2016 Pinot Noir All-Americans
“Pinot Noir is a shape shifter, able to succeed at all levels of
ripeness while still offering a degree of elegance.”
Matt Kettmann, Wine Enthusiast, February 2016
At the conclusion of each year, I name my favorite domestic Pinot Noirs for the year. It is the American way to
name the best, but each year the task becomes more challenging because the number of exceptional Pinot
Noirs from California and Oregon continues to increase. There are nearly 3,000 producers of Pinot Noir in
California and Oregon, and almost every producer offers multiple releases in any one vintage, meaning there
could easily be over 10,000 American Pinot Noirs released into the marketplace each year.
In choosing the All-American Pinot Noirs, I follow several dictums. These have been outlined each year in the
past and I will not repeat them here. Please refer to www.princeofpinot.com/article/1754/ for this information. I
score all the wines using the 100-point score system with scoring guidelines as follows: 94-99 Extraordinary,
90-93 Outstanding, 86-89 Very Good and 82-85 Good. Wines scoring less than 82 do not merit publication in
the PinotFile. Pinot Noirs awarded the Value icon offer an exceptional price to quality ratio and generally this is
a wine priced at or below $36 that is also in the Very Good or above category.
The extraordinary wines have what wine writer Hugh Johnson calls "numinous," that is defined by Webster as "the higher emotions or the aesthetic sense." Truly extraordinary, spellbinding wines elicit emotion.
The 2016 All-Americans were judged independent of price, case production, vintage or wine region of origin.
Most of the wines tasted in 2016 were from the 2012, 2013 and 2014 vintages. It is somewhat unfair to
compare wines from disparate vintages, but the evaluation of each wine is taken on its own merit in the context
of the vintage.
Only finished bottled wines that are formally reviewed in controlled, and therefore comparable circumstances
are candidates for All-American consideration. Almost all wines are culled from unsolicited winery submissions
with a few wines coming from my personal cellar of purchased wines.
I also review California and Oregon Chardonnay and the same dictums apply.
A final disclaimer states that I have no monetary arrangement with any winegrower or winery and I do not
accept advertising on my website. I do not receive or demand compensation from wineries to review their wine
or publish their reviews or label images.
To search for the complete review of each All-American wine, visit the Home Page at www.princeofpinot.com.
Click on Wine Reviews, then Current Reviews, then click on the Winery.
The most important take-away from these All-American awards is expressed in the words that Jamie Goode so eloquently offered in his new book, I Taste Red, a discourse that explores how we taste wine: "The notion of rating or judging wine reflects the fact that we come to wine from our own perspective. A rating cannot be a global, universal score that is a property of that wine. If you do decide to follow a critic, you need to choose one whose own narrative of wine is largely overlapping with yours; you need to adjust for differences and calibrate yourself to the critic."