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Home Winners > Winners 2019 > NEW WORLD: Pinot Noir - USA

Winner Details

New World: Pinot Noir - USA

2019 Gold 4      Silver 6      Bronze 1      Commended 7
2018 Gold 2      Silver 1      Bronze 3      Commended 5

After a presence in the early years of the Sommelier Wine Awards that was so under the radar as to be almost non-existent, the North American wines are starting to make their presence felt – and nowhere more so than with Pinot.

It might seem extraordinary that California – home to the giant fruit-and-oak Cab bomb – can also make good Pinot, but let’s just say that Sideways had a big impact. The past 15 years have seen serious winemakers from Russian River to Niagara and Oregon to the Okanagan working assiduously at getting something good out of this most tricksy of grape varieties.

And they’re succeeding, too. Of course, these are not Burgundian in style. But our tasters here were neither expecting that nor bothered about it; they liked what was there and didn’t have a problem with the idea of listing them – even at prices that pretty much started at £20 and headed north from there.

Classy, sassy, glossy and with twice as many medals as last year… this is a category to watch.

FROM THE TASTING TEAMS

‘The brightest ones were at the middle price points, around £20-£25, where they were impressive, and what I’d consider value for money. It’s a bit more dangerous at the more expensive end, considering its competitors.’ Quentin Loisel, Restaurant Sat Bains

‘This was a very good flight, with chunky styles that were high in alcohol and very ripe – a meaty type of Pinot Noir that’s not Burgundian in style.’ Olivier Gasselin, Hakkasan

‘I’ve found a more Burgundian style from the US in recent years, and thought that trend would continue, but it seems they’re back to the old style. Some had a lot of concentration and extraction, but they still had good acidity, and weren’t overly cooked or overly extracted.’ Tomasz Kuszneruk, Pavilion Wine

‘We know that these are already in the upper bracket in terms of cost, so expectation is always high. These had savouriness on the nose, and elegant tannins.’ Marco Marcuzzo, Aster Restaurant

‘There were some flavour profiles here that you wouldn’t find elsewhere, with freshness, too. You get a lot more out of the oak than you do in the Old World, so they’re quite useful. There were a lot of red meat pairings here, and even on the cured-meat side too. The lighter styles would go with pork.’ Jordan Moore, Trullo

‘This is an exciting category when it doesn’t try to be too much like Burgundy. It’s positioned as a premium category. I was impressed with the style and suave nature of a lot of these.’ Joshua Castle, Noble Rot

Award winners

Found 18 wines

New World: Pinot Noir, USA & Canada

Calera, Pinot Noir 2016, California, USA

Gold medal winner

‘This is beautifully put together,’ said team leader Charlie Young of this Gold Lister, adding: ‘There’s real life and energy here; it’s not too sweet with its raspberry and spice, and it’s beautifully put together.’ ‘The palate really dances between the lovely fruit and bright acidity,’ added Noble Rot’s Joshua Castle. For Beatrice Bessi of 67 Pall Mall it was ‘the layers of spice’ that intrigued, with ‘nutmeg, clove, cinnamon’ mingling with a ‘beetroot and bright berry finish’.

£23.55 Top Selection

Three Sticks, Price Family Estates, Pinot Noir 2017, California, USA

Gold medal winner

‘This has such a long finish,’ remarked Beatrice Bessi of 67 Pall Mall of this clear Gold medal winner, adding: ‘The nose brings red and black fruits along with rosemary, juniper and mint; while the palate has a fresh, lovely texture and full body.’ ‘It’s quite a big wine,’ said team leader Charlie Young, ‘with lots of juicy, sweet red fruit and spice but there’s also freshness and plenty of character and energy here, too.’ Sue Jones of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn agreed, finding ‘ripe fruit sweetness balanced with savoury notes and good weight and purity with freshness’.

£29.12 The Wine Treasury

Black Stallion, Pinot Noir 2017, Napa Valley, California, USA

Gold medal winner

Jose Luis Hernandez of Hakkasan was full of praise for this Gold medal-winning Pinot. ‘This has a very pleasant and appealing nose with elegant, floral notes of mint and spice,’ he said, adding: ‘There’s a hint of liquorice perhaps across a fresh silky palate, which is also full, savoury and meaty.’ ‘It’s a very refreshing yet complex glass of wine, with an elegant uplifted finish,’ thought Marco Marcuzzo of Aster Restaurant, while 67 Pall Mall’s Beatrice Bessi wanted to ‘pour this complex wine by the glass’ and match it with ‘pheasant and a cherry jus’.

