If you’re looking for Pinot Noir recommendations, or winery suggestions for your next wine tasting trip, we spent a few days tasting wines from over 200 wineries earlier this month at the World of Pinot Noir and we’re eager to share our favorites. So, whether you’re looking to buy some wine to go with your next meal or for your wine cellar at home, please see below. We’ve sorted our preferences geographically in case that helps as well.
Are you familiar with World of Pinot Noir? It’s a spectacular celebration of this varietal and the 2017 event on March 3rd and 4th saw the largest turnout of attendees (almost 3000) and winery participants (over 200) since its inception in 2001. In addition to two separate Grand Tastings, the marquee events at this year’s celebration included Kosta Browne’s 20th Anniversary Dinner, a Maison Louis Latour Dinner and Seminar, and a “Rock Star” Dinner honoring Merry Edwards.
We found plenty of excellent wines to recommend at the event, which isn’t surprising considering participating wineries included Alma Rosa, Au Bon Climat, Deovlet Wines, Fiddlehead Cellars, Freeman Winery, Goldeneye, Hirsch Vineyards, Merry Edwards Winery, Penner-Ash, Stephen Ross Wine Cellars, Sanford Winery, Talley Vineyards and Wayfarer. In addition to delightful still wines, we also found two excellent sparkling wines: a Blanc de Noir from Domaine Carneros and the 2012 Sea Spray from Sea Smoke Estate Vineyards.
The 2017 World of Pinot Noir also had several Rosés for tasting and these were our favorites:
- Bouchaine Vineyards 2016 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir
- Fiddlehead Cellars 2016 Pink Fiddle
- Gran Moraine Winery 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir
- Sanford Winery 2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir
- Spell Estate 2016 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir
One of the major trends we saw at this year’s World of Pinot Noir was an increased focus on single vineyard Pinot Noirs. Some wineries already have strong identification with certain vineyards whose grapes they continually craft into awesome wines. Chorro Creek (Stephen Ross Wine Cellars), Coopersmith (Merry Edwards Winery), Gee (Bouchaine Winery), Rosemary’s (Talley Vineyards), Sleepy Hollow (Talbott Vineyards), Wayfarer (Wayfarer) and Yu-Ki (Freeman Winery) Vineyards are all already known entities to us.
But, one of the fun aspects of wine tasting is also discovering a personal affinity for vineyards which serve as the source of grapes for multiple wineries. Based on past experiences and confirmed by the wines we tasted at 2017 World of Pinot Noir, we know we are particularly fond of grapes from Ashley’s, Bien Nacido, Doctor’s, Fiddlestix, Gap’s Crown, Garys’, John Sebastiano, La Encantada, Presqu’ile, Sanford and Benedict, Saralee’s, Sangiacomo, Soberanes, Stone Corral, Umino and Zotovich Vineyards. You’ll see evidence of that in our listing of Pinot Noir recommendations below.
Pinot Noir Recommendations from Central and Southern California
Alma Rosa Winery (Buellton) – 2015 Bentrock and 2015 Rancho La Vina Pinot Noirs
Au Bon Climat (Santa Maria) – 2014 Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir
Bernardus Winery (Carmel Valley) – 2014 Garys’ Vineyard and 2013 Soberanes Vineyard Pinot Noirs
Ca’ Del Grevino (Santa Maria) – 2013 Grevino Estate Vineyards Pinot Noir
Clos Pepe Estate (Lompoc) – 2012 and 2014 Pinot Noirs
Côtiére (Santa Maria) – 2014 Laetitia Vineyard and 2015 La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noirs
Deovlet Wines (Paso Robles) – 2014 John Sebastiano Vineyard, 2014 La Encantada Vineyard and 2014 Zotovich Vineyard Pinot Noirs
Dolin Malibu Estate Vineyards (Malibu) – 2013 Bien Nacido Vineyard and 2013 John Sebastiano Vineyard Pinot Noir
Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard (Los Olivos) – 2014 Ashley’s Pinot Noir
Fiddlehead Cellars (Lompoc) – 2013 “728” Pinot Noir
Foxen Vineyard & Winery (Santa Maria) – 2014 John Sebastiano Vineyard Pinot Noir
Hahn Family Wines (Soledad) – 2014 Lucienne Doctor’s Vineyard Pinot Noir
Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post Wines (Buellton) – 2013 Highliner Pinot Noir
Ken Brown Wines (Buellton) – 2013 Zotovich Vineyard Pinot Noir
Kynsi Winery (Arroyo Grande) – 2014 Precious Stone Pinot Noir
Pisoni Vineyards & Winery (Gonzales) – Lucia 2015 Garys’ Vineyard Pinot Noir
Presqu’ile Winery (Santa Maria) – 2014 Santa Maria Valley and 2014 Presqu’ile Vineyard Pinot Noirs
