Together, wine, food, and travel make up three of life's greatest offerings. The Society Blog will feature expert experiences and opinions relating to these delicious topics. Here, we will freely discuss the diverse flavors of food, the inviting culture of wine, the vast nature of travel, and the ultimate experience you get when you combine the three!
Pinot noir captures the imagination in all its manifestations, from austere and mineral-rich to super-ripe and chocolaty. Coveted by collectors and loved by pinophiles, this difficult-to-grow grape has an intricacy and intense aromatics that set it apart from other red wine grapes. Delicate, yet with the backbone to age gracefully, Pinot Noir has inspired many rhapsodic musings. Perhaps the most well-known was Miles' ode to pinot noir in the movie "Sideways": "...it can only grow in these really specific, little, tucked away corners of the world. And, and only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot's potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. Then, I mean, oh its flavors, they're just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and... ancient on the planet."
The Foley Food & Wine Society encompasses six of these "tucked away corners of the world" where careful handcrafting brings the luster of the varietal in the truest expression of each terroir to the bottle.
Please visit our Exchange for a full listing of our Pinot Noir.
We've selected a few examples, across a diverse range of flavor profiles and of price points. This sampling of pinot noir would be a informational and delicious starting point to explore the variations of the grape. Some perfect food pairings for Pinot Noir: salmon, goat cheese, beets, mushrooms and triple cream Brie.
2010 Two Sisters Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
Our 2010 Two Sisters Pinot Noir is complex, concentrated and elegant. The nose is high-toned, and intense with suggestions of sweet red fruit and mint. The palate is full, flavorful and juicy with seamless tannins and a finish that is long and persistent. These limited-production bottlings come from the best blocks of Pinot Noir (Lindsay’s Vineyard) at our estates in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA.
2011 Foley Barrel Select Pinot Noir
Our 2011 Barrel Select Pinot Noir is made from only the best hand selected fruit harvested from our Lindsay’s Vineyard. It is undeniably California in style with concentrated layers of bright cherry and raspberry fruit accompanied by sweet, floral undertones. The palate is rich and viscous with moderate tannins that act as a framework for the fruit. The finish is long, powerful and balanced.
2010 Lincourt Willie Mae Pinot Noir
Our 2010 Willie Mae Pinot is powerful, lavish, ripe and structured. The nose is broad and complex with notes of root beer, cedar, black fruit and dried herbs. The flavors are rich, layered and juicy with an underlying acidity that a lively palate.
2011 Sebastiani Pinot Noir, Robert’s Vineyard
Our 2011 Robert’s Vineyard Pinot is more elegant than previous vintages with all the trademark earthiness and spice you would expect from this great site. The nose is subtle and demure with dark cherries, cranberries and a dash of forest floor. The palate is both velvety and crisp. This is a wine of great balance, style and refinement. Robert’s Vineyard is located in the cool, windy Carneros AVA at the southern end of Sonoma County.
2010 Lincourt Pinot Noir, Lindsay’s Vineyard
Our 2010 Lindsay’s Pinot Noir has a deep crimson hue leading to classic Pinot aromas of cola, red and black cherries, candied strawberries and cassis. While the wine is blessed with firm acidity, it is broad, silky and balanced on the palate.
2010 Roth Estate Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Roth Estate is committed to making wines that best express the diverse and idyllic growing conditions in Sonoma County. The 2010 Roth Estate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is an elegant and fruit-forward wine. Vibrant hints of rose petals and raspberries are seamlessly integrated with a fine minerality, bright acidity, and hints of sweet vanilla on the finish.
2010 Sebastiani Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
The 2010 delivers more “Oriental Spice” in the nose and on the palate than past Pinot Noirs! It also has more acidity and less oak than past efforts. The highlights are maraschino and dark cherries followed by strawberries, mocha, vanilla and sandalwood. The finish is firm, tight and spicy with the underlying minerality we like to see in our Pinots.
