OK, I admit it. I’m partial to Pinot Noir. Not a sucker for but partial to. Especially during the summer when I want fine reds I can serve a bit cooler (maybe 55°F). With grilled salmon or pork or vegetables. (Yes, I eat vegetables. Corn-on-the-cob is a vegetable.) Or American Italian Food. I love Pinot Noir with Bolognaise. And even Pizza. You get the idea. These are all winners but in a couple of pretty different price ranges. All offer good summer sipping.
STRAIGHT SHOOTER Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, 2015 ($18.99)
100% Pinot Noir (mix of Pommard/114/115/777/Wadenswil/667 clones) as 95% whole berries and 5% whole clusters given an indigenous yeast ferment in stainless steel open top tanks with punchdowns, and aged 12 months in all French oak barrels (none new). Red-violet color with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium phenolics. Supple fresh classically Oregon red fruit Pinot that over delivers. Balanced and delicious with a compete and integrated total package. DRINK IT. BearScore: 91+.
CHAMISAL Stainless Pinot Noir, Central Coast, 2014 ($19.94)
100% Pinot Noir from a mix of Edna Valley, Santa Rita Hills and San Luis Obispo County vineyards fermented in a combination of closed tanks and open-top fermentors using specialized yeasts, the berries were kept cool and covered with carbon dioxide for carbonic maceration and malo-lactic fermentation is blocked. The wine does not go into oak barrels. The result is a wine of medium-red color with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with fresh acidity and medium phenolics. Fresh and vivid. Focused, juicy, pure full-range red fruit with great purity. Notes of cola and spice. This is a fine summer-weight chill-able red that can handle a lot of everyday dining from salmon on the grill to an Asian BYOB. Has the acidity to handle lasagna or Bolognaisa. Delicious. BearScore: 92.
SAFFRON FIELDS Pinot Noir Heritage Clones, Yamhill-Carlton, 2013 ($48.89)
100% Pinot Noir (Pommard and Wadenswil from the oldest vines on the property). All destemmed into 1 to 1.5 ton open-top fermenters cold soaked for 9 days. The caps are punched down 1-3 times daily depending on the fermenter. Aged 16 months in all French oak barrels (50% new). Red with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with fresh acidity; medium light phenolics. Delicious supple juicy ripe Pinot Noir offering focused red fruit with cola and spice and a subtle earthiness. BearScore: 92+.
PEAY Pomarium Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, 2014 ($55.49)
100% Pinot Noir (667 and Calera selection) from the extreme northern Sonoma Coast (Annapolis area) aged 11 months in French oak barrels (33% new). Red-magenta with well formed legs; dry, medium-light-bodied with fresh acidity and medium-light phenolics. Light and fresh and refreshing. A sort of California equivalent to a really good red village Santenay. Bright red fruit and a bit of spice with cola and subtle mineral earth. BearScore: 94.
HANZELL Sebella Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, 2015 ($57.94)
100% Pinot Noir aged 10 months in 60 gallon French oak barrels (25% new). Medium-red-violet color with well formed legs; dry, medium light-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium phenolics. Wow. Puts me in mind of really good Santenay Gravieres. Pure precise red fruit with spice and mineral earth with minimal oak. Does not taste like any other California Pinot in my memory. Satisfies and makes me happy. BearScore: 93+.