Sanford Winery (Lompoc) – 2014 Sanford & Benedict Vineyard Pinot Noir
Stephen Ross Wine Cellars (San Luis Obispo) – 2014 Chorro Creek Vineyard, 2015 Edna Valley Estate and 2014 Stone Corral Vineyard Pinot Noirs
Talbott Vineyards (Salinas) – 2014 Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Pinot Noir
Talley Vineyards (Arroyo Grande) – 2014 Rincon Vineyard and 2014 Rosemary’s Vineyard Pinot Noirs
TIMBRE Winery (Santa Maria) – 2013 Guest Star, 2014 Headliner, 2014 Lead Vocals and 2013 The Rhythm Pinot Noirs
Windward Vineyard (Paso Robles) – 2014 Monopole Pinot Noir
Wrath Wines (Soledad) – 2014 Boekenoogen Vineyard and 2014 Pommard 4/777 Pinot Noirs
Pinot Noir Recommendations from Northern California
Ancien Wines (Napa) – 2014 Carneros and 2014 Jouissance (Russian River) Pinot Noirs
Bouchaine Vineyards (Napa) – 2015 Gee Vineyard, 2015 Pommard Estate and 2015 Swan Pinot Noirs
Copain Wines (Healdsburg) – 2014 Los Voisins Pinot Noir
FEL Wines (Napa) – 2014 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
Freeman Winery (Sebastopol) – 2014 Akiko’s Cuvée, 2014 Gloria Vineyard, 2014 Sonoma Coast and 2014 Yu-Ki Vineyard Pinot Noirs
Goldeneye (Philo) – 2014 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
Hirsch Vineyards (Cazadero) – 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir
Joseph Phelps Vineyards (St. Helena) – 2014 Freestone Vineyards Pinot Noir
La Crema Winery (Windsor) – 2014 Saralee’s Vineyard Pinot Noir
Maggy Hawk Wines (Santa Rosa) – 2014 Stormin’ Pinot Noir
Mansfield-Dunne Wines (Portola Valley) – 2013 Peterson Vineyard Pinot Noir
Merry Edwards Winery (Sebastopol) – 2014 Coopersmith, 2014 Flax Vineyard, 2014 Meredith Estate and 2014 Olivet Lane Pinot Noirs
Panthea Winery & Vineyard (Philo) – 2012 Klindt Vineyard Pinot Noir
Patz & Hall (Sonoma) – 2014 Jenkins Ranch Pinot Noir
Rogstad Wines (Napa) – 2013 Thornton Vineyard Pinot Noir
Ryan Cochrane Wines (San Francisco) – 2014 Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir
Sojourn Cellars (Sonoma) – 2014 Gap’s Crown Vineyard, 2014 Sangiacomo Vineyard and 2015 Walala Vineyard Pinot Noirs
Spell Estate (Santa Rosa) – 2014 Terra de Promissio and 2014 Umino Vineyard Pinot Noirs
Three Sticks Wines (Sonoma) – 2015 “The James” Pinot Noir
Trombetta Family Wines (Forestville) – 2014 Gap’s Crown and 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs
Wayfarer (Sebastopol) – 2013 Mother Rock and 2014 Wayfarer Vineyard Pinot Noirs
Pinot Noir Recommendations from Oregon
The Four Graces (Dundee) – 2014 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Gran Moraine Winery (Yamhill) – 2014 Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir
Penner-Ash Wine Cellars (Newberg) – 2014 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Rocky Point Cellars (Carlton) – 2013 and 2014 La Colina Vineyard Pinot Noirs
Favorite Food Aspects at World of Pinot Noir
Well-prepared food usually goes quite well with Pinot Noir and there were plenty of pairing opportunities at World of Pinot Noir.
First of all, we had the pleasure of pairing wines with delicious cheeses from Fromagerie Sophie, a delightful cheese shop based in San Luis Obispo (1129 Garden Street, 805-503-0805). Some of our favorite samples at the event were Brie from Paysan Breton, Ossau-Iraty, Adelegger, Sottocenere al Tartufo, and Regal de Bourgogne aux Moutarde de Meaux. In addition, the host hotel Bacara Resort and Spa was serving Assorted Cured Meats, Vegetable Crudité with Mezze Dips, Kobe Sliders, Truffle Fries, and variations of Macaroni and Cheese to enjoy.
We also discovered two local chefs and their cookbooks at the Grand Tastings. Chef Robin Goldstein was serving delicious Gorgonzola-Stuffed Dates and Goat Cheese Truffles with Dukkah Spice, reflective of her retail spice business and her cookbooks A Taste of Ojai and A Taste of Santa Barbara. In addition, Brian Talley (of Talley Vineyards) was celebrating the release of his new cookbook Our California Table featuring recipes such as Dungeness Crab with Pink Sauce, Raspberry Pie and an easy but awesome Orzo and Spinach Salad with Feta and Toasted Pine Nuts.
We hope you find our Pinot Noir wine and winery recommendations above helpful. We (and many others) had a wonderful time at this year’s World of Pinot Noir at the beautiful Bacara Resort and Spa. Proceeds from the 2017 event’s charity wine auction will go towards supporting enology and viticulture education, and next year’s event will occur at Bacara on March 2-3, 2018. So, mark those calendars and please join us next year.