A fantastic source for information on Pinot Noir is The Prince of Pinot, published by retired physician William “Rusty” Gaffney. Since retiring from his practice in 2001, Dr. Gaffney has written the PinotFile, an online newsletter exclusively devoted to Pinot Noir.
As a retired doctor, Gaffney has long been interested in research attempting to document the positive affect of alcohol in moderation on the human body. Last month he wrote that the odds are stacked against such research, and there is a troubling “neoprohibitionism” in the attitude towards alcohol in this country. These range from denying federal funding for most alcohol-related research to efforts to push down legal blood alcohol levels to levels that would criminalize social drinking. It’s a good and thought-provoking read.
Every wine lover in this country should carefully watch efforts by these latter day Carrie Nations. Here are five enjoyable Pinot Noirs I’ve had recently that are well worth defending.
Willamette Valley Oregon, purchased at Calvert Woodley for a great price of $25. A nicely balanced Pinot, with spice and raspberry fruit. There’s a delicacy here similar to Wright’s single vineyard wines but at fraction of the price.
Santa Rita Hills Santa Barbara, bought for $38 from the local Safeway that reopened last year and greatly upped its wine selection. This was a beautiful Pinot with a smooth texture and lots of strawberry fruit. There was a lot of spice on the nose, not as much on the palate. Alive on the palate and a great example of New World California Pinot.
Monterey County, $25 price point. Lighter color and body, earthy on the nose, tart red fruit. This is a very Old World style Pinot for California, executed well.
Carneros California, an excellent full bodied style American Pinot. It had lots of raspberry fruit and a smooth texture without going overboard, had enough acidity to keep it good with a wide variety of foods. We had at restaurant but it looks to retail for $35-40.
Russian River Sonoma. Very interesting Pinot, light colored and bodied with fruit that trends towards cranberry. It had a lot of spiciness and acidity, and opened up quite a bit after one half hour. Purchased this wine at a Giant supermarket with a paltry wine selection, but lucked into a closeout sale for $23. Looks to usually retail for over $30 — so a good reminder that it always pays to look in the wine section no matter the store.
So take two glasses of any of these wines, and call up the Prince of Pinot site in the morning. And be on the lookout in your area for local ordinances hostile towards enjoying wine in moderation.
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