Comparing Pinot Nero vs Pinot Noir is tricky. They are the same grape. Whether you use a blind tasting or a DNA analysis, there are more similarities than differences. Let’s look at the main difference and then explore the main difference between these two types of wine.
Pinot Nero vs Pinot Noir: The Key Cultural Difference
In French wines, winemakers use the term “Pinot Noir” (noir is French for black), while Italian winemakers use the term “Pinot Nero.” Even if the grape variety is the same in both countries, there is more to this difference. The wine climate in Italy is quite different from France. Your approach to Pinot Noir food pairing may need to change.
Looking at the grape, it can be tough to tell the difference. Whether you use the French word for the black variety (noir) or the Italian word (Nero), you’re looking at a dark version of the Vitis vinifera grape. This wine grape is also widely used in sparkling wines and is related to other famous white wines like Pinot Grigio and Pinot Blanc (also known as Pinot Blanco). Pinot Nero is also known as pinot negro in Spain.
Pinot Nero vs Pinot Noir: What They Have In Common
Pinot Noir is better known in the English-speaking world and is likely to have a higher sales volume in most cases. That’s because the United States and British Columbia producers tend to use French clones and describe their wines using terms like “Oregon Pinot Noir” or “Organic Pinot Noir.” Their Italian name, like Pinot Grigio, better knows other Italian grape varieties.
These varietal wines have a flavor profile with tastes like cherry, raspberry, and forest floor. Additional flavors like spice and vanilla may develop if aged in oak barrels.
There is no meaningful tannin level difference in Pinot Nero vs Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir and Pinot Noir have low tannin levels. That’s why I recommended Pinot Noir in my guide to the best red wine for non wine drinkers.
Pinot Nero and Pinot Noir have relatively high acidity levels. Those who like the refreshing acidity in Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc are likely to enjoy Pinot Noir. The relatively higher acidity level will make these wines more familiar.
Alcohol By Volume
The alcohol content in wine varies based on climate and temperature. A warmer wine climate like Napa Valley and Monterey County. In general, Pinot Noir has a 13.5% alcohol content. In Italy, Pinot Nero alto Adige tends to have a lower alcohol content, such as 11.5% or 12%.
Pinot Nero: 4 Leading Wines To Try
Pinot Nero is produced in several wine regions in Italy, like South Tyrol, Veneto, Tuscany, and other areas. Here
Franz Haas ‘Ponkler’ Pinot Nero Alto-Adige (Retail price: over $100)
Wine critics love this wine – they gave it an average score of 95. Produced in the South Tyrol region, this wine’s source material is the Pinot Nero grape. The flavor profile includes vanilla, chocolate, and wild strawberry.
Terlano Pinot Noir Riserva Monticol (Retail price: $38)
Produced in the northern Italian wine region of Trentino-Alto Adige, this red wine has a 13.5% alcohol content. The wine is aged in oak barrels, so expect to enjoy notes of vanilla and tobacco in the glass. Red fruit flavors like cherry and wild strawberry are most prominent in the glass of this dry wine.
Franz Haas Pinot Nero (Retail price: $26)
In 2017, this South Tyrol Italian red wine was featured in Vivino’s 2017 Wine Style Awards. This light body wine is dry and has significant acidity. The flavor profile emphasizes cherry, raspberry, and strawberry. In addition, you’ll also find earthy notes such as leather and smoke here. The wine goes well with fish dishes. Want to learn about other wine and fish pairings? See the following guide: red wine with sushi.
Antinori Castello della Sala Pinot Nero (Retail price: $86)
Unlike the other Italian red wines profiled here, this Pinot Nero comes from the central Italian region of Umbria. With 14% alcohol content, it is a stronger Pinot Noir. The wine’s flavor profile is dominated by oaky vanilla and dark chocolate notes. In addition, this Pinot Nero offers significant red fruit flavors like cherry and strawberry.
Are you interested in exploring other delightful Italian red wines? Check out this guide to Italian red blend wine and Italian Merlot.
Pinot Noir: 5 Leading Red Wines To Try
Pinot Noir, the same grape as Pinot Nero, is planted in many different places worldwide, including the Anderson Valley, Russian River Valley, Santa Barbara County, South Africa, and elsewhere. While I tend to focus on French and European wines, for variety, let’s look at other examples. Some of these producers may be using European clones of grapes that became popular in Europe. For more insights on wine grape genetics, I suggest consulting UC Davis, which has an excellent wine program.
Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir (Retail Price: $40)
This wine producer has vineyards in both Oregon’s Willamette Valley and Burgundy. The Oregon Pinot Noir Dundee Hills has earned 90+ scores from leading wine experts and publications like James Suckling, Wine Advocate, and Wine Spectator. The 2019 vintage has 13.9% alcohol and offers spice notes and redcurrant.
Emeritus Vineyards Pinot Hill (Retail Price: $65)
California’s Sonoma County has a growing reputation for Pinot Noir. Emeritus offers Pinot Noir with a flavor profile, including wild strawberry, cherry, and rhubarb (for further context, compare Pinot Grigio Vs Pinot Noir). In addition to the fruit flavors, the wine has notes of cooking spices (i.e., thyme and sage) and coffee.
Drew Family Cellars Estate Field Selections Pinot Noir (Retail Price: $60)
Located in Mendocino County, this light red wine has earned an average wine critic score of 93. The wine’s essential fruit flavors include black cherry, blueberry, and raspberry. The wine is also aged in 50% new oak barrels, so expect to enjoy some oaky flavors in your glass. This Pinot Noir wine has an alcohol content of between 13.3 to 13.8%.
Artesa Block 12 Estate Vineyard (Retail Price: $85)
Situated in Napa County, this 100% Pinot Noir wine is aged in 100% French oak. This wine may be more difficult to find because there were only 150 cases of the 2018 vintage produced. Tasting notes for this wine include blueberry, strawberry, and brambleberry. This is an excellent example of a cool climate Pinot Nor wine.
La Brune Wines Pinot Noir (Retail Price: $17)
This South African Pinot Noir caught my eye for affordability and the unusual bottle closure. With an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 12.7%, it is relatively lower alcohol than some of the other wines we’ve covered. The fruity flavors in the wine combine strawberry, blackberry, and earthy notes like forest floor and mushroom.
Pinot Nero vs Pinot Noir In Summary
The similarities between Pinot Nero vs Pinot Noir far outweigh their differences. Both wines have a light body and lower alcohol than full-bodied wines like Cabernet Sauvignon (find out more about this wine’s taste here – Shiraz vs Cabernet Sauvignon). Wines labeled Pinot Nero usually come from Italy because Nero is an Italian word. In comparison, Pinot Noir-labeled wines are grown across the world.
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