Autumn is a season of transition – even here in Southern California. Although you’re probably done with the beach for the year, odds are that you haven’t broken out your skis yet. Any given day can resemble both winter and summer, and everywhere you turn folks like me are offering advice on what wines to drink with turkey and cranberry sauce.
What this time of year really demands is a wine that can stand up to all of the punches. Whether dinner is cooked on a grill or in a crock-pot, served at a harvest festival or in front of the fireplace, with white meat or dark… if there’s one grape to rule them all, it’s surely Pinot Noir.
Contrary to popular belief, there really is no one representative style of Pinot. Burgundyphiles expect finesse, high acid, and noticable tannins, while many Californians seek ripeness of fruit and the immediate gratification that accompanies it. In the middle you’ve got countless variations; I like to think that for an open-minded wine drinker there’s a lot to learn by exploring all of the available styles.
Elaine Chukan Brown’s illustration on the front of this poster depicts some of the characteristics that the six wines in this collection hold in common, such as notes of cherry and rose petals, as well as varying degrees of herbaceousness. And to showcase their differences, this month I had the great pleasure of working with winemaker (and skateboarding legend) Ryan Zepaltas to develop food pairings. Although he spends most of his time helping make wine at Siduri, Ryan has also gathered quite a following for his personal label Zepaltas Wines. I’ve selected one of his Pinot Noirs to represent California in this collection.
I do have my own preferences, so you may find all of these bottles to be on the lighter side of noir. Yet they’re intended to offer six very different incarnations of this distinctive and adaptable variety. I hope that you enjoy each and every one of them, and yes – do save a couple for Thanksgiving!
Aaron Epstein, Curator