A Pinot Noir Find

May 11, 2006

Occasionally you hear complaints about there being too many single-vineyard wines.

Lately Pinot Noir has been one of those wines under fire for this supposed excess.

I have a hard time comprehending this problem, unless people are grumbling about too many overpriced single-vineyard Pinots, or single-vineyard Pinots that are good but not great. More often, wine lovers are frustrated by Pinot shortages--that is, wines they can’t buy.

Here’s one strategy you should employ when buying Pinot Noir. Don’t overlook wines from larger appellations, such as Russian River Valley or Santa Barbara County. They often offer greater value and complexity than higher-priced single-vineyard wines.

Yesterday I blind-tasted a dozen 2004 Pinot Noirs and my favorite was the Londer Anderson Valley. It's pure and delicious, with rich, creamy raspberry, spice, lavender and blueberry flavors that glide across the palate. It’s a great bottle for $30, and there are 1,950 cases. In the 2003 vintage, I also gave this wine an outstanding mark.

I preferred it to the two Londer single-vineyard bottlings, both from Anderson Valley, that also were in the flight. Both were excellent, but also more expensive.

The Londer Estate Grown Pinot ($46) and Paraboll Vineyard ($52) were distinctive. The former tasted quite tannic, the latter a bit tarter. Neither had the supple texture nor range of flavor of the Anderson Valley bottling.

I don’t think anyone will be disappointed by any of Larry and Shirlee Londer’s wines. They continue to make excellent wines. But clearly the $30 bottle was the superior wine yesterday, and it serves to remind us that sometimes a winery’s regional or appellation blend can be more complete and complex than an expression of one plot of land.

United States California Red Wines Pinot Noir
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