Tagged with 'pinot noir'

New Zealand Pinot Noir and Riesling plus Canada's top Pinot Noir!

Hi wine friends,

I hope you are enjoying the summer. There are a few new exciting arrivals in the Vintages Room this week.

Leeuwin Estate 2018 Art Series Chardonnay:

Definitely one of my favourite producers of Chardonnay in Australia. The Margaret River is such an amazing winegrowing region.

Immaculate, powerful, intense nose with purity and clarity of primary fruit characterised by pear, white peach, lime curd and custard apple. There are infinite layers of brioche, grilled hazelnuts, cinnamon quill, shaved nutmeg, black cardamom and almond meal. A thread of graphite in the background adds elegant complexity.

"Let's put it this way. This is the closest I have come to awarding a wine 100 points...Stellar wine from a stellar vintage. The remarkable this is that this is a wine 100 percent barrel fermented in new French oak barriques with regular lees stirring for 11 months - and it certainly doesn't taste excessive, or even slightly oak. It has such high-fidelity purity with complex seductive aromatics of vanilla bean and light oatmeal with a cutting minerality and spicy lift. But the palate, oh the palate. This is where things start to explode. Power, poise an​d persistence with a dry savouriness balancing the intense ripe fruit. It ​is such a long finish with an ever so slightly, charry finish completing a remarkable wine".​ 99-plus/100 Ray Jordan, The West Australian, 27 February 2021​

​$115.98 per bottle plus tax.

Champagne Varnier Fannier Grand Cru St. Denis:

Incredible Blanc de Blancs made in tiny quantities. The history of this estate dates back to 1860 when the Fanniere family began growing grapes and selling them to Champagne negociant houses. It was only in 1950 that the family started producing champagne under their own name.

$89.99 per bottle plus tax.

Rippon Mature Vine Riesling 2019: 95 Points JS

A warm & productive summer put plenty of flesh on this wine. The fruit is issued from Rippon’s mature vines, whose root hairs have invaded the schist rock below. Lurking towards the end of the first mouthful is substantial phenolic power and it soon starts to take charge of the wine… and give it its sense of place.

Rippon's 2019 Mature Vine Riesling strikes a winning balance between fresh green apple, tangy citrus and spring-like florals. It's medium-bodied (12% alcohol) and almost dry, with great concentration and length.

$49.98 per bottle plus tax.

Rippon Mature Vine Pinot Noir 2017: 99 Points JS

The farm voice of a distinct parcel of land: Rippon. On the western board of Roy’s Bay, Lake Wanaka, Rippon’s north-facing escarpment forms the meeting point of terminal moraines and coarse gravels, all based in schist, on which some of the region’s earliest vines were planted. Rippon is a Wine issued from all of the fully developed Pinot Noir vines growing in this land.

This offers aromas of violets, blueberries, red and dark cherries, fragrant, freshly cracked black pepper and wet dark stones. Complex, but still tightly wound and reserved. The palate is very concentrated, dense and elegantly poised with such powerful tannin, carrying concentrated blueberry and dark-cherry flavors long. Really taut, fully ripe and mouth wateringly intense pinot noir. Dark cherry-pit freshness to close. From bio dynamically grown grapes. Drinkable now, but better in five years.

$76.98 per bottle plus tax.

Little Engine Gold Label Pinot Noir 2018:

A deep purple colour, luxuriant with dark cherry, strawberry, and rhubarb aromas, layered with notes of chocolate and subtle vanilla. The palate is pleasing on entry with inviting dark fruit, cassis, cocoa, and hints of cola, along with savoury notes inviting us to take another sip. Tannins are round and rich. Good acid balance with a generous finish. The winemaking team recommend patience and a favourable cellaring environment to encourage the development of alluring tertiary characteristics. This wine will age beautifully through 2025.

95 Points - Gold, Decanter World Wine Awards 2021. The highest scoring Canadian Pinot Noir!

$69.98 per bottle plus tax.

