The St Helena Star and Napa Vintner Tasting Panel find 2009 and 2010 Napa Valley Pinot Noirs show more consistency than previous vintages.
It is almost as if Pinot Noir should be included along with politics, religion and sex as subjects to avoid in dinner conversation. People can get a little heated when talking about their favourite style of Pinot Noir.
Burgundy followers consistently pitch for the three great E’s: ethereal, elegant and earthy. New Zealand Otago fans give great claim to deeper colour and denser wines, and their close kin, who love all things Cabernet Sauvignon, cry out for Pinot Noir with more fruit, more richness, more colour, just more.
Napa Valley has for long been a melting pot of Pinot Noir styles, creating everything from opaque and super extracted to pale ruby and earthy wines.
While the varied styles still exist in Napa Valley, a recent tasting of the 2009 and 2010 vintages by the St Helena Star and Napa Vintner Tasting Panel showed more consistency than in the past several vintages.
A noticeable number of the wines were deeper coloured, concentrated, full of intense ripe red fruits, medium acid at best, and medium to heavy oak influence. Four flights of six wines were tasted blind, with the first two flights being 2009, and the final two, 2010s.
While panelists found several they would want to take home and enjoy with dinner, numerous panelists admitted a preference for more elegant Pinot Noirs – those with lively and refreshing acidity and a gentler hand with extraction and oak use.
Three of the top four wines of the tasting were from the Carneros region, which sits just north of the San Pablo Bay and is cooled by ocean breezes and fog. Many of Napa Valley’s best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards are here.
Look through the following pages to find the preferred wines from the many that the panel tasted.