Pinot Versus Pinot

Head Winemaker Eric Hickey interviews while on location at WOPN17

This past weekend marked the 17th Annual World of Pinot Noir Seminar at the Bacara Resort in Goleta.

I remember hosting many internationally renowned Pinot Noir winemakers when the celebration was based at the Cliffs in Pismo Beach.  Our community would get together united in their love of this one grape varietal, extolling the virtues of each Pinot Noir from all over the world.

It’s abundantly clear that each Pinot producer in the Central Coast is different from European counterparts and even for that matter from many in Northern California

To find out why each one is unique, I went straight to source:  Lino Bozzano and Eric Hickey.

Lino told me there was no point in even comparing New World to Old World (Burgundian) Pinot. It’s a completely different animal according to him, beyond terroir, terroir, and terroir, it has to do with a Mediterranean (theirs) versus Continental (ours) climate and the difference in hot sunshine in the fall.

Eric answered my questions more specifically.

What makes New and Old world Pinot Noir so different?  Although the winemaking is relatively the same, the terroir is completely different.

What is similar about them?  The similarity is of course the grape itself.  Pinot Noir is so distinct in its “typical” flavors, so they always come through whether grown in the old world or the new.

Does our grape need different care in the vineyard ?  In some cases yes, but generally we farm very similarly.  The most obvious difference though is the water.  We need to irrigate through the summer months because usually do not have summer rains, whereas Burgundy does.  Therefore they have natural irrigation.

Do we ripen the grapes more or is that really a function of climate?  Mostly a function of climate.  But house style can create differences in how much we ripen or not.  For example, there are winemakers in both Burgundy and CA who refuse to pick past certain sugar levels and that is their style.  Conversely, some will not pick until a certain high ripeness has occurred.

Tell us which one you like most… No really? And why?  It depends.  I have had the privilege of tasting some of the finest Burgundies in the world, and they are truly at the top of the list.  BUT, there are spectacular wines from CA that will arguably rival them.  I will say, for the everyday Pinot Noir, CA is much better than Burgundy.  They are richer and offer more complexity.

So there we have it. Totally different yet the same. Like each one of us I guess.

At Laetitia we’re fortunate to offer eight different bottlings of our Estate-Grown Pinot Noir from our larger production everyday Pinots to our Single Vineyards: La Colline, Les Galets and La Coupelle.  There are also exclusive Pinots in the Pinot Noir Wine Club.

Try them, give us feedback to tell us which is your favorite child. Perhaps you’re be like me and just love them all to bits.

À votre santé,


Are You 21 Years or Older?

By entering this site you agree that you have properly represented your age and that you are of legal drinking age (21-years-of-age or older) in your (U.S.) region.