Pinot Trio

Today I’ve got three wildly different but outstanding expressions of Pinot Noir that you’re going want to build a Pinot Fort out of. Two of them have amazing ratings and one doesn’t submit but is just as awesome (and has developed a cult following). We begin: 

Blank Canvas Upton Downs Pinot Noir 2017, Marlborough, New Zealand. Such a serious, savoury Pinot, considering the price and place. The Upton Downs vineyard sits on the top of a white cliff overlooking the Awatere river, where the limestone underneath challenges the vines to produce concentrated, clearly frustrated berries, given their disposition on the nose. There is bright fruit (cherries primarily with apple and strawberry) as well as sweet floral notes (lavender and rose), but they take a backseat to the inexplicably herbaceous, spicy vibe that shows you different green herbs every 20 minutes. Quite entertaining to watch this evolve in the glass, it’s like checking the Magic 8 Ball for random messages every so often. There’s enough fruit weight on palate to balance the savoury intro, however, before building up to a surprisingly structured finish. I don’t mean to affect such astonishment but forty-dollar Marlborough Pinot doesn’t do this. Given the architecture I’d say you have a decade’s worth of cellar life, maybe more. A remarkable Pinot despite – or rather because of – the furrowed brow. 95 points Vinous, 95 points Bob Campbell, 24 bottles available, $42.98 +tax 

Zena Crown “Slope” Pinot Noir 2017, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette, Oregon. Long a top cru of wineries like Beaux Freres, Penner Ash and Soter, the Zena Crown vineyard started bottling their own juice a couple years ago, causing everyone to go nuts. Since the site takes the brunt of the cool Pacific wind coming through the Van Duzer Corridor, phenolic ripeness happens slowly, and the vineyard is usually one of the last to be harvested, giving deep, elegant and balanced fruit. The “Slope” plot is the sunniest, most south-facing area, and the muscular Pinot from there can handle a good amount of new French oak (60%, quite high for Oregon), but lest you fret that Slope slides too far south, think again: there is vibrant cherry, rhubarb, apple and green tea on the nose before swirling into an energetic tension between bitter chocolate and fat mushrooms and a lifted, graceful finish – this is real, legit Oregon, only more so. The buzz has been substantial, enflamed by the fact that they only make about 500 6-packs, and further enflamed by the fact that I took all four cases that came into BC (laughs sinisterly, twirls moustache). Let the games begin. 95 points Wine Spectator, 4 6-packs available, $107.98 +tax 

The Hermit Ram “Zealandia” Pinot Noir 2019, North Canterbury, New Zealand. Even though this purple sparkplug is never submitted for ratings, it is actually the most popular Pinot on this list, even after a dramatic left turn in winemaking and style (winemaker/druid Theo Coles switched from whole-cluster to destemmed and everyone just went with it). Made with minimal intervention or sulphur (and a low 12.5% abv) and aged only in amphora (!!!), Zealandia resides in the spirit realm of “natural wines”, showcasing racy acidity on the nose amongst the sour cherry, violet, cranberry, and saline notes, but displays none of the funk or freak of the more feral examples of the category. On palate the acid is edgy but not sharp, almost citric in nature, and finishes fresh, clean, and brighter than a math whiz. I love this “Burgundy + X-ray” style (similar to a light Mercurey) but it won’t appeal to everyone, although Vancouver restaurants have snapped up most of this because it’s a nearly perfect food wine. These 3 cases are all I’ll have for two years: the underreported 2020 Canterbury vintage was ravaged by hail and frost and only 90 litres were produced; since this winery is seldom sold outside of New Zealand we’ll not see it again soon. 3 cases available, $44.98 +tax 

Until next time, Happy Drinking! 

Small Batch Series: Pinot Noir

Today I’ve got a tasty curation of Pinots from all over the world, but after having an otherwise illuminating conversation with a fantastic Pinot producer from down south, I have to get something off my chest first: 

I love Oregon completely. I’ve been to the Willamette a few times, had amazing experiences and would very much like to be allowed back in someday. I love the natural, non-elite wine culture there, it’s refreshing and welcoming, absolutely. 

But Oregon, dear Oregon, my one complaint involves how many of you pronounce your leading grape variety: in an attempt to resemble the original French pronunciation more closely, you’re inadvertently using an existing French word that doesn’t actually mean “wine”. 

