Wine, uncorked: Californian Pinot Noir

We’ve let the fabulous Helena Nicklin, AKA Winebird, route around our cellars to give you a fuss-free low-down on what’s behind the label of our wonderful wines. This time, she’s picked a 2015 Lost Angel Pinot Noir from California…

On the label…
‘Naughty wines for naughty times’, the label reads. I’ll take a whole case, please! Thankfully for those who don’t want to get caught up in the fussy minutiae of wine detail, this is quite an easy label to work out: Pinot Noir is the grape and California is the region. It doesn’t say where the grapes were grown exactly, but it’s likely to be in or near Sonoma on the coast, where Pinot Noir grapes love to grow. Lost Angel is the brand name and it stands for powerful, easy-drinking wines that over-deliver for the price and aren’t stuck up their own bottom, as it were. They say that their wines are ‘for people who appreciate bold, edgy and iconoclastic’; a sentiment that is mirrored in their label design. The Pinot Noir bottle is a thing of beauty, as are all the wines in their range. Eye-catching doesn’t cover it; you’ll want a poster of this label on your wall!

Grape & Style
Pinot Noir: Ballerina of wine grapes!
Traditionally, the cherry-scented and earthy Pinot Noir grape is famous for being light-bodied, elegant and ethereal but also, incredibly high maintenance. It is a thin-skinned grape, which is why it’s usually very pale in the glass but this also means that there’s never much tooth-drying tannin, so the texture is often described as ‘silky’. If Pinot Noir were a person, my ‘vinalogy’ for it would be a fine-boned ballerina, pale and delicate, dancing in a cherry-silk gown with earth beneath her feet. She needs to be kept happy in perfect conditions though or else, she’ll refuse to dance!
What does this one taste like?

 

The classic descriptors of Pinot Noir are all there in this wine with dark cherry, raspberry and a spicy, earthiness on the palate. Hailing from California, this version of Pinot Noir is much fuller-bodied than one you would get from the cooler region of Burgundy in France, for example. The alcohol is nicely low for California, sitting at 13.5% and in true Californian coastal style, it’s easygoing and unpretentious, though it lacks the complex twists and turns of very expensive fine Burgundy. Given the price however, the Lost Angel Pinot Noir represents very good value for money and it’s not trying to emulate France anyway!

 

 

What do you eat with Pinot Noir?

Steak can be a little too heavy with this grape, so the subtle earthiness of duck and lamb make classic matches for Pinot Noir. The crisp acidity cuts through the fat well and if you can add a red fruit sauce, you will be in food matching heaven! Fuller-bodied styles of the grape, such as this Californian version, can take slightly heavier dishes and flavours, and even a touch of smoke. Lamb burgers all round then?