Hot wines! On our West Coast, nothing is hotter than Sonoma Coast pinot noir. And one of the most sought-after is from the Fort Ross Vineyard. Also, wine columnist Lettie Teague of The Wall Street Journal has been recently singing the praises of northern Italy’s Barbaresco. There are few producers of this wine with a more intense dedication than I Marchesi di Grésy. Pinot noir and Barbaresco both share certain ethereal qualities and lithe textures that often elicit comparisons. (They are the waltz tempo of wine!) Each of these is a memorable experience, and they both have track records for showing well when young, as well as with further bottle age.
2013 Pinot Noir, Fort Ross Vineyard “FRV” Sonoma Coast $52 suggested retail price
Ruby red and translucent in color. An intense, vivid bouquet of wild strawberry, cranberry and red currant with cedar, mushroom, almond and orange rind elements. Flavors are medium-bodied and, best of all, light on their feet. A raspberry/cherry compote texture is surrounded by spicy cinnamon, pepper/mint and an overall purity that is beguiling. Try with turkey, ham or baked casseroles (vegetarian or cheese infused). (Drink now-2024) 92/100 points
Nota Bene: Fort Ross Vineyard also makes a delicious, swarthy and bold Pinotage, ($58, 91 points) that is a tribute to the South African roots of the owners, Lester and Linda Schwartz. Local producers in the homeland best take note!
2014 Barbaresco, Marchesi di Grésy “Martinenga” $60 srp
Tawny red color with orange highlights. An outspoken, perfumed nose with amazing lift. Thrilling elements of roses, violets, peat moss and licorice surround the lightly balsamic red currant and cherry fruit. Flavors are nervous yet suave and mineral-laden with saddle leather, lanolin, iron and hazelnut that infuse the melded fruit. (This is textbook Barbaresco.) Tannin and acids make this a bit daunting now, but will match game, a black-truffle risotto or smoked meats very well. (Drink now-2025) 92/100 points