Sebastiani Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2005 Tasting Notes
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Sebastiani Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2005 Tasting Notes

The Sonoma Coast appellation covers an immense, seemingly gerrymandered swath of Sonoma County, allowing these 100% Pinot Noir grapes to be sourced from Carneros, from the Russian River area, and from vineyards in between. The result is lush, mouth-filling and syrupy smooth.

2005 was long and cool in the region, allowing exceptional hang time and full physiological ripening of this notoriously capricious grape. The resulting wine is a deep ruby with garnet edges. You need to swirl a few extra times to get the nose going in the right direction, but then you are rewarded with black cherry, strawberry, concentrated red cherry, and a little heat. The alcohol level is listed at 13.5% yet I suspect it is higher, since the wine has more of a kick than I am used to in Pinot Noir. I enjoyed it with sirloin steak tips over rice pilaf with sautéed mushrooms.

On the palate the wine takes over, insisting you appreciate the mouth-feel before you start ticking off aromatic notes. A base of fruit acidity pushes through cherry, black cherry, candied cherry, and strawberry. The concurrent tannins are well-structured and smooth out the ride. At the end, which takes its time in coming, you have the sensation of having consumed some first-class strawberry preserves (out of the jar, with a spoon). The finish also has a light touch of pepper, nutmeg, and teak wood.

The bottom line on this $15 wine is that it brings the mouth-feel of a Burgundy, but without the earth-feel of a Burgundy. It brings along some of the promise of California without succumbing to the mass production and consumer taste-manipulation so often associated with that state. It makes an honest commitment, and is decidedly in the camp of concentrated fruit. It is, of course, very high quality fruit.


Verdict: Flavorful
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food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award

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