The problem is Pinot Noir, specifically the word Noir. Certain languages contain sounds that other languages do not: the dental fricative “th” sound (/θ/) so prominent in English doesn’t exist in French, so native French mouths are unaccustomed to making it, leading French speakers to sub in other sounds that their mouths are more familiar with: “theatre” may be pronounced as “tee-atre”, “dee-atre” or “zee-atre” depending on where the French speaker is from (Quebec favours the “d”, France the “z”, that’s how you can spot them in the wild – saves you turning them over and looking at their bellies). 

The French pronunciation of “Noir” contains a brief uvular trill, sort of like a “rolled R” (R) at the end (“Nwah-rrr”), a sound that seldom appears in English. In North America our natural tendency is to read the “r” at the end of a word as a rhotic consonant: when we say “Noir” it rhymes with “Gwar” (or “Drakkar” if you nasty). It’s a perfectly normal way to approach those words in Anglophone Canada or the US – heck, even the name of the Oregonian valley where the Pinot is grown is properly Americanized: we rhyme “Willamette” with “dammit”, not “vinaigrette”. 

And yet the tendency in Oregon is to pronounce “Noir” like the French, but without the trill that closes the word: I kept hearing “would you like to try some Pinot Nwaahh?”. I understand the desire to try and respect the original name, but to French speakers it’s actually a shade creepy, however inadvertently:  

You see, “Nwaahh” isn’t just a swing and a miss, it’s an actual French word, and that word is “Noix”, which means “Nuts”. Pronounced this way, you are saying “would you like to try some Pinot Nuts”, and no thank you I would not. 

It’s ok to speak English. It’s ok to speak non-English words with English sounds, you were born with them and those are your tools. By saying “Nwaahh”, you’re not approaching France, you’re not even missing the turn-off, you’re taking an entirely different turn-off to Nut Town, and it’s weird. 

Please please let me back in I love your wine. 

Let’s start in Oregon and move outwards from there: 


Ken Wright Cellars Canary Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017, Eola-Amity Hills. It’s been too long since I could get any of Ken Wright’s wondrous juice; a living legend in Oregon, he was a founder of the seminal Panther Creek and one of the original prophets of single-vineyard winemaking on the west coast. There’s no overarching style to Ken’s wines (other than, like, “good”), he lets the ground speak in his stead, and the Canary Hill has a lot to chirp about (I’m sorry). Bright red fruit and tropical notes with ferrous tinges, burnt orange, a fairly voluptuous mouthfeel, this is good to go, majestic and magnificent. Welcome back, Mr. Wright, you got, like, hotter while you were gone. 94 points Wine Spectator, 2 6-packs available, $100.98 +tax 

Elk Cove La Bohème Vineyard 2017, Yamhill Carlton. Willamette’s highest vineyard (800ft) is also one of its most expressive and floral – you can practically smell it as you walk through there – with violets and lavender taking centre stage in front of a chorus of singing cherries, closing off with vanilla, black pepper and garrigue. One of the first families to plant vines in Oregon (way back in 1974, which gives them Elder Scrolls status), the Campbells practice a fairly severe green harvest in the La Bohème vineyard, and the reduced yields bring piercing concentration and energy to this 2017, counterbalancing the capital “P” Prettiness on the nose. 6 bottles available, $74.98 +tax 

Resonance Pinot Noir 2017, Willamette Valley. Although French families like Chapoutier and Barons de Rothschild pursue projects all over the globe, Burgundian fixture Maison Louis Jadot has only this one remote winery, a surprising measure of restraint considering who their winemaker is. Jacques Lardière was chief winemaker at Jadot for decades until 2012, when he left Burgundy to help start this Willamette project called Resonance. If you can picture a hyper-caffeinated Albert Einstein with a French accent, speaking only in poems and visiting multiple dimensions of time and space while in mid-sentence, you begin to get what it was like attending his seminar back in 2011. I speak English and French but Jacques continually existed in the middle, weaving historical anecdotes with visual analogies for tasting notes straight out of Yellow Submarine – it was an amazing, untethered experience, although I did at times wonder if I should have instead taken the Blue Pill. Resonance is every bit a Lardière wine, blending Yamhill-Carlton and Dundee fruit into an éclair of bright red fruit surrounded by a savoury, herb-informed frame. Pomegranate, rhubarb and tobacco lead into an earthly palate of cherry and roses. Bright and tannic, it’s safe and fun to drink now but should gain Elegance Points® as this decade unfolds. #19, Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2020, 93 points Wine Spectator, 3 6-packs available, $61.98 +tax

