• Matt Day

Where to find the best Pinot Noir deals in San Francisco Bay Area

Pinot Noir is a French variety indigenous to the vineyards of Champagne and Burgundy in northern France. Certain grapes like Chardonnay will grow anywhere (with variable results). Pinot Noir, on the other hand, will only grow in cool zones with a climates similar to northern France. Because fewer areas are suitable relatively less Pinot Noir is planted and produced compared to other famous international grapes. Due to scarcity coupled with its popularity prices are rarely bargain basement and if you do see really cheap Pinot Noir it is probably best avoided as its finicity nature means it doesn’t respond well to mass production. Pinot Noir is one of the most delicious red varieties due to its wonderfully aromatic nose and unparalleled silky texture. Thin skins give Pinots a lightish colour, but levels of tannins (the astringent bite in reds) are nonetheless high. Typically wines have strawberry and raspberry aromas in youth and develop more funky, farmyard (polite for shitty!) notes with age. With good acidity and medium weight Pinot Noir is a very food friendly style that works well with a wide range of dishes. With a bit of age the wines are excellent with game birds, venison, wild mushrooms and truffles. Riper, fleshier New World Pinot Noir can be good with upfront Chinese dishes especially duck.

With tiny annual production and an avid international audience the ‘real deal’ from France can be prohibitively expensive - look to less well known regions like Givry and Mercurey for relative value. The top Sonoma Pinots are equally sought after and expensive, so look further south to the Central Coast for wines that over deliver. Oregon and New Zealand (Otago, Marlborough) are also a hotbed of Pinot Noir activity.

Five to try:

  1. La Crema Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast (Wallmart $18.53)

  2. Duckhorn Decoy Pinot Noir Anderson Valley (Safeway $19.99)

  3. Giesen Pinot Noir Marlborough (BevMo $19.99)

  4. Talbott Kali Hart Pinot Noir Monterey (Lucky $23.00)

  5. Vincent Lumpp Givry 1er Cru Cras Long (Total Wine $32.99)

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