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Pairing Whitehall Lane 2009 Carneros Pinot Noir

An open bottle of Whitehall Lane Carneros Pinot Noir.
photo taken by Daniel Eddy

At first whiff I get smoked plums and dried cherries, with hints of licorice and a pleasant earthiness. The Whitehall Lane Pinot Noir is not a French Burgundy, but it’s not a complete Cali fruit bomb either. Carneros, at the southern tip of Napa and Sonoma counties, and the northern edge of San Francisco Bay, is the perfect terroir for Burgundy varietals. The warm days give way to foggy cool nights, bringing acidity to balance the sun-ripened fruit. This Pinot has some real depth and structure, and complexity, and we’re always looking for complexity. This means we can pair it a little heavier than the typical Cali Pinot Noir.

After a nose of smoky dried fruits, on the palate this wine is a bowl full of cherries dunked in pomegranate liqueur. There is some real red fruit tartness, but with softer edges as the wine covers your tongue. Here a little more of that pleasant loaminess comes across, rustic but not farmy. The final experience is elegant and balanced, but not overly ripe. On the finish there is a pleasant acidity and a lingering hint of spice. The final impression is one of delightful complexity and elegance.

To pair I’m leaning to roast pork, lamb and even venison, showing that we can go a little heavier with this Pinot Noir. Smoked pork would be particularly good since there are some toasty oak notes to the wine. Roast chicken would pair nicely, maybe with some Morrocan taboulé, and add some dried fruit to the taboulé to pull in some of those characteristics we found in the wine. The trick to pairing is to pick a few choice flavors to match and not to try and match every flavor you find in the wine. Check out our local Farmers’ Markets for some locavore menu options and being a Pinot this wine pairs great with a whole range of vegetarian options. The Whitehall Lane Pinot Noir is available locally at your ABC Fine Wines and Spirits for about $25 per bottle and it’s well worth the price. Cheers!