Pinot Noir, the great red grape of Burgundy, is a touchy varietal. The best examples offer the classic black cherry, spice, raspberry, and currant flavors, and an aroma that can resemble wilted roses, as well as earth, tar, herb and cola notes. Conversely, Pinot Noir can also be rather ordinary, light, simple, herbal, vegetal and even weedy. Other times, it can be downright funky, with pungent barnyard aromas. In fact, Pinot Noir is the most fickle of all grapes to grow: It reacts strongly to environmental changes such as heat and cold spells, and it is notoriously fussy to work with once picked, since its skins are easily bruised and broken. Even after fermentation, Pinot Noir can hide its weaknesses and strengths, making it a most difficult wine to evaluate out of barrel. In the bottle, too, it is often a chameleon, showing poorly one day, brilliantly the next. Nevertheless, it can and does produce some of the planet's greatest red wines.
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