Blame Sideways for sending California Pinot Noir prices into orbit and hail Brack Mountain Winery for bringing them back to earth – or Sonoma’s valley floor to be exact. With 15 labels representing different sites and price tiers (from everyday sippers to cellar-worthy gems), the winery founders believe in “making artisanal wines accessible to all.” Cheers!
Their most popular Bench label uses grapes from vineyards where the valley floor transitions to rocky foothills. These conditions provide just the kind of adversity that gives grapes the character necessary to stand out in a crowd (and on the dinner table). In this shining example of what Pinot Noir does best (partners with food like Fred Astaire does Ginger Rogers), eucalyptus and currants greet the nose, while black plums, sassafras and soft-as-silk tannins treat the tongue. Energetic yet subtle, it’s a wine we find impossible not to like.
Probably doesn’t hurt that we drank it, slightly chilled, with lamb and veggie kebabs off the grill, but we’d wager a bet that it’ll cozy right up to winter’s roast chicken and potatoes too.
TIP OF THE TONGUE
In Burgundy, where Pinot Noir reigns supreme, le fromage of choice is Époisses, a tasty washed-rind cheese that, well, stinks to high heaven. Keeping the duo domestic, Jasper Hill’s Willoughby round is one tasty little stinker.
100% Pinot Noir; 13.8% alcohol by volume; comes in a 750ml bottle.