The Pinot Noir grape loves a cool climate. And on California’s wine map, it doesn’t get any cooler than the relatively small Edna Valley on the Central Coast, where the variety thrives in the damp winds from the Pacific just a few miles away.
Edna Valley Pinots are known for their lean elegance — wines with ample fruit thanks to the long growing season, but with refreshing acidity and moderate alcohol. One of them is the superb 2018 “Firepeak” Pinot Noir from the Baileyana Winery.
Baileyana’s roots go back to the early 1970s when Jack Niven planted the famed Paragon Vineyard, which remains a centerpiece of the winery. A neighboring property purchased in the mid-1990s was named Firepeak, after the area’s extinct volcanoes, and is the source of the Pinot Noir that bears its name. (Niven was also instrumental in the establishment of Edna Valley as an American Viticultural Area in 1982.)
The 2018 Firepeak Pinot Noir is marked by generous notes of raspberry and blueberry compote, with accents of cinnamon and orange rind. It’s all framed by soft tannins, refreshing acidity, and a good deal of minerality that may reflect the volcanic remnants and marine sediment in the Firepeak soil. Alcohol is 13.5 percent.
It’s made for lighter foods, including herb-roasted chicken, pork, or salmon; veggie or turkey burgers; and grilled vegetables seasoned with oregano, balsamic, and olive oil.
The $30 suggested price (you’ll find it for less in some stores) makes this a great-value Pinot Noir from a cool-climate corner of California that deserves to be on your radar. It’s a Pinot you’ll go back to again and again.