8 California Pinot Noir Wines at 90+ Points (Wine Spectator)

Tasting Highlights' wine reviews are fresh out of the tasting room, offering a sneak peek of our editors' most recent scores and notes to WineSpectator.com members.

There are nearly 800 miles between California's north and south borders, and more than 100 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in between. Many of those AVAs are situated near the state's massive coastline, and thus are well-suited to Pinot Noir, which thrives in cooler locales. California's vast reaches are on display in this week's selection, highlighting a variety of Pinot Noir styles from several notable regions, each notching 90 points or higher in recent tastings.

Starting in the south, we have two wines from Sta. Rita Hills: one from Santa Barbara winery Brewer-Clifton, and the other from Napa-based Luna. Both wines go through whole-cluster fermentations and used barrels, yielding balanced expressions of the grape, with structure, earth and spice notes.

Slingshotting to the far north leads us to Masut's Eagle Peak Pinot Noir. Brothers Jake and Ben Fetzer are among the few vintners with vines in this relatively new and mountainous appellation in Mendocino County. The high elevation of the area (between 800 and 3,200 feet) provides ample sun exposure, but also cooler nighttime temperatures, balancing fruit ripeness with fresh acidity. This results in rich and concentrated wines with crunchy acidity.

And don't miss everything in between. Not far from Eagle Peak lies Anderson Valley, where Kendall-Jackson makes a ripe and fruity style. Flowers and CrossBarn offer exemplary coastal versions. Acacia and Morgan also highlight their particular climates with a generous and spicy Carneros Pinot, and a juicy and finely textured version from Santa Lucia Highlands, respectively.


Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills

Score: 92 | $40

WS review: Zesty and well-sculpted, with forest floor notes to the dried fruit and spice flavors. Dried orange peel and clove accents on the supple finish, with hints of tar and paprika. Drink now through 2023. 2,000 cases made.—Kim Marcus


Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

Score: 92 | $50

WS review: Big and rich, with flavors of plum tart, dried strawberry and red currant, supported by crunchy acidity. Cedar and hot stone notes emerge on the pure-tasting, minerally finish. Drink now through 2024. 23,000 cases made.—K.M.


Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills Winemaker's Reserve

Score: 92 | $45

WS review: Delicate, complex and lengthens out nicely with a mix of underbrush and dried berry flavors that are supported by firm acidity. Rich finish has dried meat and cedary accents, with some creamy hints. Drink now through 2023. 1,081 cases made.—K.M.


Pinot Noir Eagle Peak Estate Vineyard

Score: 92 | $40

WS review: Lithe, pure and rich-tasting, with concentrated dark plum, currant and cherry pastry flavors, supported by crunchy acidity. Intense violet notes emerge midpalate, leading to a spicy finish that lingers with slate and spice details. Drink now through 2023. 2,450 cases made.—K.M.


Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

Score: 91 | $37

WS review: Crisp and well-structured, with a sinewy texture to the ripe cherry and dried berry flavors. The inky finish offers hints of pepper and mocha. Drink now through 2023. 12,600 cases made.—K.M.


Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands Twelve Clones

Score: 91 | $35

WS review: Lithe, with juicy richness to the raspberry, dried cherry and red currant flavors. Offers crunchy minerality midpalate, with a finely textured, minerally finish. Drink now through 2024. 10,498 cases made.—K.M.


Pinot Noir Carneros

Score: 90 | $28

WS review: Lively and balanced, featuring touches of richness to the raspberry tart, red plum and dark currant flavors. Creamy midpalate, with a finish filled with sandalwood and Asian spice notes. Drink now through 2022. 90,000 cases made.—K.M.


Pinot Noir Anderson Valley Grand Reserve

Score: 90 | $26

WS review: Ripe, featuring dark plum, blackberry tart and dark currant flavors, framed by concentrated Asian spice notes. Dark chocolate and mocha details emerge on the finish. Drink now through 2022. 3,707 cases made.—K.M.