Want a versatile Pinot noir? Try subtle, husky, savory, 2007 Bien Nacido from Ojai Vineyard w salmon, ham, chicken pic.twitter.com/uytSPbqhdQ
— Gwendolyn Alley, MA (@ArtPredator) February 4, 2014
The right Pinot Noir can indeed pair with dishes as diverse as pork, fish, and fowl.
So when my husband came home on Saturday night with salmon, and as I’ve been working on a proposal to bring Wine Bloggers to the Ventura County area on a pre-conference excursion, I yielded to the urge to open a special pinot noir–and this Ojai Vineyards 2007 Bien Nacido from Santa Maria Valley north of Santa Barbara was it…especially if I could pace myself and enjoy this wine over a few days…
Salmon and Pinot Noir is one of my favorite pairings, and when salmon is in season, especially Copper River, we eat it several times a week and almost always with Pinot noir (although I have a soft spot for Washington Merlot and Pinot noir as well!). The red (almost tart! think cranberry and cherry) fruit made the rich fish shine and vice versa.
Then on Super Bowl Sunday, my husband cooked a ham on the BBQ–and I was amazed at how well it paired because other Pinots have not fared so well. This Pinot Noir has plenty of “umph” to it, and I liked how the savoriness , earthiness, and spiciness went well with the salty pork.
On Monday night, my husband cooked a chicken on the grill with a cinnamon rub. (Yes, I know I am Mrs Lucky!). And for that meal, I enjoyed the last glass of this versatile Pinot. Over the three days, the wine matured as it sat corked n a cool cupboard, but it was far, far from being “gone.” It was more mellow, sure, but just as wonderful.
According to winemaker Adam Tolmach, the Bien Nacido vines are from the Martini clone (on the eastern side of Q block), and he’s purchased the fruit from these rows since 1991 because “wild spicy and animal note peeks up around the flowery rose-petal aromas that are typical… Bien Nacido Pinot noir is so exciting because it has real originality.” Elsewhere on the Ojai Vineyards website he writes, “In 2007 at Bien Nacido we were able to pick exactly when we wanted and are thrilled by the results-atypical for California, but in my mind difficult for the thoughtful taster to dismiss. Despite what it says on the label, our laboratory tells us it is 13.6% alcohol. The actual number does not concern me too much, but I generally find that pinots lower than the mid-14s are gentler and express their personalities in a more accurate way.”
If you can’t join us in Ventura for Valentine n’ Wine from Friday February 14-17 (note that Ojai isn’t part of the passport weekend this year) or in June at the Wine Blogger’s Conference to taste wines from Ojai Vineyard or visit the Bien Nacido vineyards, you can order a more recent vintage of this wine direct from the Ojai Vineyards winery for around $50 (I’m a member of their wine club and it was a selection so I got it for a little less). I’m sure you’ll agree that this Pinot Noir is still Mr. Versatile.