My look today at two of Schug's Pinot Noir releases closes the book on this weeks coverage of their wines. Similar to their Chardonnay program, Schug Carneros Estate has 3 different Pinot Noir releases. The Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is noteworthy for several reasons. It's worth mentioning that this is Schug's largest bottling at just under 14,000 cases. Which varietal a winery produces most of and how they do with it is something I often find to be very telling. While this wine was aged in oak, that was done in larger casks, limiting the exposure. The retail price on this wine is $22.
One thing that's immediately interesting to me is that this wine opens up very quickly. If the Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir were your date, she'd be a flirt for sure. As soon as you raise the glass a huge bouquet wild strawberries roars out. It's underscored by subtler rhubarb scents. The first sips and the mid-palate feature a bevy of tremendous cherry and spice notes. The finish, which I found to be above average for this price point, features a lot of spice, lingering cherry and tingly mineral notes that cling to the tongue and back of the throat.
This Schug Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is silky and lithe. There is firm acidity and the wine is well balanced. It is the sort of Pinot Noir that's a pleasure to drink on it's own. That said it will marry well with a wide variety of foods. What I said about quality Chardonnay in this price range goes doubly for Pinot Noir in my opinion. This wine, at this price, is unquestionably a bargain as far as I'm concerned. With 14,000 cases on the market this should be an easy one to find. If you like well made, accessible Pinot Noir, do yourself a favor and locate this one.
Approximately 7,500 cases of the 2006 Schug Carneros Pinot Noir were produced. It spent 2 months in large oak casks and 9 months in 30% new French oak barrels. Fruit was sourced from a handful of vineyards in Carneros. The retail price is $26.
The first thing that hit me was the earthiness of this wine. The nose is full of mushroom and dry cherry notes. Some spice notes emerge on the nose as the wine opens up. Unlike the Sonoma Coast Pinot, the Carneros plays hard to get. Either decant it for an hour or so, or pour a glass and drink it slowly over a few hours to witness it evolving. The first sips reveal sour cherry notes and subtle cola characteristics. The oak adds toast and vanilla notes that really emerge in the mid-palate. As with the Sonoma Coast Pinot, the Carneros bottling has an above average finish in it's category. While I found this wine to be a great match for a grilled pork chop it should go well with a wide array of foods. Considering the earthiness, I think mushroom dishes are a natural match. Drink this one now or hold it for a few years and watch more earthiness emerge.
Once again this wine over-delivers at it's price-point. There is more complexity in this wine than the Sonoma Coast Pinot. They have different mission statements and in my opinion they both achieve them. What I like most about the Carneros Pinot Noir is that it's the sort of bottle I could drink over a long evening. Whether I chose to enjoy it's evolution as I paired it with food, or simply decided to contemplate the loveliness of Pinot Noir as a varietal, I'd be happy with my choice.
Having tasted 6 wines from Schug Carneros Estate this week, it's unquestionable there is a house style. They make wines that are well balanced, which allow the fruit to shine and pair wonderfully with food. These are wines you can live with and enjoy anytime, knowing you're getting at least fair value for your money. I recommend checking out their website which has a lot of information about the wines and the history of the Winery. You can also read about several wine club options they offer. And while all of their wines are enjoyable, I found the most pleasure in their Pinots.
Next Week: Coverage of "Gambero Rosso" the Italian Wines Roadshow in New York City.
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