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Sourcing grapes from the Russian River Valley was the game changer for Pedroncelli's pinot noir.

"Our house style is a lighter style, more elegant, classic side of the California pinot noir spectrum," said John Pedroncelli, head winemaker of the Geyserville winery. "We like this style because we feel it best showcases the Russian River Valley pinot noir characteristics."

Pedroncelli is behind our wine-of-the-week winner — the Pedroncelli, 2012 Signature Collection, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Pinot Noir. Other contenders in the flight scored higher, but the Pedroncelli edged them out for wine-of-the-week status because at $20 a bottle it's a smart pick for the budget-minded.

The pinot is crisp with good acidity and tangy, red fruit flavors. It has notes of bright cherry, a hint of cranberry and sweet oak in the mix.

"It's wonderful to work with a different yet a nearby appellation to experience the delicate fruit with bright acidity," Pedroncelli said.

Making acid-driven, food-friendly wines became the hallmark of Pedroncelli pinot noir once they changed where they sourced the fruit about 10 years ago.

"We have been making pinot noir since the 1950s — growing it in northern Dry Creek Valley," explained Julie Pedroncelli, vice president of marketing. "We have had the good fortune to learn where grapes grow best, and by the mid-1970s we knew it wasn't producing the best qualities on our estate vineyard. With longevity comes wisdom, and we responded by sourcing fruit from growers in the cooler climate areas."

Pedroncelli is bucking the trend of big, intense, concentrated pinots.

"There are a couple different camps of pinot noir styles and we respect them," Julie Pedroncelli said. "The current trend is a more intense style of pinot noir, but we have chosen to stay with a more classic style."

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 521-5310 or peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com.

Wine of the Week

Scouting for the tastiest pinot noirs

Wine writer Peg Melnik had a blind tasting this week of pinot noirs, from lush to lean, and our wine-of-the-week winner is the Pedroncelli, 2012 Signature Collection, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Pinot Noir. While it wasn't the highest ranking wine in the flight, it edged out the others for wine-of-the week status because it's a steal for $20.

TOP PICK

Pedroncelli

Pedroncelli, 2012 Signature Collection, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Pinot Noir, 13.9 percent alcohol, $20. 3? stars

A crisp pinot noir with good acidity and tangy red fruit flavors. Notes of bright cherry, a hint of cranberry and sweet oak in the mix. As a value red, it's a standout.

Others worth mentioning:

Merry Edwards, 2011 Georganne, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 14.4 percent, $57. 4? stars

Rock star. A pinot with depth and a great concentration of fruit. Striking notes of blackberry, dried cherry, herbs and spice. Lush, fleshy texture. Complex.

Patz & Hall, 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 14.5 percent, $46.

4? stars

A gorgeous pinot noir with aromas and flavors of cherry, raspberry, cedar and white pepper. Great underpinning of spice. Lovely.

Geyser Peak Winery, 2012 California Pinot Noir, 13.5 percent, $16. 3? stars

A tasty pinot with notes of cherry, currant, strawberry and a hint of mushroom. Bright acid. Nice length.

Gallo, 2011 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, 14.2 percent, $35. 4 stars

A very tasty pinot that's bright and tangy and buoyed with great acidity. Layered, with notes of cherry, pomegranate, and a kiss of vanilla. A smart, food-friendly pick.

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