The Wine of the Week
by Annette Tomei
2008 Wild Horse “Cheval Sauvage” Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Rita Hills, California
California’s Central Coast has, over the past decade or so, established itself as one of the premier Pinot Noir growing regions of the new world. The Santa Maria Valley, in particular, benefits from a cool maritime climate – cool winds and fog offering a long growing season in which Pinot Noir is known to thrive.
The Cheval Sauvage Pinot Noir is Wild Horse Winery’s “tete du cuvee” – the composition of this very special wine varies from vintage to vintage, representing only about 1% of their pinot production. The 2008 vintage is a blend of select barrels from several sites including Garey Vineyard, Bien Nacido Vineyards, Addamo Estate Vineyards, Sierra Madre Vineyard, and Rancho Las Hermanas Vineyard. The small production wine is then aged in 100% French oak for 14 months.
At 14.5% ABV, this is a very full-bodied Pinot Noir with quite a bit of heat on the nose. Beyond that, this is a classic new world pinot in the finest sense. Aromas of dried cranberry, black pepper, cinnamon and clove prevail with a lingering earthy “barnyard” aroma that is not unpleasant, actually reminiscent of old world style pinots. On the palate, this wine is rich and silky with dark plum, pomegranate, and spice. It is beautifully balanced and has a seductive lingering perfume.
This wine was enjoyed with bacon wrapped pork tenderloin served with Black Velvet apricot and Pinot Noir compote (see Recipe of the Week). Grilled lamb would also work well, and for a vegetarian option, red miso glazed grilled eggplant would be delicious.
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