Pinot Noir from Carneros has been hit or miss with me. I often times find the expression so tightly wound that I lose all mention of real fruit. But Cuvaison has provided me not just a hit, but a home run. Crafted from a single vineyard block located on the vineyard’s highest elevation, using winemaking methods created specifically for these grapes, and keeping the real essence of those grapes and vineyards through every step of the winemaking process — Cuvaison has changed my perception of what Carneros has to offer Pinot Noir vineyards and has piqued my interest in the AVA.

About the Wine: The Cuvaison 2015 Spire Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes (Clone 115) sourced from the highest single block on the winery’s estate vineyard, located in Napa Valley’s Los Carneros AVA. The pressed juices fermented in open-top fermenters specifically designed by winemaker Steve Rogstad with the winery’s small-lot production in mind. The wine then aged in 100% French oak barrels (50% new) for 16 months, completing 100% secondary malolactic fermentation.

14.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the Cuvaison 2015 Spire Pinot Noir and breathe in scents of fresh fire smoke, reminiscent of an ocean-side bonfire at night. As this Pinot Noir flows from bottle to glass it emits a dusty purple-meets rouge, yet settles into a light, completely see-through rouge-violet. And as you pour and examine the wine, begin taking notes on its fragrance — you can’t NOT smell this wine.

Initial aromas are of raspberries, milk chocolate, mint, and a strong acidity that’s complemented by a kind of roundness. Swirl the wine, and those fruits open up to include boysenberry and marionberry. Pull the nose slightly away to find a bouquet of wild flowers.

The palate is soft — there’s really no other word to describe it. The acidity is at first quite light. Though it does delicately increase, it never disturbs that initial soft texture. The tannins, too, are nearly negligible — simply working to create a backbone to that plushness. Dominant flavors are of boysenberry, marionberry, spearmint and basil; there’s just a lick of cedar wood, and a finish reminiscent of cherry liqueur.

Food Pairing: After enjoying the Cuvaison 2015 Adda Chardonnay as an aperitif, I paired the Cuvaison 2015 Spire Pinot Noir with my my homemade wild mushroom risotto seasoned with shaved truffle. This was absolutely the perfect pairing, as the tender meatiness of the mushrooms took that “softness” in the texture of the wine and pushed it forward to a roundness. And the seasoning, including the funk of the truffle, brought forward that initial accent of flint aroma sensed from the bottle, giving the wine just a bit more depth and, indeed, mystery.

I would pair this wine with this dish again, full-stop. Good news, I feel like I’ve mastered the risotto recipe as well — so there may be a link to that deliciousness in the near future.

More Info: I received the Cuvaison 2015 Spire Pinot Noir as a sample for review. (Cheers Michelle!) Retail: $52. For more information about Cuvaison, their wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Cuvaison website.


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