A few weeks back this column featured gruner veltliner, that oh-so-food-friendly, versatile white that seems to transcend all seasons. If there's a red wine equivalent it has to be pinot noir. It is always a welcome addition to any meal, it is just as appealing on its own, and it has the fruit and the balance to work as well in winter as it does in the spring and fall. Its lighter style also makes it a great choice during the heat of summer. We tasted pinots from around the globe, but the top three wines all hail from the United States.
2008 Chehalem, 3 Vineyards, $32
This wine from Oregon is elegantly styled with subtle floral aromas--time in the glass reveals soft cherry, spice and rose petal. Silky smooth in the mouth, the flavors are fruit forward and are highlighted by blackberry and slightly tart cherry. The finish lingers nicely with the softest of tannins and just a slight hint of chocolate.
2007 Lincourt, $24
The aromas on this California classic are big and bold and filled with ripe cherry and cranberry fruit backed by floral lilac, basil and earthy touches of mushroom and spice. Beautifully balanced in the mouth, it has lots of juicy cherry, plum and ripe berry fruit flavors with just the right hit of acidity. The tannins are supple and plush on the finish, which lingers nicely.
2006 Rex Hill Reserve, $33
Old world aromas of earth and mushroom mark this Oregon entry and blend nicely with bright plum, dark cherry, green tea and herb. This is a supple, well-structured wine with deliciously deep and dark fruit flavors. It coats the palate with ripe raspberry and cherry, colored by anise, mocha and spice. The creamy fruit finish goes on and on.