Gary Farrell is a Sonoma classic, no? I know fellow wine lovers—from casual consumers to expert somms—all rave constantly about Gary Farrell. I’m not going to lie, it took me some time to actually taste from the famed estate, but was lucky enough to find it on a menu not too long ago. (I believe it was my birthday actually.)

Since then, I’ve understood what all the raving is about. Solidly structured, with all its rocky river rusticity elegantly balanced with the ripe red fruit flavors known to the region. Russian River Valley does Pinot Noir right and Gary Farrell expresses this so eloquently.

This is a blend of several different vineyards throughout the AVA. And after having tasted this, I’m so curious to taste the winery’s single vineyard expressions. Especially since it sources from some very prestigious vineyards….

About the Wine: The Gary Farrell 2016 Russian River Selection Pinot Noir is made of 100% Pinot Noir grapes harvested from the Hop Kiln, Rochioli and Bacigalupi vineyards located in the Middle Reach subdivision; the Toboni and Nonella vineyards located in the Santa Rosa Plain; and the Hallberg and Dutton vineyards located  within the Green Valley sub-appellation.

Grapes were hand sorted with partial de-stemming, then cold soaked in open-top tanks with partial whole cluster inclusion for four to seven days at 45°F. Once fermentation started, the cap received regular punchdowns two to three times daily. The wine then settled in tank for seven to 10 days for extended maceration. The wine was then pressed off the skins and inoculated for malolactic fermentation and racked in 100% French oak barrels (35% new) where it aged for 1 months on primary lees.

13.9% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the Gary Farrell 2016 Russian River Selection Pinot Noir and breathe in ripe red fruits and forest floor. This Pinot Noir presents a dusty raspberry red on the pour, settling into the glass just the same—light and slightly dull. Initial aromas are immediately of fresh raspberries, red cherries, a hint of sea breeze on a clear day. Swirl and release hints of chocolate (akin to red velvet cake) and cranberry, raspberry, and cherry juice.

The palate of the Gary Farrell 2016 Russian River Selection Pinot Noir is light, bright, with a feather-like texture, a delicate acidity, and just a subtle dryness on the finish. Dominant flavors are of light oak wood, raspberry, cranberry, pomegranate, and strawberries. This Pinot Noir is not overly complex, but an easy refresher.

Food Pairing: I paired the Gary Farrell 2016 Russian River Selection Pinot Noir with a medium-rare grilled filet mignon, roasted heirloom potatoes, and a beet and blue cheese salad. Loved this food pairing. The blue cheese, with its funk and creaminess, brought out the brightness and acidity in the wine, which, in turn, cut through the cheese’s decadence. In partnering with the beetroot, which is slightly earthy and slightly sweet, the wine gave off a rounder mouthfeel. But my favorite element was the smokiness of the steak that, with a sip of wine, just seemed to please the palate.

More Info: I received the Gary Farrell 2016 Russian River Selection Pinot Noir as a sample for review. Price: $45. For more information about Gary Farrell Winery, their wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Gary Farrell Winery website.

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