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Enjoying Wine and Beer in the Augusta GA area

Aged Dierberg Pinot Tastes Fresh As Day It Was Released

Dierberg Pinot Noir Drum Canyon Vineyard 2013, Santa Rita Hills

Cost: $50-54

Even though California pinot noir usually is outstanding when it is young, occasionally I like to hold on to a bottle and give it a little time to age. The results are worth the wait.

This Dierberg single vineyard pinot noir from the Santa Rita Hills is a good example of that. I drank the wine a year after its release date and the aromas are still fresh and complex.

It is a beautiful deep garnet color in the glass, with aromas of raspberries and cranberries. The flavors run to cherry and raspberries, with a rich mouthfeel. Teri called the wine smooth. Everything about the wine feels right.

The delicate flavors can’t hide the luscious rich fruit that is typical of the best California pinots. This is a deep, complex wine with crisp flavors.

The grapes come from the Drum Canyon Vineyard in the cool Santa Rita Hills region where ocean breezes and well-drained soils help create fabulous wines. After fermentation the wine was aged for 15 months in French oak barrels, 20 percent new.

You should be able to cellar this wine for up to 10 years.

The current release is the 2014 vintage, which is similar to 2013, but slightly different. The new vintage is described as more refined and flavorful for pinot noirs. The aromatics are still strong and pleasant.

Winery: Bankers by profession, Jim and Mary Dierberg bought the Hermannhof Winery in Hermann, Missouri, in 1974 with a long-range plan to produce great wines. They upgraded the property and the grapes, but the Midwest doesn’t have the soil or climate to make traditional world-class wines, so they could only take it so far.

Hermannhof is one of America’s oldest wineries, and before Prohibition it was in one of the country’s most significant wine-growing regions. The winery is a fun place to visit and produces a lot of wine, most of it not the traditional varietals wine drinkers are used to drinking.

So the Dierbergs started to look around for a place to grow classic pinot noir and chardonnay. They did an extensive search through Napa and France, while continuing to learn their craft at Hermannhof. After a decade of careful searching, they discovered the potential of Santa Barbara in 1996.

They first purchased Star Lane Ranch and planted it with Bordeaux varietals. The family then planted two vineyards in cool climate areas of Santa Barbara, the Dierberg Vineyard and the Drum Canyon Vineyard under the Dierberg label.
Drum Canyon Vineyard, obtained by the Dierbergs in 2003, is a cool-climate property, planted to 70 acres of chardonnay and pinot noir grapes. Located along Highway 246 between Lompoc and Buellton in the Santa Rita Hills, Drum Canyon Vineyard includes steep hillsides that climb more than 400 feet from the base to the peak.

Today, the entire operation is one big family affair, with the Dierbergs’ grown children and their spouses intimately involved in the day-to-day operations of the vineyard and winery.

In addition to offering the traditional wines that Santa Barbara County is renowned for, the Dierberg Family is also pioneering cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and other Bordeaux varietals at Star Lane Vineyard in Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara.

“I believe the greatest wines are not made but discovered by quality oriented individuals,” said winemaker Tyler Thomas. “My goal is to make wines that please by their compelling nature.  That is you find yourself both hedonistically and intellectually compelled to go back to the wine over and over again.”

Goes with: We had this beautiful wine with chicken noodle soup that helped fight off the chills from all the cold weather we’ve been having. Some people might think you need a white wine with chicken, but don’t get caught up in the so-called rules.

A soft red such as this Dierberg Pinot Noir pairs perfectly with all kinds of chicken, from fried, to roasted to soup. The lush fruit flavors of the wine balance out the complex savory flavors of the soup. And the wine added to the process of warming us up on a chilly night.

The soup is easy to make, but it takes a little bit of time if you want some dark meat flavors. I start by making stock from a whole chicken plus either extra breasts or thighs. The breasts are easier to work with when taking the meat off the bone, but the thighs add more flavor.

You can boil the chicken with a quartered onion and some celery and celery tops, or you can boil the chicken by itself. After about an hour the stock should be ready. Remove the chicken and let it cool before you start taking the meat off the bones.

Meanwhile cut up onions, celery, carrots, green onions and Italian parsley. After you have strained all the meat and bones out of the stock, put in all the cut vegetables and the chicken you have shredded from the bones. (Bone-in chicken is better than boneless cuts because it is cheaper and because the bones add extra flavor and weight to the soup.)

I also add extra broth, Better Than Bullion and some bullion cubes to punch up the chicken flavor. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about another 30 minutes.

I like to serve the soup over fine noodles, but sometimes I cook medium or wide noodles and add them after the soup is ready. That makes the soup almost like a stew as the larger noodles soak up the liquid. We used the larger noodles this week and it made the soup even better for a cold day.

The Dierberg Pinot Noir should pair well with pork loin, duck, beef stew and mellow cheeses.

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