Happy National Pinot Day!
Happy National Pinot Noir Day! There are more of these national grape holidays than you can shake a stick at, but I’m happy for any reason to celebrate Pinot Noir, one of my all-time favorite grapes. It may have shot to fame in the movie Sideways, but it’s been a beguiling object of desire for many a wine lover over centuries. Burgundy is its spiritual home, but it has spread throughout the winemaking world, with varying levels of success, from New Zealand to Oregon to Romania to Champagne. It’s called the heartbreak grape for many reasons—it’s finicky in the vineyard and even more finicky in the cellar. But when you do it right, you get layers of complexity woven into a delicate, ethereal frame. And it’s remarkably transparent in the sense of terroir, responding to the soils and bedrocks and weather to reveal expressions unique to each place it’s grown. It’s sexy in its subtleties—so much lies beneath the surface. Perfumy, evocative, intellectual, Pinot Noir is seductive as hell to drink.
So here’s our ode to Pinot Noir. The Hollywood staff each picked a favorite bottle from a region around the world. If you’d like to scratch your Pinot itch, might we suggest one of these?
Blake’s pick is the 2017 Drew Mid-Elevation Mendocino Ridge. He says that Mendocino Ridge is an up-and-coming region that should be on your radar for some of the best Pinot and Chard in Cali.
Shelby chose the 206 Lingua Franca AVNI from Willamette Valley. This is made by Master Sommelier Larry Stone, who grew up in the Willamette Valley and sold his entire personal wine collection to fund this passion project. The estate’s site is one of the most sought-after terroir in the world.
Illya has gone and done it. He’s declared the 2016 Meyer-Näkel "Estate" Pinot Noir Ahr the best. Pinot. in. the. world. He says it’s the most northern spot in Germany for growing Pinot, and the cool climate contributes to beautiful acidity and balance with a yin-yang of crunchy red fruit and earthy note.
Jacques went straight for Pinot’s homeland, and chose the 2016 Domaine Faiveley Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes. Storied village, consistently high-quality producer—this bottling shows Pinot reaching great heights.
Keith went with the 2018 Domaine Begude Pinot Noir from Limoux in the Roussillon region of Southwestern France. Made by a family-run winery who farms organically, this is an insane deal—only $12.99 for a really easy-drinking Pinot.
Fresh off a recent buy trip to Santa Maria Valley, Kaj chose the 2014 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir. This is the estate wine of this extraordinary vineyard, truly the Grand Cru of the Central Coast.
Sharon’s our Burgundy enthusiast, so she chose the 2017 Domaine Jean et Gilles Lafouge Auxey Duresses Rouge 1er Cru "Les Duresses" from a newer producer to our shelves. She met him in May on her buy trip and fell in love with his wines from this region. A burst of vibrant red fruit and freshness. As prices in Burgundy continue to climb, this is the region to shop for purity and value.
Will chose the 2017 Bodega Chacra "Sin Azufre" Pinot Noir Rio Negro from Patagonia. He says it’s world-class winemaking. The fruit is grown on 60-year-old vines on grand terroir, and the price is unbelievable.
Mandana’s pick is the 2018 Pét-Nat rose from Johan in the Willamette Valley. Demeter-certified biodynamic, lively, dry, and completely delicious.
John’s Pinot pick is the new vintage of the Torti Pinot Noir, a fan-favorite at K&L from the Altreppo region in Italy. Made by Patricia Torti, these wines are consistent, year after year. Earthy and more immediate than, say, Burgundy, this is ready to drink tonight and it’s a great value.
Diana the Champagntrix chose the Michel Arnould Verzenay Extra Brut Champagne a beautiful Pinot-driven wine from one of our favorite direct-import producers from Champagne. This is so elegant and balanced, and a hell of a lot of wine for $39.99.
Representing New Zealand’s Central Otago region is an ethereally pretty wine from Burn Cottage, a biodynamic producer led by Ted Lemon of Sonoma’s Littorai winery.
And there you have it. A Pinot for all stripes. Enjoy your day and drink Pinot copiously!
- Kate Soto