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Oct 2, 2007 07:38 PM

need help choosing an American Pinot Noir

At our occasional nice dinners out, my SO and I will order a red Burgundy (some favorites were a 1998 J.L. Trapet Latricieres-Chambertin, a Lafarge Volnay 1997, some kind of 2000 Vosne Romanee Les Suchots, and an incredible Romanee St.Vivant), and once we had a great New Zealand PN. But a restaurant we're headed to seems to downplay Burgundies in favor of American PNs (in terms of # of offerings), so that seems like the way to go. I know absolutely nothing about them. Here are some from the list. Do any of these sound good, maybe Burgundian in style?

Morgan Winery, "Double L Vineyards," Santa Lucia Highlands 2004
Patz & Hall, "Hyde Vineyard," Carneros 2004
Argyle Reserve Series "Nuthouse", Willamette Valley 2004
Domaine Drouhin, "Laurene," Willamette Valley, Oregon 2003
Calera, Selleck Vineyard, Mount Harlan Vineyard 2001
Archery Summit "Red Hills Estate," Oregon 2002
La Crema "Nine Barrel," Russian River Valley 2004

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  1. Many of those sound good, actually...

    Morgan is probably going to be too "New World" for you
    The Patz and Hall is good but NOT Burgunidan at all. Lots dark fruits and low acidity.
    Argyle Nuthouse is more on the Burgunidan side, complex, medium colored fruits
    Domaine Drouhinis also quite nice, though I would probably take the Argyle Nuthouse over it ... similar in style
    I never had that Calera but I like the winery. Probably not the best candidtate, though.
    Archery Summit some people really like, I find some of their wines to be too thin. Never had that one.
    La Crema can make excellent Pinot in a more refined style, but I never had the "Nine Barrel" -- but I've heard good things.

    So, based upon personal experience, I would reccomend the Argyle Nuthouse to you.

    1. Three wines here are particularly interesting to me in "absolute pinot" terms, forgetting how burgundian they may or may not be: the Calera, the Patz, and the Drouhin...

      But, given the specific vintages, Go w/ the Calera Selleck.

      IMO, among your list, it's from the best vintage in it's AVA and has the extra advantage that It's the oldest of the bunch. Those extra couple years should give you greater evolution in a potentially great wine. I can't speak as to exactly how "burgundian" it will impress you, but extra years tend to take all pinots closer toward the same flavor notes, IMO, as the stylistic and terroir edges soften a bit.

      2001 was a very good year on Mt. Harlan, compared to the average '04 in Carneros and perhaps even a bit below average '03 in the Willamette Valley....

      Calera Selleck 2001, enjoy & report back.

      On another issue your post seems to ask about.... you may be asking "will I enjoy American Pinot... is it any good... ?"

      On that note I can assure you that American Pinot Noir, in good years from good vineyards of good producers in good regions is a superb wine that, as one poster said "you can enjoy for what it is, not what it isn't"... there's great fruit development, complexity, and a range of styles in the States that I think you'll find most interesting.

      I wouldn't have said this 20 years ago, when PN seemed much more uneven, but American vineyards and winemakers have come along ways in that time.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chicago Mike

        I agree. While I do like the Patz & Hall, the Argyle Nuthouse, the Drouhin Laurene (probably the most "Burgundian" of the lot) and the Archery Summit (do not know the others), the Selleck is Josh Jensen's top property. He does not always produce from it, but when he does, it's always great. I'd think (as he searchs for TNs on the '01 Selleck), that it's drinking nicely about now. It's in a style between the big Cal-PNs and a Burgundian PN, but always refined, and a good match for most PN-friendly foods.


      2. Those are some nice Burgs but none of those are even close to comparable to the domestics you name. The burgs you mention are all from top producers and from great vineyards with a long history. The vintages are not the best but the producer is far more important with burg. Don't look for something like those burgs because it ain't on that list.

        IMO the Calera Selleck is the best wine on that list and you should enjoy it for what is is not for what it is not.

        1. There are some outstanding PN's on that list, but imho, only the Drouhin is what I'd call "Burgundian" in character. That said, since you've listed some of the all-time top Burgundy producers in the first Paragraph, not even the Laurene will compare with those... but neither should the price! For my money, the most Burgundian PN's from Oregon come from Eyrie.

          Vision Cellars in Sonoma makes very Burgundian PN, but I find it more comparable to Pommard.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ChefJune

            Thanks. In fact, all the wines I mentioned fell in the restaurant price range of $90-$180. I'm guessing that getting at DRC Romanee S-V at that price involved a very kind sommelier.

          2. Morgan Winery, "Double L Vineyards," Santa Lucia Highlands 2004
            -- Excellent wine; California Pinot Noir, but NOT in the super-extracted, "Pinot-as-Syrah," in-your-face style.

            Patz & Hall, "Hyde Vineyard," Carneros 2004
            -- Ditto.

            Argyle Reserve Series "Nuthouse", Willamette Valley 2004
            -- more Burgundian in style than most of the California wines, but still from the New World.

            Domaine Drouhin, "Laurene," Willamette Valley, Oregon 2003
            -- ditto.

            Calera, Selleck Vineyard, Mount Harlan Vineyard 2001
            -- The MOST "Burgundian" style of the California examples here. Excellent.

            Archery Summit "Red Hills Estate," Oregon 2002
            -- see Argyle.

            La Crema "Nine Barrel," Russian River Valley 2004
            -- Not as good (IMHO) as the Morgan, P&H, or Calera).


            2 Replies
            1. re: zin1953

              How Burgundian is the Calera? Picked early September and wild yeast fits, on the other hand, 14.5% alcohol, 100% malolactic, 16 months in 30% new oak ...