SOMETIMES it seems as if Pinot Noir isn’t so much a beverage as an exclusive private club. Scan the pages of wine magazines and you’ll find glowing reviews on a bewildering array of Pinots from unfamiliar wineries, each with tiny, hundred-case productions, lovingly extracted from tiny, single vineyards, even from tiny blocks of tiny, single vineyards.
Every so often, you might find one of these wines at a wine shop, but chances are if you’re reading about it today, it was sold out last week. You might discover a bottle on a chichi restaurant wine list, and you’ll shell out quite a few chis for the privilege of tasting it. Or you may get hold of a bottle by adding your name to the waiting list of a winery’s buying club — which might have an opening in 2012.
It starts to feel a bit like unrequited love. What is the Pinot lover to do when the object of affection is so exclusionary, unobtainable? What if, instead of trophy worship, you wanted to make Pinot your house wine, the wine to pour each evening at dinner — without taking out any sub-prime loans? Where are the Pinots for the rest of us?
In fact there are plenty made in volumes that resemble rivers and not trickles, and with price tags that are pretty populist. And while these may not be the most au courant bottlings in the market, they can be very, very good. Some are being made by winemakers who have taken on the challenge of affordable Pinot with the zeal of evangelists.
Friends have a fabulous new Oregon vineyard: www.leftcoastcellars.com. Check out their Pinot selection.