The 2008 Castle Rock Mendocino County Pinot Noir (about $15 at supermarkets and elsewhere) is something of an anomaly. For a wine that offers such delights to the palate, it offers very little to the nose. The winemaker suggests subtle aromas of violets and rose petals but we wouldn't swear to that.
We will, however, sign on enthusiastically to his description of this California pinot as one showing "complex flavors and long silky textures." Up front we tasted red currant, blackberry, strawberry and raspberry with just a touch of cinnamon. These lovely layers lingered on the tongue before giving way to a medium-long smooth finish spiked by subtle notes of anise and coffee.
This pinot is worth drinking on its own but if pairing it with food we would lean toward assertive but homey fare like spice-rubbed pork loin or fat burgers dressed in blue cheese.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.