On the Trail

True to Form CA Pinot Noir for Burgundy Lovers

David Driscoll
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I was intrigued at first by the latest vintage of Domaine de la Côte not because of it's reviews from the American press, but rather due to its massive 97 point score from the British-based Decanter magazine. The Brits tend to celebrate classic, true-to-form wines rather than big, brash, in-your-face pomposity and I was curious as to why they were lavishing a California Pinot Noir with such praise. Then I realized that Domaine de la Côte was Raj Parr's estate, the former wine director for the Mina Group and renowned sommelier who spearheaded his own old world project in the Santa Rita Hills. The domaine is collection of vineyards that makes up more than 60 acres on a south-facing slope at about 700 feet, roughly seven miles from the Pacific Ocean. The Santa Barbara area has long been a Mecca for California winemakers looking for cooler climates to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Tasting the 2014 Santa Rita Hills expression (a blend of all the estate vineyards), you could tell you were getting serious Pinot Noir just by looking at the color in the glass. Lighter in hue (classic Côte de Beaune rouge), lower in alcohol at 12.5%, and aromatic on the nose, I could have been easily fooled had someone passed this off as French. The wine has tremendous acidity, concentration of crunchy red fruits, and real old world character. Sometimes it's hard to remember that Pinot Noir like this is still being made in California! Those of you looking for a mid-range Thanksgiving dinner option might want to snatch this up while we have it at this price. American made with a nod to the Côte d'Or. 

-David Driscoll