A change of pace is always good. I’ve become such a big fan of Oregon Pinot Noir when I want an upper end glass of wine I sometimes forget I have some California Pinot in the basement.

Generalizations are never 100 percent accurate but California Pinots tend to be higher in alcohol and bigger bolder Pinot Noir.

During a 2006 California visit I drove the Russian River Valley in Sonoma and visited the real icons – Bynum Davis, Gary Farrell, and others and stumbled across a new winery – Arista.

Arista is primarily a Pinot producer and a good one.

So tonight I opened (what I recall being) a $35 bottle Nicol Vineyard 2006 Arista Pinot Noir. The Nicol Vineyard is actually in the Napa Valley. Arista has its own vineyards and buys some fruit as well, or did.

Arista is not a huge producer and made only 164 cases of this wine.

The Pinot had a huge nose and beautiful structure though it is still a little big and out of balance on the finish. There is a cinnamon or spice characteristic to their wines that I really likely. It’s a bit of a smokey wine. This wine spent 11 months in French Oak .. so it has a big finish.

Arista has only been around since 2002 and is finding its niche. I have a couple more bottles in the basement, including some from estate grown fruit. I’m anxious to try those in a few more months or another year or two to see how they age. This is good Pinot Noir.

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