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Snooth User: Matteus

New to Snooth, looking for the best californian Pinot Noir

Posted by Matteus, Oct 17, 2009.

Hi guys, just discovered this wonderful site, and instantly found my elf in company of passionate wine fans.
My question to you guys: I have always been a fan of Californian wine, and mostly cab's and zin's but recently I've been hearing about the wonderful quality of Californian pinot, therefore, i would appreciate your guys opinion on which Californian pinot, i should try as my first ever.

P.s.: I live in Denmark, so links to dealers of your specific choice, would also be very appreciated.


Replies

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Reply by Philip James, Oct 17, 2009.

You will order from a Danish retailer? Or you can have it shipped from a neighboring country?

You can limit a search by region, if you try this URL: http://www.snooth.com/wines/califor... And then select Denmark (or any country), you can see which retailers are selling it in that country.

Denmark seems to have a limited selection of CA Pinot's.

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 17, 2009.

Don't know the retail options in Denmark at all, and I assume all you can buy there are not yet listed on Snooth, but my guess is you still will want to look at online merchant options. Snooth has a growing list of 'stores' that you can hunt through to see if they have California pinot options, and if they'll ship to you. A little bit of research now will pay off big over time with better, cheaper wines and a lot more delicious enjoyment.

Areas to look for pinot noir in CA include:
--Sonoma's Russian River Valley area
--Carneros, at the entrance to the Napa Valley
--Monterey, particularly the Pinnacles area
--Santa Barbara
--Sonoma's coastal area ('The True')

Years ago the Monterey area had CA's best pinot noir, with Chalone. They were the first people to prove that Burgundy-level pinots could be produced outside of France.

Later people realized upper Napa was too warm for pinot and began trying to grow more at its foggy, cooler entrance in Carneros. Acacia is one example from there.

Attention began to focus after that on Sonoma, and major successes began to appear in the Russian River Valley. Rochioli is one famous name for pinot there.

A lot of people then started focusing on areas further south around Santa Barbara. One powerful name there in recent years has been Au Bon Climat.

Now, there's a lot of buzz around the pinots being grown on Sonoma's coast. Look for offerings from Rivers-Marie, Hirsch, Williams-Selyem, Marcassin, Flowers, Littorai, Pahlmeyer, Caymus and Peter Michael. Some of them are wineries in that area, others started in other parts of Sonoma, while yet others started by producing wines in Napa.

Some of these wines are hard to find in the US outside of California, much less in Denmark. Others are now owned by large international conglomerates, like Diageo (formerly Guinness), though I don't know how much easier that'll make them to find over where you are, nor how prices are there. So you should try to find some good online wine merchants, and see if they have any of these names.

There are many other names, too, and let's see what others might suggest...

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Reply by Matteus, Oct 17, 2009.

Thanks a lot dmcker, have written everything down, this gives me definitely something to aim for. The prices of good CA wine is somewhat high in Denmark, at least compared to the European wines, but that does not bother me, as much as the scarce selection does. Sadly it also seems hard to find an online merchant which will ship to Denmark.

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 17, 2009.

Had a couple more minutes to spend, so decided to add some more names to the list. One thing, though, when you say 'the best', are you talking about a broad education, or hunting for the most exclusive names with cachet-of-the-moment?

Kosta Browne from the Russian River Valley and Auteur from the Sonoma Coast are more exclusive wines, on the pricier side. The Stewart Pinot Noir Russian River Valley from Paul Hobbs is also worth hunting for. As are Kistler's pinots from the RRV and Sonoma coast. Dumol from the RRV is biodynamic and good, but hard (like many of these) to find. Copain and Brogan Cellars from Sonoma are also interesting.

More exclusive names from Santa Barbara are Jonata's La Poesia (Santa Ynez Valley) and Ambullneo (Santa Maria). Brewer Clifton (Santa Rita Hills) is always worth a try.

Then you could also try to reference some of the older pinot makers from northern CA, like Chateau St. Jean and ZD. Good for perspective.

Personally, I prefer more restrained versions modeled after a Burgundian style, to the overblown fruit-forward high-alcohol over-oaked types that many producers put out for a number of years. Conduct your own survey, and let us know what you find over in Denmark!

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 17, 2009.

I live in Tokyo now and I find that these merchants will ship here, though I haven't checked about Denmark:
--The Napa Valley Winery Exchange, in San Francisco:
http://www.nvwe.com/
--Blicker Pierce Wagner Wine Merchants, in Napa:
http://www.bpwine.com/
--K&L Wine Merchants, in the San Francisco Bay area
http://www.klwines.com

I imagine some New York merchants will ship to you, though I've tended to use the merchants from California, since that's where I (and the wines) are from....

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Reply by Matteus, Oct 17, 2009.

