California: The Other Side of Pinot Noir

March 27, 2013 12:30 pm

Here we are in the last week of March and still two grape varieties to go in the big California spotlight… this week I’ll recommend a couple of good all-purpose Pinot Noirs; next week I’m pulling out the big guns in the form of Zinfandel.

I’ll start with the delicate Pinot Noir grape… the heartbreak grape… the one people love to hate.  One of the toughest grapes to grow, but it makes one of the most beloved wines in the world.  There are two Pinot Noir camps: those who love the fruity style of California and the earthy-barnyard folks who sit on the other side of the fence in France – namely Burgundy. The two I’m about to recommend are for those of you who like the California style… and although there are some producers in the Golden State who try to emulate the French style, most go for California fruitiness.

Aquinas 2010 Pinot Noir ($17.95 – #277657) comes from the Napa Valley. It has the black cherry and cranberry notes that you find in Pinot Noir and also embraces the earthy nature of Pinot on the nose and palate – this one falls closer to the line of France but does not hop the fence (***½).

The Hahn 2011 Pinot Noir ($19.05 – #226555) from Monterey is more of what California Pinot fans are looking for – juicyand fruity. There’s a lovely cherry fruit that runs all through this wine, balanced by a nice acidity – then come hints of cranberry and a sprinkling of white pepper. There’s also a nice hit of raspberry on the finish to round this one off perfectly. It’s definitely, without a shadow of a doubt, Californian in style (****).

Till the end of the month, the Aquinas is $2 off and the Hahn is a dollar off… pick your poison, as they say, and enjoy.

Aquinas 2010 Pinot Noir – $17.95, #277657 (***½ = good)

Hahn 2011 Pinot Noir – $19.05, #226555 (**** = very good)

 

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