To arrive at the wines for this year’s PINOT NOIR SUMMIT we tasted over 400 Pinots. We weedled that list

down to the top forty-four wines, which ranged from $20 to $60 with an average price of $32.

My favorite dozen were:

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir

Asuncion Ridge Vineyards, 2010 Estate, Central Coast, Pinot Noir:

Superb aromatics with scents of dried cherries, flowers and a hint of damp forest floor. Beautifully balanced with a silky mouthfeel and a finish of dried red rose petals. 94 points. $38


Holman Ranch Vineyards & Winery, 2010 Hunter’s Cuvee, Carmel Valley, Pinot Noir:

Aromatic black cherry with forest floor overtones, layers of vanilla, cinnamon and cola. Perfectly balanced and extremely long. 93-94 points. $40


LaMontagne Winery 2011 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria:

High violet notes atop strawberry, subtle cinnamon, and a mineral finish. Just ripe enough. Perfectly balanced. 93 points. $48


Barbed Oak Vineyard, 2011 ZARA’s Block, Estate Grown, Bennett Valley, Pinot Noir:

A balanced and sophisticated wine, by which I mean complex yet restrained. Dried cherries, light spice and mineral notes, light tannin and fine length. 93 points. $38


Bouchaine 2011 Estate Terraces, Napa Valley – Carneros, Pinot Noir:

Subtle and complex with a nose of violets, strawberry and candied orange peel, light body, silky texture. 92-93 points. $60


Bouchaine, 2012 Rockin’ H Vineyard, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir:

An elegant wine, balanced and layered with flavors of strawberry jam and vanilla with a mineral background and vibrant acidity. Lingering finish. 92 points. $40


Alexander Valley Vineyards, 2012 Estate, Alexander Valley, Pinot Noir:

The best Pinot to come from Alexander Valley in a recent memory. It’s ripe, spicy and intense, yet retains a certain delicacy with light floral notes under the ripe cherry core. Complex earthy notes surface in the long finish. 92 points. $28


Mahoney Vineyards 2011 Mahoney Ranch, Carneros, Pinot Noir:

A medium-bodied Pinot with fine balance and a silky texture. The nose shows off ripe (but not too ripe) cherry fruit with dead leaf overtones. 92 points. $38


Schug 2009 Heritage Reserve, Carneros, Pinot Noir:

Almost a duplicate of the Mahoney Pinot, with a little less pronounced dead leaf character. 92 points. $40


Dawn’s Dream Winery 2011 Nicole, Monterey, Pinot Noir:

Bright strawberry core with candied orange peel accents from nose to palate, chalky tannins on the mid-palate, and a mineral finish of great length. 91 points. $30


Gallo Signature Series 2011, Santa Lucia, Pinot Noir:

Just the right balance of light to rich, aromatic cherry and violets with a hint of orange peel and vanilla accents. Spicy, tarry finish. 91 points. $35


Cline Cellars, 2012 Cool Climate, Sonoma Coast, Pinot Noir:

Earthy but in balance with the strawberry-cherry fruit and sweet spices. 91 points.


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