How often do you make seasonal wild mushroom risotto and how many times do you come home to duck or game and a fridge in which someone has considerately placed a bottle of not very affordable Burgundy to chill for two hours at the connoisseur recommended 12C?

Probably about the same amount of times you have ordered a Chassagne-Montrachet in a Michelin restaurant and read the words Gevrey-Chambertin appellation on the label brought by one of your supper-on-a-knee guests.

But, hopefully, far less time than you have popped an Intrepid Brown Bear or twisted the neck off the light and fruity Californian.

And far fewer times.  Hopefully still, then you have heard yourself talk about “funky, earthy wines with vibrant black cherry pie jostling for recognition along with dried strawberries, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.”

Burgundy is very expensive and New World is much easier to pronounce than Patrice Rion Nuits-St-Georges Clos Saint-Marc Premier Cru.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir drinkers go more ‘old world’ the more they spend.

Pinot Noir is a crowd-pleaser for everyone from the wine curious to the wine connoisseur. Its low tannins and fruity palate are a winning combination.  So where do you start?

Heini Zachariassen, founder of Vivino, Best Pinot Noirs
Heini Zachariassen, founder of Vivino, Best Pinot Noirs

With Vivino, the online wine marketplace and wine app s available for download on Android and Apple devices. Vivino was founded in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2010 by Heini Zachariassen and Theis Søndergaard. Vivino has a wine database containing more than 12.5 million different wines. It is based in San Francisco.

The recommendations of its 60m+ global community of wine lovers have been collated. Their preferences have been analyzed over the last year. And the best Pinot Noirs in the US have been confirmed.

So, look no further than Vivino and the West Coast.

And fog.

Willamette Valley, Oregon

With close to 20,000 acres planted in vineyards, this region was established as an AVA in 1983. With top-quality Pinot Noir being grown and produced, the area has gained recognition from top Burgundy producers, such as Maisons Joseph Drouhin and Louis Jadot, who both purchased land and planted vineyards here. A little over 50 percent of the vineyards are sustainably farmed.

Pinot Noir

Vivino’s Top-rated wines over $40:
2017 Domaine Serene Yamhill Cuvée Pinot Noir, $54.99/bottle
2019 Bergström Cumberland Reserve Pinot Noir, $47.03/bottle

Best Pinot Noir under $40
2018 Alexana Terroir Series Pinot Noir, 2018 Alchemist Pinot Noir

Russian River Valley, California

Home to such notable wineries as Williams-Selyem Winery and Paul Hobbs Winery, Russian River’s enviable reputation has fashioned ever longer coattails.

Since the limits of the Russian River region are uniquely determined by fog, its boundaries have been reluctantly forced to expand twice since its original approval in 1983. Not without controversy, the warmer Chalk Hill AVA was included as a Russian River sub-region in 2011. It’s a rare day when fog and chilly breezes don’t sidle up-valley via the Russian River opening to the Pacific, but there is enough sunlight for ripening. Russian River is a near-perfect growing region for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and is widely acknowledged as a world-class source for producing still and sparkling wines.

Pinot Noir

Best wines over $40:
2017 Kosta Browne Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($140)
2019 Williams Selyem Westside Road Neighbors Pinot Noir, ($106.49)

Best wines under $40:
2019 La Crema Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 2017 J Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir,

Sonoma Coast, California

According to Vivino experts, “When in doubt, follow that fog!”

Stretching 80 miles, north from the Mendocino border and south to the Marin County line, look out for great Pns from the region such as:

U.V. Kosta Browne Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
U.V. Flowers Pinot Noir
2019 Scribe Estate Pinot Noir
U.V. Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir,

Top Ten under $40 (highest-rated over the last 12 months):
2018 Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (US)
2019 DAOU Bodyguard (US)
2018 Alchemist Pinot Noir (US)
U.V. J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines Pure Paso Proprietary Red (US)
2020 Lioco Pinot Noir (US)
U.V. Diora La Petite Grace Pinot Noir (US)
U.V. Bloodroot Cellars Pinot Noir (US)
U.V. Elk Cove Estate Pinot Noir (US)

Ten Best over $40
U.V. Kosta Browne Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (US)U.V. Opus One (US)– ($364.99/bottle)
U.V. Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir (US)
U.V. Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Vineyard Pinot Noir (US)
2019 DuMOL Wester Reach Pinot Noir (US)
U.V. Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir (US)
U.V. EnRoute Les Pommiers Pinot Noir (US)

U.V. Belle Glos Eulenloch Pinot Noir (US)
2018 Domaine Serene Yamhill Cuvée Pinot Noir (US)
2018 Merry Edwards Pinot Noir (US)

Pinot Noir

The most popular (most scanned among Vivino’s wine-educated customers) Pinot Noir is Napa Valley’s Bread and Butter Pinot Noir 2019.

Also recommended are 2019 Cave des Vins de Sancerre Les Marennes, New Zealand’s 2020 Nanny Goat Queensberry Single Vineyard, 2018 Prophet’s Rock Home, and 2019 Mt Difficulty Bannockburn, Australia’s by Farr Pres 2017, Argentina’s 2018 Nieto Senetiner Cadus Signature Series and, from the UK, 2000 Simpsons Rabbit Hole.

 Once you might very rarely have come home to an explosion of dominating red cherry fruit laced with herbal and muted florals, all woven through an allspice-laden matrix, and rarely a profile allows complete integration of fruit, acidity, and subtle structure.

But now Pinot Noir is accessible. The great wine grape will make a great impression on your palate as you make one on your sofa. You don’t need a special occasion or restaurant. You can now enjoy at home a great grape with a touch of toastiness and refreshing acidity.

Sit and watch the news with Pinot Noir. Forget fripperies like pan-fried whole Dover sole and herb-crusted pork loin. And don’t even mention “grippy, svelte tannins”. Pinot Noir pairs well with a chair.