Sterling Vineyards 2011 Carneros Pinot Noir

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Either we have a lot to celebrate in the Freeman Family, or the timing for wine product reviews is nothing short of epic. (But really, like we NEED an excuse to enjoy a good bottle of wine… HAH!)
But anyhoo, today my father retired from his job as Chief Deputy Coroner and Public Administrator, marking 33 years with the Kings County Sheriff’s Department. My dad just happens to be a wine lover himself (wonder where I get it from..?) so when we received a bottle of Sterling Vineyards 2011 Carneros Pinot Noir we decided to use it to toast his retirement.
Every wine lover needs to give Pinot Noir a chance, if only for the granddaddy of wines status it has, or rather, deserves. Pinot Noir is an ancient grape from France dating back to the 1st century – it is literally over 1000 years old and pre-dates ancient wines like Cabernet Sauvignon. Cistercian Monks cultivated the grape in Burgandy and many of the oldest Pinot Noir growing monasteries still stand today.
Now, I’m not a huge fan of Pinot Noir. I don’t dislike it, it’s just not my “thing”. I’m slowly spiraling into a blind adoration for white and – dear Lord save me – sparkling wines and champagne. But that said, I found this bottle enjoyable and smooth. Before I launch into our personal tasting notes, allow me to share some information about this wine from the vineyard themselves.

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About The Wine

This wine is grown in Los Carneros, one of California’s oldest and most celebrated viticultural areas. The Carneros region was first planted with grapes in the 1830s, and now ranks among the world’s top regions for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. (Mmmmm, chardonnay…)
As I move further and further away from “whatever is on sale” wine buying, I’ve discovered that I absolutely LOVE learning about the details of each bottle of wine – from grape history, to growing region facts to the ins and outs of harvesting and winemaking. Sterling Vineyards is happy to provide the details behind their award winning wines.

From Sterling Vineyards:

Known for it’s cool climate, Carneros is the perfect growing region for the fickle, early ripening Pinot Noir. Located at the southern tip of Napa Valley, the vineyards have views of the San Pablo Bay and nearby San Francisco Bay. With this close proximity to the water, these vineyards are the first to get the fog and the last to get the sun, maintaining low temperatures for long, slow ripening. The deep clay soils provide a beneficial stress on the root system, focusing the intensity of flavors in the fruit.
One of the coolest vintages in recoreded history, 2011 began with a wet and cold spring that thinned crop levels in some varietals and stretched harvest dates much later than usual. Summer temperatures remained below average and we harvested a few weeks later than normal. This longer hangtime and cool weather allowed the flavors of the grapes to intensify, producing fruit with bright acidity, supple body and mouth filling richness.
At the winery, the grapes were cold soaked for three days to bring forward the aromatics. We then gently sorted, destemmed and placed the grapes in stainless steel for fermentation. To add toasty oak notes, we aged the wine in primarily French oak barrels for ten months with minimal racking.
The wine offers a dark red fruit profile graced with a toasty oak complexity. Black cherry and rich toffee aromas open the nose, followed by brambly berry flavors. The sweet scent of forest floor and rich cherry cobbler weave through the smooth and supple palate. The finish is long and satisfying, with a spicy fruit intensity that extends toward a rewarding finale.

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My Thoughts On The Wine

I will be the first to admit that I am an amateur sommelier, so keep that in mind as I try to articulate my impressions and share flavor descriptions.
For a Pinot Noir, this medium bodied wine enjoys an alluring ruby color with crisp clarity. A cliche and timeless “red wine” red, it’s a table top eye pleaser, agreeable to the eyes before it ever reaches the palate.
I must say I did not grasp the full depth of flavor nuances listed on the back of the bottle. I noted raspberry and cherry mingled in with earthy undertones, but overall I found myself repeatedly trying to ascertain the many flavors and aromas that unraveled with every sniff and sip. To me, while decidedly “berry”, this wine had overlapping and complex flavors.
With a smooth taste and a great finish, my dad commented that he would love to pair the wine with pork or fish, and my husband observed it’s a great “conversation” wine.. you know, the bottle you pop open when you have a bunch of friends sitting around needing a beautiful stand alone wine to swirl in giant Bordeaux glasses and sip on through the evening. (And here we are back to me loving the “look” and color of the wine, haha.)
Overall, it’s a great wine. I wouldn’t urge you to bend over backwards to order a case (yeah, yeah, me and my white wine obsession again), however, if you see this wine in your local grocery or liquor store, don’t pass it up!
[Disclaimer: There are no affiliate links in this review. I am an independent product reviewer. I only review products I am truly interested in. I don’t accept payment for reviews. The products I take the time to jabber on about are either items I have personally purchased, or the product has been provided for review after me incessantly nagging for a sample. All of my reviews are unbiased regardless of how the item was obtained.]

Are you a fan of Pinot Noir? Ever tried Sterling Vineyards? Care to give them a try? Share below!