The Carneros region enjoys the cooling influence of the nearby San Francisco Bay and produces excellent Pinot Noir grapes.
This wine is marvellously smooth and seductively typical of the best Pinot Noirs – well worth trying.
Drink now + 4 years
Decanter World Wine Awards 2010
Carneros region of United States
It’s no coincidence that Carneros is also the Spanish word for sheep or lamb, because this region’s main source of income has been farming. However, it is the west of Carneros that is really left to agricultural grazing, and the east of Carneros where the wine magic begins.
Straddling the county lines between Napa and Sonoma, the cool winds that come off the San Pablo Bay take so long to burn off, sometimes as much as a whole morning, that the vineyard area is unquestionably one of the coolest in California, and as such makes it capable of producing crisp and cool wines from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which together make up a good 85% of this AVA’s production.
It is because of these good conditions for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that Carneros has carved out a reputation for being a good location for Champagne-style sparkling wines too, as some champagne houses who have invested here have found.
Other grape varieties that are starting to sneak into action here are Syrah and Merlot, the latter of which only just just manages to ripen under these comparatively cool conditions, but then it gives the wines a nice crisp edge that its warmer Californian counterparts lack.
Pinot Noir has been planted in Burgundy since the 14th Century (with evidence suggesting it has been planted here since the 4th Century!). Following Burgundy would be Champagne as Pinot Noir’s 2nd home, and of course this grape is often used in Champagne. Unfortunately due to its thin grape skin Pinot Noir is difficult to grow and cultivate, hence it has taken a while for it establish itself outside France. Regions where it has been successful and where premium Pinot Noir are now being produced are California, New Zealand and Australia.
Pinot Noir has great affinity with Oak and young wines typically display a fruit perfume of raspberries, strawberries and red cherries. Due to the thin grape skin Pinot Noir usually has soft, light tannins and is seldom deep in colour. Pinot Noirs tend to age unpredictably, leading some to claim that they are at their best for a short period of time. But as many Pinot Noirs can be enjoyed in more than one style this is rather a limited point of view.
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Salads & Vegetables
This wine works well with chargrilled and roasted vegetables as well as smoked and cured meats and mushrooms.
Fish & Seafood
A good meaty fish is best served with this wine. A lightly grilled tuna steak or a nice piece of salmon will go down a treat.
Pasta & Other Sauces
This wine works well with tomato based sauces such as bolognese. It will also go with wild mushroom risotto and truffle based sauces.
Flavourful meats such as beef, pheasant and duck are perfectly paired to this wine or try it with a good sausage casserole and cured meats such as Parma ham.
Herbs & Spices
A broad range of herbs and spices such as mint, nutmeg, garlic and chives can be used to draw out the flavours of this wine.
Spanish and Italian dishes work well with this wine - think tuscan beans and arrabbiata.
Tastes delicious served with goat's cheese, cambozola, and mature Cheddar.