I'm not one for making predictions. Not astrological. Not agricultural. But when I was recently asked what grape I thought might take over the world, I answered: "Pinot Noir." Though even its fans describe it in such unflattering terms as temperamental, time-consuming and expensivethe proverbial date from hellthis famed red grape of France's Burgundy region is being planted by more and more wine producers all over the world.
Everywhere I've traveled, and plenty of places I haven't, winemakers seem to be turning vast tracts of vineyard land over to this flighty varietal. From California and Oregon to New Zealand to less likely locales such as Switzerland, Austria and Ontario, Pinot Noir is being planted with a single-minded furor that hasn't been seen since the boom days of Chardonnay. In New Zealand, one producer proudly informed me that his country now has as much Pinot in the ground as the entire state of California doesa remarkable development, considering New Zealanders really got started with the grape just a decade ago and their population of wine drinkers is probably smaller than a Los Angeles suburb.
Pinot's Inglorious Past