Pinot noir grapes like their growing season cool and foggy and long, which is just what California's Monterey County delivers. The good effects of that climate show nicely in the 2012 Bridlewood Pinot Noir (about $18 at supermarkets), a very food-friendly medium-bodied red.
The elegance of this nicely balanced wine asserts itself from cork pull, its nose offering lush blackberry and ripe black cherry, together with a hint of warm spice. Those fruits are right up front on the tongue, with subdued coffee joining in at mid-palate. The finish is long and lingering, the notable depth of the wine persisting right through the finale. The result is a superior rendition of California pinot noir.
This versatile red will pair with a wide range of foods extending beyond the usual meats, red sauces and ripe cheeses to dishes like roast chicken, sauteed sea scallops or smoked fish that might more commonly be paired with a white wine.
Colette Bancroft is the Times' book editor, and John Bancroft is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.