We had the pleasure of dining recently on absolutely perfect crispy-skinned roast duck with duck leg confit at one of our favorite restaurants. Crunchy on the outside and succulent within, the duck harmonized fabulously with a good pinot noir. Had it been on our radar then, we might have ordered the 2010 Picket Fence Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (about $16 at big-box stores) and been mighty happy with our choice.
The Russian River Valley, its famous growing season fogs making it the coolest of the Sonoma County appellations, produces grapes that ripen slowly with long on-the-vine hang times, yielding robustly flavored fruit. That is evident at first sniff of this lush pinot, which bursts with big juicy blackberry aromas and a hint of black pepper as it tumbles into the glass. Luscious blackberry reigns on the tongue, too, tempered by a bit of bramble and clove through mid-palate. The long silky finish introduces intriguing late notes of black coffee and dark chocolate cherries. It is a winning combination.
In addition to duck, you might pair this pinot with pepper-crusted seared ahi tuna or even T-bone steaks on the grill.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.