Wow... that will empty my bankaccount and kill my credit-card, this is great, thanks alot! sadly the Napa Valley Exchange ships only to three Asian countries HK, Japan and South Korea, but the two others ship to Denmark, and the selection i awesome..

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 17, 2009.

Surprised that NPWE hasn't gotten it together to at least ship to China these days. Perhaps some of the New York denizens of the forum (calling GregDP, GregT, Eric et al.!) will have some suggestions for NY State vendors who can fill in any gaps...

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Reply by mbugbee, Oct 18, 2009.

There's Sanford from Sideways fame, which always have good Pinot.

Cambria's 2006 Julia's Vineyard Pinot was a great deal too.

I don't know about shipping to the EU for either of these.

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Reply by Matteus, Oct 19, 2009.

Hi guys, OK - Here is the first update on my CA Pinot Noir hunt in Denmark.
In the city I live (Esbjerg approx 80,000 inhabitants), i asked around and finally found a wine merchant in a back alley, great selection..........of European Wines!, but he found two American Pinot Noirs, one of them being from WA, and although I was curious, it still wasn't the wine I was looking for.
Then he reached a bit further and found the second: Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, Pinot Noir 2005, SUCCESS!, well partly... its a Pinot Noir from Carneros, but sadly not from any of the Vineyards mentioned above, just for reference I roughly paid 38 bucks for the bottle(which is somewhat more expensive, compared to the Snooth listing. I guess its the punishment for living in Denmark).
The hunt continues, and I will keep You updated..

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 19, 2009.

The hunt is always fun, isn't it? Enjoy your education along the way.

Washington (and Oregon) State pinots are also worth a try, some for themselves, and others for comparison to those from California and elsewhere. What was the label? And how long had those bottles been stored in the liquor store? They weren't standing up for long periods of time, were they (something that has always annoyed me about presentations at stores when the merchant should know better)?

For reference purposes, the names I listed above are some of the more exclusive bottles in California. There are plenty more out there, many of them worth a try...

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Reply by Matteus, Oct 20, 2009.

Its becoming a fun hobby. The WA wine, was Phelps Creek Vineyards Pinot Noir 2007, the owner seemed like a huge enthusiast, so although they were standing, i can´t imagine him just leaving them standing for too long at a time. We talked about wine for about half hour, and he seemed to know a great deal about Californian wine, but he admitted his knowledge was primary focused on Cab Sav's and Zin's. He also told me, finding Californian Pinot Noir in Denmark was possible but extremely hard.

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 21, 2009.

How easy is it even to find Zinfandels there?

It takes a certain amount of time, or significant events, for critical mass to be achieved. First was recognition of California's cab and chardonnay prowess thanks to Spurrier's event back in the '70s and subsequent media interest, then gradually the unique aspect of the zins got bandied about (even if on a lesser scale than for the cabs), and now there's enough buzz about Sonoma and other pinot noirs that I imagine they'll begin trickling onto more European winemerchant shelving before all too much longer...

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Reply by Matteus, Oct 21, 2009.

The Californian Zin became popular in Denmark in the last 5 years, the two winemakers dominating the mainstream "market" here being Ravenswood and Ironstone, by this I mean supermarkets and so on.. in more specialized stores you can find a much bigger selection of zin. I am a huge fan of CA Zin, and have tasted my way through the majority found on the Danish market. CA Cabs are easy to find in Denmark, and are by far the most popular CA wine, I have also tasted some CA Chardonnay´s, sadly I still have not found any I like, but this goes pretty much for all Chardonnay´s regardless the country of origin.

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 21, 2009.

So you don't like even some of the more expensive chardonnays from Burgundy? I am not a 'white OR red' type of drinker, but love many versions of both under the proper respective circumstances. That being said, there are a number of California chardonnays that I definitely do not like for reasons of too much fruit, too much residual sweetness, too much alcohol, too much oak or any other messy imbalance to the wine.

Ravenswood does a good job of marketing in many countries (including Japan, where I am now). What Zins do you like best? I like the single-vineyard Ravenswoods better than their cheaper offerings. Fortunately, they also have Ridge over here, too, even if the pricing is painful....

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Reply by Matteus, Oct 21, 2009.

Here is the weird thing about it, Its not that I don´t like white wine. I am actually a huge fan of European Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris,(even found couple of good Rieslings). But I can recognize and SMELL Chardonnay from miles, and for some reason it gives me nausea, maybe it is some repressed memory, but that is the reaction I get.
Sadly the only white Californian wine i have been able to find in the shops around, are Chard's (Ironstone and Mondavi Twin Oaks)
Of the Zin's I like, I can mention Gallo Single Vinyard, (huge around the world, not that easy to locate in danish shops, I pick them up, shopping in Germany, only 30 miles from my home) Kendall-Jackson, and many others, but my favorite right now is Kunin, Westside, 2007. which I bought a case of, at a wine tasting, its about 30 bucks a bottle, but worth every penny.


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