There may not be a harder grape to find bargains with than Pinot Noir. This notoriously fickle varietal doesn’t grow well everywhere and some people plant it in the wrong spot. Others mismanage the winemaking aspect. But when Pinot is right it can be ethereal. So I’m always interested in tasting as much Pinot as possible. I am particularly curious about examples that are appropriate for everyday consumption. So when an example from cult winemaker Jayson Woodbridge landed on my desk I was really curious to check it out. The fun packaging and name added to the intrigue for me. Cherry Tart by Cherry Pie 2012 Pinot Noir was produced using fruit sourced in three different California wine growing regions. Sonoma Coast (49%), Monterey County (43%) and Santa Barbara County (8%) are the three regions represented. Fruit from only one vineyard in each area was used, making this what the winery calls a “multi-single vineyard blend.” Each lot of wine was fermented separately. Barrel aging took place in entirely French oak; 20% of the barrels used were new. This 100% Pinot Noir wine has a suggested retail price of $25. Red fruits rule the day on the nose of this Pinot. Wild Strawberry, cherry and bits of cranberry are all present along with wisps of spice. The palate is eager and willing with droves of super-appealing red fruit flavors such as cherry, plum and subtle hint of red raspberry. Vanilla bean characteristics are present as well. Bits of black tea, cranberry, cardamom, and toast are all present on the finish which has good length.
This is a fruity, eager to please example of Pinot Noir loaded with fresh flavors and genuine varietal character. It’s full bodied for a Pinot but never strays out of proportion. It’s perfectly suited for BBQ’s and picnics all summer long as it will pair well with a particularly wide array of foods. I paired with one of my favorite grain salads and the match was heavenly. The recipe follows, so pick up a bottle of Cherry Tart and try the recipe below. I think you’ll find that it’s a killer pairing. At $25, less if you shop around, this is a solid value in well made, Pinot Noir. Drink it in its engaging youth.
Roasted Mushroom & Farro Salad*
Ingredients: 1 ½ cups Dry Farro 1 lb Mushrooms (1/2 lb each Portobello and button works well) 3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice 1/3 Cup Pecorino Romano (grated with the coarse side of a box grater) 1 Cup of Shelled Walnut Pieces or Pecans 1 Tbsp Parsley Flakes Black Pepper Salt 9 Tbsp Olive Oil + ½ tsp Red Pepper Flakes
Directions: Combine the lemon juice, 9 tablespoons of olive oil, parsley and red pepper flakes in a bowl or mixing cup; whisk vigorously and set aside. Cook the Farro until done (approximately 20 minutes) in 3 cups of salted water. I tend to use vegetable bullion instead of salt to add an extra layer of flavor. When the Farro is cooked, drain and allow it to cool. Mushrooms should be cleaned and chopped into roughly 1 inch pieces. Then toss them with a bit of salt, olive oil and black pepper. Put them on a cookie sheet and roast them in the oven (350 degrees) for about 25 minutes or until they are getting golden and slightly crispy. Allow them to cool. Place the walnut pieces on a cookie sheet in the oven and lightly toast them. Allow them to cool. Shred the Pecorino Romano on the largest side of a box grater. Doing it this way as opposed to grating on the small side adds to the consistency of the overall dish. When everything has cooled mix the mushrooms, farro, cheese, and nuts together in a bowl. Pour the dressing over the rest of the ingredients and toss everything together until well coated. Taste and adjust salt, red pepper flakes, and pepper as desired. Serve cool or at room temperature. It also holds well in the refrigerator for a week.