If there's one grape varietal that can drive winemakers crazy, it's the finicky Pinot Noir. At its best, this large, thin-skinned berry produces some of the finest red wines in the world—supple, silky, and delicate, with an incredible range of aromas and a heavenly perfume. It is, however, far more difficult to grow and vinify than hardier noble varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Pinot Noir is one the lightest colored red wine varietals, and the primary grape used in the making of blanc de noir, sparkling wines, particularly Champagne. Despite its light color, it can actually be full-bodied and high in alcohol. It has a high natural acidity, medium to low tannins, and soft fruit notes of red berries such as strawberries, ripe raspberry, and red currants. For centuries, it has been the noble red grape of Burgundy's Cô̂te d'Or region (in fact, there is more Pinot Noir planted in Champagne today than in Burgundy's Cô̂te d'Or region). Certain cool growing regions in the New World—such as California's Carneros, Santa Barbara, Russian River Valley appellations, the Pacific Northwest (Oregon in particular), Australia, and New Zealand—have had success with the temperamental grape as well. Pinot Noir goes well with a wide range of food, including wild game, chicken, rich seafood dishes, and smoked meats. A superior vintage can age up to 40 years or more, but in general, Pinot Noirs develop more quickly than Cabernet Sauvignon because they are less astringent and tannic. Pinot Noir is one of the four red wines (the others are Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot) that make up the nine classical varietals (there are five white classical varietals: Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sé́millon.)