Citation Pinot Noir 2005, Oregon. Although the creation of new AVAs is an arduous, political affair, it is widely expected than one of Willamette’s next additions will be the Mount Pisgah region, at the southern end of the Willamette AVA, south-east of Eugene. Here the Willamette’s oldest volcanic rocks are covered by a thin veneer of marine sediment, the combination of which adds elevated acidity and longevity to Pinot Noir. Witness this 2005 Pinot from Citation, sourced from Pisgah and further south, with broad shoulders and deep wells of mushroom, cinnamon, ripe cherries, orange peel and earth. Leather and tea surround the fruit, and the tannins have softened to more of a vibe than a sensation. It isn’t often that we’re able to try aged Oregon Pinot that isn’t the fruit of our own patience, this is a real treat. 2 6-packs available, $110.98 +tax 

WALT “La Brisa” Pinot Noir 2016, Sonoma Coast. Who is WALT and what does WALT want? While the sad news is that there’s no actual dude-named-Walt involved, the awesome news is that this is Napa star Kathryn Hall’s sister winery – “Walt” was her maiden name – not sure why it’s in all-caps except maybe her mom and dad used to shout a lot. Judging from how ripe this Sonoma Coast Pinot is, what WALT wants is two things: lots of root beer and for us to be happy. Violets and minty notes permeate the chocolate-covered black cherries and sarsaparilla, the nose and body are generous, but the finish lifts nicely and just makes the runway of Elegant-town. Since many of Kathryn’s offerings clock in at well over $200 per bottle, WALT is an opportune way to experience her wines within a certain sphere of reason. 2 cases available, $62.98 +tax 


Thörle Hölle Spätburgunder 2018, Rheinhessen. This is one of the two top rated 2018 Pinots in Germany, a grand statement from a country whose talent for ripe, generous, timelessly structured Pinot is rivalled only by their skill in putting dots on top of letters. Called Spätburgunder locally because “Pinot Noir” is much too short and easy, the variety is only 5-10% of the Rheinhessen’s output, but it often finds its way into some of the best, limestone-rich plots like the hills around Saulheim (Riesling tends to favour the red slate soils), where young brothers Christoph and Johannes Thörle have helped give rise to a New Wave of German Pinot: Burgundian in build (thanks, limestone!) but more Oregonian in fruit profile – decidedly non-rustic. The 2018 Hölle (loosely means “Heart of Hell”; a different Hölle than the famous Mosel Hölle vineyard, for all you Hölle-Monitors out there) is brilliantly bursting with dark cherries, garrigue and an almost tangible minerality. Freaking gorgeous now, I imagine that it’ll be stunning in 3-4 years; tightly allocated by the winery, I only got these 2 cases. 99 points James Suckling, 2 cases available, $80.98 +tax 


Giulia Negri La Tartufaia Pinot Nero 2017, Langhe. Riding a wave of buzz since she took over her family’s 150-year-old La Morra winery (boasting the highest altitude in Barolo) at the age of 24, Giulia Negri has carved out a nice side hustle by releasing non-Barolo wines made of Chard and Pinot, grown on the north-facing slopes where Nebbiolo is forbidden. Violets and roses surround the tart red cherries, the tannins are considerable and may take a couple of years to stop obscuring the gentler cinnamon and white pepper vibes on the finish. Like a Nuit-St-Georges in build, but less ferrous and more floral. 6 bottles available, $50.98 +tax 


Confuron-Cotetidot Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots 2007, Burgundy. A wondrous find from 3 Presidents ago, sourced from a Premier Cru surrounded on nearly all sides by the Grand Cru vineyards of Richebourg, Romanée-St-Vivant and Echézeaux. Brothers Yves and Jack run the cellar now (their parents choose to work the vines cuz vines don’t talk), but their lineage traces back to the 1600s, when the Confuron family was primarily known for vine propagation (they even have their own Pinot clone called Pinot Confuron). This celestial 2007 is in partial hibernation but can be reawakened with a couple hours in a decanter, whereby a heady brew of flowers, mushrooms and black-hearted berries shall swirl and resurrect, jarred by licorice, thyme, game and the desperate angst of a love forlorn. ARISE, young Suchots! Arise and greet this new world! Someday you may die but today is not that day…..    that got away from me, apologies. Um this wine is really good. 6 bottles available, $315.98 +tax 

