Monday, December 06, 2010

Comparing Oregon and California Pinot Noirs

Pinot Noir's popularity doesn't seem to be waning. That's no surprise, since the grape is capable of producing food-friendly wines that have a beautifully silky feeling in the mouth and great acidity along with bright fruit.

As with most grapes, however, the final flavors in the bottle can vary widely depending on where the grapes were grown. When I tasted two Pinot Noirs side by side--one from Oregon and one from California's Russian River Valley--the differences were clear. Both were delicious. But one will appeal more to people who like fruity, bright wines and the other will appeal more to people who are looking for a richer, spicier wine. Which would you prefer?

From Oregon: the 2008 Erath Pinot Noir Oregon (suggested retail $18; available for $13-$20)
This pure-tasting, fruit-forward Pinot Noir represents excellent QPR. There are clear and focused raspberry aromas that are bright and lively. On the palate, the raspberry flavors gain weight with some deeper notes of earth and leather. The overall impression is light, juicy, and vibrant. This wine would be perfect with salmon, roast chicken, or why not pair it with an easy, slimmed-down version of the French classic, coq au vin? You'll need a bottle of it for the recipe, so pick up two while you're in the store!

From California: the 2009 Rodney Strong Pinot Noir Estate Vineyards (suggested retail $20; available for $12-$22)
Pinot Noir is grown all over the state of California but this one is made from grapes grown in the Russian River Valley, where the coastal fog gets sucked into the vineyards providing the cooler climate that the grape prefers. Rich and spicy, this affordable Pinot Noir also represents excellent QPR. Juicy cherry cola aromas hint at the cherry, cola, and black tea flavors. Then there is a spicy, juicy aftertaste. The wine feel satiny in the mouth. Try this one with mushroom risotto topped off with a dollop of mascarpone, a classic patty melt, or even a softer cut of steak like filet mignon.

Full Disclosure: I received samples of these wines for review.

1 comment:

David said...

I had a glass of the Erath recently & enjoyed. Generally I favor the Pinots from Oregon. Williamette Valley Vineyards & Willakenkie are two other producers I've had recently. WVV does have one in the under $20 category I believe.