Known as the Heartbreaker Grape, world-class Pinot Noir is coveted by wine lovers and collectors alike. And few places produce Pinot as stunning as California. From an incredible diversity of soil and climate to a number of top producers dedicated to the grape, California Pinot is hard to beat. Here, we’ve rounded up highly rated recent reviews from up and down the state. Get these bottles while they last.
Aequorea 2013 Spanish Spring Vineyard Pinot Noir (San Luis Obispo County); $46, 94 points.
Aaron Jackson sources from the Central Coast’s most extremely coastal vineyards, and this one from Edna Valley shows complex cola, black cherry, star anise and Dr Pepper aromas. It’s soft and slate-driven on the lively palate, with graphite flavors that lead into tart cherry, clove spice and Sichuan pepper, entertaining the mouth for a long time. —Matt Kettmann
Sojourn 2013 Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast); $59, 94 points.
From a relatively warm site within the burgeoning Petaluma Gap, this wine offers lush, velvety layers of blackberry, mint and dried herb, employing some whole-cluster fermentation to add to the weight and concentration. Perfumed in spice, it retains plenty of structure; it would be a good one to cellar, through 2023. Editors’ Choice. —Virginie Boone
Red Stich 2013 Sierra Mar Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands); $54, 93 points.
Longtime San Francisco Giant Rich Aurilia teams with fellow baseballer Dave Roberts to produce a wine with restrained, focused aromas of black cherry, pencil shavings, sarsaparilla and hints of allspice. The palate is all about black gravel and turned loam, with tiny bits of black cherry and noticeably firm tannins. —M.K.
Saintsbury 2013 Sundawg Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir (Green Valley); $54, 93 points.
From a cool spot planted within classic Goldridge soils, this wine opens with smoky graham cracker and soft red and blue berry fruit. Black tea and clove speak to its site, providing intriguingly exotic and savory undertones that meld well with the fruit and oak. Still young, the wine needs to open for full effect. Editors’ Choice. —V.B.
Storm 2013 Presqu’ile Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley); $55, 93 points.
The nose on this wine by Ernst Storm comes with this vineyard’s telltale herbal hints, with Kalamata and green olives, black loam and a touch of compost. The lithe, graceful palate tingles with energy and proves intriguingly pretty, with tapenade, crushed peppercorns and a touch of strawberry on the finish. Cellar Selection. —M.K.