9 California Pinot Noirs from the Grape’s Top Regions

There’s something for every budget in this selection of new reviews from Sonoma, Monterey, Santa Barbara and more

Oct 14, 2019

Tasting Highlights’ wine reviews are fresh out of the tasting room, offering a sneak peek of our editors’ most recent scores and notes to members.

This week’s selection of Pinot Noirs paints a good picture of what you’ll find on retail shelves this month: The 2016 vintage has largely made way for the 2017s, and a handful of 2018s are starting to appear. The 2017 growing season was troubling for some, with late-spring rains delaying growth and extreme temperatures in September and October. But the best wines of the vintage showcased ripe and juicy fruit profiles, like the bulk of the ’17s represented here.

Two wines tapped Monterey, Sonoma and Santa Barbara for tri-county blends, showing off coastal California locales with their flavor, texture and acidity. Both lean heavily on Monterey, which lends an opulent fruit character, while Santa Barbara gives spice and texture, and Russian River supplements fruit and mineral notes. Monterey grapes make up three-quarters of Landmark’s Overlook and 54 percent of Böen’s bottling.

Finding a well-priced Pinot Noir can be a challenge, but all these selections clock in at $45 or less. For extreme value, Castle Rock’s focused, savory and supple Central Coast expression is a steal at $13.


Pinot Noir Monterey-Santa Barbara-Sonoma Counties Overlook 2017

Score: 90 | $25

WS review: Elegant and juicy, featuring minerally precision to the pomegranate, cherry and currant flavors. Slate and spice details show on the finish, with creamy accents. Drink now through 2024. 15,000 cases made.—K.M.

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Click here to learn more about Landmark Overlook Pinot Noir

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