Outstanding bottles from some of California and Oregon's finest winemakers.
Winderlea Legacy Pinot Noir Dundee Hills, Oregon
Concentration and purity reflect the 45+-year-old, own-rooted vines this special bottle from Winderlea comes from.
A pairing of rose petals with a hint of mushrooms opens over briary berry aromas layered with forest botanicals, a hint of bay leaf and a note that conjures a briny ocean breeze.
A core of bright cherry fruit—leaning toward pomegranate—anchors a generous palate, where the savory notes introduced on the nose are reprised and intensity gives up nothing on the finish.
Lovely violets open, with toasted spice, resinous botanicals, pine and loam layered on the nose.
This 2020 Williams Selyem Pinot delivers a classic—and delicious—Russian River profile.
Silky red fruit, from raspberry and cranberry to rich cherry, evolve into notes of blue fruit brightened with orange zest, as intensity builds on a palate supported by beautifully textured tannins.
Amity Hills, Willamette Valley
This dense Pinot from Walter Scott is worthy of its name—Bacocho being a beach in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, known for turbulence and powerful currants.
Even its aromas are powerful: distinct earth, florals and warm spices under perfumed cherry with hints of mushroom.
The palate is a study in depth and intensity, its black cherry and blueberry flavors wrapped in resinous herbs and impressive structure spooling out on the finish.
Southing Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills
Consistently one of Santa Barbara’s top Pinot producers, Sea Smoke has a juicy, perfumed beauty in its 2019 Southing.
The scent of warm earth opens in the glass, punctuated with spice notes, red fruit and delicate floral aromas.
The palate that follows layers bright strawberry and raspberry, gentle minerality and a floral quality against intriguing textures (the wine is unfined and unfiltered) into a long finish.
Mimi’s Mind Pinot Noir Eola–Amity Hills
The Mimi in question here is Mimi Casteel, whose regeneratively farmed Willamette Valley vineyard the team at Lingua Franca—Master Sommelier Larry Stone, fellow co-founder David Honig, winemaker Thomas Savre and acclaimed consulting winemaker Dominique Lafon—sources for one of its most fascinating Pinots.
Perfumed notes of hyacinth open over fresh red fruit layered with earthy loam and forest notes along with warm spices like clove and coriander.
Beautiful raspberry and cherry fruit is the immediate focus of the palate, but multi-dimensions unfold—the sweet spice is joined by savory minerality and crushed herbs and serious structure reveals itself through a long and vibrant finish.
Don’s Block Hallberg Ranch Pinot Noir Russian River Valley
From Emeritus Vineyards’ dry-farmed Hallberg Ranch comes a deeply expressive yet delicate Pinot.
High-toned jasmine aromas swirl with bay leaf, cedar, graphite, loam and briary berry notes, while the palate veritably dances with ethereal but intense and flavorful cherry against a silky structure of refined tannins.
Louise Vineyard Pinot Noir Eola–Amity Hills, Willamette Valley
An earthy, complex nose opens on this Cristom Pinot, conjuring savory mushrooms growing in damp loam, with woodsy herbs weaving through dark berry aromas.
The palate is finely balanced between mouth-watering acidity and round, silky tannins.
Bright red fruit—strawberry, raspberry, a little pomegranate—is focused with a little citrus, while lovely minerality finishes the wine on a savory note.
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There comes a time every year—about now, with temperatures rising—when it seems like red wine should be more about finesse and nuance than power, more about brightness than towering structure.
I’m advocating for Pinot Noir, of course, described as “elegant” more often than any other red in the world.