Cherry Tart Pinot Noir 2012, California
What: I know most people will have beer with their Fourth of July feasts, and I might even have one or two. But don’t automatically rule out wine.
We may not have invented wine (and we didn’t invent beer either), but Americans drink a lot of it, so there’s nothing wrong with a little patriotic birthday toast made with wine.
I looked for a wine that shouted American for my Fourth of July drink, and I found it with the Cherry Tart Pinot. The label features a picture of three cherry tarts on a red checkered table cloth just like the one we’ll be eating on tomorrow.
It’s a beautiful wine, full of lush cherries, plums, strawberries and vanilla. There may be something to the power of suggestion because drinking the wine while looking at the label made it taste like I had bitten into ripe cherries. The color even is a bright cherry red.
There’s more to the wine than just cherries, of course. The inviting aroma has hints of cloves and strawberries. The finish is long and elegant. Looking at the label you might think the wine is just a marketing gimmick, but you would be wrong.
This is the first vintage of Cherry Tart, but winemaker Jayson Woodbridge has been making wonderful Pinots for his Cherry Pie label for several years. And before that he made a big name for himself with the cult Cab from Hundred Acre wines that sell for several hundred dollars if you can find one, and with Layer Cake wines that sell for $15-20.
Woodbridge likes to make single-vineyard wines. With Cherry Tart he made what the winery calls a “Multi-Single-Vineyard blend.” Small individual lots from three renowned growing regions were fermented in open top oak puncheons to allow the characteristics of each vineyard to develop. The blended wine then shows the dominant characteristics of each.
The 100 percent Pinot Noir grapes come from Sonoma Coast (49 percent), Monterey County (43 percent) and Santa Barbara County (8 percent).
The Rogers Creek Vineyard in Sonoma Coast brings earthiness to the mix. It is on a low ridge in the Petaluma Wind Gap which gets a constant flow of cool air from the Pacific Ocean, allowing grapes to ripen slowly.
The Alta Loma Vineyard in Monterey County features gravelly loam soils, which let the grapes pick up mineral notes. The well-drained soil also reduces yield, which concentrates flavor.
The Los Alamos Vineyard in Santa Barbara County features sandy soils, bright sunshine and cool ocean breezes that combine to lengthen ripening, resulting in in intense aromatics and increased acidity.
The wine is aged in 100 percent French Oak barrels, 20 percent new.
Cherry Tart is especially convenient for picnics because it comes in screw cap bottles.
Winery: Jason Woodbridge goes all around the world to make the wines for his Layer Cake label, but he always wanted to make Pinot Noir. As the grapes of Stanly Ranch, on the Napa side of Carneros, became some of the most sought after Pinot grapes in California Woodbridge asked the owners if he could buy some grapes.
They said they would give him a small allocation, but how much he got in the future depended on the quality of the wine he made. After tasting the 2007 Pinot Noir in the barrel, the owners thought it was one of the best wines ever made from their fruit. They gave Woodbridge his choice of grapes after that.
Woodbridge had the wine and the grapes, but no name for his winery. While looking at a New York art exhibit in 2008 he was struck by paintings from TR Colletta, who painted everyday American objects in great detail. Woodbridge was particularly drawn to an oil painting of a juicy, hot cherry pie.
He immediately decided that would be the name for his Pinot Noir that was still in barrels.
The wine has been hailed as among the best Pinots in the world.
Goes with: What’s more American than pizza? I know Italy invented it, but nobody loves it more than Americans. Italians have pasta and octopus and limoncello, so they don’t obsess over pizza the way Americans do.
So to test this all-American wine my wife Teri and I had it with my favorite Augusta pizza from Guiseppe’s. I hummed a little bit of “Stars and Stripes Forever” as we put out the American flags and flag paper plates to serve the pizza. I almost felt like singing the National Anthem before we started, but I didn’t.
This was the same day the U.S. World Cup team moved into the round of 16 with a stirring 1-0 loss to Germany, so patriotic fever was running high. (To be truthful, I was feeling patriotic, but the game was pretty boring except for about five minutes of action around the goal.)
Nevertheless, we celebrated with an American wine and an American pizza. It was a perfect combination. Pinot Noir isn’t the first wine I think of when eating pizza, but it is a wonderful pairing.
The fruity, smooth wine blends perfectly with the tomato and spice of the pizza. It really was a festive meal. I enjoyed sipping it after dinner, too, after we had finished our food.
This is a versatile wine that would go well with a lot of picnic food such as fried chicken, hamburgers, potato salad, potato chips and even hot dogs. I think it would be great with traditional Pinot Noir food as well, such as lamb, duck, turkey or ham.
Cherry Tart Pinot Noir A Good American Wine For Fourth
Cherry Tart Pinot Noir 2012, California