Pinot is a little bit misunderstood. Recent findings have shown us that all Pinot varieties are not just related but are, in fact, the same! Time to get to the bottom of the story of Pinot, an ancient grape that has boggled us for centuries.

The Big Secret About Pinot

As it happens, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris are not just related, they are the same. Each variety can be grouped under an overarching variety simply called ‘Pinot’ with each variation being mainly identified by their color. This news could even change the way we perceive certain wine regions, such as  Oregon, that specialize in Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.

Wine Grapes Greatest Achievement

If you’ve seen the recent book, Wine Grapes, perhaps you’ve stumbled across the Pinot pages. The book cites DNA testing on grapes to confirm that Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc are actually all just mutations of the same variety. Ampelography (studying grape vines) has shown that there are six primary clonal variations:

  1. Pinot Noir: (a.k.a. Pinot Nero) A hard-to-grow black wine grape with green flesh that originated around Burgundy.
  2. Pinot Gris: (a.k.a. Pinot Grigio) A pink-skinned wine grape that produces white wines to rosé-colored wines.
  3. Pinot Blanc: (a.k.a. Pinot Bianco) A white grape that often has been confused with Chardonnay.
  4. Pinot Meunier: A black-skinned grape that ripens a bit earlier than Pinot Noir and is mostly used in Champagne.
  5. Pinot Teinturier: A black-skinned grape with red flesh that was observed in vineyards periodically over the last 100 years.
  6. Pinot Noir Précoce: A mutation of Pinot Noir that ripens 2 weeks earlier than regular Pinot Noir.

Pinot is Much Older Than Cabernet Sauvignon

The reason for all this variation is because Pinot is super old, over 1000 years old. And while it seems odd that Pinot Noir is such a mutant grape, it’s been shown that over a long period of time these things just happen. In fact, if you look at other really old grape varieties, such as Muscat Blanc (a.k.a. Moscato), you’ll find that it has a lot of variation too. For example, there is a red Muscat grape!

Mutations and crossings with other grapes aren’t a bad thing, in fact this is what brought us Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a natural crossing of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc that happened in the 1700’s.