For better or worse, depending on whom you ask, we live in a time when many societal “rules” of seasonality are no longer adhered to with vigilance or consistency—the amount of white being worn after Labor Day is testament to such. In addition to fashion, wine is another arena where former social imperatives are being continually eschewed. Subject matter experts will now tell you that the base of any oenophile’s, or budding oenophile’s, manual should be to drink what you like regardless of long-standing notions as to proper or best practices when it comes to imbibing adult grape juice.
Still, red wine is a crimson herald for cooler weather, and thus TLP’s wine panel opted for American Pinot Noir for our October/November tasting. As the South finally cools off, it is not solely in our imagination that red wines offer warmth to days that have become shorter and chillier—the tannins and histamines in red grape skins really do have a physically warming effect. So start a fire, grab a book, and curl up with a glass of one of the winning Pinot Noir options listed here (for the full list of winning Pinot Noirs, pick up a copy of our October/November 2012 issue).
Torii Mor Pinot Noir 2009
TLP SCORE / 87 / Willamette Valley in Oregon is well known for producing superb Pinot Noir. Torii Mor takes it a step further, separating grapes from each vineyard for fermentation and then blending them together. The end result is great complexity with full aromas and flavors. Starting with earth and black cherry, moving through violets, sassafras, and mushroom, this wine over-delivers for the price. The rich fresh berry taste is abundant with black cherries, and some spice and black pepper come along for the ride. Duck, pork, and salmon are happy partners here. 5,395 cases produced. MSRP $24
MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Pinot Noir 2009
TLP SCORE / 87 / Wildcat Mountain in the Sonoma Coast region is a clinging rock outpost near the Pacific. The cool fog and winds create an ideal environment for Pinot Noir to really flourish. Classic Burgundy clones pool together then dry out in French oak barrels for their final finish. The result is stunning: big, dark cherry mixes with root beer, spice, dark chocolate, and toast. Tasting brings out some boysenberry to go with the chocolate. Superbly balanced and crafted for long-term storage. If game is on the menu, this wine should be the first choice. 984 cases produced. MSRP $40
Twomey Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2009
TLP SCORE / 86 / Nine acres recently purchased on Sonoma’s coast planted with all Burgundy clones are the source of this spectacular Pinot. It ages for over fourteen months in French oak, seasoned to perfection. You’ll find dried rose petals, spice, and oak on the nose. The palate is soft and juicy, much like a cherry pie with some dried herbs accents. Add vanilla and burnished oak at the end alongside the very smooth tannins and you begin to see why this distinctive wine is so lovely…and will age beautifully. Match with all things veal, pork chops, and mushroom risotto. 2,645 cases produced. MSRP $55