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Russian River Valley Uncorked: 2009 Gary Farrell RRV Pinot Noir


Hey what's on the menu? Ah yes, the quintessential question we all want to know as we head home after long day at work. We may also be having that same thought, when we show up to a new restaurant, attempting to make our minds about whether we'd like dine there for the evening or move unto a something a little more enticing.

If you happen to be craving Pacific Northwest inspired recipes, as I often do, then could I recommend getting your hands on a good bottle of Pinot Noir from the great winemaking team at Gary Farrell in Sonoma, especially if wild-caught Sockeye Salmon will be part of the dining choices for the evening..

When it comes to smartly paired food and wine recipes, I like to follow the traditional line of thinking on the subject. It's often said that; "when in Rome do as the Romans do" a well known axiom providing folks with the basic rule of thumb, to pair regional wines with regional cuisine. While this rule works in most situations, it's something which doesn't always hold true for locally produced new world wines. Is there really any such thing as regional foods here in states, well yes and no, but what wines do you pair with them or does that even matter.

With the onset of the "modern" food movement many progressive foodies and chefs have advanced the idea that any wine, can be paired with any dish. While that may sound like one of those wonderful no boundaries concepts, I don't really think it's a viable premise. I mean c'mon most of us don’t or won't want to put freshly sliced dill-pickles all over our chocolate birthday cake [remember exceptions don't make the rule].

It could be the same reasons most of wouldn't consider pairing a delicate white wine, like Riesling, with a cowboy-sized grain-fed, perfectly broiled T-bone. Nor will most of us attempt a brawny, full throated Shiraz, with baked Tilapia covered in cilantro-lime sauce. And why, because they're mismatched flavors and textures, but hey feel free to experiment if you like. But remember, just because you can do something, that doesn't always, mean it's a good idea. That said, so what do we pair, well that choice is entirely up to you, but I just like to lead with the common sense approach, one that has worked pretty well so far, but when I'm in doubt, I turn to folks who've got the whole "pairing" thing dialed in.

What I'm setting the stage for is the review of another delightful sample of the 2009 Gary Farrell, Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma; while at the same time introducing you to one of my favorite pairings. I'm a pretty simple guy in this regard, I bust out the cedar planks, fire up the grill, seasonings, evoo, splash of lemon juice and I'm off to the races, coming along side is my famous bacon and mushroom risotto, so simple, yet so satisfying. The flavors merry together very nicely with Pinot Noir, but not just any Pinot will do the job. Because it's so difficult [if not impossible] to produce high quality PN, for a tiny cost to the consumer. So yes, you'll have to spend more than $10 to find the type of PN that will rock your palate like nothing else will and please I don't want to hear the same tired old line, that all wines are created equal.

This is the kind of wine that won't really be helped with those new fangled aerators, so I recommend decanting for at least an hour before dinner [if you can] with a traditional decanter. I know some have floated the idea that traditional wine decanting is "so-passe", oh-no on the contrary folks, it's those new "fangled" aerators which over promise and under perform. How do I know, I've been sent plenty to review and have purchased a few myself, I've not seen any appreciable differences, they remind me of a hamster wheel. Decanting takes time, it's not rocket science.

Swirly, Sniff and Slurp: Mean while back at the review, going in for the first fly-over the decanting wine, whoa a potpourri of cola, cherry, ripe raspberry and rich earthy notes. Giving it a few swirls in the glass, revealing a vibrant, but lightly colored ruby core. On the palate a dusting of cola, summer strawberries, baking spices flavors, adding a layer of complexity to the savory ripe plum note and touch of cranberry. Vibrant acidity, lean fruit and polished tannins round out this wonderful Pinot Noir sporting lovely alluring New World vibe, while tipping its cap to Old World at the same time. I scored this wine 90 points, it sells for a SRP of $42. Until next folks sip long and prosper cheers!

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