Needing constant care and attention, Pinot Noir is one of the most painstaking grapes to grow. But despite its difficulties, Pinot is produced and enjoyed all over the world, and for good reason. The wine’s aromas, flavors and its medium-bodied nature make it an ideal pairing for a wide array of dishes, from salmon to beef Bourguignon. Here are some of our favorite California Pinot Noirs that will go perfectly with almost any meal.
Dutton-Goldfield 2015 Devil’s Gulch Vineyard Pinot Noir (Marin County); $72, 97 points. This is a distinctive, nervy wine that combines generous exotic flavors with a rigid backbone of acidity and tannins. It exudes aromas of forest floor, rhubarb and bay leaf on the nose, with crisp flavors of black cherry, pomegranate and tobacco. It is medium to full in body, shows little obvious oak influence but tremendous complexity and nuance. Best through 2025. Cellar Selection. —Jim Gordon
Benovia 2015 Tilton Hill Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast); $60, 95 points. This beautiful wine is smoky in character, with a warming baking-spice tone. Tangy red cherry, strawberry and pomegranate flavors mark the palate, offering elegance and delicacy around the core of citrusy acidity. —Virginie Boone
The Withers Winery 2015 Charles Vineyard Pinot Noir (Anderson Valley); $47, 94 points. This wine is vivid and concentrated but not overly ripe, so it has an attractive tension between almost-tart red-cherry and sour-cherry flavors and richer savory mushroom and forest-floor notes. It’s possibly the most nervy wine yet from the Charles Vineyard. Good acidity and moderate tannins add welcome grip on the palate, while the finish lingers nicely. Editors’ Choice. —J.G.
Hartford Court 2015 Marin County Pinot Noir (Marin County); $70, 94 points. Bold dark-fruit aromas and mouthfilling flavors make this full-bodied wine taste generous and concentrated. A deep core of black plum and black cherry fills the palate and lingers nicely on the finish. It is both ripe and savory but doesn’t go over the top, maintaining good balance and a fresh dry aspect. Editors’ Choice. —J.G.
RouteStock 2016 Route 116 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast); $23, 93 points. This is a screaming deal for a wine of this quality: a light, delicate and earthy expression of the grape that’s stemmy and spicy. Forest floor, bark and dark brooding fruit meet a tangle of tight-woven acidity dipped in orange zest. Editors’ Choice. —V.B.
Clos de la Tech 2005 Domaine du Docteur Rodgers Pinot Noir (San Francisco Bay); $200, 93 points. Deep, dark and brooding with earth, slate, pepper, mulberry jam, maduro cigar, iodine and sandalwood scents on the nose, this aged bottling from a one-acre block above Palo Alto is fascinatingly unique. The palate is loaded with flavors of soil, menthol, plum jam and tobacco leaf, featuring tannins that have been polished by patience. Editors’ Choice. —Matt Kettmann
Poseidon 2016 Estate Pinot Noir (Carneros); $32, 92 points. Spicy floral Hungarian oak aromas and rich, detailed and concentrated fruit and spice-rack flavors give great appeal to this full-bodied and well-balanced wine. It has a plush layered texture, a great foundation of black cherry and complex tea, plus interwoven notes of cinnamon and forest floor. Editors’ Choice. —J.G.
Perfusion 2014 Pinot Noir (San Francisco Bay); $40, 92 points. This wine comes from a small vineyard in Wildcat Canyon, which is located in the hills of the East Bay. Aromas of mulberry, purple flowers, new leather, curry and cardamom lead into a palate of roasted tomato jam and chai spice. Editors’ Choice. —M.K.
Starmont 2015 Pinot Noir (Carneros); $27, 91 points. This wine offers a balanced celebration of plum, dark cherry and cola spice that’s velvety and textured. With moderate acidity keeping it fresh in the glass, it offers depth and length, as well as a slight tease of orange peel. Editors’ Choice. —V.B.
La Crema 2015 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley); $40, 91 points. This is a wonderful wine, made in large enough quantities to be easily found on store shelves. Smoky, meaty and gamy aromas rise from the glass around perfumed rose. The palate is juicy and velvety, with flavors of berry pie and cinnamon. Editors’ Choice. —V.B.
White Hart Wine 2016 Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands); $25, 89 points. It may be impossible to find a carefully made old-vine Pinot Noir from a single vineyard (McIntyre) for just $25 other than this bottling. Earthy tones of dried red fruit meet with pepper and smoked pork on the nose, while the palate offers dark pomegranate, star anise and a touch of smoke. Editors’ Choice. —M.K.