Good news is at hand for those who curse the movie Sideways for making pinot noirs inordinately popular and driving up prices. Hahn Estates Winery of California's Monterey Coast is offering its newest release, the 2008, at about $12 (check wine shops and big box stores).
This is a nice figgy sort of pinot, showing that unctuous dark fruit plus black currant both on the nose and on the tongue. The flavors are complex, with dark chocolate and a dash of white pepper blending smoothly with the dark fruits through the mid palate. Well-developed tannins underpin a velvety mouth feel with sturdy structure, giving this pinot the oomph to pair well with robustly flavored but unfussy foods. The finish is smooth, too, and medium long, with that whisper of white pepper reasserting itself right at the end.
With what big-shouldered summer favorites would we pair this congenial wine? There are lots of options, but the first thing that came to our minds was a brawny burger dressed in blue cheese and a thick slice of red onion.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.