WITH ROB NELLIS
Sonoma Pinot Noir has come a long way from its fairly innocuous beginnings. Lead by the examples of superstar pioneers like Williams Selyem, Littorai, Kosta Browne and a host of others, winemakers are crafting wines of ripeness, elegance and texture. These would never be confused with Burgundy, nor should they be. Like all good Pinot, they are an example of the terroir, the style and the people of the region in which they are made. They range from big, ripe, black cherry and cola-scented monsters with tannic grip and elevated alcohol, to subtle, sweet-tart, lean and nervy. The one common thread is that they are all food-worthy.
At Buyers & Cellars, we are proud to represent three of the finest houses in the region for Pinot Noir: Williams Selyem, Senses and La Pitchoune. These are highly sought after, cult wines. Often, there is a long wait-list to purchase. We have extremely fortunate to secure small allocations from each of these wineries and look forward to sharing them with our clients.
New World Pinot, particularly from Sonoma, is one of my favourite pairing wines. When pairing wine with food, it is important that the wine complements the strongest flavour on the plate, lest it be overpowered by a sweet sauce or intense spice. Having a leaner wine with a sweet reduction is akin to brushing your teeth and drinking orange juice. Nasty! You also do not want the wine to dominate the meal. The ripe fruit and balancing acidity in Sonoma Pinot gives you an array of options.
Try planked salmon, preferably grilled over coals. The fattiness of the fish and sweet flesh, along with a touch of smokiness and cedar, is the perfect foil for a Pinot with ripe berry, a touch of toasty oak and cleansing backend acidity. Or maybe try Grilled Portobellos with goat cheese. The earthy-smoky and sweet of the mushrooms, coupled with the tanginess and cream of the chevre, pair magnificently with the earthiness and body of these beautifully complex wines. As long as you steer clear of overly sweet, aromatic or spicy flavours, these wines work with almost everything. They are also pretty delicious lightly chilled and sipped in front of a fire, paired with a good book or great company.