New Releases from California

My coverage of new wines from California includes a large number of pinot noirs from all over the state.This category has been a megahit since the movie "Sideways," and new releases offer something for every taste, running the style gamut from pungent, minerally and Burgundian to soft and chocolatey-sweet.This latter style seems to be aimed at a new generation of wine lovers who prize easygoing, quaffable fruit above all else and now consider pinot noir to be the perfect vehicle for delivering this taste profile.Many of today's most popular pinots are soft and lush, with little apparent acidity or tannin, and come from sugar-laden grapes harvested on the late side.Increasingly, these wines carry alcohol in the 15% range, which limits their appeal to Burgundy lovers.It occurs to me that when veteran Francophiles are in the mood for liquid confection, they derive the same drinking pleasure from grenache-heavy Cotes du Rhone bottlings at one-third the price.Incidentally, there is also a growing number of California syrahs being made in a similar vein, and I would argue that this style is more appropriate for syrah than it is for pinot noir.

Please note that many current California releases were covered in Issues 121 (Central Coast) and 120 (North Coast).