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Road 31: Outstanding Napa Valley Pinot Noir

Monday, March 18, 2013

Although Napa Valley has a reputation for being the most prestigious locale for wine production in the United States, it's not known for being a great location for Pinot Noir. It's too hot. It's better suited for Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay (which is able to do relatively well seemingly everywhere).

Sonoma is more famous for Pinot Noir. The Carneros AVA straddles both Sonoma and Napa, is cooler than the rest of Napa, and can produce some fantastic Pinot Noir. So there are definitely examples of great pockets of Pinot Noir production within Napa Valley.

A few years back, I stopped in to visit Wine Spectator's offices in Napa. I met with Senior Editor James Laube who tastes, reviews, and writes about wines of California. I asked him which California Pinot Noir regions he felt were on the rise. The first he mentioned was Carneros.

The 2010 Road 31 Wine Co. Napa Valley Pinot Noir is, I think, a tremendous example of what he was talking about. Of what cooler climate Napa Valley Pinot Noir can be.

Reading through the letters (release notes and seasonal updates) on Road 31's website you feel like winecrafter Kent Fortner is as down to earth and fun to know as you can imagine a winemaker being. I really like what I've discovered so far.

Here are my notes on the 2010...

2010 Road 31 Wine Co. Napa Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% Alcohol
$40

Delightfully aromatic yet light in color and quick on its feet. It opens with an appealing combination of red raspberries and strawberries backed by stemmy aspects that provide an appealing herbal complexity without imparting bitterness. I'm surely biased by the label and backstory, but there's something handcrafted and authentic that comes through when tasting this wine. Fantastic stuff.

92/100 WWP: Oustanding

Winery Website
2010 Pinot Noir Fact Sheet
CellarTracker (92.2 as of this writing)

You know what wine this reminds me of? A wine I discovered last year around the same time my friend K.C. shared this bottle with me. Vaughn Duffy. Between these two I've got a pair of fantastic new California Pinot Noir producers I'd like to have on hand going forward.

Question of the Day: Any newer producers you've discovered lately?

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