My list of The 10 Best Wines of the Year, So Far is off to a slow start, in part because of a three-week vacation during which I drank shockingly little wine. Last night, however, a strong candidate for the first installment emerged. Inspired by both a woodsy mushroom pasta and Valentine's Day, I picked for dinner a pinot noir, the most romantic of wines not called Champagne.
From its brilliantly flaming color through its lip-smacking finish, the MacRostie Winery and Vineyards 2004 Sonoma Coast Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir ($42) is a lusciously definitive take on the varietal. While fairly robust for pinot noir, it seizes with clarity and balance the grape's vibrant cherry/berry flavors and delivers them in a silken package. The oak is astutely restrained, not at all interfering with notes of cinnamon spice, dark chocolate and green tea. It isn't a sipping pinot noir, demanding food, and the depth and smoke of the pasta was a fitting companion.
The cool, breezy and frequently foggy Sonoma Coast appellation is growing fast in esteem for its pinot noirs, and Wildcat Mountain Vineyard looks to be rising in prominence for just about any kind of grape grown there. The MacRostie 2003 Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Syrah ($32) made my top-10 list for last year.
The MacRostie Wildcat pinot noir, alas, isn't yet available in Sacramento, though it can be ordered through the winery's Web site.