For California-grown pinot noir, look to the Russian River Valley for some of the very best that California has to offer. This area is anchored by the river that shares its name and is located in Sonoma County where it spans from Sebastpool and Santa Rosa in the south, up to Healdsburg and Forestville in the north.
The Russian River Valley is famous for its “Goldridge Soil.” This soil was formed years ago by the combination of tectonic plate collisions and the eruption of a volcano that deposited ash over eroded bedrock. In addition to its unique soil, this area also has a cooler climate, influenced by ocean breezes and fog from the Pacific. As the sun sets, the vineyards cool by as much as forty degrees, creating what is known as large diurnal temperature variation. It is this wide range in temperature that allows the pinot noir to ripen slowly, developing a complex flavor profile and running little risk of becoming “baked” from getting too hot. It is this combination of a cool climate and unique geology that make the Russian River Valley perfectly suited to grow world-class pinot noir.
The Trione family is firmly rooted in Sonoma County, with over 40 years of experience growing grapes for some of the region’s top producers. Winemaker Scot Covington selects the top three percent of premium grapes grown on the estate to be used for their wines. Believe me, the quality shows. Their pinot noir is spectacular, with aromas and flavors of black cherries, currant, strawberries, clove and spice. It is produced exclusively from their Russian River Valley ranch and approximately 1200 cases are made in each vintage. For me, it does not get much better than this.
Sojourn is a relatively new arrival for us, and along with Trione, it’s one of the finest pinot noirs from Sonoma County we’ve ever carried. Founded in 2001 by friends who shared a passion for wine, Sojourn started with a mere 100 case production and has grown to a brand that now specializes in chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon from some of Northern California’s top vineyard sites. Their 2016 Russian River pinot noir is a 900-case production blended from five different vineyard sites throughout the region. It’s a wine bursting with red fruit flavors, balanced by light tannins and a bright acidity that make this a perfect wine to pair for a special occasion dinner.
Not to be outdone, the Hook & Ladder Pinot Noir is a hit, especially for the price. You may not recognize the brand, but many of you will know the owners, Cecil and Christine De Loach. In 1975, they founded De Loach family winery. They have since sold this property, but their family legacy lives on through their new project at Hook & Ladder where they remain dedicated to the production of quality wines. Their Russian River Valley pinot noir is tasty, offering notes of cherries and cinnamon with a smooth finish. I suggest drinking this on its own, with a charcuterie board, or cheese and crackers also work.
Next time you visit your neighborhood ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, look for these gems from the Russian River Valley. I am confident you will love them. Cheers!