I recently tasted through some California Pinot Noir samples from thee 2015 and 2014 vintages. It can be hard to find exciting wines in the $20-$30 range, but there are some reliably fun bottles out there. If you’re looking to spend a bit more ($50-ish), Carmel Road’s Panorama Vineyard wines, from Monterey, are a pretty solid bet.
These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.
2015 La Follette Pinot Noir North Coast - California, North Coast
Light ruby color. Aromas of cherry cola, tart strawberries, notes of sweet pipe tobacco and roses. Medium-bodied, soft tannins, moderate acidity, this is a juicy and straightforward Pinot for near-term drinking but it sports some tasty cherry cola, strawberry fruit, and notes of cedar and earth. Tasty, easy-drinking stuff. (86 points)
2015 La Follette Pinot Noir Sangiacomo Roberts Road Vineyard - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
Rich ruby color. Bright and vibrant aromas of cherry cola, strawberry, red currant, along with roses, rhubarb, vanilla. Medium- to full-bodied with supple tannins and medium acidity. Flavors of red plums, cherry cola and strawberry jam mix nicely with elements of rose petals, rhubarb pie, coconut, vanilla, rich earth. Juicy and fruit but harmonious, too. (89 points)
2015 Carmel Road Pinot Noir - California, Central Coast, Monterey
Deep ruby color. Aromas of strawberries and red apples, red cherries, cola, roses. Medium-bodied with soft tannins and bright acidity, along with red cherries and strawberry jam. Flavors of roses, cola, coffee, chestnut. Fun, simple, fresh. (86 points)
2014 Carmel Road Pinot Noir Panorama Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Arroyo Seco
Light ruby color. Aromas of chilled strawberries and raspberries, bright but juicy, with elements of cola and rhubarb pie. Full-bodied, medium acidity, fleshy tannins, a seriously fun wine but it is also balanced nicely. Red and black cherries, pomegranate, raspberry jam, along with cola, rose, rhubarb. Notes of coconut and coffee woven in well. Delicious but shows some good depth, too. Aged 13 months in ¼ new French oak. (88 points)
2014 Carmel Road Pinot Noir First Row Panorama Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Monterey
Light ruby color. Smells of tart strawberries, red cherries, McIntosh apple peel, along with rhubarb, cola and roasted coffee. Refreshing acidity on the palate, full-bodied with a chewy texture, and plenty of tangy cherries, raspberries, rich back cherries. Flavors of cola, rhubarb, rose hips, sweet tobacco, along with coffee, chestnut and vanilla. Packed with flavor but stays fresh. Aged 13 months in 20% new French oak. (90 points)
2014 Carmel Road Pinot Noir North Crest Panorama Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Monterey
Medium ruby color. Nose of crisp raspberries, strawberries, juicy red cherries, along with rhubarb, roses, some sweet cola and light roast coffee. Zesty acidity on the palate, some nice but to the tannins, but also plenty of rich cranberry, raspberry and strawberry fruit. Notes of rhubarb, rose hips, along with coffee and dark chocolate. Delicious but complex. Aged 13 months in 20% new French oak. (90 points)
2014 Carmel Road Pinot Noir South Crest Panorama Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Monterey
Medium ruby color. Crisp aroma of strawberries, pomegranate, raspberry, along with rose hips, rhubarb, tobacco, with cola and coffee. Crisp acidity on the palate, suave texture but nice tannic grip. Tart cranberry mixes with richer black cherries, backed up by roses, rhubarb, cola, coffee and dark chocolate shavings. Juicy and forward but structured and fresh as well. Aged 13 months in 20% new French oak. (90 points)
This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.