Pinot Noir wines include drink-nows and keepers

February 11, 2023

Have you been shopping, looking for the abundant great deals this season brings? Regular readers, please be patient with this repetitive information. If your budget allows a case buy, you should garner a substantial discount. You must ask for it in some establishments. Keep in mind that discounts frequently apply to mixed cases. Worried about storage? First decide, being honest with yourself, will you and yours consume 12 bottles of wine over the next 90 days (about three months)? If so, any cool, 50-70-degree (for short term), dry space with any shelf arrangement will do, because we are not trying to age these bottles. Although I rarely advise this, storing wines upright, even those with cork closures, for such a short term is not problematic. To be clear, those purchasing older vintage wine or wishing to improve their cellar should not follow this practice.

Let’s investigate some Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Although 2020 was a difficult year due to climate issues, heat waves, fires and smoke taint, all of which were rife throughout Sonoma, several producers have succeeded. Hanzell Vineyards Sebella Sonoma Coast PN 2020, 90 McD, is a substantial value under $30. The 2019 is better, McD 92 under $32. Heavy rain near bud break that year was remediated by a long, dry, moderately warm summer. Succulent and lip-smacking comes to mind. Cool fermenting, then nine months in new French oak combine to allow fruit and oaken spices to shine through with hints of forest litter, lavender and pepper. Bright acidity indicates a food wine. Hanzell Vineyards, managed by Jason Jardine since 2014, are top-flight producers in Sonoma, with most of their PNs, Chards and Cabs priced $100+. The juice comes from older vines planted in the 1970s and ‘80s. Sebella Vineyard is much younger. These are an opportunity to observe winemakers’ art at fair prices. The 2021 probably hasn’t reached the local shelves yet. If you find some, look for raspberry, baked cherry and orange zest aromas; sweet fruit (dry), smooth tannins and appropriate acidity. Drink soon, not made for longevity. Schug Carneros Estate Winery Sonoma Coast PN 2021 is a deal under $20. There are cases on sale under $227. Strawberry, cherry, cola, forest floor, bacon aromas. No noticeable oak. These are fresh and elegant with bright acidity and PN fruit on the palate, drink soon, 90 McD. Schug makes several PNs, so be sure to read label carefully. The 2021 is superior to all recent vintages from this label, which tend to be around 87 McD. For La Crema Sonoma Coast PN, buy 2018, 91 McD; 2019, 92 McD; and 21, 92 McD under $22. Avoid 2017 and 2020.

Let’s shift up the coast to Oregon’s Willamette Valley for a few superstar PNs in the $30 range. 2019 was the second-warmest season on record. This happy occasion allowed great ripening and development for Oregon grapes. Without fear of broad brushing, there should be quite a few top products arriving from higher elevations. Roserock Eola-Amity Hills PN, any vintage since 2016, rates 91 or better. No production has been released so far in 2020. RP awarded a 97 to the 2019. The 2021 gets 92 McD, under $28 add 1 price point. These closely resemble the best-made Village Burgundies in style. RRs may remember previous Trisaetum PN reviews. Its 2019 is wonderful and findable under $32. Ruby colored, it opens to cherry, strawberry, and damp earth accent aromas. The berry notes continue through the palate where mushroom and oaken spice appear. These show bright acidity, smooth tannins and barrel spice all nicely balanced. Off track a bit, I enjoy their Ribbon Ridge Estate Riesling 2020. These are drier than the 2019. The fruit/acidity balance is near perfect for my palate. Look for peaches and pears riding a bright acid frame through an exceptionally long finish which shows a hint of mint to clean up. You will need some help to find these, but pay the premium; 93 McD points. They are selling from the vineyard for $35, to give an estimate. I would like to wish all lovers an incredibly Happy Valentine’s Day, especially my best pal Barbara, who enjoys having her birthday on the 14th.


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