Why Pinot Noir Should Be Your Number One Holiday Wine

Posted November 20, 2015

Stacy Brody


Daily wine deals emailed to your inbox.

Silky chestnut waves fall to her breast, about where her dress starts: floor-length red satin, embroidered with gold flourishes. There's a slit from the floor up to...I won't say where because she is all class. You look and you can’t stop looking and you hope she doesn’t look your way because you are pretty sure your jaw has dropped open.

That’s about the same reaction a phenomenal Pinot Noir will elicit. This wine is rapturous, elegant, graceful. Pinot Noir, the sensuous red wine that coats your palate with cherry red intensity. Expressive of terroir in a way few other varieties are, Pinot Noir is at once hedonistic and divine. These opposing forces pull you in...

...and keep you exploring. How can something so decadent be so delicate? How does it hold onto that earthiness, that sense of place, while also reaching such celestial heights? It’s her, that woman, standing there in her candy red dress, and she doesn’t even see you but you see her and you’ve fallen. Hard.

For all their vows, monks fell, too...not that I blame them. Rather, I thank them, for it was the monks of Burgundy who, hundreds of years ago, discovered Pinot Noir’s exceptional ability to express terroir. They worked in vineyards and cellars, planting, harvesting, and fermenting Pinot Noir, keeping grapes separated by site, tasting single parcel wines side by side, discerning their subtle differences. For it is true that Pinot Noir from each village, each vineyard, conveys subtle differences of soil, climate, slope, the site as a whole. This is part of its enchantment - few other varieties are capable of capturing this sense of place so completely.

Pinot Noir has captured the hearts and minds of vineyard managers and winemakers around the world, these poor men and women driven by such passion to showcase their parcels in expressive wines, to usher Pinot Noir to its peak. From Burgundy, Pinot Noir spread internationally, thriving in cool-climate regions from Victoria’s Yarra Valley to South Africa’s Cape South Coast to Argentina’s Patagonia. In the United States, it thrives in Oregon, cool pockets of California, and the Finger Lakes of New York. In these regions, where the growing season is cool, the grapes ripen slowly and gradually, accumulating over the course of the season those complex aromas that make your mouth water.

Pinot Noir classically offers notes of cherries and strawberries. Moving up in complexity, you find wines with earthiness: mushrooms, autumn leaves, barns - in the best way. With lively acidity, Pinot Noir is food-friendly and versatile. For that reason, it becomes the ideal house red for the holidays, sure to pair with everything on the holiday table.

You are either going to or hosting a holiday party.

Try the 2010 Clone 5 Santa Barbara Pinot Noir. It goes with everything. And I mean everything. In Santa Barbara, fog keeps coastal vineyards cool, protecting the grapes and moderating maturation. This wine has that classically delicious red fruit character with a hint of spice. Light, fun, plainly delectable. I wouldn’t say this is quite an evening dress type Pinot, rather a brunette with a pixie cut in cowboy boots and a short red dress with a flowy skirt perfect for twirling. Lively and light, sure to be the life of the party.

If you want that evening dress, that rare beauty, you want the 2011 Amore Fati. If you are fated to fall, at least love your fate and there are worse fates than to have an open bottle of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, even if you are the only one home to drink it. Complex botanical and vanilla aromas are truly tempting. A note of coffee hints at the exotic. Your palate will not be disappointed by the first sip, second sip, third sip...

For a gift for the true Pinot Noir lover, take it up one more notch with a Volnay from Domaine Dublere. Volnay, located in the southern half of Burgundy’s Cote d’Or (Golden Slope), is known for wines of striking femininity: velvety with delicate floral notes and intense red berries. Dublere was founded by an American transplant, a former political journalist who fell under the spell of fine Pinot Noir, its paradoxical lightness and powerful intensity. He held her hand in that velvet glove, he smelled her perfume, and, alas, it was all over for him. Blair Pethel was just an innocent journalist reporting overseas when he visited Burgundy, where he tasted Pinot Noir and fell under its spell. He subsequently moved there, learned French, trained with some of the best growers, and now produces his own award-winning wines. This poor unsuspecting journalist. One kiss from scarlet lips, and he was done for...at least he has these wines to show for it.


Stacy comes to Wine Library from the production side of the industry. After studying agriculture in college, she found herself working at a local winery and, at harvest season, snacking on as many Pinot Noir grapes as she could take before the winemaker noticed. She enjoys reading, hiking, and scoping out what's in season at the local farmers' markets.


Item: 86624

750 mL

Retail: $59.99

$49.99 per btl

Item: 90663

750 mL

Retail: $19.99

$14.99 per btl

Item: 90829

750 mL

Retail: $59.99

$44.99 per btl

Product Label.

Dublere Volnay Pitures

90-92 Neal Martin - Robert Parke...

Item: 91468

750 mL

Retail: $89.90

$69.98 per btl