Robert Groffier Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Sentiers 2017, Burgundy. One of the reasons I’m so stoked to do what I do right now is the quality and breadth of producers and categories available to me that were a mere dream just a couple years ago. Case in point: Robert Groffier, a cult Burgundy producer that collectors have been asking about for years, available to offer for the first time. Now run by grandson Serge, Groffier runs some of the best plots in Burgundy’s exclusive crus (Amoureuses, Bonnes Mares), and has scaled down new wood aging in favour of sensuous, more emotional wines (everyone says “we let the vineyards speak through the wine” but it’s in Burgundy where this phrase is most literal). Their 2017 Sentiers offers a mineral, slightly smoky take on the cru, boosting the raspberry and nutmeg notes nicely. 5 years out from Drinktown, the stony finish should integrate with the fruit beautifully by then. 5 bottles available, $370.98 +tax 


What follows is a brief listing of some wines that fit this theme and have previously been written about, but featured again for the benefit of those who’ve recently joined my Collectors List and may have missed ‘em the first time. If anyone requires more info, I’m happy to send over the original blurb to you. 

Kosta Browne Pinot Noir 2018, Sonoma Coast. 94 points Jeb Dunnuck, 6 bottles available, $194.98 +tax 

Sea Smoke Southing Pinot Noir 2018. Sta. Rita Hills. Not yet rated, 6 bottles available, $154.98 +tax 

L’Usine Pinot Noir 2017, Sta. Rita Hills, 93 points Robert Parker, 93 points Wine Spectator 12 bottles available, $99.99 +tax 

Until next time, Happy Drinking! 


The world of wine would look very different indeed if it weren’t for Steven Spurrier, the British wine writer and educator who sadly passed a couple days ago. Besides organizing the seminal Judgement Of Paris in 1976, which changed the planet’s perception of New World winemaking when French judges blindly favoured Californian wines over French labels, he also founded Decanter Magazine, a distinct voice in the sphere of wine reviewing providing a distinctly Euro take on wines (whilst still using impeccable English) in a sea of American-centric publications (Wine Spectator, Robert Parker, Wine Enthusiast and James Suckling are all based in the U.S.). His understated and humble tone, which masked his vast depth of knowledge, will indeed be missed. R.I.P., Steven, and say hi to Alan Rickman. 

Get to know the grape: Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is loved by many wine enthusiasts for its light to medium body, red fruit flavours and hints of spice and often makes an appearance around festive holiday dinners as it’s known for being turkeys’ wine pairing of choice. Beyond its ability to play nice with rich and flavourful meals, the French native is one of the most romanticized red wines in the world with festivals thrown every year in the grape’s honour and even an Oscar winning film dedicated to it, check out “Sideways”, set in California wine country.

Originating in France’s Burgundy region, Pinot Noir is now produced in many wine regions around the world; however, many wine buffs still view Burgundy as the mecca for Pinot Noir. Burgundian style Pinot Noir is acclaimed for its ripe red berries, sweet dark cherries and hints of mushroom with forest floor while other popular varieties from Sonoma, California and Willamette Valley, Oregon varieties typically show raspberry, allspice and Darjeeling tea.

Despite its expressive characteristics and worldwide fandom, Pinot Noir is notoriously difficult to grow and is susceptible to rot and uneven ripening to do its thin skin and tightly packed grape clusters. To avoid sunburn, delicate Pinot Noir grapes enjoy long, cool growing seasons in protected valleys and near large bodies of water—Willamette Valley lies on the same latitude as Burgundy and experiences a similar climate while Sonoma is cooler and more foggy than other wine regions in its state.

Pinot Noir is also one of the few red wine grapes that’s commonly made into red, rosé, white and sparkling wine! In Champagne, it’s one of the regions’ seven permitted varieties and adds structure to brut blends, it is the only red grape permitted in Alsace and is also becoming increasingly popular as rosé with its delicate character and crisp flavours.

