Quick! When you think ‘Carneros’ what varietal comes to mind?
The appellation was officially created in 1983, as its cool climate is excellent for creating Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with a Burgundian tone of delicacy and finesse.
Recently I’ve tried the 2009 Saintsbury Pinot Noir which is dark purple with a bit of violet in terms of color, and on the nose, med + intensity, with an aroma of ripe sweet berries, black and red, purpe flowers, and no overt wood. On the palate, the wine is dry, acid is med, tannin is med with a finish of black pepper, spice, berries.
Overall this wine is exceptionally elegant and well balanced, its long finish showing quality, with good intensity of fruit, and good complexity of flavor to pair with salmon or pork.
Now the Chardonnay is also extremely well balanced, a deep straw in color with a rich nose that hints of ripe apples, and the complexity of flavor that develops with stirring of the lees (the dead yeast cells that add richness and body), and maturation in a percentage of newer French oak. An excellent choice with white fish, and can stand up to chicken or fish with a more substantial sauce.
On the Saintsbury website I read that Saintsbury’s founders Dick Ward and Dave Graves came to wine with scientific background, Dave with a degree in biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and Dick with a degree in structural engineering from Tufts University in Boston. They met in 1977 while attending graduate classes in Enology at U.C. Davis. With the release of Saintsbury’s first 2000 cases of Pinot Noir in 1981 and by committing to pursuing high quality California Pinot Noir, the founders put themselves in the forefront of a movement that would eventually catapult California wines, Carneros Pinot Noir and Saintsbury onto the world wine stage.