"Of all the grapes that are transformed into fine wines, none are as steadfast as Pinot Noir in refusing to be tamed. If any grape would be at home in the pose of the femme fatale – smoke-curling from its lips, long, irresistible legs crossed as another winemaker is sent to his doom – it would be Pinot Noir." --Eric Asimov, New York Times
France produces the most wine of any country and for generations it was the standard bearer for high-end wines, particularly Grand Cru Bordeaux. A certain snobbery in French wine circles existed until the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 where California wines won a blind tasting competition judged by the premiere wine experts at the time, beating wines from the top Grand Cru chateaus of France. Suddenly, the United States was front and center on the wine stage. Our wine industry has grown astronomically since then, both in terms of volume produced, number of wineries and accolades. Top American schools like UC Davis have been on the forefront of research on viticulture and viniculture, bringing a scientific backbone to the passion, intuition and experience of the best winemakers.
But, modernity is balanced with history as the French Bordeaux tradition of blending red grape varietals has been embraced by top American wine producers. A single varietal wine is like a solo musician. A blended wine is like a symphony with each varietal bringing its "voice"--a unique flavor profile, texture and color--to the mix. The winemaker can fine tune a blend like a conductor masterfully creates a well-balanced and intriguing composition.
Bordeaux wines are roughly divided according to the wineries' position relative to the river Garonne. "Right bank" Bordeaux like Saint-Émilion and Pomerol use primarily Merlot, with the other Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carménère taking a smaller role. The 2010 Geoff Tate Insania Red from Three Rivers Winery in Walla Walla wine country of Washington state is such a wine. A full-bodied Bordeaux blend sporting ripe blackberries, black pepper and cured meat in the nose, it was awarded 91 Points by Wine Enthusiast!
Another food friendly example is the 2007 Langtry "Old Soldier Road" Propriety Red, Tephra Ridge Vineyard from the Guenoc Valley of Lake County, just over Howell Mountain from Napa Valley. The wine is blended from selected barrels of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec from highest quality fruit grown on the hillside vineyard of acclaimed Tephra Ridge. Heady aromas of ripe strawberry jam, rhubarb, and spice lead to a silky soft entry. The tannins are soft, with the balanced acidity enjoy a long finish while making it food friendly.
The "left bank" Bordeaux blends, such as Château Haut-Brion and Château Latour, highlight Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2010 Foley Johnson Handmade Red Blend from the Santa Ynez Valley lets the richness of Cabernet Sauvignon predominate in a wine that features red raspberry tones dancing at the higher end of the spectrum with hints of leather and sandalwood as well as vanilla and dusty earth. Individual barrels from special lots are blended to create this noble blend.
Wine Spectator liked the 2007 Three Rivers Svelte from the Columbia Valley so well they gave it 90 Points! Deep, dense, thick, and concentrated, it is an absolute blockbuster from the stellar 2007 growing season. Three Rivers Winery's flagship red blend, this profound wine is created after every barrel in their cellar is rated for color, aromatics, flavors, varietal and site accuracy, balance, intensity and complexity--then individually selected and blended.
For a very special occasion, the 1.5 liter magnum of the 2008 Chalk Hill Red Blend delivers the ultimate expression of the famed Chalk Hill estate winery. The fruit is from low yielding, exposed, rocky, hillside estate vineyards that produce intense, extracted flavor in the grapes. Each lot was harvested and vinified separately-- a labor-intensive and costly procedure that yields a superior wine.
Zinfandel is commonly thought of as "California's wine grape" due to its popularity in the Golden State and long history that dates back to the Spanish missions. You can sample this "New World" blend in the 2011 Roth Heritage Red that spotlights beautiful notes of blueberry pie, cherries and vanilla in a well-structured wine or the 2010 Sebastiani Heritage Red from Sonoma County, redolent with aromas of black olive, Earl Grey tea, black pepper, dark cherry and cedar/oak overtones. It's a fruit-forward blend with flavors of blackberries, blueberries and a blast of caramel/coconut oak.
The Foley Food & Wine Society encompasses a wide range of red blends, perfect for pairing with a great meal or for a red blend tasting party! Browse our selection of red blends HERE.
We are so grateful to all of our members who brought Bill's vision to life this past Saturday of an exclusive Society that celebrates three of the finest things in life—wine, food, and travel. As you can see by the photos below, the event also brought to light a fourth aspect of life to celebrate—friendship. We invite you to browse our pinboard from the event and add links to others we may not have discovered in the comments.
We look forward to seeing both old and new faces at our next event. (And if you couldn't make it on this occasion, be sure to join the FFWS so that you are among the first to hear about future gatherings!)