The SOMM Journal

August / September 2017

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Page 22 of 148

{ planet grape } Dipping into the Pinot Pool by Catherine Fallis, MS PHOTO: ANDREW HAGEN VIA THINKSTOCK PINOT NOIR, THE noble red variety from France's Bourgogne region, makes an intensely flavored, complex, high-acid wine with incredible longevity. As the climate gets warmer, the fruit becomes riper and more obvious, and the acid softens a bit. The net result in any case is a wine that will not overpower, but enhance a meal. Pinot Noir is enticing, mysterious and elusive, making us want it more. A young Lithuanian man recently booked me to conduct a private wine tasting with a focus on Pinot Noir as part of a gift for his gorgeous girlfriend (spa treatment first) at Cavallo Point restaurant in Sausalito. Lead Sommelier Monica Zanotti, CS, CSW, and I arranged a trio of Sonoma wines—the Banshee 2015 Pinot Noir, Sonoma County; the Failla 2015 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast; and the Clouds Rest 2012 Femme Fatale Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast—to which I added the Cave Springs 2015 Pinot Noir VQA Niagara Escarpment Ontario, Canada (imported by MGZ Associates). The Sonoma wines were ideal illustrations of New World ripeness and plushness coupled with Burgundian restraint. The Canadian Pinot was much leaner, lighter and tarter, closer in structure to its French idol. Not that we had the luxury of the booked hour to cover this—the couple arrived 50 minutes late, and my time was a hard stop at 7:30 p.m., as I had accepted an invitation to see Romeo and Juliet at the San Francisco Symphony and had no intention of being later than a few minutes. So, I offered the couple a complimentary re-do two nights later at Jardinière in San Francisco, and set them up on two last-minute complimentary VIP tastings in Sebastopol that Saturday, on a holiday weekend no less. I offered the couple both hospitality and service, and received it in spades from my connections at the wineries and restaurants. The couple visited Dutton-Goldfield (thanks Valerie and Marianne) and Merry Edwards (thanks Michael), rounding out their exploration of cool-climate Sonoma Pinot Noir, then met me at Jardinière just as the pre-symphony rush was winding down that evening. Master Sommelier Alan Murray and his sommeliers Aubrey and Hunter arranged for us to taste the delicate, floral, earthy and tart Frédéric Esmonin 2015 Hautes-Côtes de Nuit and Joseph Roty 2013 Marsannay Rouge Les Ouzeloy (both Atherton Wine Imports), to which we added the more mature Antonin Guyon 2012 Gevrey-Chambertin La Justice (Esprit du Vin). This Côte de Nuits tasting showed the mastery of the producers as well as a method of extending one's reach by researching producers, then starting with their simplest wines. A master of Pinot is a name to know. Which is why I pointed out the tall figure beaming at the maître d' stand, sunlight streaming in behind him. It was California's Pinot master, Josh Jensen, of Calera Wine Company, paying his own very hospitable visit to an important customer. 22 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER

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