5 Expert-Approved Wines To Enjoy On National Pinot Noir Day - Exclusive

In the Academy Award winning 2004 film "Sideways," Paul Giammati's character has a monologue praising pinot noir and how it's made. He says the grape "needs constant care and attention ... And only the most patient and nurturing growers can do it really." The movie had a measurable effect on sales of pinot noir; they went up 16% after it was released, per NPR. And Giammati's character was right — the black-skinned grapes used to make pinot noir are difficult to grow.

Pinot noir grapes were first cultivated in France — monks grew them in Burgundy, France over 100 years ago — but they are now grown around the world and do particularly well in cooler climates, according to Wine Enthusiast. Pinot noir can be a good introduction to red wine; it's balanced with light to medium body, per The Spruce Eats. Pinot noir is also very versatile and can be paired with a variety of foods and situations. 

"A philosophy that I love is that Pinot Noir is great on its own; it's great with food and it's great in the bathtub — it's great no matter the occasion," Matt Revelette, a winemaker for Siduri Wines, which specializes in pinot noir, told The List.

If you want to try out some great pinot noirs, what better time than on August 18 — National Pinot Noir Day? The List got the lowdown from wine experts on some of their favorite pinot noirs. 

Siduri Wines specializes in pinot noir

Siduri Wines is known for their pinot noirs, and their estate manager Kieran Murphy recommends their Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, which he called "outrageously delicious" and his go-to choice when visiting friends. "Our best barrels make it into our Russian River Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs," he explained to The List. Their single vineyard options include Lingenfelder Vineyard and Perry Ranch Vineyard. "The second best barrels end up in the Russian River Valley Pinot." The Obamas even served a Siduri Russian River Valley Pinot Noir at White House holiday parties in 2013, per The Press Democrat.

The Russian River Valley in Sonoma County, California is an American Viticultural Area (AVA), which is a classification that designates an area as unique from its surrounding areas. The region gets fog from the coast and has a generally cool climate, making it ideal for growing pinot noir grapes, via WineCountry.

Another good option from Siduri is their Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir. With "aromas of crushed slate, red cherry and rose petals," it was Wine Enthusiast editor's choice.

Anderson Valley in California is ideal for pinot noir

Larry O'Brien works for Jackson Family Wines and is a certified Master Sommelier; he was also named the best American sommelier in 2000, per Metro Cooking DC. The world has fewer than 300 certified Master Sommeliers, so it's safe to say O'Brien knows his stuff. He's got some pinot noir recommendations based out of Anderson Valley. Anderson Valley AVA is in Mendocino County, California, and it's a small but mighty region for growing the finicky pinot noir grapes, per Mendocino County Wines. They even have their own Pinot Noir Festival.

O'Brien told The List that likes the Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. Only a "few thousand cases of Grand Reserve Pinot Noir were crafted" in 2020, and he describes the wine as "plump and soft with a dark strawberry/raspberry liqueur character." It's also been rated with 91 points by Wine Enthusiast.

Also out of Anderson Valley is the Kendall-Jackson Jackson Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. "This Pinot offers dark red and even a hint of black fruit accented by a savory, herbal tea spice," O'Brien said. "The lingering texture has a bit more dusty, dryness linked to a black raspberry tartness. Nearly 60% of the wine is grown at over 1,400 feet in elevation, the origin of its greater intensity."

A winemaker's experiment made for a wonderful wine

Finally there's the Block 10 Pinot Noir Mass Selection Estate Vineyard from Williams Selyem. It's recommended by Moira Beveridge and Jared Hooper — the food and beverage director and sommelier respectively at Farmhouse Inn, an elegant boutique inn in the Russian River Valley, which is also where Block 10 Pinot Noir is made. They are both fans of the Block 10, and they shared the inside scoop for what makes the wine unique from the winemaker Jeff Mangahas. 

Mangahas tried planting "a variety of different [pinot noir] clones on [one] block, which all go through the ripening process at different times due to clonal differences. He then harvests the block all at the same time." The end result of the experiment is what Beveridge and Hooper call "an impressive pinot, which is wonderfully aromatic and nuanced."

Pinot noir is "terroir-reflective," which means that everything about where it's grown from the soil to the climate to the elevation will change the flavor of the wine, via TastingTable. So whatever pinot noir you try, you'll be enjoying something that is unique to that region. Take the time to sip, savor, and enjoy.