Legendary 20th century winemaker André Tchelistcheff once said, “God made Cabernet Sauvignon, whereas the Devil made Pinot Noir.” The latter is notoriously fickle — a thin-skinned grape, native to Burgundy, that proves challenging to cultivate. Even when grown in ideal conditions, Pinot Noir wines can vary dramatically from one day to the next. But despite the variety’s diabolical tendencies, California is in the middle of a Pinot Noir frenzy, and Sonoma County is at its epicenter.
Merry Edwards Russian River Pinot Noir 2015
Ripe red raspberries, blueberry pie, dark cherry preserves and blue plums vie for attention in the intense aroma. Floral scents of lilac and roses are apparent along with cola, milk chocolate and savory mushrooms. Fine French oak frames all this abundance, providing lushness without being overbearing. Generous fruit spills over into the palate. Added to this are flavors of artisanal chocolate-hazelnut spread, fig compote, lingonberries and cocoa powder. The acidity is lively - the mouthfeel is full and juicy - the finish long. Every swirl of the glass reveals more, promising
long life for this Pinot Noir, and beckons the sampler to take just one more sip. Try pairing with a hearty Minestrone stew. Serve with a hunk of whole grain artisan-style bread for dipping. Add a salad of butterleaf lettuce, avocados and mandarin oranges tossed with a creamy, mustard-laced vinaigrette.
94 pts. WE
Failla Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016
Leading off the reds, the 2016 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast offers a soft, forward, charming style as well as textbook notes of red fruits (cherries, raspberries), spice, and forest floor. Readers looking for a taste of the quality and style of this estate should grab a bottle as it’s a good value.
90 pts. JD