California Pinot Noirs offer something for every taste, running the gamut from Burgundian pungent, cool, minerality, to soft, super-ripe and chocolatey-sweet. Pinot Noir is one of the most tantalizing yet temperamental varietals. It needs constant attention and maintenance, and I suppose that's part of the appeal. Though a cool weather varietal, Pinot Noir can be found throughout California. However, the best are typically from Carneros, Santa Barbara, and Sonoma.
These wines are aromatic with flavors ranging from ripe berries to sweet black cherries and tannins that are firm but never obtrusive. California Pinot Noir are typically more fruit-forward in style than the French.
Pinot Noir pairs with a wide range of food. Fruitier versions match with salmon or fatty fish, roasted chicken and pasta dishes. Bigger, more tannic Pinots are ideal with duck, casseroles and stews (especially Beef Bourguignon).
Here's a look at four of our favorite Pinot Noirs from California.