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2017 Pinot Noir All-Americans

“The only way to really get a sense of where a wine stands is to score it.
Scores are another way for me to learn your palate and judge what your
comments mean compared to my palate.”

A PInotFile reader

In the final issue of the PinotFile each year, I name my All-Americans, my favorite domestic Pinot Noirs reviewed this past year. In 2017, nearly 850 domestic Pinot Noir were reviewed, with 15% of the wines receiving a score of 94 or above. These extraordinary wines have what wine writer Hugh Johnson calls “numinous,” that is defined by Webster as “the higher emotions or the aesthetic sense.” In other words, truly extraordinary, spellbinding wines that elicit emotion. 79 wines were scored 94, 29 wines 95, 13 wines 96, 8 wines 97 and 3 wines 98. The prices of Pinot Noir scoring 90 or above ranged from $18 to $125 with an average of $55.

I score all the wines using the 100-point scoring system with guidelines as follows: 94-99 Extraordinary, 90-93 Outstanding, 86-89, Very Good, and 82-85 Good. Wines scoring less than 82 do not merit publication in the PinotFile and there are very few of these in the current marketplace.

In choosing the All-American Pinot Noirs, I follow several dictums and these have been outlined in the past: In essence, the All-Americans are the highest scoring wines. This year I have included multiple wines from the same producer if qualified. The 2017 All-Americans were judged independent of price, case production, vintage or wine region of origin. Most of the wines tasted in 2017 were from the 2014, 2015 and 2016 vintages. It is somewhat unfair to compare wines from disparate vintages, but the evaluation of each wine is taken on its own merit in the context of the vintage.

Only finished bottled wines that are formerly reviewed in controlled, and therefore comparable circumstances are candidates for All-American consideration. Almost all wines are culled from unsolicited winery submissions while a few wines that are rarely sent for review came from personal purchases.

Pinot Noir awarded the Value icon offer an exceptional price to quality ratio and generally this is a wine priced at or below $39 that is also scored in the upper Very Good or above category (89 or above). The prices of Pinot Noir scoring 89 or below reviewed in 2017 ranged from $12 to $85 with an average of $39.50.

The Chardonnay All-Americans are chosen using the same process as for Pinot Noir.

To search for the complete review of each All-American wine, visit the Home Page at Click on Winery Directory, then the producing winery, and then read the review among the listings for that winery.

The most important take-away from these All-American awards is expressed in the words that Jamie Goode so eloquently offered in his book, I Taste Red, a recommended discourse that explores how we taste wine. “The notion of rating or judging wine reflects the fact that we come to wine from our own perspective. A rating cannot be a global, universal score that is a property of that wine. If you decide to follow a critic, you need to choose one whose own narrative of wine is largely overlapping with yours: you need to adjust for differences and calibrate yourself to the critic.”

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