Fri 23 Oct 2009
With a roasted chicken, I want a classic pinot noir — lithe, sinewy, elegant, discreet — and I got what I wanted with the Rossi Wallace Pinot Noir 2007, Napa Valley. As I mentioned in my review of the Rossi Wallace Chardonnay at the beginning of this month, the owners and winemakers here are Napa Valley veterans (and married couple) Ric Forman and Cheryl Emmolo.
The color of the Rossi Wallace Pinot Noir 07 is a limpid medium ruby with a touch of magenta; the bouquet abounds with black cherry and dried cranberry woven with cola and sassafras and baking spice (but no yucky brown sugar). The wine is beautifully balanced and finely knit, a seamless melding of pert acidity, mellow fruit, moderate tannins and supple, subtle oak. After half an hour, notes of melon ball and rhubarb creep in, and after a few more minutes, the tannins exude a sort of old papery dryness and briery earthiness, rounding the package out with a bit of graphite-like minerality while never losing a grip on a lovely, macerated red fruit character. The grapes for this beautiful pinor noir come from Antinori’s Atlas Peak Vineyard. The gentle oak treatment consisted of 11 months aging in Burgundy barrels, only 30 percent new. Production was 399 cases. Excellent. About $35.
LL is out of town, and last night I wanted to sit right here at the keyboard and work through what would have been the dinner-hour, so I thought — or perhaps even said aloud to the unavoidable audience of dogs that inhabits our domicile — “Oh, what the hell, cheese toast will be fine.” I have discovered over the last six months that great pinot noir and simple cheese toast share a remarkable and unexpected affinity, and on that premise I opened the Eddy Family Wines Elodian Pinot Noir 2007, from the Yamhill-Carlton District of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Here is a wonderful example of classic, old-fashioned pinot noir, one in which lightness of color and delicacy of structure do not imply blandness or lack of power. Indeed, the wine is powered by electrifying acidity that cuts a swath on the palate and brings into sharp focus flavors of sour cherry, melon ball, cranberry and cloves. These aspects are borne on layers of brambles and some mossy, root-like tea, all wrapped in a texture that combines satin with sinew. The wine grows increasingly austere as the moments pass, and its spicy nature turns from baking spice to woody spice. Balance and integration here, dimension and detail are perfect in poise and nuance. Completely lovely. 580 cases. Excellent. About $45.