Great Wine: Banshee Sonoma County Pinot Noir

93pts

Price Range: $20–$25

  • Ready to Drink: 2 years after bottle vintage
  • Great recent vintages in California Pinot Noir: 2009, 2010, 2012°, 2013° °=all-time great vintage

Region: Sonoma, California

Superb Pinot for the price. You can count BANSHEE among a burgeoning group of cutting edge wineries like Rickshaw, Alta Maria, Owen Roe/Sharecropper’s and Miura who simply refuse to charge high prices for exceedingly high quality Pinot Noir. Make no mistake, Pinot Noir is a typically expensive wine to make. The grape is finicky, the vines low-yielding, and the process from vineyard to bottle is a volatile and painstaking one. Wineries like Banshee, in essence, are doing the impossible. The magic lies in the relationships forged with the growers, grape selection and the art of the blending process. To these tastebuds, the entry-level Pinots from all of these like-minded wineries have in common a certain purity, transparency and vibrancy that appear free of additives or any residual aftertaste of chemical or other unnatural manipulation, which seems miraculous considering the price of the bottle.

The 2012 Banshee Sonoma County Pinot Noir is powerful yet graceful, rich in dark and red berry flavor and earth, cola and rose tea. There’s a mellow sweetness that recalls Pinots from the Carneros region of Sonoma. But the wine’s power and grace, and perfume, must be attributed to the high percentage of grapes from the Sonoma Coast. The wine manages to be elegant and sophisticated and rich, yet down-to-earth and approachable—and absolutely delicious.

There is a disruptive, new paradigm trending here: absolute dedication to quality combined with a commitment to affordability. The $60-$120 Pinots, let alone $200-$500 Burgundy-produced Pinots, will always have their cache of buyers, but Banshee is part of a hot, hot trend that benefits and rewards a much broader swath of the wine-loving population. Please, wine gods, let this trend never die.  –J.M.

 

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