This week we sit down for a conversation about Avalon‘s 2021 Californian Pinot Noir with winemaker Joe Tapparo. The wine is currently available through the LCBO General List for a very approachable $17.95.

I’m not usually drawn to California Pinots at this sub-$20 price point, as I so often find that they bear little relation to the variety while tasting completely overcooked, jammy, and almost syrupy. I feel that longer hang times to the point of desiccation coupled with egregious, yet totally permitted, additions of Petit Sirah, Syrah, and Zin are often to blame for this.

This 2021 from Avalon, labelled under the California designation, was a pleasant surprise, as although it displays undeniably ripe Californian fruit, and in this vintage sits at 14.5% alcohol, it makes for a surprisingly well-rounded glass of wine. It’s not as dark, massive, cloying, and un-Pinot-like as so many offerings we find on the shelves in Ontario, and for this my palate was extremely thankful.

After leaving UC Davis, Joe has worked with Gallo, Ruby Hill, and Geyser Peak before joining Purple Brands in 2008, so he has some experience making wines all over the Golden State. I spoke with him in an effort to discover just what wizardry lay behind this particular bottling. As you may imagine, fruit sourcing and picking times are key, with judicious use of cutting edge barrel alternatives giving him yet another string to his winecrafting bow.



Avalon Winery are represented in Ontario by Churchill Cellars.

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