Californian Pinot Noirs have a good reputation and there are some fine examples but I like to look a little further north in the USA - to Oregon and the Willamette Valley American Viticultural Area* ("AVA") which produces around 88% of Oregon's Pinot Noir. It is a true cool climate area, cooler and wetter than California but with longer hours of sunlight and a big difference between day and night temperatures which leads to fresher wines with more pronounced fruit.
The grapes in this wine are from a single vineyard named Pierre Léon after the father of the winery's Burgundian founder, Bernard Lacroute. A Burgunduan ethos is followed in that Willakenzie aims to "craft wines which capture the distinctive qualities of the soil, slope and plant from which they come." And they have succeeded with a growing reputation for terroir-driven wines with finesse and balance.
A classic cool climate Pinot Noir nose - ripe cherry, crunchy raspberry and blueberry with savoury mushroom & "forest-floor" aromas. Flavours are just as complex and fruit continues to dominate; the finish is long and dry with cranberries and blueberries. There is great balance - alcohol in Oregon Pinot Noirs can be high but here it is restrained at 13%; acidity is fairly high making it quite refreshing and tannins are fine and well integrated. Though fuller in body than some Burgundies, this Pinot is medium-bodied rather than heavy with a really velvety smooth texture which makes it a very elegant wine.
* N.B. AVAs indicate the origin of a wine; there are however no regulations that need to be followed to use the classification as is the case in France for example.
This is a very food-friendly wine - recommended to drink with roast chicken, turkey, guinea fowl, duck, goose, pheasant, pigeon, veal, calves liver, lamb, pork, mushroom based dishes
"Named after our founder’s father, Pierre Léon was one of the first vineyard designate Pinot Noirs produced at WillaKenzie Estate. This wine offers concentrated dark fruit and nuanced savory notes — the more masculine side of our winery."
92 points Decanter Jun 2017
"... once aired, the palate becomes a concentrated and powerful expression of Pinot, well balanced with a fresh acidity. It is pure, ripe and juicy, with sweet red fruits and a delicious, lip-smacking finish."
91 points Wine Enthusiast Jan 2016
"Production is way up on this cuvée, while quality remains consistent. It's a sassy mix of tart, juicy cranberry and raspberry fruit, which punches down through the palate into a lingering finish. Light notes of fresh tobacco and baker's chocolate add further interest."
89 points Wine Spectator 2016
"Firm in texture and light-footed, with raspberry and spice flavors on a lively frame, persisting against crisp tannins. Best after 2017"