Tag Archives: pinot noir

Wines to try from the Central Coast, California

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I have a lot of respect for the pinot noir grape and for the winemaker who can turn these delicate grapes into a sensational, elegant wine. Edna Valley Vineyard’s 2011 Central Coast Pinot Noir ($20) proves my loyalty. From the opening of the bottle, a first pour brings forth aromatic delights of rose petals and earthy minerality. The smidgen of zinfandel added gives this wine a bit of a spice, adding complexity. Edna Valley Vineyard grapes hail from the Central Coast of California, five miles from the Pacific Ocean in one of the coolest and longest growing seasons in the state. When I served this wine with chicken dinner, I realized it would pair well with almost any entree.

A nice white selection from Edna Valley Vineyard is the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc ($15) made with grapes from the Central Coast of California as well, but in Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties. Like a traditional sauvignon blanc, this wine offers notes of melons, a strong minerality and sweet fruit. It’s full-bodied and has a long finish. Oh, and this is a screw-cap wine, easy to take on the go to serve with brie and bread, chips or any hors d’ouevres.

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Rockin’ the reds

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Debbie Juergenson, winemaker at Red Rock Winery in California, knows how to lure women to drink her red wines. Just take a look at the website: www.RedRockWinery.com and you’ll see a picture of a woman in a bathtub sipping red wine from a glass. I’m in.

So, with four bottles in tow, over the next few weeks, I sipped — and shared.

Beginning with 2011 vintages, I first opened the Red Rock California Merlot, with grapes mainly from Paso Robles. Some petite sirah is blended in, which adds to the wine’s structure, supporting the fruity balance. It paired well with a traditional meal of garlic roasted chicken with broccoli, celery root and mashed potatoes. Merlot is known to work with chocolate, so a dessert of dark chocolate cake worked quite well. The next evening, a chicken parmesan sandwich worked with a glass of this merlot quite well. It’s all good. And priced at $13.99, as our all the bottles I’ll be writing about.

Next, the Red Rock 2011 Winemaker’s Blend is a concoction of petite sirah, syrah and zinfandel grapes from vineyards in Lodi, Sonoma and the Central Coast of California. The syrah gives this wine a lot of spicy goodness, and the blend of these grapes is perfection. I love blends when they’re done well, and this wine fits the bill.

Ready for 2012 wines?

First, I put a chicken pot pie in the oven with a whole potato to bake. Comfort food, right? Well, Red Rock 2012 Pinot Noir gave me comfort in a taste that brings me home. The jammy red raspberry flavors get me every time, and the slightest vanilla and caramel from the oak barrels takes the cake. For the next night’s dinner, I enjoyed this wine with butternut squash and braised chestnut ravioli. Works for me.

Last, but definitely not least is Red Rock 2012 Mendoza Malbec, which I had served with roasted turkey and the stuff of Thanksgiving sides. I love the richness of the Argentine signature grape, and this wine did not disappoint. Made with 100 percent Malbec grape, even the zondas of Mendoza (that would be wind) didn’t stop this grape’s worthiness. It may have stopped the volume, however, so you may want to grab this bottle when you see one, or two.

Are you ready for that bath now? I know I am. Enjoy!

On a white wine bender

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One of my top favorite red varietals is pinot noir, which MacMurray Ranch does quite well. Their 2010 Russian River Valley Sonoma County pinot noir ($27) is nice, but a bit too much acidity for my palate. The growing season for 2010 was met with challenges of record-breaking low temperatures in spring, and then lots of rain — leading to late bud break and more acidity in the grapes. It works if paired with the right dishes, such as bacon-wrapped double cut pork chop, a recipe courtesy of MacMurray Ranch.

But what really caught my palate in a pleasurable taste sensation was MacMurray Ranch chardonnay ($20), a 2011 made with grapes from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County, California. This cool climate varietal is perfection in a glass, aged in a mixture of new and used French, European and American oak barrels at medium-plus toast levels. With this chardonnay, I enjoyed dinner of lobster ravioli covered in Parmesan cheese, lemon, butter, wine and garlic sauce.

Now I wanted to explore more white wines. So I did.

A Mirassou 2012 sauvignon blanc ($12) proved luxurious, a wine you can choose to drink on its own or paired with appetizers. I chose to offer it alone as a welcome sip to arriving dinner guests. This gave a feel of high society somehow — to simply sip and greet guests. Once the appetizers were brought to the table, the wine remained loyal in taste. Perhaps it’s the Meyer lemon aroma, but it seemed the perfect wine to cleanse our palates before the main course.

On a separate occasion I opened a bottle of 2012 Mirassou moscato ($12) made with California grapes — 35 percent from San Luis Obispo County — a destination I have yet to taste my way through. When I first sipped this wine, I craved brie cheese. But I didn’t have any, but I did have an event to attend — a lobster festival of fresh steamed lobsters and clam chowder. This sweet wine is best served with friends.

