LA Versus Seattle: A Serious Case of Pinot Envy

By: 
Leslie Kelly
A selection of the winning reds in our 2012 Best Washington Wine Awards. No Pinots here.

Just got back from a week in sizzling So Cal, visiting my sis, going to see The Book of Mormon (Yes, it lived up to the hilarious hype. Get your tickets for the Seattle dates!) and soaking up loads of local flavor. Had the BEST Mexican food ever – crispy duck skin tacos at a place called CaCao Mexicatessen, y’all! – and lapped up the most velvety rich organic butterscotch ice cream at an adorable place called Mother Moo in Sierra Madres.

It’s hard not to compare fare when you’re out in the world, right? While the Pacific Northwest kicks LA’s keester when it comes to coffee shops, artisan cheese (I had a clerk at a fancy formagerie in Silver Lake sneer, “You’re not going to find herds of goats in the city,” when I asked about local products), microdistilleries and Euro-style bread bakeries, I came home with a serious case of Pinot envy.

Washington State is a garden spot for growing just about every vinifera varietal of grape under that ol’ ball of fire in the sky, except when it comes to Pinot noir.

Oh, there’s some planted, but the best Washington state Pinot I’ve ever had – a 2009 from Sparkman Cellars – was made with grapes from the Willamette Valley. Our neighbors to the south have locked up the Pinot noir brand.

Still, I prefer the lushness of Cali Pinot noir, the bright fruit that plays so well with food. But I’m such a homer when it comes to wine, I rarely drink stuff from California. When my sister poured a Melville Pinot noir alongside a meal made from just-picked tomatoes and basil from her year-round garden, it was tempting to turn green with envy. A grand dinner and a dynamite wine on a warm evening and pretty soon I was contemplating: “Could I live here?”

Of course, the answer is…it’s a nice place to visit. And I think I can probably find some California Pinot noir around here, oui? But wait.

If you drink the farm-to-table Kool-Aid – and I do – it makes sense to sip local. Guess it’s time to go on the hunt for some Washington State Pinot noir. Any suggestions?

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