If you've seen the movie Sideways, you know all about Pinot Noir. Right? As he says in the movie, Pinot Noir is a finicky grape, because it has very thin skins. It grows in tight bunches which historically made it susceptible to rot problems. Today this isn't as big a problem because of improvements in spraying techniques. Pinot Noir's classic French home is the Burgundy region, a place with the cool climate perfect for the development of the grape.
Because of its thin skins, Pinot Noir produces a very light-bodied wine, low in tannins. It typically exhibits fruit and perfume aromas, like raspberries, strawberries, or red cherries. Think red fruit here, unlike Cabernet Sauvignon's black fruit. Some prefer Pinot Noir young, while it's fruit flavors are in full bloom. Others enjoy the vegetal and barnyard notes that can develop as Pinot Noir ages in the bottle. Because of the lack of tannins, Pinot Noir is drinkable either very young or old.
Outside of Burgundy, Pinot Noir's most successful areas include Carneros and Sonoma in California, the Willamette Valley in Oregon, Walker bay in South Africa, the Yarra Valley in Australia, and Martinbough, Marlborough and Central Ottago in New Zealand. Pinot Noir is also one of the essential grapes used to make Champagne.