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Central Coast Pinot Noir

Learn about Central Coast Pinot Noir wine, common tasting notes, defining characteristics and more ...

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Let’s start with the obvious – Central Coast Pinot Noir is an incredibly broad category. This of course is because the Central Coast appellation is enormous, and it contains several stellar Pinot Noir regions within it, all of them kept cool by elevation or proximity to the ocean (or both). So we’ll break things down a bit with a brief look at each of these: Santa Cruz Mountains, Monterey and the Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Maria Valley and Sta. Rita Hills. These are not the only Central Coast sources of good Pinot Noir, but they are the major ones. So let’s get started.

In the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation, just west of Silicon Valley, producers craft excellent Pinot in spite of serious challenges. The land is mountainous, rugged and can be foggy, the topsoil is thin and poor and yields tend to be low. Yet Pinots from the likes of David Bruce, Martin Ray, Mount Eden and Thomas Fogarty exhibit undeniable quality, along with bright red fruit, minerality, earth and herbal hints.

Just south lies the large Monterey appellation. Monterey Pinot Noir is grown in coastal areas, taking optimal advantage of the cooling effect of the Pacific. The most highly regarded of these is the Santa Lucia Highlands. Situated on hilly benchlands south of the city of Monterey, this central coast region relies on a long growing season, night and morning fog and consistent afternoon winds to produce world class Pinot Noir. Attributes include intense, rich fruit, subtle earthy notes, spice and a silky texture. Look for producers like Siduri, Kosta Browne, Talbott and Lucienne.

The Santa Maria Valley in northern Santa Barbara County (a section of it falls into southern San Luis Obispo County) is also a haven for quality Pinot Noir. A mere 15 miles from the Pacific, the valley runs east-west, creating a natural tunnel through which ocean breezes and fog flow. This effect lengthens the growing season and promotes both ripeness and development of acidity, lending Santa Maria Valley Pinots their characteristic full flavor, balance and elegance. The famous Bien Nacido Vineyard is located here, and notable producers include Cambria, Foxen, Byron and Au Bon Climat.

Finally, we arrive at the Sta. Rita Hills, also in Santa Barbara County. Located in the western part of the Santa Ynez Valley, it too benefits from an east-west orientation that leads to the same conditions mentioned above. Once again the result is extended hang time for the grapes, which can be tasted in the vibrant, ripe red fruits evident in these Pinots, along with dense coloration and an impression of richness and intensity. Try wines from producers like Ken Brown, Ampelos, Fess Parker and Melville.

As you can see, California’s Central Coast offers a wealth of options for any lover of Pinot Noir. Cheers!

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  • Chanin Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Chanin Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Santa Maria Valley, Central Coast, California
    • RP90
    4.4 5 Ratings
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  • Kosta Browne Gary's Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Kosta Browne Gary's Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey, Central Coast, California
    • CG95
    • WS92
    • RP91
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  • Kosta Browne Rosella's Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Kosta Browne Rosella's Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey, Central Coast, California
    • WS93
    • CG93
    • RP93
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  • Calera Selleck Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Calera Selleck Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Mt. Harlan, Central Coast, California
    • RP97
    • WE95
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  • Bonaccorsi Cargasacchi Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Bonaccorsi Cargasacchi Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    • WW96
    • RP90
    4.2 15 Ratings
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  • Alma Rosa Clone 667 La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Alma Rosa Clone 667 La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    • WE91
    • RP90
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  • Bonaccorsi Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Bonaccorsi Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    • WW94
    • RP93
    4.1 5 Ratings
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  • Dragonette Cellars Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Dragonette Cellars Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    • RP90
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  • Big Basin Coastview Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Big Basin Coastview Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Mt. Harlan, Central Coast, California
    • RP93
    • WE92
    3.9 5 Ratings
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  • Calera de Villiers Vineyard Pinot Noir (375ML half-bottle) 2013 Front Label
    Calera de Villiers Vineyard Pinot Noir (375ML half-bottle) 2013
    Pinot Noir from Mt. Harlan, Central Coast, California
    • RP94
    • WE92
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  • Calera Mills Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Calera Mills Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Mt. Harlan, Central Coast, California
    • RP95
    • WE95
    • WS92
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  • Loring Wine Company Aubaine Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Loring Wine Company Aubaine Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Central Coast, California
    • RP93
    • WE93
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  • Bonaccorsi Sebastiano Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Bonaccorsi Sebastiano Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    • RP92
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  • Chanin La Rinconada Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Chanin La Rinconada Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    • RP92
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  • Lea Wines Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Lea Wines Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    • RP91
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  • Tyler Winery Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Tyler Winery Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    • RP92
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  • Walt Clos Pepe Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Walt Clos Pepe Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    • WE91
    • RP90
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  • Longoria Fe Ciega Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Longoria Fe Ciega Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    • W&S93
    • WE93
    • RP91
    0.0 0 Ratings
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  • Ojai Kick On Ranch Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Ojai Kick On Ranch Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    • RP95
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  • LUTUM Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    LUTUM Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    • D94
    • RP93
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  • LUTUM La Rinconada Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    LUTUM La Rinconada Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    • WE93
    • RP92
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  • Domaine de la Cote Memorious Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Domaine de la Cote Memorious Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    • W&S93
    • RP91
    0.0 0 Ratings
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  • Kosta Browne Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Kosta Browne Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey, Central Coast, California
    • WS94
    • RP94
    0.0 0 Ratings
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    Currently Unavailable $149.00
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  • Domaine de la Cote Bloom's Field Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Domaine de la Cote Bloom's Field Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
    • RP91
    0.0 0 Ratings
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    Currently Unavailable $79.99
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    79 99
    79 99
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  • Gallo Signature Series Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2013 Front Label
    Gallo Signature Series Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2013
    Pinot Noir from Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey, Central Coast, California
    • RP90
    0.0 0 Ratings
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    Currently Unavailable $33.99
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    33 99
    33 99
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