£20.52 Bancroft Wines

Walter Hansel, South Slope, Pinot Noir 2016, Russian River Valley, California, USA

Gold medal winner

Balance and concentration seemed to be the buzz words around this Gold medal winner, with team leader Charlie Young describing ‘dark spices lifting to a ripe but well-layered palate’ and ‘great fruit definition and superbly judged oak ageing’. Beatrice Bessi of 67 Pall Mall loved the balance of ‘tart red fruits with savoury spice and herbs, like sage and rosemary’, adding: ‘This still has a long life ahead of it but is drinking now.’ For Olivier Gasselin of Hakkasan this wine was a balance of contrasts with ‘spiced cherry and orange zest, coated in chocolate’ balancing with ‘meaty, savoury, oak spiced ripe fruits’.

£31.92 Bibendum

A To Z Wineworks, Pinot Noir 2015, Oregon, USA

Silver medal winner

Beatrice Bessi of 67 Pall Mall loved this ‘foodie wine’, describing ‘layers of ripe red berries and liquorice, mint and cinnamon’. She found it ‘not only balanced, but finished with a very pleasant acidity’.

£17.78 Bibendum

Rex Hill, Pinot Noir 2016, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA

Silver medal winner

For team leader Charlie Young, this wine showed ‘spicy, dark aromas with ripe fruit and fairly rich, soft tannins… yet dry, with a big ripe finish’. His conclusion? ‘Great wine!’

£24.21 Bibendum

Elk Cove Vineyards, Mount Richmond, Pinot Noir 2016, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA

Silver medal winner

This was a hit with Beatrice Bessi of 67 Pall Mall for its ‘freshness, spice and layers of fruits’. She went on to say: ‘Fresh berries were dominant throughout as the wine continued with its very youthful feel.’

£29.00 Amathus

Norman Hardie, Pinot Noir 2016, Niagara Peninsula, Canada

Silver medal winner

‘Definitive berry aroma, this wine shows a presence of cedar, forest fruits and perfume,’ said Jose Luis Hernandez of Hakkasan, who also found it ‘fresh, with nice tannins and a lighter, delicate fruit finish’.

£24.02 Bibendum

Walter Hansel, Estate, Pinot Noir 2016, Russian River Valley, California, USA

Silver medal winner

‘The character is toasty and earthy, yet packed with rich ripe fruit,’ said Jose Luis Hernandez of Hakkasan, with ‘cherries dominating the mid-palate, resulting in a lively long finish.’

£30.20 Bibendum

Morgan, Twelve Clones, Pinot Noir 2016, Santa Lucia Highlands, California, USA

Silver medal winner

A firm favourite in the line-up for Sue Jones of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, who found notes of ‘rich cooked red and black fruits’ and thought it had ‘good balance and super velvety length’.

£25.07 Bibendum

MacMurray Estate Vineyards, Pinot Noir 2015, Central Coast, California, USA

Bronze medal winner

Jose Luis Hernandez of Hakkasan found ‘a bit of cedar, floral and savoury notes’ on the nose of this Bronze medallist, and ‘a ripe palate and a very juicy length’.

£13.64 Enotria&Coe

Omero, Ribbon Ridge, Pinot Noir 2014, Oregon, USA

Commended medal winner

£28.11 Enotria&Coe

Omero, Willamette Valley, Pinot Noir 2016, Oregon, USA

Commended medal winner

£17.76 Enotria&Coe

Quails' Gate, Pinot Noir 2016, Okanagan Valley, Canada

Commended medal winner

Joseph Phelps, Freestone Vineyards, Pinot Noir 2016, Sonoma Coast, California, USA

Commended medal winner

Pisoni, Lucia, Pinot Noir 2016, Santa Lucia Highlands, California, USA

Commended medal winner

Meiomi, Pinot Noir 2017, California, USA

Commended medal winner

£15.42 Matthew Clark

Eola Hills, Classic Oregon, Pinot Noir 2016, Oregon, USA

Commended medal winner

 

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