Thanks to its light body, complex structure, and elegant tannins, Pinot Noir is an ideal pairing for a variety of dishes—even disproving the claim that red wine cannot be paired with fish. Fruit forward styles actually make for an excellent partner to fatty fish and seafood including scallops and lobster. More earthy renditions pair beautifully with heirloom vegetables, hearty beef Bourguignon or traditional coq au vin. So whether you’re preparing a special anniversary dinner or an easy mid-week meal, Pinot Noir is always a great choice.

If you’re new to Pinot Noir or are looking to discover your new favourite, you can shop by grape here or visit us in store to talk to one of our passionate consultants.

Not sure where to start? Check out a few of our favourite picks below:

Decoded Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Penner-Ash Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

The Path Pinot Noir

Meiomi Pinot Noir

Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Pinot Noir

Le Jardin Pinot Noir


Planet Pinot

What follows is a collection of amazing Pinot Noir from all over the globe. Since this country usually gets short shrift, alphabetically, let’s go backwards and start with: 


Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir 2018, Santa Barbara, California. A true American Classic, and a wine that has vexingly eluded me until now. Only reason this doesn’t cost twice as much as other estate-grown Santa Barbara wines is that Jim Clendenen – the law-student-shaman-Pinot-dancer who owns and runs ABC – bought all his land back when there was nothing in Santa Barbara but Ronald Reagan’s horses (Santa Barbara has since risen to produce some of California’s best Pinots and a famous Anti-Merlot movie). This is generous, evocative, balanced Pinot; as ripe as it is, it retains elegant acidity and never crosses over into Belle Glos richness. Blackberries and cloves stirred with strawberries and green tea. Fantastic Pinot, fantastic value, exclusive to Everything Wine. 2 cases available, $46.98 

DuMol Highland Divide Pinot Noir 2017, Russian River Valley, California. A worst-kept-secret house on a deliberate, deserved ascent. Concentrating on cool climate sites in Sonoma, DuMol’s Andy Smith has been quietly crafting sublime Pinots and Chards from some of the foggier nooks in the county, like the O’Connell and Coffee Lane vineyards that comprise most of this Highland Divide’s assemblage. Lavender and pine notes swirl into chocolate blackberries, a medium to full footprint, fresh finish. 12 bottles available, $134.99 +tax 

Carte Blanche Sun Chase Pinot Noir 2016, Sonoma Coast, California. Nathan Allen, a descendant of Clarence Dillon (of Bordeaux First Growth Chateau Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion), worked with French/American winemaker Luc Morlet to pick prime sites in Sonoma like this high-elevation Sun Chase vineyard in the famed Petaluma Gap area in the south of the Sonoma Coast. Then he hired Helen Keplinger (2012’s Winemaker of the Year) to work her alchemy in the cellar - If this were a movie pitch it’d get greenlit in a second based on personnel alone. This 2016 is swimming in brilliant red fruit with sagebrush and violet, drinking lushly with just enough lift and tension on the mineral finish. Exclusive to Everything Wine. 95 points Jeb Dunnuck, 12 bottles available, $99.99 +tax 

Cobb Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017, Sonoma Coast, California. Classy, restrained hedonism. A study in aromatics from father-and-son team David and Ross Cobb and their family friend’s vineyard inland just south of Sebastopol. Cured meats and dried flowers surround the dried cherries and rhubarb, the body is fleshy and laced with orange peel, anise and black tea. This is a lot. The finish is long and thick, with great jolt and zing. New to B.C., imported in tiny quantities. 96 points Vinous, 95+ points Robert Parker, 6 bottles available, $134.98 +tax 

Arnot-Roberts Legan Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018, Santa Cruz Mountains, California. Childhood friends Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts grew up in the Cali wine business, Nathan as a barrel maker and Duncan making wine. The pair teamed up to make wine from micro-terroirs up and down the coast and the Legan Vineyard, in the mountains east of Monterey Bay, cools its screaming mid-day heat with breezes off the bay that allow a long, gentle autumn, letting the phenolics ripen without roasting the sugars. Strawberry, raspberry and red cherries lead, with citrus and herbal notes following suit. Nice balance, great finish, could be better in 2 years. 94 points Vinous, 6 bottles available, $119.98 +tax 

