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Flying Goat Cellars YNOT Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County 2013
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Two pygmy goats, Never and Epernay, inspired Norm to name his winery Flying Goat Cellars. The goats were his pets and lawnmowers and came to be a source of entertainment and enjoyment, with their unrestrained spiral loops, flipper turns and straight-legged leaps. When pondering a name for his new wines and brand, Norm wanted to project fun, enjoyment, and happiness. While many people put their own name or their children’s name on their label or vineyard, Norm’s playful spirit opted to name it after his kids. His kids, of course, were those two pygmy goat pets, who had always inspired him and made him laugh.
Norm shared his passion with Kate Griffith by courting her with his first release of Goat Bubbles in 2006. We don’t know if it was the bubbles or the winemaker's charm but it culminated in a marriage and a family of wines.
Now Flying Goat Cellars produces about 2,500 cases a year and includes three labels: Flying Goat, Goat Bubbles and YNOT. Flying Goat focuses on vineyard designated Pinot Noirs and Pinot Gris. Goat Bubbles offers four vineyard designated sparkling wines: Rosé, Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, and Crémant, all made in the traditional méthode champenoise with the secondary fermentation in the bottle. YNOT is Pinot Noir blended from the finest of Santa Barbara County vineyards.
With a dry and mild climate cooled significantly by moist ocean fog and breezes, Santa Barbara County is a grape-grower’s dream. Part of the larger Central Coast appellation, Santa Barbara is home to Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley. The conditions here provide an opportunity for nearly effortless production of high-quality cool-climate wines. This is also the site of the 2004 film Sideways, which caused Pinot Noir’s popularity to skyrocket and brought new acclaim to the region.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the stars of Santa Barbara, producing wines marked by racy acidity. Crisp Sauvignon Blanc and savory Syrah are also important. The region is home to many young and enthusiastic winemakers eager to experiment with less common varieties including Chenin Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Trousseau Gris, Gamay and Cabernet Franc, making it an exciting area to watch.
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.
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.
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.