Pinot, Pinot, Pinot!

3 Pinot Noirs that actually taste like where they were grown

2012 Littorai, Les Larmes Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley

Ted and Heidi Lemon were trailblazing in Anderson Valley long before its ecologically rich terrain became the worst kept secret in American winemaking. That they did it committed to an organic farming ethos with biodynamic principles for both grape growing and winemaking is further proof, if proof is needed, that with great vineyards come great farms. Ted brings out the purest expression of terroir pulled from several sites across the cool North Coast vineyards in Anderson Valley’s “Deep End,” that runs from Philo to Navarro. 

Les Larmes, “the tears,” in French, is a blend of four Deep End vineyards with soil complexes that speak to the history of our valley: Boontling, Yorkville, Bearwallow Wolfey & Pinole .

The Les Larmes Pinot 2012 is the winemaker’s offering for early consumption.

Why you should drink this: 2012 Les Larmes Pinot Noir is redolent with flavors of rhubarb, red cherry and blackberry. Spice notes of anise, nutmeg and cocoa powder bring depth to the fruits; time in the glass presents earthier tones of peat moss. The aromas are dark and brooding, yet a joyful expression from the winemaker, satisfying to the finish.

2014 Black Kite, Kite’s Rest Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley

Yes, we put two Anderson Valley Pinots in this month’s selection! The verdant valleys that spread out below us on Greenwood Ridge are a Pinot Noir growing region that is starting to show beautiful age, making this a great moment to showcase two very different wines that are proximate, but unique. 

Black Kite Cellars, directly down the hill from Barndiva Farm, is also in the ‘Deep End’ of Anderson Valley, originally planted with Gewürztraminer when the Birdsall and Green families bought the old farmstead at the foot of the Navarro River over three decades ago. The decision to plant Pinot focused on producing wines that combined the family’s passion for Burgundy with the dynamic terrain of Anderson Valley. Now in the capable hands of Wendy and Michael Green, Jeff Gaffner has been making wine for the family since 2005.

Why you should drink this: Kite’s Rest Pinot Noir is a little more juicy and boisterous than the Littorai Les Larmes. This is a sexy wine! A slightly more hedonistic and playful style of Anderson Valley Pinot, it’s full of lush strawberry, plum preserves and spice cake. Kite’s earthy cedar and bay laurel bring green notes, the color and silky mouth feel just this side of luxurious.  

2013 brick & mortar, Cougar Rock Vineyard, Pinot Noir

Napa Valley Pinot? Yes, we were curious to explore two of the most exciting AVA Pinots with this very un-Napa like Pinot that also screams terroir. It reminds us more of red Burgundy, than new world. Nestled from 1450 to 1800 feet elevation, the Cougar Rock vineyard is high up in the Vaca Mountain Range of the eastern side of Napa Valley. Within the range rests Foss Valley – the original throughway from the coast to the Sacramento Valley for the early settlers in California. The vineyard encompasses the furthest east portion of the Atlas Peak AVA, and is a cool microclimate slowly ripening Pinot Noir on a mixture of dust red clay and granite rock. 

Why should you drink this: 2013 brick & mortar Cougar Rock Vineyard Pinot Noir shows incredible depth and poignant expression of site. The aromas are pure and precise, alluring dark red fruits are framed by dusty red earth and dried herbs. The palate is supple, rich and structured, with a vibrant acidity and elegant finish. We know the last sip will be the best.