What Pinot Noir may not possess in overall boldness, it certainly makes up for with its refined elegance.
A notoriously tricky grape to cultivate, its thin-skins are prone to damage and sun burn which tend to keep its productions to more moderate or cool climates around the globe. The spectrum of flavors vary from red berries like cherry, raspberry and sometimes strawberries to the earthy profiles of mushroom, forest floor, and periphery flavors of spice (clove) and floral.
The grape, originally from the Burgundy region in France, has become quite popular in the United States, launching the U.S. to the second-largest producer globally with countless vineyards throughout the West Coast producing wines quickly becoming fan-favorites within the wine community.
The Mi Sueno 2017 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (retail $55) certainly checks the box on a number of my personal indicators.
Spanish for “My Dream,” the winery, in the Russian River Valley (about 30-40 minutes northwest of Napa), was founded by Rolando and Lorena Herrera, who launched Mi Sueno Winery in 1997. Rolando has a robust resume working for California producers from Stag’s Leap, Vine Cliff Winery and at Paul Hobbs Winery where he was appointed the director of winemaking in 2001. In 2004, it was all hands on deck, and Rolando made Mi Sueno top focus with a mission to deliver wines offering the truest expression of the grapes grown on their vineyard. As Rolando describes it, “a peek into the soul of Mother Earth."
From 100% Pinot Noir and from the Mi Sueno Castiglioni vineyard site planted in 2006, the wine boasts ruby garnet hues demonstrating a beautiful color and subtleties that seem to dance in your glass. As you smell this wine, aromas of blackberry, cherry, clove, vanilla are right at the forefront to greet you in a very pleasant manner.
Continuing to smell this wine, there was something that quite a while to place. From drinking my share of Burgundian Pinot Noir, many Pinot Noir of French origin often come with what one can only describe as “funk." Before I lose you on this wine forever, funkiness in my book would never be described as a fault but simply to describe a uniqueness that is captured by flavors and smells outside of the fruits, floral, spice, and vegetal aromas that often grace your glass. As you continue to smell this wine you will begin to pick up on aromas of slight smoke and more interestingly enough, aromas of Worcestershire sauce; without the vinegar element. Continuing to unwrap this aroma profile, a rich umami smell and cooked meat seem to surface in a very pleasant way.
Tasting the wine, many of the components picked up on the nose carry forward to the palate with flavors of cherry, strawberry, and also unique notes of thyme and herbal flavors rise to greet your tongue. With a smooth and elegant finish, this wine is moderate in alcohol at 14.5%, higher acidity.
While possessing great aromas, this wine leaves a little bit to be desired on the complexity on your palate. With so much teeming to the brim on your nose I had hoped more of those aromas would carry forward with such gusto as you move on to the tasting portion.
Pair this wine with roast duck served with raspberry or dark cherry sauce or even a perfectly cooked salmon or roasted chicken with wild mushroom risotto to complement the earthy umami qualities in the wine. A lean cut of beef, such as filet mignon with a cherry red wine reduction, would be quite nice and highlight the same qualities.
This wine demonstrates a lot of great qualities in a quality Pinot Noir, great balance and elegance and a very refined “complete” experience. It isn't a value buy, but for the unique qualities it exhibits certainly one that I’d be happy to open again.
Learn more about the Mi Sueno Winery at misuenowinery.com.
Carson Bodnarek, a self-proclaimed “cork dork”, is certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers, WSET Level II, and is currently studying to become a Certified Specialist of Wine.