Wine of the Week: Pedroncelli, 2017 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

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Fireworks on the palate? That’s what wine geeks and foodies are hungry for, and they find it at the Weber with this compelling duo: a hefty puck of protein known as a burger and a splash of red wine.

With the Fourth of July in the offing, the Press Democrat held its annual Burger Reds tasting, and the winner is the Pedroncelli, 2017 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir at $22. This tasty pinot is a perfect burger match because it has tangy cherry notes, firm tannins and great balance. With its bright fruit and crisp acid, this pinot can definitely stand up to the juicy flavors in a burger. It overdelivers, and it’s a steal for this caliber of pinot.

Montse Reece, the winemaker at Geyserville’s Pedroncelli, crafted the pinot. She said the wine is well suited for the holiday, whether your guests are carnivores or vegetarians.

“Our pinot noir will complement any grilled meat, fish or vegetables,” she said. “Because it’s a light tannic wine, any sauces used in the cookout will shine and elevate the whole meal, without overpowering it, adding all the wonderful flavors of the wine.”

What makes this wine a standout, Reece said, is how it’s tended.

“We pick this pinot noir in mid- to late August to keep acids bright and alcohol low,” she said. “My goal is always to make a varietally correct wine because pinot noir is such a delicate variety to work with. It can easily lose varietal flavors and aromas if we pick it too late, and then it becomes a completely different wine ... there’s no mistake when you’re drinking it that it’s a pure expression of the variety.”

Reece said she’s aligned with Pedroncelli’s house style –– food friendly, crisp and lively.

“You need to know exactly the kind of style of wine you want to make, and the wine needs to be a fit to your own taste, too,” she said. “At Pedroncelli, I have been making a light-style pinot noir that fits exactly with my taste and that I continue to produce, trying to showcase the variety by using minimal oak during the aging process. I want to show pinot in its purest form.”

What the uninitiated don’t know about pinot, Reece said, is it’s temperamental.

“In order to grow pinot noir successfully and show all of its potential, you need to have the right climate and soil,” she said. “The Russian River appellation here in Sonoma County checks all those boxes. That’s why some of the best pinot noirs from the country are grown here. Pinot noir is a very aromatic grape. When it’s grown and made into a wine with restraint, without overdoing it, it’s unmistakable. Pinot noir makes lighter-bodied wines compared with other varieties but highly aromatic and full of beautiful flavors.”

Becoming a winemaker, Reece said, was a natural fit.

“I’m originally from Catalonia, Spain,” she said. “I grew up in a culture where wine was part of daily life, and that’s where I learned to appreciate it.”

Reece was raised with the viticulture areas of Priorat, Penedes and Montsant nearby. The winemaker studied at Tarragona’s Rovira Virgili University, which offered a degree in enology.

“My father knew my interest in biology, and he encouraged me to consider winemaking because he said, ‘You have a good taste for wine and good brains for the rest.’ I signed up and found he was right. Winemaking was the right choice for me.”

You can reach Wine Writer Peg Melnik at or 707-521-5310.

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