Migration, Santa Maria Valley (Central Coast, California) Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard 2014

($68): The orientation of the Santa Maria Valley is unusual in California because in runs East-West rather than the usual North-South.  As such, the vineyards there are exposed directly to the cooling influences of the Pacific Ocean.  That climatic difference explains the difference in character between Santa Maria-grown Pinot Noir and those from the Russian River Valley.  This one, from the famed Bien Nacido Vineyard, is packed with savory, even smokey notes, as opposed to a more fruit forward profile.  Its glistening texture — no harsh tannins here — allows you to savor its joys now and over the next several years.  Its under 14 percent stated alcohol is noteworthy and reminds us that you don’t need super ripe grapes to make super good wine. 94 Michael Apstein Aug 22, 2017