Frank Family Pinot Noir with ham dinner.
Frank Family Pinot Noir with ham dinner.

Frank Family Napa Valley Pinot Noir 2011, Carneros

Cost: $33-36

What: This rich, full-bodied Pinot Noir is like biting into a handful of ripe black cherries. It is a beautiful expression of the grape.

Frank Family Pinot Noir.
Frank Family Pinot Noir.

The wine starts a bright ruby red in the glass, with aromas of black cherry and cinnamon. The palate bursts with lush cherry and plum flavors. It has a long, lingering finish with elegant tannins.

Though better known for their outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon and sparkling wines, Frank Family has made some beautiful Pinots since 2007. This is one of their best.

I am very picky about Pinot Noir because it is such a difficult grape to grow and achieve excellence with. But good winemakers like Todd Graff at Frank Family can turn beautiful grapes into heavenly wines like this.

Whether you are entertaining friends or sipping a glass of wine on the patio after watching the golf tournament this week, the Frank Family Pinot Noir is a great wine to keep handy.

It spent 12 months in French Oak barrels, 35% new and 65% once or twice filled. I would chill this slightly and open the bottle at lest 30 minutes before drinking. If you can decant the wine it would be even better.

Winery: Former Disney executive Rich Frank started visiting Napa Valley from his home in Los Angeles in the late 1980s and eventually bought the historic Larkmead property, which had been home to Kornell Champagne Cellars.

Rich and Connie Frank bought the property with Koerner Rombauer and then bought Rombauer out in 2007. Since the first vintage in 1992 they have made outstanding wines.

Frank Family's barrel room.
Frank Family’s barrel room.

The old Larkmead building, which dates back to 1884, is on the Registry of National Historic Places, but the winery is new. It opened a new tasting room in 2008 in a 1930s Craftsman home. The tasting room has been one of the most popular in Napa Valley for years, and won the reader’s choice award from the San Francisco Chronicle in 2010 and 2011.

The winery makes a range of varietals, including Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and some incredible sparkling wines.

The wines are made from 200 acres the family owns on parcels scattered throughout Napa Valley.

Rich Frank now also runs his own entertainment company, Prospect Park, which is developing television projects.

Goes with: This Pinot Noir was perfect with our Easter ham, mashed potatoes, creamed corn and salad. My wife Teri thought it was an excellent match, and I liked it with dinner and sipping it after dinner. This wine was a real treat.

The wine also would go well with duck, wild game, pork roast, lamb, chicken, turkey, pasta with cream sauce or pesto, shellfish in a cream sauce and tangy cheese. It is an excellent food wine.

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