Orin Swift “L’Usine” Pinot Noir, Sta Rita Hills, California. Inspired by Andy Warhol and his iconic art studio The Factory, l’Usine is accordingly packaged quite artfully (theses could be written about Orin Swift’s labels) and the juice inside warrants it. Winemaker Dave Phinney isn’t trying to trick you into thinking this is anything but Californian Pinot, it’s lush and chocolatey with blackberries, dark cherries, sandalwood and a touch of dirt, with enough lift to dance lightly over a lingering finish. Sourced partially from the Sea Smoke vineyard, medium bodied with full intensity, exclusive to Everything Wine. 93 points Robert Parker, 93 points Wine Spectator, 4 6-packs available, $99.99 +tax 

Nicolas Jay Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017, McMinnville, Oregon. Bright/dark exoticism from the windy Van Duzer Corridor. Nicolas Jay is the American project of Meo-Camuzet – one of Burgundy’s forever houses – farming in one of the densest crus in the Willamette. The Momtazi vineyard was planted by Moe and Flora Momtazi, who had a long family history making wine in Iran before fleeing after the Revolution to the US. Classic McMinnville AVA severity forms the core of this crammed Pinot, with deep stone fruit alongside the cherries and roses. 95+ points James Suckling, 94 points Vinous, 6 bottles available, $173.98 +tax 

St. Innocent Zenith Vineyard 2016, Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon. A gorgeous, fruity mess. I met Mark Vlossak a few years ago, a man short in neither talent nor opinions, and in one hour I was up to speed on the geological history of the Willamette valley. Please take my word for it, the dude knows dirt. This 2016 is the second-last vintage he made from the ripe Zenith vineyard, which is a shame cuz this is a tangled feast: roses tossed with raspberries and chamomile over a spicy cherry broth. Delicious and good to go, exclusive to Everything Wine. 93 points Vinous, 2 6-packs available, $62.98 +tax 


Casa de Saima Pinot Noir 2017, Bairrada. I can already hear the questions forming in your minds, so let me try and get ahead of this: Q: Pinot Noir? A: Yep. Q: From Portugal? A: Correct. Q: Is that normal? A: No, it’s rarely grown there, especially in Bairrada, which specializes in the dense grape Baga. Q: Why did they plant it, then? A: The French-born wife of the doctor who founded this estate decades ago only agreed to the investment if he planted a small plot of Pinot for her, so she could occasionally recharge her Frenchness, I suppose. Q: How is it? A: Killer, actually. Really good. The extraction is low and the vinification is done entirely in tank, so the expression is pure terroir, and the body and fruit intensity are pretty Burgundian, showing saline cherries, forest mushroom and licorice. Very yum, no weirdness. Q: Well hey, I’m in! How much do you have? A: I have 18 bottles available and the price is $42.98 +tax 


Dog Point Pinot Noir 2008, Marlborough. As tweedy and proper as the gents who borne it. A lovely, mature back vintage from some of my favourite Kiwi producers, Dog Point’s Ivan Sutherland and James Healy (the original growers of Cloudy Bay), showing tinctured, savoury notes amongst the dried cherries, burnt orange, leather and tea notes. Quite round on palate, ambulating silkily towards a soft landing. I’ve had this Pinot young, and it’s remarkable how it seems to gain ripeness with advanced age. 6 bottles available, $107.98 +tax 

Rippon Mature Vines Pinot Noir 2016, Central Otago. This is a stark, dramatic Tolkien-esque Pinot from a steep vineyard bent over Lake Wanaka, deep in the mountains of the South Island. Schist and gravel are hard to grow in, and these 45-year-old vines (some of the first in that region) produce dense, rich berries, full of structure and longevity. Accordingly, this mighty Wine-of-Rohan is currently austere, showing subtle blackberries and licorice over a taught foundation with a complex, ferrous finish. Best to treat this like a Nuits-St-Georges and bury it for 3-4 years, this will shine in your cellar like a golden ring. 97 points James Suckling, 94 points Robert Parker, 12 bottles available, $76.98 +tax 


