When I'm moonlighting in my local store around the end of the year holidays, I notice a fair amount of people asking me for tasty, lighter styled red wines. Good Pinot Noir can certainly fit into that category and when you think about, at the price points I'm writing about, it definitely should. In fact, if your entry level Pinot Noir tastes "jammy", then the grapes that went into it were probably a bit too ripe at harvest time. This is a cool climate grape that ripens late and needs hang time. But when left too long on the vine in the warmth of California, the sugar rises and the acidity goes down. Then you have a flabby, sweet example that for my money, doesn't pair well with food.
That brings me to tonight's entry. Fleur de California is a winery that has been making delicate, balanced Pinot Noir for a long time, and the 2009 is a fine rendition. This is Carneros fruit, a cool micro-climate that straddles both Napa and Sonoma. Coming in at a very balanced 13.8% alcohol, this wine has all the bright cherry aromas you expect along with spicy cinnamon notes. It's got wonderful light bodied, light berry flavors, good balancing acidity, and a very smooth finish that has almost no drying tannins. At a cost of $14.99, it's a good value for a grape that is very hard to work with. It pairs well with the more meaty fishes, like salmon, tuna and the roasted monkfish in a saffron flavored tomato sauce that we enjoyed tonight. It's a nice package too. Cheers to one and all.