When we think of summer wines, we don't usually think of reds, unless you count the wine that goes into sangria with all that fruit and ice. An exception to the rule is the Cartlidge & Browne 2008 California Pinot Noir (about $13 at wine shops and big box stores), a fine food wine that drinks silky and clean.
The 2008 is beautifully structured, with plenty of smoldering dark fruit, nicely developed tannins and a pungent, spicy edge. The nose is dominated by fig and black pepper with a hint of tobacco.
On the tongue, look for black cherry, black currant and a bit of fig with just a touch of anise. Playing around the edges at mid palate are tantalizing notes of black pepper and mild tobacco. The finish is just medium long and clean as a whistle, making this wine eminently quaffable.
We drank it happily with a tangy turkey picadillo, but it also would go beautifully with grilled lamb or with chocolate at dessert.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.