Most vintners do not grow their own grapes. The vast majority purchase their fruit from growers, following the model of the great négociants of France. This arrangement works nicely since grape-growing and winemaking each require wholly different types of equipment and expertise.
The challenge for winemakers is to find reliable sources of quality grapes, especially when the grape in question is the famously fickle pinot noir. In California, the best place to find value-oriented pinot noir is the Central Coast.
Stretching over 300 miles from the San Francisco Bay Area to Santa Barbara, this region is comprised of coastal counties that benefit from the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean. The wines made in Central Coast counties like Monterey and subdistricts like Santa Ynez Valley are earning more recognition for their quality every year. However, in terms of perceived prestige, they remain decades behind the more famous pinot-growing wine regions like Sonoma County north of the Bay. As a result, growers here cannot command the same prices for their best fruit, no matter how good the grapes are or how great the potential for quality wine.
With less demand for super-premium bottles, savvy vintners, such as the team behind Josh Cellars, have more sources to choose from to craft their entry-level blends like this one. Founded by a former sommelier, the entire line offers food-friendly wines that are a touch drier than most in their price range and deliver great value for the dollar. This mid-weight pinot noir is built around a solid core of red cherry flavors, with accents of nutmeg, vanilla, and raspberry jam.
Josh Cellars Pinot Noir, Central Coast, Calif.
$15.99, 13.5% alcohol
PLCB Item #7652
Sale price through Jan. 2 — regularly $18.99
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