however, the wine itself was of relatively low quality. Whereas other clones known only by number, such as 114, 115, 667, 777 and 828 (known as the Dijon clone in the US), had the potential to produce very good quality wines.



Erica described to us other grapes that have been proven to be (mutations) clones of Pinot as follows:

Pinot Noir Precoce (precoce meaning early) is a variety that ripens earlier than Pinot Noir and produces small berries with very thick skins and so are good for resisting rot.

Pinot Meunier (meunier meaning miller) which they believe is named as such after the fine white hairs that are present on the underside of the leaf looking like flour. This grape buds later and ripens earlier than Pinot Noir, also can be useful in cooler climates.

Pinot Teinturier a grape that is similar to Pinot Noir except it has red flesh.

Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio, Grauburgunder, Rulander, Burgunder Roter etc., etc.) a white variety which when allowed to fully ripen gives a pink coloured skin. It is early to bud and ripen like Pinot Noir but can lose its acidity.

Pinot Blanc a mutation of Pinot Gris,  which up until 1868 they thought it was Chardonnay.

Pinot natural crossings

Pinot and its 'relatives'

Pinot and its ‘relatives’

Using a Pinot family tree that she had prepared for us Erica explained some of the grape varieties that have been created via natural crossings involving Pinot. Erica talked us through how this busy little grape has produced a vast amount of ‘children’, ‘grandchildren’ and ‘great grandchildren’.  On one side of the family tree we learned that Pinot crossed with Gounais Blanc resulted in 21 new grape varieties being created including Aligote, Chardonnay, Folle Blanche, Muscadelle and Riesling.

The other side of Erica’s Pinot family tree detailed how Pinot had crossed with an unknown grape variety and created Savagnin. Following the tree, we saw how Savagnin had then crossed with some other unknown grape varieties and Petit Manseng and Chenin Blanc were created. This then further ‘relationships’ led to the creation of Gros Manseng, Verdelho, Gruner Silvaner and Colombard.


The history of Pinot is both fascinating and detailed and to support our learning Erica had selected eight wines from this family for us to taste. 

2016 Marjan Simcic Pinot Grigio, Goriška Brda, Slovenia £15.00
2015 Bernhard Huber Grauer Burgunder, Trocken, Baden £14.60
2015 Domaine Jean-Marie Haag Pinot Blanc, Alsace £15.00
2015 Paul Blanck et Fils Pinot Gris, Alsace £15.00

2013 Weingut August Kesseler Pinot Noir ‘N’ £18.20
2012 Ama Peay Vineyards ‘Ama Estate’ Pinot Noir £32.60
2015 Felton Road ‘Block 5’ Pinot Noir £50.00
2011 Domaine Bruno Clair ‘Aux Champs Perdrix’ Vosne-Romanée £45.00

The Club was set up for those that have studied WSET as far as they can (or feel inclined to at the moment) and say to me, ‘Erica what’s next!?’ An opportunity to attend a two-hour masterclass and network with fellow students, and meet new like-minded wine-buffs.

Interested? More information can be found here, or drop Helen or Erica a note via


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