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Fat Cat Pinot Noir offers great potential for holiday feast

The search for the perfect Thanksgiving wine is over. The abundance of quality fruit grown in California’s Central Coast has given rise to a large number of consumer-friendly and excellently priced wines, such as this Fat Cat Pinot Noir, which is perfect for pairing with turkey.

Pinot is not an easy grape to get right, especially in the warm California climate. It is indigenous to the highly complex and sophisticated Burgundy region of France, where this grape varietal thrives in a much cooler climate and on much poorer soil.

Nevertheless, the man behind Fat Cat is Fred Franzia of “two-buck chuck” fame. Fat Cat is blended from fairly premium fruit, culled from the production of some well-known vineyards. Franzia cuts the overhead and delivers a great-tasting bottle of wine right to consumers at the more-than-reasonable $8 price tag.

In the glass, Fat Cat Pinot Noir is a lightish, translucent garnet red with bright red streaks, faded red to glass-clear rim definition with medium-high viscosity.

On the nose, there is rich forward and wonderful fruit with red cherries, raspberries, stewed strawberries, aniseed, spice, minerals and hints of wood.

In the mouth, there are ripe, richly endowed red fruits with dominance by mixed berries, powerful phenolics underlying, then ripe supple tannins on the powerful midpalate with hints of vanilla, red currants and minerals. The finish is fine and longish with good balance and hints of wet stone coming through.

This wine needs a good hour out of the bottle to open up and show its full spectrum of flavors; it is still quite young and could use a little aging. It is ideal for a Thanksgiving turkey dinner. It should drink well through 2009.

Wine: Fat Cat Pinot Noir

Grape: Pinot noir

Vintage: 2005

Region: Central Coast, Calif.

Price: $7.99

Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89016-0749, or e-mail him at gil@winevegas.com.om.

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