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2007: You’re The One That I Want

The economic slump has affected us all, and the prices of good Pinot Noir make it seem like Pinot Noir isn't so much a wine as a drink for the privileged few. The timing is unfortunate because the 2007 vintage Pinot Noirs from California are the best ever statewide. James Laube wrote in a recent issue of the Wine Spectator, “Now comes 2007, offering the greatest assortment of outstanding wines in the 25 years I’ve been tasting and writing about Golden State Pinot.” I echo his sentiments completely.

The time to stock your cellar is now because the next two vintages will probably not provide the wide-ranging quality of the 2007 vintage. 2008 was a vintage from hell with many regions suffering severe frost at bloom, periods of intense heat, and smoke taint. The grapes from a number of vineyards were either not made into wine or the resulting wine was sold off in bulk. 2009 has presented its own challenges. I recently returned from harvest work in the Russian River Valley. The off and on heat has shortened the growing season for Pinot Noir. Grapes last week were reaching optimum Brix for picking, but were lacking in phenolic, seed and stem maturity. Harvest had been moved up 10-14 days in a number of warmer-sited vineyards. That said, 2009 should fare better than 2008.

How can you make Pinot Noir your daily drinker, your house wine, without taking out a loan? Pinot Noir has ridden the Sideways wave to unprecedented popularity and prices have escalated in step, creating disdain in the minds of some wine drinkers. Fortunately, there are plenty of Pinot Noirs that are quite affordable and some of these can be very, very good. I have tried to feature a number of wines under $40, even under $20 that you can happily dance with. The task of choosing among the vast number of value-priced Pinot Noirs is challenging as evidenced by the 2,843 wineries in California, many of which produce Pinot Noir. Nearly 30,000 acres are planted to Pinot Noir now in California, double what it was only ten years ago. Despite the daunting number of choices, picking a good Pinot Noir has actually become much easier, driven by the improvements in viticulture and winemaking over the last several years.

The 2007 vintage of California Pinot Noir is the one to buy, the one that I, and most assuredly, you will want.

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