Image of Calera Wine Company via Snooth(From NYT: Eric Asimov's The Pour wine column, Marh 10, 2009, titled
Finessed and Light: California Pinot Noirs With a Manifesto
On the Lighter Side
The following are among the California pinot noirs made in a lighter style, emphasizing finesse over power. Some wines are widely available; others are sold by mailing list. Prices can range from around $20 for entry-level bottles up to about $75 for some single-vineyard wines.
ANTHILL FARMS Sonoma/Mendocino; lovely, fresh and floral.
ARCADIAN South Central Coast; lively, pure and age-worthy.
AU BON CLIMAT Santa Barbara; well-balanced and complex.
CALERA WINE COMPANY Mount Harlan; intense single-vineyard wines.
COPAIN Mendocino; delicate and nuanced.
FAILLA Sonoma Coast; elegant and focused.
INMAN FAMILY WINES Russian River Valley; bright and pretty.
JOSEPH SWAN VINEYARDS Russian River Valley; restrained and delicate.
LANE TANNER Santa Barbara; light-bodied and fragrant.
LITTORAI Mendocino/Sonoma Coast; structured and energetic.
LONGORIA Santa Barbara; earthy and intense.
THE OJAI VINEYARD Santa Barbara; light and savory.
PEAY VINEYARDS Sonoma Coast; spicy and polished.
PORTER CREEK VINEYARDS Russian River Valley; fresh and elegant.
RHYS VINEYARDS Santa Cruz Mountains; graceful and complex.
RIVERS-MARIE Sonoma Coast; intense, lively and balanced.
TALLEY VINEYARDS Arroyo Grande; earthy yet fresh.
Comment: I discovered the wonders of Euro-style lighter wines while traveling in Europe and am now a big fan. I love big, dramatic, jammy reds, but light-yet-flavorful reds, of which Pinots can be the ideal example, are fabulous too -- just different. See my recent discussion of Beverage Wines vs. Cocktail Wines!