Whether you love or hate the character named Miles in the film Sideways, chances are you do have an appreciation for the Pinot Noir grape. So the question isn’t really if you like Pinot Noir, but a question of provenance. For example, this morning in my blind tasting session with other wine scholars, I received a glass of a wine I thought could be a Pinot, yet where was it from? Most fellow tasters thought Burgundy, and it turned out the wine was actually from Germany (yes, it was from Baden, a Duijn 2005).
Today, though, I’d like to talk about Pinot Noir from Monterey, which is increasingly its best selling varietal. Monterey is located in the enormous Central Coast, and Monterey alone includes 9 AVAs. Today at a special tasting organized by the Monterey Vintners and Growers Association, I had the opportunity to taste several different Pinots from the region.
So why Monterey Pinot Noir? Why now? People are starting to realize it is important to understand that quality Pinot Noir does not mean going to Burgundy or Baden. If you live in Los Angeles or San Francisco, you can find some of the best Pinots well within a day’s drive of your house. And though small amounts of Pinot have been planted in Monterey for decades, now producers are realizing the combination of the cool nights, sunny warm days, and fog that reliably rolls in each day creates top conditions for growing quality Pinot Noir.
As you may imagine, the color, nose, and palate of each Pinot varies depending on the winery and AVA. We started our tasting with the 2006 Irony Monterey Pinot Noir, one of the lighter and more delicate styles. It sells for only $15.99 and I really liked this style a lot. Lots of ripe, delicate raspberries and strawberries on the nose and palate, quite pleasant with poached salmon. Fruit was sourced from three different sub-appellations including Arroyo Secco, San Lucas, and San Bernabe.