Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery is a bastion of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, producing dozens of offerings from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County.
The company’s website lists no fewer than 18 Pinot Noirs, 11 Chardonnays, and a few Zinfandels, almost all of them “single-vineyard-designate” wines hailing from well-known Russian River properties and spanning several vintages.
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While many of these vineyard-specific wines — the grapes are purchased from the vineyards by Gary Farrell — are priced from $50 to $80, the winery offers a less expensive line called “Russian River Selection,” which it describes as “quintessential Russian River Valley wines blended from grapes from the winery’s top vineyard sources.”
One of them is the 2016 Russian River Selection Pinot Noir, which is listed at an average price of $38 on Wine-Searcher.com and is well worth it.
This is a top California Pinot Noir at this (or any) price — and a great example of California’s potential to make balanced and graceful Pinots that don’t push the limits on alcohol and oak aging (alcohol in this one is a tolerable 13.9 percent).
At its core, the wine is about lively red fruit, reminding me of cherry, cranberry, pomegranate, and perhaps some blueberry. A hint of unsweetened chocolate and baking spices on the finish provide nice accents. Good balancing acidity gives the wine a “lift,” making it effortless to drink.
Grilled salmon, roasted herbed chicken, and vegetarian dishes are just a few of the food pairings that come to mind.
The winemaker, Theresa Heredia, is a “cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay specialist,” according to the website, which notes that she spent time working at a domaine in Burgundy. That perspective comes through in this delicious Pinot Noir.