California Wines: Tasting the Best of The Russian River Pinots

Russian River California WinesLush, fruit-forward Pinot Noir is a superstar of California wines. The dry, medium-bodied red wine has a relatively low tannin content and a crisp acidity, giving it an appeal to white wine drinkers as well. Earthy flavors such as mushroom and forest, along with spicy notes like cinnamon and peppermint, add a pleasing complexity.

Pinot Noirs are perfect food pairing California wines, light enough to complement delicate flavors of seafood but strong enough to stand up to the demands of richer red meat. This variety makes a good selection for restaurant dining, where it can usually satisfy everyone regardless of their choice of entrée.

Originating in the Burgundy region of France, the temperamental Pinot Noir grape is notoriously difficult to grow. As a result, only a handful of regions around the world are successfully producing the wine. One of the best is the Russian River Valley, where the soil and climate are seemingly made for growing Pinot Noir grapes.

Russian River Pinot Noirs are known and valued by wine lovers around the world. Here are some of the best representatives of these popular California wines.

Joseph Swan 2012 Trenton Estate

Joseph Swan was one of the pioneers of Russian River California wines, establishing his label more than 50 years ago. The silky Trenton Estate has a taste of red cherry and raspberry, accented with a touch of cinnamon. Earthy notes are more restrained, and acidity strikes a balance between bright and tart.

Lynmar Estate 2012 Freestone

A stunning example of premier California wines, the Freestone earned a near-perfect score of 96 from the influential Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Its tempting aroma is a mix of plum, blackberry and cardamom, while the flavor has accents of cherries, allspice and elderberry.

Williams Selyem 2012 Olivet Lane Vineyard

This wine was produced from a planting of a Martini clone, developed from grapes taken from the vineyard of the same name. The Olivet Lane has a flavor of red fruits set off by rich caramel, delicate lavender and earthy truffle.

Merry Edwards 2013 Coopersmith 

Merry Edwards gained a name as one of the first women making California wines, with this variety coming from the vineyards named after her husband and helpmate, Ken Coopersmith. The wine bears a signature aroma of cocoa and cocoa powder that gives way to a flavor of Bing cherries, raspberry liqueur, red currant and sassafras.

Dutton Goldfield 2013 Dutton Ranch

Dutton Goldfield was named to the Top 100 Wineries of 2014 as selected by Wine & Spirits Magazine. The Dutton Ranch has been acclaimed for the herbal, minty accents to its flavors of pomegranate, black cherry and tea.

The impressive array of California wines can make it difficult to select varieties for tasting. Choose Pinot Noir for its embodiment of the features that make California wines among the most prized in the world.

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