Wine: Calera Pinot Noir 2006
Grape: Pinot noir (100 percent)
Region: Central coast of California
Price: $12.99 per bottle.
In the glass: This Calera Pinot Noir is a vibrant, semi-translucent garnet color with a firm deeply colored core, going out into a fine slightly tinged light garnet rim definition with high viscosity.
On the nose: There are good amounts of crushed black plums, cranberry juice, cherries jubilee, milk chocolate, licorice root, then bright red flowers, hints of mint liqueur and fruit-driven minerals round out the layered toasty nose.
On the palate: The wine is very powerful for a pinot noir, without masquerading as syrah, which happens a lot in California. There are again fresh, bright, crushed red berries, cherries, plums, raspberry coulis, cranberry fondant and copious amounts of phenols and earthy minerals, with underlying hints of aniseed powder. The mid-palate seems rich and forward, with good amounts of balance between fruit and acidity, as well as good tannin structure that reflects the relatively cool climate the wine is coming from. The finish is very fine, with hints of candied cranberries and faint oak references.
Odds and ends: Calera Wine Company is one of those producers that one can always rely on to make great pinot noirs. Very much ingrained in the cooler climate central coast region of California, mainly north of Santa Barbara, they produce a very Burgundy-like pinot noir from what may well be considered the best area for growing this grape in North America. They sourced the fruit for this wine from six different vineyards, giving this bottling a central coast signature. I could have recommended this with last week’s Thanksgiving dinner, but wanted to save it, since it is so good for the holidays in general. Drink now through 2012 and serve with veal chops or pepper-dusted grilled filet of salmon.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749 or e-mal him at gil@winevegascom.