Napa’s ‘less is more’ Pinot Noirs

Following a recent St. Helena Star and Napa Valley Vintners Tasting Panel review of 21 Pinot Noirs from the 2009 to 2012 vintages, numerous panelists noted a desire to see more Pinot Noirs with less: less extraction, less alcohol, less oak-influenced flavours.

Napa ValleyIn fact, in annual vintage tastings over the past six years, one thing has remained constant with Napa Valley Pinot Noir: producers continue to favour a deeper coloured, intensely extracted and oaked styles.

You can find Napa Valley Pinot Noir wines with less, yet this does not mean you are getting a lesser wine. Wines with great depth of aromas and flavours, fruit concentration, and balance between the fruit, alcohol, acidity and tannins exist. You just need to know where to look.

So who is making this rarer style of “less is more” Pinot Noir? Three producer names, and their wines, easily roll off the tongue: Ceja, Sinskey and Saintsbury.

Each of these wineries is making Pinot Noir from Napa’s Carneros region, where the grapes do well in a climate mitigated by ocean breezes and fog. This is where most of Napa Valley’s 3,000 acres of Pinot Noir is planted (2012 figures, US Agricultural Dept).

We take a look here at their wines and speak with each of them about their history, winemaking or philosophy on making Pinot Noir:

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