The Wine Cellar: Pinot Noir Celebration--the wines of California
by Rene Corton
Pinot noir is classically considered a cool growing region grape, and for years, pinots from the Napa Valley tended to remind me of cabernet rather than red burgundy.
Over the past decade, three regions clearly have dispelled this notion: Santa Barbara-Santa Maria Valley, the Caneros region at the bottom of the Sonoma and Napa Valleys, and the Russian River region in Sonoma. In all three areas, the frequent ocean winds bring in morning fog, which substantially moderates the otherwise hot climate.
The 1994 Sanford Estate, the 1994 Foxen Bien Nacido Vineyard, the 1994 Fess Parker American Tradition Reserve, and the 1993 Au Bon Climat Sanford and Benedict Vineyard were lovely wines with concentrated earthy strawberry-cherry flavors and soft tannins.
The 1994 La Crema Russian River Reserve, 1994 DeLoach Russian River OFS, and the 1993 Dehlinger Russian River Estate were outstanding. Sweet, intense, velvet blackcherry smells and flavors with balanced acidity and soft tannins are typical of Russian River pinots and well represented by these wines. From the Los Carneros region, the 1993 Acacia Carneros Reserve was deep purple red with medium plus density, complex blackcherry fruit, and a long finish. Good Stuff!