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Pinot Noir is a species of Vitis Vinifera which is a black grape varietal. The name is French for Pinecone and Black, which most likely refers to the description of the grape. This varietal is grown all over the world but is mostly associated with the Burgundy region of France. This varietal thrives in cooler weather. The relatives or rather a mutation of this varietal are Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Grigio.
The thin skin, sensitivity to wind and frost make it difficult to grow and susceptible to bunch rot. Pinot Noir is one of the most popular varieties and tends to be light to medium bodied. The history of the Pinot Noir varietal traces back a long way and has become more popular in other regions like the U.S., New Zealand, and Asia.
French Burgundy and other fine wines were made famous by the Pinot Noir grape and the wines made in the region can possess complex fruit flavors with great aging ability. Many of the wines are made in small quantities and can be very expensive. The United States has become more interested in cultivating the Pinot Noir varietal. There are a few really good Pinot Noirs around the Willamette Valley and Russian River Valley.
Pinot Noir has gained popularity and has been said by Joel Fleischman of Vanity Fair to be “the most romantic of wines, with so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, and so powerful a punch that, like falling in love, they make the blood run hot and the soul wax embarrassingly poetic.” In taste tests the Pinot Noir Wine sometimes confuses people from the variety of textures and flavors it possesses. The color is lighter and clean resembling a garnet color.
Did you know that Pinot Noir is used in making Champagne and Rose?
Around the early 1900s the Pinot Noir grape was crossbred with the Cinsaut to create Hermitage, otherwise known as Pinotage. Pinot Noir is known by many different names depending on the region. In Italy it is known as Pinot Nero, and the Germans call it Spatburgunder, and Fruhburgunder. The leaves are smaller than other vines and all the different strains of the vine reflect the terroir of the region it’s grown in.
90 Points - Pinot Report: "Medium ruby color; spicy raspberry aromas; rich, bright cherry and raspberry flavors with silky texture; good structure and balance; long finish. Bright and lighter-bodied Pinot perfect for sipping or light foods. Smart Buy" winemaker's notes: The color is bright garnet with ruby tint. On the nose, aromas of cherry, cranberry, raspberry and spice. Flavors of pomegranate, blueberry and tobacco leaf. The wine has a silky mouthfeel, lively on the mid palate, with a round finish. alcohol by volume: 13.0%
92 Points - Wine Spectator: "A taut, vibrant style, packing plenty of raspberry, tobacco, tea and spice flavors into a lean, focused beam, persisting into the extended finish. This should be lovely once it settles down." 90 Points - International Wine Cellar: "Bright ruby-red. Sexy, floral-accented aromas of dark fruit preserves, cola and Asian spices. Sappy, smoky and lively on the palate, offering sweet black raspberry and cherry flavors lifted by juicy acidity; rich but energetic pinot with no rough edges. A spicy note lingers on the broad, smooth finish." winemaker's notes: A deep, almost maroon, magenta color on this 2010 Nuthouse Pinot Noir speaks to the richness in the glass. This wine has a strong affinity to the Pacific Northwest with notes of bilberry, red raspberry, black cherry cordial, Douglas fir bark, and a hint of forest floor. There is a cool, darkness in a palate leaning toward the black fruits - Damson plum, blackberry, black currant, and blackcap. Texturally, the 2010 Nuthouse Pinot Noir is soft, but with generous tannins and a round mouth-feel where deftly handled oak integrates with the fruit profile harmoniously. This wine is youthful and still has much to offer with aging that will bring out a host of tertiary characteristics over the next decade. Blend: 100% Pinot Noir alcohol by volume: 13.5%
88 Points - International Wine Cellar: "Bright red. Fresh red berries and flowers on the fragrant nose. A juicy, spicy midweight with tangy redcurrant and bitter rhubarb flavors gaining sweetness with air. The focused, taut finish shows lingering notes of raspberry and white pepper." winemaker's notes: Aromas in these cool growing seasons are always "leap out of the glass" intense! Look for violets, spiced black cherry, and a hint of blueberry blossom. The black cherry component evolves into red cherry/currant aromas with time in the glass. (That's like discovering the Fountain of Youth for Pinot Noir!). The texture is immediately a surprisingly dense mouthfeel, yet light on it's feet. Pinot noir red fruits abound throughout the palate. There's an amazing balance, where each segment of flavor from beginning, to middle, to the long finish is of equal intensity. This wine tap danced it's way straight into my own personal cellar, indeed! alcohol by volume: 13.5%
93 Points - Wine Spectator: "Light, with a savory edge to the panoply of raspberry, chamomile and floral flavors, remaining vivid and focused through the long, expressive finish. Drink now through 2019." 93 Points - The Wine Advocate: "The fruit for 2008 Pinot Noir Spirit House was sourced from the Knudsen Vineyard in Dundee Hills and is also scheduled for a Spring 2011 release. It is a bit tighter than the Nut House but possesses all the right stuff for a graceful evolution of 5-7 years. Concentrated, focused, and beautifully balanced, it should easily achieve its 20th birthday in fine form." 92 Points - International Wine Cellar: "Bright ruby-red. Vibrant red berry, spicecake and floral aromas show very good focus and pick up smokiness with air. Sappy, precise, palate-staining red fruit flavors display a refreshing bitterness and are complicated by notes of candied rose and clove. The spice and floral notes repeat on the suave, persistent finish." winemaker's notes: There was a lot of buzz about the greatness of the Oregon 2008 vintage, and this wine is the proverbial proof in the pudding. This youthful wine slowly opens in the glass, first showing off rich spice, delicate oak, and cigar box, then unwinding to let lush dark Bing cherry come to the forefront. On the palate, this wine is like drinking velvet - soft, rich, and luxurious. Flavors reminiscent of red current jam, fresh picked Damson plum, warm forest berry cobbler with a dollop of vanilla bean, and light brushed-leather notes. With so many nuances combined with a clean streak of acidity, this is a wine that will reward for years and years to come.
This wine is just easy to drink. Whether with fresh grilled salmon or left-over roast chicken or just in a glass by itself, the pretty plum and spring strawberry flavors of this Santa Barbara Pinot are simply delicious. There is nothing pretentious here, just well balanced, nicely textured, brightly fruity wine that seems to go with everything.
87 points - Wine Spectator "Pure candied cherry, plum and wild berry fruit is appealing, full-bodied, intense and concentrated, picking up an earthy graphite edge and ending with grainy, minerally tannins. Drink now. 6,334 cases made. - JL"