The 2009 Estancia Monterey County Pinot Noir is an edgy handmade lesson in varietals and a good deal at anywhere from $10 to $15. It is widely available.
In addition to bramble, this satisfying estate-grown pinot also displays more vanilla than we expected, these two features combining to set it a bit apart from its fellows in the price range. In the glass, light aromas of dark fruits, a little vanilla and a touch of smoke beguile the nose. On the tongue, the deep garnet wine unfurls a complex blend of ripe blackberry, plum, a hint of ginger, subtle vanilla and a smidge of mellow leather. Cherry cola pops up on the medium-long finish.
All in all, this wine's profile is rather like zinfandel's, albeit considerably lighter.
We enjoyed it with turkey and fresh cranberry relish sandwiches, but it also would go nicely with green chili cheeseburgers or pizza.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.