Jean Stodden Herrenberg Frühburgunder GG 2017, Ahr Valley. Ok. This is one of those instances where I hope that I’ve built up enough credibility to ask you to just trust me: this is the most incredible, expressive Pinot that I’ve tried all year. Except it’s not a Pinot. It’s a Frühburgunder, a mutation of Pinot Noir discovered in the 1500s that lives on only in the Ahr Valley in Germany and ripens earlier than Pinot (Pinot Noir, by contrast, is called SpatburgunderSpat meaning Late). But it’s workably a Pinot, they both go to the same parties. It’s intensely fragrant (strawberry, pepper, matcha), wonderfully floral (roses, jasmine) and beautifully balanced with great acidity on the long, concentrated finish, nothing weird or rustic going on, just prettiness. Like a Willamette pinot that someone threw a lamp into. Outstanding. 12 bottles available, $105.98 +tax 

Weingut Wittmann Spätburgunder Rotwein Trocken 2017, Rhinhessen. Forget the multi-syllabic German labels, this should be called I can’t Believe It’s Not Santa Barbara!! The Wittmans have farmed near the village of Westhofen in the toasty-hot Rhinhessen since the 1600s, and although their principal grape is Riesling, they make a few barrels of this ripe, unctuous Pinot, full of black cherries, plums, blueberries and vanilla bean, with a medium-full weight. Plumply gorgeous, clean and classy. If I didn’t tell you differently, however, you’d think this was great value for a premium Cali Pinot, which is easier than negotiating those bumpy German names so I’m gonna roll with that. 12 bottles available, $40.98 +tax 


Lou Dumont Bourgogne Rouge 2017, Burgundy. I have found your Turkey Wine. All the characteristics of premium red Burgundy with the shape and accessibility of Oregon Pinot. Drinks handily by itself – it’s a few clicks lower on the acid-o-meter – but will slow dance with pretty much any meal you put in front of it. I’ve featured Lou Dumont’s Chardonnays but I’ve never showcased their reds, an unfortunate oversight because they make luxurious Pinots, a tad more lush than other Burgundies, although far better known in Asia than here. Mushrooms and roses lift up the prominent red fruit on the nose – the barrel isn’t hiding and that’s dandy – towards a full-ish body and a soft finish with a wee side of vanilla. Enough quality to deserve your table, but enough value that you can watch your 19-yr-old nephew chug this and feel nothing. 5 6-packs available, $43.98 +tax 


One Mill Road Home Block Pinot Noir 2018, Naramata. Crescent Beach ex-pats David and Cynthia Enns, the couple who founded, then ran, then sold Laughing Stock, return to the spotlight with a single wine from a single place: One Mill Road (that’s the address). This inaugural Pinot shows off its sunny perch looking over Naramata and Okanagan Lake, exuding baked red fruits, cola and cardamom over a rather unctuous body with a toasty finish. One of the more plus-sized Pinots to emerge from BC, no doubt due to the extra hours of sunshine their higher altitude affords them, and a confident return to the ever-changing local stage. 2 cases available, $49.99 +tax 


Montalto Main Ridge Pinot Noir 2016, Mornington Peninsula. A beautifully exuberant Pinot from the Main Ridge vineyard, south of Melbourne. The battle between the fruit and savoury notes lifts the whole of the aromatics, but the fruit edges out a victory before the medium body deploys and the herbs come back on the finish, in an almost Campari-esque way. The oak is felt but not tasted or nosed, the fruit profile is fresh and gloriously red. Good to go. 97 points James Halliday, 10 bottles available, $78.98 +tax 


What follows is a brief listing of some wines that fit this theme and have previously been written about, but featured again for the benefit of those who’ve recently joined my Collectors List and may have missed ‘em the first time. If anyone requires more info I’m happy to send over the original blurb to you. 

Paul Hobbs Hyde Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Napa Valley. 94 points James Suckling, 92 points Robert Parker, 1 case available, $146.98 +tax 

Beaux Freres Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Ribbon Ridge, Willamette. 96 points James Suckling, 95 points Wine Spectator, 5 bottles available, $160.98 +tax 

Hartford Court Land’s Edge Pinot Noir 2016, Sonoma Coast. 94 points Jeb Dunnuck, 93 points Robert Parker, 12 bottles available, $78.98 +tax 

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