My Favorite Pinot Noir

DATELINE:  San Francisco, California, USA
WINE CORRESPONDENT:  Vé  

During my food+wine+art adventures a few months ago, I had the opportunity to interview well-known San Francisco restaurateur, Giulio Tempesta at Ristorante Umbria, right before the establishment closed its doors to relocate to Glen Ellen, California. After scanning his tantalizing selection of wines – both Italian and international – I asked him what his favorite wine was.

Without hesitation, he responded, “Pinot Noir.” 

Hmm, a man with all of his tasting experience, an international traveler, I thought, my personal vino prejudices showing, and he chooses something, well, so relatively ordinary?

2009 Amayna Pinot Noir
That was then and this is now. The now being the world after having tasted a 2009 Amayna Pinot Noir from the Leyda Valley in San Antonio, Chile. For me, this wine was life changing. Like getting a wonderful new toy to explore – no wait, that doesn’t begin to capture what I’m feeling. No, tasting this wine is like exploring a new lover.

Although I have enjoyed this wine several times, each time is like the first time. You see the exquisite ruby liquid swirling into your glass, its beautiful legs rising up almost as though trying to escape the confines of the crystal. Then, take a deep sniff, go ahead enjoy yourself; put your nose right into the glass and inhale deeply. You will be rewarded with intense aromas of red cherry, baked strawberry, red plum and just a bit of spicy black pepper. I know, you want to sip this wine right now, but wait, take your time, indulge in just one more sniff. Now the earthy, savory aromas come in, telling you this wine has developed into a star player.

OK, the moment arrives, take a sip. Enjoy the silky liquid as it makes its way around your mouth. You’ll soon feel the wonderfully smooth, velvety tannins. Once you have swallowed your first sip, you will notice that yes, this is a dry wine with great complexity. Take another sip and taste the satisfying flavor notes of rich black cherry, strawberry and a touch of cinnamon. Then the delightful hints of lavender and violets with just a bit of cherry jam, gently arrive at the finish. Ah, those lovely, lingering flavors. Then finally, it’s all gone. Time for your next sip.

Appearance: clear, deep, ruby, legs, the intensity of color is unusual for a pinot noir
Nose:  clean, med intensity, with aromas of red cherry, baked strawberry, red plum, black pepper, earthy/savory
Palate: dry, medium acid, medium tannins that are smooth, ripe, and velvety on the tongue, medium alcohol, medium+ flavor intensity, with flavor notes of black cherry, strawberry, cinnamon, lavender & violets, cherry jam, medium+ finish
Conclusions: well balanced, very good, drink now, wine has great potential for aging, in the premium priced category, but well worth it.

Food and wine pairing tasting notes
Lamb with mushrooms and beets
When the savory flavors of the lamb meet the dark, rich fruit notes of the wine, a marriage of earthy, sensual pleasures unite, creating a whole new palette of taste in your mouth.

Winemaker’s Notes
The influence of sea and soil combined with slow ripening, make for a deep ruby-red wine with a touch of violet and great aromatic complexity. The nose evokes ripe fruits with elegant notes of vanilla and spice from the well-integrated oak. Ideal with lamb or game birds.

Facts on Amayna Pinot Noir 2009, Leyda Valley, San Antonio, Chile
Price: $29.99 /  premium priced
ABV: 14.2%  /  med+ alcohol

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