Pass the Pinot
By Abby Cifarelli
It’s hard to believe but spring has arrived. The sun shines a little bit longer, flowers have started to bloom, and each day is little warmer than the last. It may not be warm enough to pull out the crisp and refreshing white wines just yet, but here are two lighter reds to hold you over until then. And both pair perfectly with Passover seder or Easter dinner.
Pinot Noir, a red grape varietal that originated in France, is now grown from California to Chile to New Zealand. It’s surprising because it’s one of the most challenging grapes to cultivate; its thin skin makes it susceptible to damage from temperature shifts and disease. But, when Pinot Noir is successfully grown, harvested, and bottled, the result is a beautiful, delicate red wine.
Our first selection brings us to the Willamette Valley, Oregon’s largest winemaking region. Nestled between the Coast Range and Cascade Mountains, vineyards are protected from harsh weather, which means a lengthy growing season. The climate in Willamette is perfect for a grape like Pinot Noir, which thrives in cool to moderate temperatures. Winters are often wet and mild, rainy springs help budburst on the vines, and summers with warm days and cool nights are perfect during the prime growing season. Typically, Pinot Noirs from Willamette are of outstanding quality and complexity, with fresh red fruit flavors and subtle oak notes.
As you pour yourself a glass of the Big Table Farm 2018 Sunnyside Pinot Noir, you’ll immediately notice how light this wine is and how pleasing its deep ruby-red color is to the eye. Give it a swirl and let the floral aromas travel out of the glass. Subtle hints of earth round out the aromas as you get ready to take your first sip. The elegant and balanced Big Table is a perfect example of how pleasing a Pinot from Willamette can be.
Our second selection brings us to sunny California. Unlike Oregon, California’s climate is extremely varied. Inland, vineyards will experience much warmer temperatures, than they do close to the Pacific. On paper, these vast differences are not ideal for growing a grape varietal like Pinot Noir, however, there are some areas where temperature shifts and fog work to a Pinot’s advantage.
Typically, a Pinot Noir from California will show ripe red fruit and notable flavors of oak. Grab yourself a bottle of the Merry Edwards 2018 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. A medium ruby-colored wine will fill your glass. Give it a swirl and aromas of strawberries, dark cherry, and juicy blackberries will enliven the senses. The palate has echoes of the aromas, but with more of a presence. Its bright acidity makes for a beautifully structured dry red wine with a satisfying finish.
If you’re serving lamb or brisket this holiday, Pinot Noir makes a heavenly accompaniment.