Fleming’s Steakhouse Pinot Noir Smackdown

I was recently invited to taste some of the Pinot Noirs put on the new Fleming’s 100 wines by the glass list. Having gone through my Pinot Noir phase before it’s popularity skyrocketed in 2004 with the release of the movie “Sideways” it takes a lot to impress me specifically a well-balanced Pinot that is not to oaky and toasty and more fruit driven.

With 8 wines tasted 7 were from California and Oregon and 1 was from New Zealand and here is what I thought of them….

2009 Garnet from Monterey County is made from all estate grown fruit near the Santa Lucia Highlands this wine was medium in body with a hint of spice, good fruit and dry. It finished smooth and had a bit of hazelnuts and cedar.

2010 A to Z Wineworks sources their fruit from at least 16 different Oregon vineyards. It had a nice nose of berries, made like most Oregon wines in a Burgundian style emphasizing toasty oak and minerals it was drier and powerful.

The 2009 Three Saints from Santa Maria Valley was a favorite. Made from all estate grown fruit from vineyards not far from the Pacific, that leads to cool ocean breezes and a longer growing season adding complex flavors. This wine was a was big, with hints of strawberries on the nose and on the palate along with wildflower aromas.

2009 MacMurray Ranch in the Sonoma Coast area was once owned by actor Fred Macmurray of TVs “My 3 Sons”. This wine is aged in both American and European oak and has a ruby color. With easy current and berry flavors this wine was well-balanced.

The 2009 Cambria “Julia’s Vineyard” from Santa Maria Valley is a Cab drinkers Pinot as it’s full-bodied with big oak and toast is very obvious. It’s aromas of cherries and berries give way to vanilla and cinnamon ion the palate along with some earthy flavors before its long finish.

2009 Migration is made by Duckhorn Vineyards and the fruit comes from the cool climate of Anderson Valley. It’s another big Pinot and is both spicy and fruity. The acidity makes for good food pairing along with a smoky finish and dry finish this would also make a cab drinker happy.

The 2010 Belle Glos “Meiomi” sources fruit from up and down the coast in all Monterey, Santa Barbara and Sonoma counties. Owned by Caymus Vineyards Wagner family, it’s made by 3rd generation winemaker and grandson of the founders Joe Wagner. This wine is medium in body, with a good fruit finish. It’s a good representation of the families traditional wine making along with 21st century innovation. Its long finish is worth savoring.

The 2010 Saint Clair “Vicar’s Choice” from Marlborough, New Zealand was the only imported Pinot and has a very old world nose and style. Known for their Sauvignon Blanc they are gaining a reputation for Pinot Noir as this wine has already garnered 2 Gold Medals. With well-balanced tannins and acidity it covers the palate with toasty oak and red cherries. A mellow finish offers up a hint of vanilla.

After tasting through these 8 Pinots I feel confident that each of their styles will pair well with any number of entrees that Fleming’s has to offer.

What grape is that….?

A few more grapes that you may not of heard of ….yet!

GRENACHE BLANC is a white grape found in Rhone region of France, also southern France and a northeast Spain. A little bit can be found in growing in the central coast of California. Related to the red grape, Grenache, Grenache Blanc when made into wine is high in alcohol and low in acidity. It’s often blended with another Rhone grape ROUSANNE and other white Rhone blends.

PINOT MEUNIER is a black wine grape and is most often used in the making of Champagne. Experts think it’s a mutation of Pinot Noir. It is also found grown in Germany where it is used in red wines and also found in the Carneros region of California, Oregeon and down under in Australia and most recently New Zealand.

ST> LAURENT is red grape found in Austria and Germany and is part of the Pinot Noir family. It is known for having a big aroma. It’s also widely planted in the Czech Republic. When crossed with the grape BLAUFRANKISCH you get the grape ZWEIGELT that can be found growing in Austria.

Stay tuned for more in upcoming posts.

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