The new vintage of Frank Family Vineyards Pinot Noir was an exciting find for me. After having two excellent experiences with their Chardonnay, I was eager to see what their dual Napa-Sonoma vineyards had to say about Pinot Noir. In my experience, Carneros Pinot Noirs can be a bit harsh and lacking in any real substance — both texturally and flavor-wise. But maybe that’s because I always stuck to one side of the Carneros fence. Maybe the trick is to have a little bit of both…

About the Wine: The Frank Family Vineyards 2016 Pinot Noir is made up of 100% Pinot Noir grapes harvested from the winery’s estate vineyards. 62% of the grapes were harvested in the Carneros AVA of Napa Napa; 38% were harvested in the Carneros AVA of Sonoma. Interestingly, only 10 out of the winery’s 78 estate vineyard acres are planted to Pinot Noir.

The wine aged in 100% French oak barrels (33% new; 67% once and twice used) for 10 months.

14.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: The Frank Family Vineyards 2016 Pinot Noir is immediately aromatic from the moment you open the bottle. Breathe in aromas of prune juice, wet wood, night time soil, and dark chocolate dipped cherries. This Pinot Noir is a light cranberry-red on the pour, settling into the glass with exactly the same shade: it’s delicate, see-through, fading to a rose-petal pink around the outermost edge.

Initial aromas are filled with plush, green indecipherable herbs; a light floral aroma reminiscent of roses in the rain; and red fruits like raspberries, cranberries, and wild strawberries. Deep breath in and you can find the calming, smooth background of milk chocolate. Swirl and release additional aromas of oak and more of those red fruits lightly coated in milk chocolate. Pull the nose away, and those scents combine into a red velvet cake-like scent.

The palate of the Frank Family Vineyards 2016 Pinot Noir is full and firm with the immediate engagement of tactile tannins. Note: this is not a tannic wine, but it certainly is textural. The acidity is a solid medium with a slight elevation at the very end. Because of the flavors, one could almost call this wine refreshing, but those textures keep the tasting grounded, serious.

Dominant flavors are of rose petals, strawberry juice, watermelon, basil, oak, arugula, and a slightly warm and spiced finish.

Food Pairing: I paired the Frank Family Vineyards 2016 Pinot Noir with my signature salmon salad. Loved this pairing. The kind of peppery taste of the herbs used in the salad opened up more fruit aromatics in the wine, while the bitter spinach welcomed the chocolate taste and simultaneously canceled out some of the texture, providing a rounder mouthfeel. The acidity of the cherry tomatoes brought out an earthy, deeper fruit flavor like fresh black plums.

This dish in general pairs well with Pinot Noir, but I must say the quality of this wine definitely elevated what’s become an everyday dish for me.

More Info: I received the Frank Family Vineyards 2016 Pinot Noir as a sample for review. (Cheers Laura!) Retail: $38. For more information about Frank Family Vineyards, their wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Frank Family Vineyards website.

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