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To get a sense of why people fall in love with Pinot Noir, it's worth spending a little more money. The following wines, made by some of the top winemakers in the state, are all great examples of regional terroir—the distinctive character that comes from a specific soil type and climate. Plus, taken together, they essentially amount to a five-bottle master class in some of California's most significant Pinot Noir regions.
Bottles to Try:
2011 Cambria Julia's Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir ($25)
2011 Copain Tous Ensemble Anderson Valley Pinot Noir ($28)
2011 Melville Estate Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir ($34)
2011 Kutch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($39)
2010 Woodenhead Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($42)