Wine: Esser Vineyards Monterey Pinot Noir
Grape: Pinot noir
Region: Monterey Peninsula, Northern California
In the glass: Esser Pinot Noir is a fine semi-opaque dark garnet color with a similar core going out into a fine light violet to garnet rim definition with fairly high viscosity.
On the nose: This wine has a gorgeously classic and immediate scent of warm cranberry crush and ripe red currants emanating from the bowl of the stem, then ripe phenolic notes of mulberries, strawberry compote and red flowers like gardenias, with hints of perfumed wood and fruit-driven minerals.
On the palate: It has an immediate concentrated true-to-variety medley of cranberry, strawberry and red currants up front, then stacked with good structure, forward and ripe tannins, as well as excellent balance. It goes into the midpalate with red cherries, hints of vanilla from the oak and some measure of phenolics. The finish on the wine is absolutely solid with good, ripe and almost cranberry butterlike character, fine balance between fruit and acidity and just a touch of “heat” at the end, but pleasant and ripe.
Odds and ends: People always want to know what wines to serve for the big Thanksgiving dinner. I am convinced that for whites, it would be riesling, preferably from Germany and Spatlese quality at least. For reds, it must be pinot noir. The “original” ones come from Burgundy, France, but there’s great pinot noir made in the United States, in particular Oregon, Washington and California. The Esser Vineyards Monterey Pinot Noir 2009 is my recommendation. It comes from the relatively cold climate of the Monterey Peninsula, where the pinot ripens in a similar way to the cool climates of Burgundy. This is a classic style of pinot, that doesn’t get overripe like so many other pinot noirs do in California. This is an elegant wine that can handle both light and dark meat turkey, as well as all the traditional accouterments. Open the bottle about one hour before the meal to let it breathe. It’ll be good for another couple of Thanksgiving dinners, or meals in general, through 2014. Have a great Thanksgiving feast.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at email@example.com.