Like a Girl in a Pretty Pink Dress: Fotinos Brothers Pinot Noir

There’s nothing new about the Fotinos family and their Pinot Noir. Their Carneros vineyards have been in the family for more than 40 years, and their Pinot Noir has been going into bottle almost as long. But it wasn’t always their bottle: for 33 years they private labelled their wine and sourced grapes to a slew of name-brand wineries. In 2006, the sons of the original Fotino created the inaugural vintage of Fotinos Brothers Pinot Noir.

I was sent a bottle of the 2007 Fotinos Brothers Pinot Noir Los Carneros OSRII Block for review, and noted the impressive packaging right off the bat: 24 carat gold embossing screams, “Hello, I’m expensive.” But it could be just another pretty face, right?

The wine poured out a soft rose color, and was almost translucent (I could read my notes through it). The color suggested very light body, but of course, the proof is in the smelling and tasting.

The nose was stand-offish at first. I had to really work to get some delicate Bing cherry, and it was at that point that I realized this thing was gonna play hard to get.

I poured a good slug more to get some volume going in the glass, gave it a hearty swirl, and then turned my back on it — “OK, be that way,” I said.

And eventually, this wine opened. I had to be patient and wait for its richness to develop, but eventually it showed me this:

A delicate, velvety, almost sweet palate of cherries and rhubarb that was as soft as dandelion fluff in my mouth. The more it sat, the more intense it became, until I was picking up hints of caramel (from the French oak, I assume) and rich strawberry. There wasn’t a lot of complexity on the finish, but who needs it when there’s this kind of fruit?

Just by pure blind luck, I was eating the absolutely perfect dinner with my Fotinos Pinot Noir. I had a Roasted Beet Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts, Goat Cheese and Warm Bacon Dressing, and I gotta say that the tart-sweet beets were a knock-out pairing with the Pinot. Ask me for the recipe, and you can make it when you drink your Fotinos Pinot.

Now would be the time to buy it, because a website called is running a 72-hour special. It looks like the Fotinos 2007 is selling for about $50 for a 2-pack, and at that price this wine is a good deal. Here’s a link to the web special:

But remember: you have to be patient! This wine is like a really pretty, but really shy, young lady. It’s very feminine in every way, and it doesn’t put out easily. Follow my advice, and I think you’ll score.



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