Home Winners > Winners 2018 > NEW WORLD: Pinot Noir, USA & Canada

Winner Details

New World: Pinot Noir, USA & Canada

2018 Gold 2      Silver 1      Bronze 3      Commended 5
2017 Gold 2      Silver 4      Bronze 4      Commended 2

This was a conflicted category. Some great wines, some execrable; some that our tasters knew the public would love more than they did; some that had too much fruit for their own good; and a fair few that didn’t remotely justify the price. And yet through it all, from a relatively small entry, we found two wines for our Gold List – one of them a Critics Choice.

The US, clearly, can do good Pinot Noir. That it does it at a price (and sometimes with a bit too much self-regard) is also obvious – though the MacMurray for £11 was the kind of punter-friendly version of Pinot that ought to be on every gastropub’s radar.

What was surprising (and slightly disappointing) about this year’s results was how north California-centred it all was; lots of Sonoma and Russian River wines, but very few from the Southern Valleys. And just about nothing from Oregon – which, perhaps, is the most sommelier-friendly Pinot region outside Burgundy.


 ‘Loads of people lap up that fruity, jammy style of Pinot Noir. For some of us that loses what’s good about the grape, but a customer could say “Then I don’t like your kind of Pinot.” I felt like I was trying to project my taste in Pinot on these.’ Charlie Young, Vinoteca

‘Pinot Noir is about elegance and refinement, while these are in-your-face wines, but you can see why people buy them. California is hard because the wines are very expensive in general, so that entry £15 price point isn’t very exciting, but if you want a list of American wines you need some of those. You can’t start your list at £130.’ Andres Ituarte, Le Coq d’Argent

Award winners

Found 11 wines

New World: Pinot Noir, USA & Canada

Walter Hansel, South Slope, Pinot Noir 2013, Russian River Valley, California, USA

Gold medal winner Critics Choice

‘Stewed fruit and the great outdoors!’ began an enthused Joseph Lunn of Suave Wine on encountering this Gold Lister, transported straight to ‘baked cherry pie found at the house in the woods of the American grandma you always wanted to have! Good, restrained use of oak for a NorCal Pinot.’ Vinoteca’s Charlie Young highlighted ‘nicely lifted aromas, plenty going on, quite full on the palate with notes of bitter cherry and lots of acidity and tannin’.

£32.03 Bibendum

E&J Gallo Winery, MacMurray Estate Vineyards, Pinot Noir 2015, Central Coast, California, USA

Gold medal winner

Clearly worthy of a Gold medal, this was ‘plush, with fleshy red fruits, rounded texture and offers good value’, said Coq d’Argent’s Andrés Ituarte, with team leader Laurent Richet MS finding ‘quite a concentrated, pretty nose, perfumed with violets and ripe black cherries, medium acidity wrapped in juicy Ribena and black cherry juice flavours, and a juicy, flashy finish’. As Hakkasan’s Olivier Gasselin summed it up: ‘A spicy, juicy, savoury style that’s broad but balanced by freshness.’

£11.13 E. &J. Gallo Winery

Sebastiani, Pinot Noir 2015, Sonoma, California, USA

Silver medal winner

Street XO’s Raphael Thierry found ‘good red fruit character with a hint of mushroom and a very fresh, long finish with notes of clove spice’, while for team leader Laurent Richet MS it was ‘pretty, clean and aromatic, with very ripe, sweet black cherry on the palate’, concluding: ‘Good Pinot, flavour with structure.’

£14.65 Berkmann Wine Cellars

Terlato, Sanford, Pinot Noir 2012, Sta Rita Hills, California, USA

Bronze medal winner

‘Perfumed and pretty, lovely palate of ripe juice, dark plums and black cherry, delicate and smooth,’ said team leader Laurent Richet MS, with Street XO’s Raphael Thierry noting an ‘oaky nose, but the palate showing much more integration with lovely cherry, plum and red fruit, as well as chocolate notes and a long, fresh finish’.

£32.35 Matthew Clark

Father John, Pinot Noir 2014, Russian River Valley, California, USA

Bronze medal winner

Team leader Laurent Richet MS found a ‘farmyardy nose, aiming to be a different kind of wine, and so not for all, yet it’s well made, well balanced, a more meaty and food-friendly style’, while for Street XO’s Raphael Thierry it was ‘mushroomy and floral on the nose, very light in colour but with great intensity and pure fruit’.

£35.72 Berkmann Wine Cellars

E&J Gallo Winery, MacMurray Estate Vineyards, Pinot Noir 2015, Russian River Valley, California, USA

Bronze medal winner

Team leader Jade Koch found this Pinot ‘sweet and heady on the nose with notes of milk chocolate and praline, nicely energised on the palate with refreshing, dry and juicy style, finishing well with tannin and fruit balance’.

£15.38 E. &J. Gallo Winery

Byron, Nielson By Byron, Pinot Noir 2014, Santa Barbara County, California, USA

Commended medal winner

£13.80 Boutinot

Quails' Gate, Pinot Noir 2015, Okanagan Valley, Canada

Commended medal winner

Meiomi, Pinot Noir 2015, California, USA

Commended medal winner

£15.37 Matthew Clark

E&J Gallo Winery, Talbott Vineyards, Kali Hart, Pinot Noir 2016, Monterey, California, USA

Commended medal winner

Morgan, Twelve Clones, Pinot Noir 2015, Santa Lucia Highlands, California, USA

Commended medal winner

£22.43 Bibendum


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