Finally, I opened a 2012 Mirassou riesling ($12), a fruity concoction made with grapes from the Central Coast and Russian River Valley in California. Now, I am not the biggest fan of riesling, especially when it comes to the acidity. But this riesling was quite enjoyable two nights in a row. The first night, I enjoyed a glass with dinner of organic chicken pie, applesauce and Brussels sprouts. The next night, I enjoyed the remainder with a friend, dipping chips in a cheesy sour cream dip before dinner of creole shrimp and sweet potato grits. We both agreed this was a stand-up riesling.

Will my feast on fine white wines continue for a while? Probably. In fact, with Champagne season fast approaching — holiday parties and New Year’s Eve on the horizon, it’s a safe bet.

For more information, visit www.Mirassou.com or follow them on Facebook.

Hitched on Bridlewood wines

I’ve been enjoying Bridlewood wines for years, so it’s always exciting to open a new vintage. Adding to the excitement of drinking Bridlewood wines is the fact that I once dined with the winemaker at Harvest Restaurant in Cambridge.

Browsing through a wine list at a restaurant, it’s a thrill to identify the wine with its winemaker, and when a new vintage is released, the excitement is re-lived. I recently shared four new releases with friends, and here’s what we noted:

#1 – Bridlewood 2011 Central Coast Blend 175 ($15)
This is one of my all-time favorites of Bridlewood, mainly because I enjoy a good blend of reds. This one has syrah, cabernet sauvignon, viognier and petite syrah grapes picked from the Central Coast, California. The process of the winemaking for this blend is intricate, racking off of gross lees and again at six months to allow the rich fruit flavors to open fully – you may not understand the process, but you’ll appreciate the end result. Dark, jammy fruit flavors with a touch of oak and a nice smooth finish.

#2 – Bridlewood 2011 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($15)
There is nothing quite like a good glass of cab, and for this one, the feedback was comprehensive: Very dark purple, very long legs, smells insanely delicious, like plums, prunes, dark purple fruits – with a vanilla scent. Very light on first sip, but then … the finish was long, smooth, satiny on the palate – tasty and sweet. Suggestions from this sipper on pairing: a contrasting dish of garlic-base and sautéed spinach – maybe with a nice herbaceous steak (black pepper, garlic). In the meantime, this wine was enjoyed on a cool afternoon watching the boats on the harbor and listening to nearby musicians playing soft music at the yacht club. Life is good.

#3 – Bridlewood 2011 Monterey County Chardonnay ($15)
Monterey County’s Pacific breezes and sunshine set the stage for this tropical fruit flavored wine mixed with oaky notes of vanilla and spice. If left for a year or two, this wine will open up with caramel aromas and add more complexities to its taste. Great pairing with chicken, fish, cheeses…

#4 – Bridlewood 2011 Monterey County Pinot Noir ($18)
Now for my favorite of the four 2011 releases. Perhaps it’s knowing that the pinot noir grape is so delicate, and harvesting these grapes is an art form in a sense. The end result is worth the effort, as the freshness of the fruity grapes and the perfectly oaked notes of vanilla and caramel give this wine a good standing with intense, rich flavors. But wait, there’s more! The pinot noir grapes did not stand alone in this wine. A small percentage of zinfandel grapes were added to enhance the mouth feel and add more structure. So that’s how they did it…

For more information, visit www.BridlewoodWinery.com.Image

In the company of good friends on a chilly Sunday afternoon, the tables on my deck were filled with plates of cheeses, tomato drizzled with olive oil, mozzarella and basil leaves, and dip and chips to munch on, as well as three wine glasses filled with Mirassou 2011 California Merlot. The oaky flavors and smoky aroma felt right in keeping with the cool weather. One guest went so far as to rate it “85” points, which I can only assume referred to Parker points. Flavors from this merlot are red cherry, raspberry and vanilla.

Made with grapes from the Central and North Coast of California, it’s no surprise this young wine offered such deep, wonderful concentrated flavors. Two glasses were saved for dinner of charcuterie and red sauce over pappardelle pasta — it worked.

Next, I opened a bottle of Mirassou 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine, my deck friends stated, had “impressive legs” and a fruity, hearty bouquet. It was a smooth wine with a full-body and perfect finish. The grapes of this wine hail from California’s Central Coast, Lodi and several North Coast regions. The longer growing season results in the more expressive flavors.

Now for the Mirassou California 2011 Pinot Noir, made by David Mirassou, sixth-generation winemaker whose great-great-great grandparents, Pierre and Henrietta Pellier traveled from France to California to find gold — and in a way they did — but in the form of vineyard potential. From France, they preserved their pinot noir cuttings in potatoes they purchased on-board the ship, and due to this creative thinking, the first pinot noir grapes entered California. The process in growing and harvesting pinot noir grapes is delicate and intricate, so this is a wine to be appreciated if not for its fruit-driven flavor profile of cherries, strawberries and red currant, but by the process to create such a wonderful wine.

Follow Mirassou on Facebook: www.facebook.com/mirassouwinery or visit www.mirassou.com for more information.

Each of these three wines retails for approximately $12 a bottle.Image