28 June 2010

Value Wine Quest - Pinot Noir for Entertaining

For sipping and sharing with guests, we like Pinot Noir - but often DON'T like the price.

We've also stumbled across more than a few bottles that have a great price, but we might as well have been drinking water (expensive water at that!).  And in keeping with 10 Trends in Savvy Entertaining for 2010, we're drinking "only wines we love".

What's so special about Pinot Noir (grapes pictured left)?  Our go-to savvy resource for all things wine, wine.com, offers the following description -

Just as Merlot was pooh-poohed by Miles in Sideways, Pinot Noir was worshiped in its glorious difficulty. Pinot Noir is a finicky grape. It only grows in the right climate, with the right soils and the right care. Perhaps because it is so difficult is why it is so loved. Pinot Noir's home and the classic wines from the grape hail from Burgundy...Other than Burgundy, Pinot has been successful in areas like Oregon, California and lately, New Zealand - the Central Otago region to be exact. 
  • Pinot Noir from France gives flavors and aromas of red fruit, summer pudding and baking spices. As the wine matures - and great Burgundies are able to do so for years - the flavors become more like the earth the wine comes from- mushrooms, truffles - and the wine gains tremendous complexity. 
  • Pinot Noir from the new world like Oregon and California typically exude stronger fruit intensity, some wine able to reach a high level of complexity, structure and age. Others are wonderful for drinking now with a myriad of foods. 
Many may wax poetic about this grape, the reason being that Pinot Noir produces an amazing contradiction in wine - something so delicate and subtle, yet powerful and mesmerizing. 

Serving Pinot Noir is easier than you think.  Even though its red, you shouldn't hesitate to consider it a perfect match to grilled fish or a fish-based dish such as Pasta alla Pescatore or Paella.  When we prepare Bruscetta with roasted wild mushrooms, pork tenderloin wrapped in pancetta or beef brisket, we often reach for one of our favorite Pinot Noirs to enjoy.  And it's not just for mediterranean cuisine!  Pinot Noir also pairs well with many Indian, Thai and Malaysian recipes.

Here are a few Pinot Noirs we find delicious in taste, and deliciously affordable (under $20) for entertaining.  Tasting notes from the winery or winemaker are included.

Acacia Carneros Pinot Noir (Carneros, California)
Seductive sun-warmed rose and forest loam nuances mingle with the red fruits, along with roasted coffee bean and vanilla notes from barrel aging. There's a hint of tangerine zest on the long, fruit-imbued finish. This wine's silky flavors, bright acidity and fine tannins make an elegant pairing with grilled salmon, wild mushroom risotto or roasted turkey and lamb.

Artesa Carneros Pinot Noir (Carneros, California)
A dark and exuberant expression of great Carneros Pinot Noir. Refined and elegant aromas of cherry, red currant, chocolate and faint whiffs of leaf tobacco. This wine is beautifully subtle and multi-layered with oak spices of clove, allspice and smoke. Excellent structure gives this wine a mid-palate weight and silky sensation from start to finish. A perfectly balanced Pinot with just a gentle tingle of acid which keeps the fruit lively throughout the whole taste. This wine is wonderful straight out of the bottle, but has the concentration and complexity to improve with several years of aging.

Brancott Reserve Pinot Noir (Marlborough, New Zealand)
Garnet red in color, this wine exhibits ripe cherry and spice accentuated with rich plum and savory highlights. It has a rich, sweet approach displaying ripe dark berry fruits, subtle oak spice, velvety tannins and a long, concentrated finish.

This wine's structure and concentration make it an ideal match for a wide range of foods. It will match well with field mushroom pasta or risotto. It also lends itself to rare, grilled red meal)ts or a variety of slow cooked casseroles including game meats, such as rabbit or fowl.

Chateau St. Jean Pinot Noir (Sonoma, California)
Pinot Noir is a grape that must be grown in the right place. The "right places" in Sonoma County are the Russian River Valley and the Carneros district. Both regions are ideal for Pinot Noir because of cool growing conditions. When making the blend for this Sonoma County Pinot Noir, we prefer the backbone of the wine to be predominately Carneros while we use fruit from the Russian River Valley to heighten the blend. The majority of the Pinot Noir for this 2007 offering came from the Carneros region – mostly from the Benoist Ranch and Durell Vineyard – while 15% is from the Russian River Valley.

Youthful and inviting, this Pinot Noir displays lovely aromas of raspberry, cherry and plum as well as hints of rose and leather. The palate offers jammy fruit flavors and round tannins that give a creamy texture and a long fruit-driven finish.

Erath Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon) 
Luminous like a sparkling gem, the '08 vintage of Erath's Oregon Pinot Noir is a beautiful one. Bright cherry and juicy red plum aromas are lifted by a hint of exotic, zesty spice. The sweet entry leads to mouth-filling cherry pie, red currant and vanilla-coffee flavors that extend into a subtle smokiness and a long, luxurious finish.

Jigsaw Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon)
The Jigsaw style can be described as cerebral punk. We want aggressive aromas of red fruits, flowers and spice. The flavors should be intense and rich with a juicy mouth feel and supple texture. But balance is key. There must be harmony of ripe fruit, refreshing acidity and supportive tannins. We strive for complexity, layers of flavor and a long finish every vintage.

Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon)
The 2007 Pinot Noir has sweet, delicate aromas of raspberries and red cherries with hints of cocoa and toast. The sweet and tart flavors of ripe, red cherries and raspberries are accented by hints of vanilla and white pepper spice. An elegant Pinot Noir with delicate round tannins and nicely-balanced acidity that lingers into the silky finish.  A great complement to wild salmon. Also try with roasted duck, grilled lamb, mushrooms, and medium cheeses.

1 comment:

Sara said...

I cannot drink Merlot without thinking about Sideways! In a way, that movie ruined it for me:)

I gave you a Sunshine Award today. Details on my latest post. Thanks for your support.

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