After spending the last three days tantalizingly close to Napa Valley, to which I could not venture due to being on a business trip, combined with reading a fantastic book about the Mondavi family called The House of Mondavi, The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty, I was primed for a glass of rich red when I stepped off the plane this afternoon. A quick stop at Eugene's Market of Choice (lovingly known as PC Market) brought home with Steve and I cedar plank roasted salmon with rough chopped garlic and basil, spicy charred green beans, and artichoke heart balls for a quiet Valentine's Dinner.
To satisfy my craving for red wine, we opened a 2006 Sweet Cheeks Pinot Noir. Steve and I have both written about Sweet Cheeks before, and the Pinot Noir we had tonight is the third of the four Sweet Cheeks offerings we've tried. I opened this wine over some of our other notable cellared reds because I really wanted a red that I could sit and sip comfortably without being overwhelmed. This wine certainly fits that bill.
The 2006 Sweet Cheeks Pinot Noir is on the light side of Pinots, with a fresh fruity taste overall. After breathing, anise becomes one of the stronger forefront notes on the nose. It does have a slight tart twang at the finish, which is an indication this wine could benefit from a bit more aging. After the sip is complete, a warm brown sugar rounds out the flavor. After sipping this wine while dinner was heating and then while enjoying the spicy green beans and garlicy salmon, I lean toward only offering this wine as a stand alone. It's a light Pinot that doesn't overwhelm the palate without food to temper it, but it fails to show up full force to the dinner show when paired with stronger flavors. Perhaps a light pasta or salad would be better suited as a food pairing to this red.
And if I can venture into the land of book reviews for just a moment...I wholeheartedly recommend reading The House of Mondavi. I am as yet only halfway through, and am enthralled in discovering how Napa Valley really got started. It's a fascinating foray into the major American wine industry, and the inner workings of family business. It's a fantastic read, even for those who might not love wine as much as those of us at the Oregon Wine Blog!