Picket Fence winemaker Alison Crowe made wines for better than four years at Bonny Doon Vineyard, a California winery once noted for its delightfully unorthodox style. Perhaps that explains her 2011 Picket Fence Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, a surprisingly silky pinot that goes for a surprisingly low $18 or so at local wine-savvy markets.
Don't get us wrong. This lovely pinot has all the depth and character you'd expect in a steel-fermented, oak-aged premium offering, but it also has an unusually full, round and velvety mouthfeel for this varietal.
This fine red opens with aromas of blackberry and spice, both of which carry juicily onto the tongue and are joined there by ripe cherry and a hint of sunny raisin. These flavors marry and bloom through mid-palate and persist through a long silky finish capped by a breath of yummy bitter chocolate. Throughout it is characterized by a swoony softness of expression which does nothing but intensify the brambly intensity of the fruit-forward flavors.
This pinot would pair dreamily with coq au vin or with a rich dark chocolate dessert like pots de creme.
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.