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Balletto Winery Russian River Valley Estate Pinot Noir 2013

Pinot Noir from Russian River, Sonoma County, California
  • WE91
13.8% ABV
  • WE90
  • WE90
  • WE91
  • CG90
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13.8% ABV

Winemaker Notes

A lovely wine. A skinny-dip dive through just-right water. Forest-floor earthliness, dark, savory spice and a slight touch of bright red fruit combine with a silky palate that lingers over its poised, age-worthy structure. Then, theres the crisp acidity that keeps the wine lively and intertwines gracefully with the structure. So serious, yet balanced and approachable. This is the Balletto pinot style. The wine has struck a fine balance and will improve during the next three to five years (or more) in bottle.

Critical Acclaim

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WE 91
Wine Enthusiast
One of the producer's larger-production offerings, this wine nonetheless speaks to meticulous attention in the vineyard and cellar, with velvety smoothness to the palate and savory elements of earthy mushroom. Nuanced, it ends in rose petals and black tea, with firm, crisp acidity throughout, all at an almost unheard-of price for the quality.
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Balletto Winery

Balletto Winery

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Balletto Winery, Russian River, Sonoma County, California
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John Balletto began farming in 1977 at the tender age of 17. He had just graduated from high school and due to the untimely death of his father, gave up what looked like a promising college football and track career. With $200 in the bank and five acres in Sebastopol, California, John began farming produce with help from his mother, Hazel.

The Balletto Family has over 600 acres in the Russian River Valley and select 10% from many different clones and soil types to make their wine. They feel fortunate to sell the remaining 90% of their grapes to other wineries. In July 2010, the Balletto Family was honored being awarded the Sonoma County Farm Bureau Farm Family of the Year.

Russian River

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A standout region for its decidedly Californian take on Burgundian varieties, The Russian River Valley is named for the eponymous river which flows through the region. While there are warm pockets of the AVA, it is mostly a cool-climate growing region thanks to breezes and fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean.

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir reign supreme in Russian River, with the best examples demonstrating a unique combination of richness and restraint. The cool weather makes Russian River an ideal AVA for sparkling wine production, utilizing the aforementioned varieties. Zinfandel also performs exceptionally well here. Within the Russian River Valley lie the smaller appellations of Chalk Hill and Green Valley. The former, further from the ocean, is relatively warm, with a focus on red and white Bordeaux varieties. The latter is the coolest, foggiest parcel of the Russian River Valley and is responsible for outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Pinot Noir

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One of the most difficult yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is commonly referred to by winemakers as the “heartbreak grape.” However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. More reflective than most varieties of the land on which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality, and demands care in the vineyard and lots of attention in the winery. It is an important component of Champagne and the only variety permitted in red Burgundy. Pinot Noir enjoys immense popularity internationally, most notably in Oregon, California, and New Zealand.

In the Glass

Pinot Noir Is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and lively acidity. It ranges in body from very light to the heavier side of medium, typically landing somewhere in the middle—giving it extensive possibilities for food pairing. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount), it can develop hauntingly beautiful characteristics of fresh earth, autumn leaves, and truffles.

Perfect Pairings

Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon, ocean trout, and tuna. Its mild mannered tannins don’t fight with spicy food, and give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry—chicken, quail, and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, it can even match with heavier fare. Pinot Noir is also very vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.

Sommelier Secret

Pinot Noir is dangerously drinkable, highly addictive, and has a bad habit of emptying the wallet. Look for affordable but still delicious examples from Germany (as Spätburgunder), Italy (as Pinot Nero), Chile, New Zealand, and France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions.

OPI24909_2013 Item# 142580