If you’re looking for a virtual “wine tasting trip” recommendation, consider focusing on Napa Pinot Noir wines. That’s right, the ones from Napa! Cabernet Sauvignon grapes here may get more of the fame and accolades, but we’re just as fond of the wines crafted from Pinot Noir grapes grown here. After all, part of the Carneros AVA is in Napa Valley. Keep reading and we’ll tell you about some of our favorite Napa Pinot Noirs. All wineries, whether large or small, are in need of your support right now, especially the small family-owned establishments. So your patronage would be greatly appreciated.
To simulate a wine tasting trip from home just order a few wines, put together a charcuterie board, and voila! Most of the wines are still available for purchase on the wineries’ websites, and several of them are offering discounts on shipping charges. If you want, you can probably find the tech sheets for the wines online (or ask for copies when you place your order) to learn more about the vineyards, the harvesting, the aging, and/or what to expect the wine to smell and taste like. Just don’t forget to stay hydrated during your “trip.”
If you’d like to start the fun with a Sparkling Wine, the ZD Wines 50th Anniversary Reserve Cuvée is made of 59% Napa Pinot Noir (and 41% Chardonnay) from ZD’s estate vineyard in Carneros. If you are a fan of Rosés, Bouchaine Vineyards and Robert Sinskey Vineyards both recently released their 2019 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir wines. We’ve had the pleasure of tasting all three of those, and highly recommend them all. And yes, the Robert Sinskey Vineyards Vin Gris is the wine that Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, keeps raving about.
Some of the other Napa Pinot Noirs made from grapes grown in Carneros that we suggest you learn more about (and taste) are:
Ancien Wines – 2017 Carneros Pinot Noir, 2017 Toyon Farms Pinot Noir
Bouchaine Vineyards – 2016 Estate Pinot Noir, 2016 Gee Vineyard Pinot Noir
Clos Du Val – 2017 Gran Val Vineyard Pinot Noir
Robert Sinskey Vineyards – 2015 Los Carneros, 2015 Capa Vineyard, 2015 Four Vineyards, and 2015 Three Amigos Vineyard Pinot Noirs
Saintsbury – 2016 Lee Vineyard, 2016 Stanly Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noirs
Talisman Wines – 2015 Adastra Vineyard Pinot Noir
Truchard Winery – 2017 Pinot Noir, 2017 Old Block Pinot Noir
ZD Wines – 2018 Carneros Pinot Noir, 2018 Founder’s Reserve Pinot Noir,
Aside from Carneros, we’ve also found two excellent Napa Pinot Noirs from elsewhere in the Valley. Ancien Wines’ Mink Vineyard Pinot Noir is made from grapes grown in the Coombsville AVA, and the 2018 vintage was just released. We are also big fans of El Molino Winery, and while you can’t order just their Pinot Noirs online, they are offering a “Shelter Special” of 3 bottles of their 2016 Rutherford Pinot Noir (with 3 bottles of their 2017 Rutherford Chardonnay, also delicious).
So if you’re getting a little stir crazy while you shelter in place, and wish you could go wine tasting again, please consider our suggestion to assemble your own “Napa Pinot Noir experience.” If you want, you can even go online and order some additional items to reinforce the Napa theme: Olive Oil Roasted Almonds from La Saison, Beef or Hot Dogs from Five Dot Ranch, and/or Chocolates from Kollar Chocolates or Woodhouse Chocolate. Or, you can just call your favorite pizzeria and order a Mushroom Pizza for pickup or delivery (and please tip well). If you are actually in Napa Valley, we suggest you consider some of our favorites that are still open at this time: Tra Vigne Pizzeria, New York Pizza Kitchen, Ciccio, or Forge Pizza.
If you (or someone in your house) enjoys cooking, you may want to check out the recipes at the Robert Sinskey Vineyards website. The winery’s Culinary Director is Maria Helm Sinskey, who earlier in her career was named Food & Wine Magazine Best New Chef, SF Chronicle Rising Star Chef, and has appeared on many PBS and Food Network Shows. She has also published two cookbooks: The Vineyard Kitchen: Menus Inspired by the Season and Family Meals: Creating Traditions in the Kitchen. On the winery’s website there are dozens and dozens of recipes created to pair well with their wines. Her Pinot Noir-pairing recipes include Toasted Sesame Crackers, Truffle Popcorn, Veal and Mushroom Ragu, Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Strudel, and a Chanterelle, Ricotta, Sweet Onion and Pancetta Tart.
Enjoy your home wine tasting experience, and stay safe and healthy. If you’d like to learn more about our other favorite wines and wineries from the Carneros Region, please go here, or follow the drop-down menus under “Favorites by Wine Region” to see other suggestions.