#VINOMUSIC: American Pinot Noir: An Education

Music and Wine should be paired. We call this VINOMUSIC.

American Pinot Noirs are all over the map, refusing to obey the laws laid down by those law-loving French so many years ago. The best way to understand what’s going on and relate the madness is to think about popular Pinot Noir producing regions in America and music that pairs with them.


These are the closest to their Burgundian cousin, which are some of the most expensive and coveted Pinots in the world. The Oregon versions are full of barnyard odors yet light in color; dainty but rugged, rustic but sophisticated. Think Shaun Colvin from her “Sunny Came Home” days, or maybe the late, great Amy Winehouse. We suggest: Chahalem Three Vineyard 2012 Willlamette Valley, $30

Santa Rita Hills

Sitting just west of Santa Barbara, a bunch of rule-breakers are making huge, extracted Pinots that bear no resemblance to their Oregon cousins. Screaming sour cherry notes, boisterous and loud, almost a parody of the varietal, yet a guilty pleasure: It could only be the polarizing but always great Kanye West. Or if you’re into rock over rap, I’ll go with Tenacious D. We suggest: Domaine de la Cote 2013 Sta Rita Hills, $42

Sonoma Coast

Ah, Sonoma Coast, where Paul Hobbs and Merry Edwards work their magic. The Pinots from here are refined with perfect balance — maybe a little too precious at times for their own good, but so well crafted. John Mayer fits the bill. So does Paul Simon. We suggest: Hirsch Vineyards San Andreas Fault 2012 Sonoma Coast, $60

Santa Lucia Highlands

Situated south of Monterey Bay are offbeat but irresistible: juicy, sometimes a little over-the-top, but brilliant in conception. They march to their own eccentric drummer. Who else but Björk? Gwen Stefani comes close, too. We suggest: Belle Glos Las Alturas Vineyard Santa Lucia 2014, $55

Go ahead and create your own soundtrack while you explore the world of American Pinot Noirs.

**Pinot suggestions from our very own #SommNextDoor Alex Sanchez.