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Bill Carlson Wine Time: 100 percent Pinot Noir from Sean Minor
There is not a more of finicky grape to grow than Pinot Noir. Thin-skinned and requiring near-perfect weather and soil conditions to thrive, it truly is the heartbreak grape. But when Pinot Noir has its game on, it is one of the most extraordinary wines in the world.
Pinot Noir is grown around the world but traditionally associated with the Burgundy region of France. Wines from this region often are amazing and hard to find, but unfortunately require a princely sum to purchase. For more affordable Pinot Noir, look for the cooler climate vineyards of California, Oregon and New Zealand.
The essence of Pinot Noir is a complex, perfume-y nose with flavors that are fruity and earthy while being very food friendly. In my opinion, Pinot Noir is the one grape varietal that must be 100 percent pinot noir to do it justice. By California law, as much as 25 percent of other grape varietals can be blended in with Pinot and still be labeled Pinot Noir. Mixing Syrah or other grapes to darken the color or add body negates all the lovely nuances of a true Pinot Noir.
One of the hardest challenges is to find a value Pinot Noir (at less than $15) that is 100 percent Pinot Noir and has the yummy factor. The 2012 Sean Minor Four Bears Pinot Noir from California's Central Coast ($11.99) fits that bill. It's 100 percent Pinot from the cooler climate Central Coast, with fruity notes of cherry and raspberry with an earthy tobacco component.
Sean Minor has been a wine industry veteran who started his own winery in 2005. He has excellent sources to purchase grapes for all his wines, making them friendly priced for the savvy consumer. His Four Bears Project (named after his four kids) has a terrific mission statement in that he crafts wines that are sophisticated and approachable.
We just got in the new vintage of Sean Minor 4B Pinot Noir, and it's textbook Pinot and just as delicious as the previous vintage that wine critic Robert Parker gave 90 points to. No princely price, either. Truly a Pinot for the people!
Seville Quarter, 130 E. Government St. 434-6211 or visit www.sevillequarter.com.