This was one of those times where I was looking for a wine specifically to pair with my dinner plans. I was looking for something light and refreshing, but red. I was walking down the Pinot Noir aisle and right in my line of vision is a Pinot by Carmel Road.

So I picked up the bottle and — what’s this? Wine by Drew Barrymore? Ok ok…I know she’s making wine now — let’s face it, most celebrities are. And, for me, that could be a potential put-off: is it gimicky? is the wine going to taste as fake as Hollywood?

I’ve only ever had Carmel Road’s Unoaked Chardonnay (which is not associated with DB), and my mind was telling me what a reliable producer Carmel Road is. Besides, if their Chard is unoaked, perhaps they’ll keep the oak to a minimum in their reds. And with grapes grown in the steady climate of Monterey with its fresh ocean air and sweet sea breezes — how could this not be the cool and refreshing red wine I’m looking for?

Obviously I bought the wine…

About the Wine: This certified sustainable wine is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes harvested predominantly from Carmel Road’s estate Panorama Vineyard in the Arroyo Seca AVA of Monterey County. The wine was barrel aged for 8 months in 95% French oak of which only 17% was new (I knew it!). 13.5 ABV.

Ok, now I know what you’re all wondering, how much input and action did Drew actually have in the wine-making process? Well according the the Carmel Road site, quite a bit. She does have her own line of wines (Barrymore), which is also presented by Carmel Road and, as such seems to have a unique relationship with the Carmel Road winemaker, Kris Kato, in which they blend, taste, and bottle these wines together. This is according to the site. Again, whether or not that’s true…you be the judge. Or we can ask my good friend Drew…

Anyway…

Flavor Profile: Let me just start by how beautiful this wine is in the glass. It’s a light red that almost has a tinge of blue — which sounds odd to say because you think red + blue = purple, and maybe it is some shade of purple, but my mind saw an iridescent blue hue highlighting the light-red glow in the glass. And, to me, the aroma reflected that. The first thing I smelled was a big waft of blueberries followed by warm spice notes (think baking spices here). The palate, again, followed through with this pattern. The wine gushes forth with flavors of lush blueberries, overripe blackberries, with just a hint of currants in the background. As the fruit flavors fade away, you’re opened up to this refreshing sea-breeze and sand-between-the-toes minerality. The finish balances out with just the slightest hints of smoke, oak, and tobacco and just enough tannins to bring the taste to a satisfying end.

Yup…that’s exactly what I was looking for when I was searching for wine that evening. Carmel Road (and Drew), you did not disappoint.

Food Pairing: My perfect pairing? A perfectly pan-seared salmon fillet with a strawberry-almond herb salad topped with crumbled feta. The meatiness and natural oils of the salmon will amplify the depth and body of the wine, while its natural salts will bring forth the wine’s minerality. The salad will further those beautiful fruit flavors in the wine — top that salad with a subtle vinaigrette (a light balsamic or rose wine vinaigrette will do perfectly) and that bit of acid, along with that tart feta, will stop anything in the wine or the meal from being too rich or sweet.

More Info: If you’re looking for an alternative to classic Cali-oaked wine, definitely try Carmel Road Drew’s Blend Pinot Noir and Carmel Road Unoaked Chardonnay. I found this wine at Safeway (Sale Price: $17.99). For more information about Carmel Road and their partnership with Drew Barrymore, visit their website.

Heads up…I do have Drew’s Pinot Grigio in my cellar. Review to come!


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