Must-Try Wine of the Week: 2011 Wild Ridge Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

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Let’s be honest. Pinot noir is a prima donna, a fickle grape that won’t grow just anywhere, fitting for the phrase “grown on the edge.” It’s a fastidious mistress that likes maritime breezes to cool it off in the late afternoons, plenty of sun midday—but not too much heat, which can burn its delicate skin. It desires well-drained soils to keep its roots out of water, and impeccable grooming for, well, appearance’s sake.

Wild Ridge Vineyard is a Jackson Estate property planted to pinot noir and located in the extreme west Sonoma Coast, close to the hamlet of Annapolis in Northern California’s Sonoma Coast. It is the epitome of remote, a vineyard located “on the edge,” and a love nest for pinot noir.

This wine is the inaugural release from this vineyard that is planted in Goldridge soil to pinot noir Dijon clones 777, 667, 115, and Pommard. Winemaker Craig McAllister, who hails from New Zealand and was a winemaker at La Crema before joining Wild Ridge, vinifies it.

There is plenty to like in this wine that is very savory, with aromas of forest floor, mushroom, dried herbs, spice, and wild berries. The middleweight flavors of blueberries, cherry, and notes of spice and herbs augment a black raspberry goodness. Soft and smooth on the palate, the wine is easy to drink, with a juicy, extended finish.

It’s reasonably priced at $33 to $36 at Hi-Time Wine Cellars and Pacific Ranch Market in Orange. Pair it with mushroom risotto, seared duck breast with pinot noir sauce, beef Wellington, or grilled rack of lamb.

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