Carneros Pinot Steal from Philippe Melka Protégé
The richly textured, red-fruited, broad-shouldered Pinot Noirs coming out of cool-climate Carneros are in hot demand. Winemaker Britt Nichols, who lives in Carneros, knows the windswept region as well as anyone. That’s how she was able to lock in 12 barrels of exceptional Pinot Noir. Britt — a Jordan Winery alum, and protégé of Nicolas Morlet and 100-point winemaker Philippe Melka — took after her mentors, turning out a beautifully balanced, dense, red-fruited 2016 Pinot Noir. But when Britt chose to focus on caring for her new baby Dash, rather than crisscross the country to sell the wine, we worked out a win-win deal for Wine Access clients. Britt values her wine at $45, but is releasing to Wine Access clients only at $19.99 per bottle for an exceptionally quaffable and complex Pinot from Napa’s “hottest” cool-climate Los Carneros AVA.
Carneros Pinot Noir is hot, and ratings climb into the high 90s from exceptional producers like Patz & Hall, Paul Hobbs, Hyde and Donum, who have put the cool-climate AVA on the map and landed wines on coveted lists at gastronomic palaces from San Francisco to New York City.
“Carneros is on average a full 10 degrees cooler than the rest of Napa,” Britt told us. “Diurnal temperature swings are dramatic so grapes cool down at night, maintaining freshness. Then, in the morning, the sun burns off the fog and bathes the grapes in sun. Perfect for Pinot.”
In 2016, the growing season was perfect and bountiful, yielding thoroughly ripened fruit. At under $20, this is one to drink early and often, while those $70+ bottles slumber in the cellar.