Weekend Wine: Pinot Noir at a Reasonable Price
Four Austin dudes shake up the red wine world
By Wes Marshall,
8:18AM, Sat. May 30, 2020
If you are a real wine lover, eventually someone will pour you a glass of the most beguiling red wine in the world, a Pinot Noir from France’s Burgundy area.
The good news is that the region has hundreds of wines that are so delicately perfumed yet backed by an amazing complexity of flavor that once you’ve experienced one of the best versions, you might consider refinancing your home to find another. The bad news is you might have to refinance your home to be able to buy that perfect bottle. Prices for a nice bottle can get a touch pricey. For instance, something like Georges Roumier Musigny Grand Cru can run north of $20,000 per bottle! Even worse, there is not much correlation between price and quality. All you can do is hope that you will find your personal Yoda who can steer you to a noble version for a reasonable price.
In the U.S., there’s a great push to create Pinot Noirs just as alluring as Burgundys, and if we can do it, either California or Oregon is probably the place it will happen. The wine's attraction is so strong that four Austin men upped and moved to the west coast just to try to be a part of the new revolution. John Roenigk moved to Oregon and worked with Beaux Freres, one of the country’s greatest Pinot Noir wineries. He is now the co-owner of the Austin Wine Merchant and one of a handful of the most Yoda-like people in the city when it comes to the intricacies of Burgundy wine.
The three others that crossed the continent include Adam Lee, founder of Siduri which makes 20+ Pinot Noirs; James Cahill, the Winemaker and VP of Grower Relations for Soter Vineyards; and Anthony King, the General Manager for Carlton Winemakers’ Studio and owner/winemaker at Ratio Wines. Chronicle readers with a sharp memory and a few years of experience might remember Anthony as the wine writer who preceded me some 20 years ago.
I’ve listed a good wine from each of these winemakers below, but note they start at $30, which, especially during the pandemic, is mucho dinero. Luckily, I just found a nice California Pinot Noir from Hess Select ($18) that is a great gateway to these other wines. It’s not very complex, but the simplistic and honest presentation gives you the chance to see if the grape grabs you the way it has so many others, including these four Austin guys. By the way, all of these gentlemen are treasures that the city, or maybe the Food and Wine Festival, should find a way to celebrate.
Georges Roumier Musigny ($19,999)
Siduri Santa Barbara Pinot Noir ($30)
Soter North Valley Pinot Noir ($35)
Ratio Jessie James Pinot Noir ($50)
Hess Select Pinot Noir ($18)
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Burgundy, Pinot Noir, Anthony King, James Cahill, Adam Lee, Hess Select, Ratio Jessie James Pinot Noir, Soter North Valley Pinot Noir, Siduri Santa Barbara Pinot Noir, Georges Roumier Musigny Grand Cru