One of my favorite varietals, Pinot Noir’s flavor profile can range anywhere from soft and smoky to full and lush fruity wines. I like to call the many selections anywhere from the French barnyard Pinot to the California fruity Pinot. In tasting rooms across the country, people love drinking and saying the word “Pinot” because it exudes a sophistication more than other wines. In the movie, Sideways, Pinot is revered while other high yield wines like Merlot is talked about as the bottom of the barrel type wine. When Miles blurts, “If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving! I’m not drinking f***ing Merlot!” vintners cringed as they saw Merlot sales plummet and it was several years before Merlot made a true comeback. But, Pinot has risen steadily to the top as one of the world’s top wines.Part of the reason for Pinot’s reputation is that Pinot is challenging to grow because it’s a thin-skinned grape and cannot vary in temperature more than several degrees, while a grape like Merlot can grow anywhere and has a very thick skin which makes it more suitable to temperature variations. This makes pinot a varietal that needs to be nurtured every step of the way. But, when done correctly there are no words that can describe the melody of a great Pinot.
Etude Winery in Napa specializes in two kinds of red; Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Their Pinot selections are in my opinion, some of the best and most unique in character in wine country. The winery itself is beautiful with a modern tasting room and peaceful outdoor courtyard surrounded by a garden. It’s the perfect place to sit on a warm day and enjoy a glass of Pinot Noir. The sustainable and environmental practices at Etude make their wine even more appealing. Flora and natural wetlands are protected and as grapes approach harvest, falcons are used to ward off starlings from the vineyard. That’s pretty impressive!
It’s a great winery to try if you are in the area with a superb wine list and helpful staff.
2012 Etude Pinot Noir Lyric, Santa Barbara County, $25 – A smooth and complex wine with flavors of toasted almonds, banana, citrus, florals and a spiced silky finish.
Awesome photo by Joe Ercoli at anvilimage.com.