|2013 Hansen/Grunner Pinot Noir Photo Credit: Bill Rockwell|
In the last five years, my red wine palate preferences have swerved all over the place, finding the most enjoyment in rich and dense Cabs, then making a safari into Syrahs, only to awaken to the joys of Zinfandels, then cross over into Merlot territory as an occasional contrasting alternative to everything else.
But after I tasted a absolutely heavenly Pinot Noir, first at the Mie N Yu Restaurant in Georgetown (DC), and another at Soba in Shadyside, I moved Pinots to the top of my preference list.
I recently got a shock when I opened a bottle of the 2013 Hansen/Grunner Pinot Noir from California’s Sonoma Coast. If I was blindfolded, I’d have been hard pressed to guess the grape varietal. It was like no other Pinot I ever tasted, and I probably would have guessed a blend, perhaps of Petite Syrah and Cabernet with touches of Zinfandel and Merlot.
The bright red color I was accustomed to was there in the glass along with a assertive berry/plum/spice nose. On the palate, the wine has a smoky, mushroom, leathery base that’s punctuated with blackberry, black raspberry and cranberry flavors and enriched with herbaceous and cinnamon accents. Nicely balanced, the wines tannins are tamed to a silky-smooth texture that lingers long after the swallow.
Produced by veteran wine professionals, Jeff Hansen and Gary Grunner, this Pinot packs a punch with 14% alcohol and, at $25 a 750 ml bottle, is less expensive than many other Sonoma County Pinots. Food-wise, this Pinot would stand up to more dishes than most of its cousins but would be great with duck in a port reduction, a pork tenderloin stuffed with prunes, or blackened redfish.