In my article Hangin with Friends and Snakes I shared our fun dinner with our friends Mark and Cherie. We recently had the pleasure of another wonderful evening of food and wine with them at our house. Since the dinner they prepared was so delicious I felt pressure to step up to the plate with great wine and food pairings so I pulled out my favorites. We began our evening with an array of cheeses, meats, nuts, etc paired with the delicious Trefethen 2012 Dry Riesling, one of the best dry Rieslings money can buy. We ended our evening with homemade chocolate cobbler with Blue Bell cherry vanilla ice cream paired with the luscious Terracruda Sweet Temptation dessert wine (see post Do You Know The Way to Le Marche for more on this wine). Although these were an excellent start to our meal and a delectable conclusion to our meal, neither was the true show stopper or the focus of this article.
Clos Pepe 2010 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir: Before I describe this wine I need to make a confession, this is not the first time I have had this wine. Furthermore, it is my absolutely favorite Pinot Noir, so if I sound like I am in love with this wine it is simply because I am! As you can see from the picture, this is a beautiful pinot noir that pours a deep garnet and with purple highlights into the glass. After an hour and a half decant this beautiful wine tantalized the nose with aromas of ripe black cherries, crushed blackberries, baking spices and toasted cedar, with a trailing hint of methol. It was a full body pinot that danced across the palate with an array of delightful berries including dark cherries, blackberries, strawberries, pomegranates and raspberries; it felt rich and full in the mouth, while at the same time light and refreshing. The berries were met with an abundance of secondary flavors: baking spices, rich cedar, a bit of minerality and a touch of chocolate, followed by a light caress of anise on the back of the palate. The tannins were refined and the acidity was perfectly balanced making this 2010 Pinot Noir a great food wine! This pinot noir had a fat texture, not your wilting flower pinot noir, a perfect blend of fruit with spice that brings sheer delight to the senses.
I put some serious thought into the food I paired with this wine; the fact I have had it before and already love it made the food selection process easier. We enjoyed the Clos Pepe 2010 Sta Rita Hills Pinot Noir with Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Raspberry-Cranberry Wine Sauce, Paula Deen’s 5 Cheese Ultimate Cheesy Mac & Cheese (with truffle oil and panko bread crumb crust that I added), and Southern Living’s Honey-Bourbon Roasted Carrots. The wine-food pairings were fantastic. The fruit sauce on the roasted pork tenderloin was an expected hit. The cheesy truffle goodness of the mac and cheese provided serendipitous joy for the palate and the honey bourbon carrots were off the charts. The 2010 Clos Pepe offered a delicate balance of acidity with a long finish and fruitness than made it not only versatile (pairing with all three dishes delectably) but also very food friendly. I am, as they say, an acid hound. This wine met all my qualifications for excellence! This wine is tasting exceptionally well right now and will continue to age to perfection with proper cellaring. I realize it is a pricey Pinot Noir (SRP $55) and does not fit every budget but I do believe it is worth the splurge. Clos Pepe no longer has this wine so time is running out to find it at local retailers. To find this wine near you click here.
In 1994 Steve and Cathy Pepe purchased the land of Clos Pepe when it was a horse farm. They soon established Clos Pepe as the 9th vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills AVA of Santa Barbara County. Due to the unique climate and terrain some of the best pinot noirs and chardonnays are grown in Santa Barbara County. If you have never had wine from SBC, run to your local retailer to pick up some. Furthermore, I encourage you to visit the Santa Barbara Vintner’s web site to learn more about SBC and the wineries located there.
Wes Hagen is the Clos Pepe wine maker. His philosophy is simple, “The greatest secret in winemaking is that Pinot Noir is very, very simple to make. If the fruit comes from the right vineyard, picked at the right moment, and delivered cool and sound, there’s not much to do.” Although he is being humble the SBC terroir is clearly evident in the wines of Clos Pepe. As their web site says, “Clos Pepe provides grapes to some of the best wineries in California. Napa and Sonoma pinot and chardonnay producers such as Walt (Hall Wines), Siduri / Novy Wines, AP Vin all source fruit from Clos Pepe.” Finally, as Clos Pepe states their philosophy on their web site, we have the joy and pleasure of sharing their philosophy in their wines:
“We love the complexity and age-worthiness of the Old World, but claim our purely New World heritage. Making wines that have the fruit and impact of the New World, with the mineral structure and acidity of the greatest Old World bottles, gives us enviable base ingredients for making some of the most profound cool-climate wine in the world.”
Please visit the Clos Pepe web site to learn more about the winery and explore their full wine portfolio.
My Song Selection: As part of our fun evening we took turns playing old songs from our iPods. We listened to the Rolling Stones, Hall and Oats, Knight Ranger, Lynyrd Skynyrd, REO Speedwagon and much more. It was a blast and inspired my song selection for this outstanding wine. The song I have chosen to pair with Clos Pepe 2010 Sta Rita Hills Pinot Noir is Love Removal Machine by The Cult. This is a rockin song that is hard to listen to sitting still. Its late 80’s alternative rock with some funk and soul mixed in, creating layers of groove. Similarly the Clos Pepe 2010 Sta Rita Hills Pinot Noir is a full body, fruit forward, Cab lovers pinot with layers of earthiness and terroir offered through the refined tannins and subtle flavors on the back palate. Both are rockin with some funk and soul; a perfect pairing!
Get your own bottles of Clos Pepe 2010 Sta Rita Hills Pinot Noir and let me know what song you would pair with them. Cheers!