Pinot Noir. The wine of all wines. The varietal that is coveted by most winemakers, wine professionals and wine drinkers. In my drinking experience Pinot Noir is one of the best food pairing varietals and is always fabulous to simply drink on its own.  Pinot Noir is a favorite of mine, for sure.  One thing I will admit, when it comes to drinking a Pinot Noir, I am a bit more particular, as I think many of us are.  It’s not that it has to be “expensive”, snobby Pinot….it just has to be good and in the world of good California Pinot Noirs’…the better ones are no doubt made by La Rochelle Winery in Livermore.  They source their grapes from some of the top Pinot Noir vineyards in California and have many awards to show for their magnificent wines.  I recently tasted three of their 2013 fall releases and was wowed by the complexities and refinement.

Although this is not technically a Pinot Noir, it is, however, in this Pinot Noir category and a delicious alternative! Pinot Meunièr is mostly noted for being one of the three main varieties used in the production of Champagne, but it is a serious wine when produced on it’s own.  A little “lighter” color in the glass, much like a dark Rose and the La Rochelle’s Saralee’s Vineyard Pinot Meunièr has a wonderful earthy mushroom funk on the nose with a bit of cassis and cherry fruit.  The taste is full of cranberry and red plums with a hint of currant.  It’s very light in texture and smooth. Acidity is key here and not found so much up front, but towards mid palate with all of the fruit lingering on an amazing finish.  dvinewinetime La Rochelle Pinot Meunier Food PairingThe La Rochelle Saralee’s Vineyard 2012 Pinot Meunièr has food pairing stamped all over it.  The best compliment I could give this wine is not thinking of it so much as a wine drink, but as a side dish on the dinner table.  It’s that seamless with food and full of amazing flavors that stand on it’s own, as well.  This is a gem of a wine and I strongly encourage you to seek it out.  SRP is only $38.00 and I give this one a FIVE BOTTLE Rating.


dvinewinetime La Rochelle Sonoma Coast Pinot NoirLA ROCHELLE SONOMA COAST PINOT NOIR 2009
This Pinot Noir is classic, through and through for the foggy coastal area vineyards of the Sonoma Coastline.  A dark, cherry red in the glass with highlights as you swirl.  A nose full of plums, a bit of burnt toast, and vanilla with a tinge of earthiness.   The burnt toast continues on the palate in addition to cherries and currents.  The 2009 La Rochelle Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir has a very good acidity level with lingering dark berry fruits on the finish.  It’s very nice and would even take a few years in the cellar…although not too long.  Make sure to decant this one for at least an hour.  SRP is $42.00 and I give this one a FIVE BOTTLE Rating.


dvinewinetime La Rochelle Anderson Valley Pinot NoirLA ROCHELLE DEER MEADOWS VINEYARD ANDERSON VALLEY PINOT NOIR 2010
Anderson Valley produces some of the best Pinot Noir grapes in California, in my humble opinion, and the folks at La Rochelle Winery have turned those grapes into a wine for the Gods.  The 2010 Deer Meadows Vineyard Pinot Noir is a light ruby red in the glass with crystal clear clarity.  It fills the nose with dried figs, red plums and spices.  Big, juicy cherries fill your palate with a side of red plums and currents.  This wine has an amazing fruitiness to it, almost sweet in character, (this is not a sweet wine) without loosing the wonderful acidity balance.  Smooth, full and very complex.  dvinewinetime La Rochelle Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Food PairingI found this Pinot Noir to be nothing less of exceptional and although a little bit more pricey, at a SRP of $75.00, worth every penny.  Even if you only seek this one out for a special occasion, please do.  It will make anything and anytime, just that…special.  I give the La Rochelle 2010 Deer Meadows Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir a FIVE BOTTLE Rating (with honors).

Remember when you were a kid and you heard the music or bell of that familiar summertime vehicle, carrying that cold, delightful treat of ice cream and you ran to get money and then ran to the street hoping you didn’t miss it?  Well, I remember… and I wish an adult version existed – with some of the best Pinot Noirs’ from La Rochelle Winery – coming down my street, daily, not just in the summer…ringing that bell and stopping so I could buy a bottle or case.  Well, wishful thinking, I’m sure, but the next time you’re jonesing for a Pinot Noir, make the La Rochelle Winery part of your Pinot go to.  If you are not able to find it in your local wine markets…please stop by their website at http://www.shoplrwine.com and stock up on these amazing wines.  You will not be sorry for they are indeed some of the best California has to offer.


** Samples received courtesy of La Rochelle Winery via Balzac Communications **