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American Pinot Noir

Great American Pinot Noir is no longer the wine version of a UFO
Matt Kramer
From the Print Edition:
Laurence Fishburne, Jan/Feb 00

(continued from page 4)

Elsewhere in California, one promising locale is the supremely cool Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. The availability of the new Dijon clones, which perform especially well in very cool sites, will likely propel Anderson Valley into the front ranks.   Another, very different spot that is producing Pinot Noirs with depth and finesse is the high elevation coastal zone of western Sonoma County. Perched on ridges bathed in intense sunlight and only a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, a handful of small vineyards in this stunningly rugged, isolated locale are issuing intriguing Pinot Noirs.  

Notable among them (and whose wines are all very hard to get) are Flowers Winery "Camp Meeting Ridge"; Kistler Vineyards "Camp Meeting Ridge"; Hirsch Vineyard (made by Williams & Selyem and Siduri); Coastlands Vineyard (Siduri); Summa Vineyard (Williams & Selyem); and Marcassin Vineyard & Winery. Collectively, these wines share a striking intensity and a bit of tannic toughness. They're big wines, with a lot to say.  

One thing is certain: no one really knows where America's Pinot Noir motherlode really lies. More than 20 years ago winemaker David Lett, of The Eyrie Vineyards, who left California in 1966 to plant Oregon's first Pinot Noir vineyard, declared, "One hundred years from now, California won't even grow Pinot Noir!"  

Much more likely is that, 100 years from now, Pinot Noir will be planted everywhere, in every cool spot along the Pacific Coast, to say nothing of the as yet unexplored places in New York or New Mexico. You'd be surprised. Everyone is, once they taste some of America's great Pinot Noirs.  

Matt Kramer is a columnist for Wine Spectator magazine, Cigar Aficionado's sister publication.

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