Pinot Progression

A top sommelier gets his hands grapey

Daniel Johnnes's resume is as impressive as it is wine-stained: As the wine director for Daniel Boulud's restaurants, an importer of boutique wines and the organizer of a top wine event, he's pretty much tasted, poured and sold everything the wine world has to offer.

And now he makes his own.

Johnnes recently released his first three bottlings under the Johnnes & Company label: two Burgundy-style Pinot Noirs from Oregon's Willamette Valley and a third Pinot from Burgundy itself, made from the heralded grapes of Gevrey-Chambertin.

Both Oregon Pinots come from the same biodynamic vineyard, one spicy from de-stemmed grapes and the other from whole clusters.

A longtime lover of the classic Burgundian style, Johnnes wanted to prove that similar wine could be made in America. "I'm outspoken about American Pinots wearing too much makeup–oak and alcohol–in the past," he says. "These wines are my way of saying 'it can be done differently.'"

Has he succeeded? Decide for yourself by ordering a bottle ($55 to $59) from Sherry-Lehmann or a three-pack ($165 to $195) from Johnnes's online store.

Or sign up for the BYO dinner Johnnes is hosting next Tuesday (Aug. 18) at City Winery. If you share your favorite Pinot with him, he'll return the favor.