Wine of the Week: Crawford Family Wines Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir

Wine: Crawford Family Wines Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir

Grape: Pinot noir

Region: Santa Rita Hills, Central California

Vintage: 2010

Price: $14.99

Availability: Lee’s Discount Liquor

In the glass: Crawford Family Pinot Noir is a deeply opaque garnet-red color with a dense blackish-red core going out into a fine vermillion to pinkish rim definition with medium-high viscosity.

On the nose: There is a plethora of crushed black fruits with bramble, huckleberry, blueberry and cherry all intermingled with fine scents of vanilla from oak, pungent phenolic compounds coming from the relative concentration of this wine, notes of red flowers and dried rose petals.

On the palate: This is in the sturdier categories for pinot noir, and while I personally prefer the lighter more elegant and Burgundian-styled pinots, this is redolent with a lovely black fruit medley, showing serious concentration and extraction with a great depth of black cherries, huckleberries and marionberries, carrying it all into the midpalate. There is again excellent structure in this powerful wine going into the impressive and black-fruit-filled finish that lingers on with hints of sweet licorice and blueberry pie.

Odds and ends: This Crawford Family Pinot Noir is quite a find. Only 134 cases were made in the 2010 vintage, so it is a tiny production, even for a small single-vineyard high-end pinot like this. The company is run by the husband-and-wife team of Mark and Wendy Horvath and they are specialists in pinot noirs from one of the top appellations in California for this particular grape variety. Santa Rita Hills is cool like Burgundy, France. It is a wine that I have found only by tasting through a tremendous number of wines and then looking at market availability, and it is a pinot that normally sells for $48 to $55. Fortunately, there was a deal struck on this particular batch of wines, and Lee’s Discount Liquor was able to obtain more than half of the entire production and then offer it for sale for only $14.99. This is an extraordinary find for a wine of this category and it is the perfect wine match for a Thanksgiving dinner. While I have always said that pinot is for turkey, the fact that this is a full-bodied pinot makes it simultaneously able to withstand the onslaught of the gravy and stuffing. Drink it now through 2018.

Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at