Pinot Noir: Varietal of the Month

Marcy Gordon on Apr 22, 2022

Pinot Noir is synonymous with Sonoma County as one of the flagship wines of the Russian River Valley region. Light bodied with moderate to high acidity gives Pinot Noir a structure that makes it eminently pair worthy with a wide range of foods. A cool climate grape, Pinot Noir can be finicky and difficult to grow, but it is also most expressive and reflective of the place where it’s grown. Here in Sonoma County, in the Russian River Valley and along the Sonoma Coast, we have some of world’s best vineyards and growing conditions for producing classic Pinot Noir of elegance and complexity.

Here are capsule reviews of Pinot Noir you may find along the Wine Road.

Baldassari 2019 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

On the nose the 2019 Baldassari Pinot Noir presents a bouquet of strawberry, clove and pomegranate and a hint of flint. A nice balance of fruit, acid and tannin with a plush mouth feel delivers tart cherry, hibiscus, rose hips and deep grounding notes of tobacco. It’s juicy and zingy and full of flavor with a long taut finish. Enjoyable now, but for those that can wait, a few years of bottle age will make it sing. Pair with pulled pork sliders.

ABV 14.1%

Dutton Estate 2018 La Familia Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

Deep garnet in color the 2018 Dutton Estate La Familia Pinot Noir opens with a beautiful nose of cranberry, plum, warm spun sugar, black cherry and a touch of white pepper. Well balanced with silky unobtrusive tannins that glide across the palate with lush notes of cocoa, red plums, pomegranate and wild blueberry. Great acidity and a long spicy finish with a pleasant hit of mint at the end. Pair with something classic such as a Liberty Duck confit with a cherry glaze.

ABV 14.4%

Ektimo 2017 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

The Ektimo 2017 Pinot Noir is perfumed with crushed rose petals and violets and a heavenly scent of wild strawberry. Bright and fruity with good acidity featuring primary notes of ripe cherry, plum sauce, and spicy carnation along with savory notes of fig and cocoa that linger on the finish. Great balance and structure make this a sure bet for cellaring, but who wants to wait? Enjoy now with a baked Brie or warm goat cheese salad alongside a rotisserie chicken.

ABV 13.5%

Furthermore 2017 Gaps Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir, Petaluma Gap

The deep garnet color of the 2017 Furthermore Pinot Noir, from Gaps Crown in the Petaluma Gap AVA, portends what’s to come. On the nose you’ll find earthy scents of mushroom and tobacco, with notes of cocoa and ripe Bing cherry. Bright fruit flavors sashay across the palate with juicy red raspberry, black plum and tart pomegranate. The spicy finish offers notes of clove, baking spice and candied ginger that is savory and long lasting. Pair with mac and cheese for a high/low combination that is both elegant and satisfying.

ABV 14.7%

Russian River Vineyards 2017 Horseridge Vineyards Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

There used to be an airline slogan “Something special in the air…” and that’s what came to mind as I inhaled the complex scents of this Russian River Vineyards 2017 Pinot Noir. It was an aromatic rush to the senses of strawberry, leather, clove, vanilla, cigar and plum. Balanced and well-integrated interplay of acid and tannins deliver tart layered flavors of cherry, red raspberry, wild blueberry, smoky fig, rhubarb and a dusting of cocoa. Pair with a fine cigar or something decadent like black truffle risotto.

ABV 14.5%
$90 (Library Wine)

Trione 2017 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

On the nose, the 2017 Trione Pinot Noir has scents of sweet briar, cherry, cranberry, clove, mushroom and plum sauce. Soft silky tannins provide a seamless backdrop to the juicy flavors of strawberry, pomegranate and a wonderful note of bacon fat. The long spicy finish has a touch of rose hips and raspberry. There’s a lot going on here but it all comes together in perfect harmony. Great to drink now and I suspect it will be rewarding well into the future too. Pair with bacon wrapped Scallops or cedar plank salmon.

ABV 14.6%

Posted by Marcy Gordon

Marcy Gordon is a freelance wine and travel writer. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including Wine Enthusiast, San Francisco Chronicle, Sonoma Magazine, The California Travel Guide, and Forbes Travel Guide. In 2017 she was awarded a fellowship to the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. She is the co-host of the award winning Wine Road Podcast.

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