Ask Sid: What is the difference between pinot noirs from Russian River & Sonoma Coast?

June 24th, 2020
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Ask Sid: What is the difference between pinot noirs from Russian River & Sonoma Coast?

Question: I have been enjoying some pinot noirs coming from both Russian River & Sonoma Coast. Would you kindly tell me the main difference?

Answer: Boy that is tough one to give you a helpful simple answer. Both Russian River Valley (RRV) & Sonoma Coast (SC) are in Sonoma County California under the influence of foggy conditions. Both are a large AVA (American Viticultural Area) with lots of producers showing different styles. Soils are becoming a big factor with lots of alluvial types in RRV but both regions continue to seek out those special Goldridge sandy loam on a sandstone base from decomposed sea beds to terroir advantage. SC is closer to the Pacific Ocean often at higher elevation and generally is cooler, wetter & more windy – resulting in a key difference of lower night-time temperatures. Not really fair because of the wide style variations to summarize the resulting wines from the 2 AVA regions. However I will try to help you a little bit nonetheless. IMHO a simple explanation of the wines from the 2 regions might be summarized briefly as follows:

RRV tends to be riper richer deeper in colour of black cherry & cola notes with a lush velvety texture.

SC often shows more herbal varietal fruit of brighter acidity with a lively structure all with a mouth feel of silky tannin grip.  

What do others think?

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June 24th, 2020

2 Responses

  1. Sid, you de man! A really difficult question that I had never really thought through before. Having read your response, I totally agree with it. I treasure pinots from both AVAs, and have collected some names that would hold their own against other AVAs:
    From RRV: Arista, Rochioli, DuMol, Walter Hansel.
    From SC: Kistler, Rivers-Marie, Failla.

    Wimberly Miree

  2. Sid Cross says:

    Thanks for your wonderful comments Wimberly. Appreciated. Lots of feedback from people enjoying this Blog. However we need to encourage more members to follow your excellent record of regular contributions over the years by weighing in with their own insightful ideas. Good wine choices recommended by you. Might also add to your list the textbook differences of the 2 regions by trying some pinot noirs from J Vineyards & Winery (now owned by Gallo). They have 4 sites in RRV with Bowtie, Eastside Knoll, Foggy Bend and the more southerly Canfield to compare with their SC Annapolis Ridge. Good tasting!

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