Impulse buy. Total impulse buy. But I must say, I have good impulses. I was standing at the store with a wine in each hand debating back and forth between two Pinot Noirs. But what drew me to Scott Family Estate was its Russian River roots. Being a young wine, I knew that the freshness of the river’s soil, the bright fresh fruits, and that little something extra found in the valley would be found in the wine.

About the Wine: Scott Family Estates is run by Rutherford Ranch Winery, a family owned and operated winery located on scenic Silverado Trail in Napa Valley (Rutherford AVA). And, though this specific location is known for their bold Napa Cabs, the producer has sought out locations outside their region that specialize in other varietals. Hence Russian River Pinot Noir and the Scott Family Estate name and label.

Business aside…

Scott Family Estate Russian River Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes harvested from, well, the Russian River Valley. 2014 is only the second vintage produced under this label. The wine was aged in 100% French oak for 11 months.

14.1% ABV

Flavor Profile: Visually, the wine reminds me of dusty cranberry juice — it’s that same purple-pink you’d think, but with a little cloud delicately covering it. That cloud must be prepped and ready for rain because the smell is reminiscent of a river, flooded with rain water — damp earth, wet greenery, the odd perfume of drenched flowers.

The taste is definitely earthy — think cranberries and red cherries with their stems and branches still attached. But the aftertaste — hold the aroma in your mouth and exhale through your nose — you’ll get a distinct essence of burnt wood, smoldering ash, and a lingering smoke. Combine that with the utter earthiness of the primary flavors, and you’re left with this lingering finish that’s reminiscent of burnt coffee bean (and I mean this in the most complimentary and tasty way possible).

Food Pairing: Remember how I was standing in the wine aisle with a different bottle in each hand? It’s because I was working my brain around this odd flavor combination that was about to be my dinner. It’s not that the ingredients didn’t go well together, it’s simply a matter of a recipe I had never put together before — so how was I to know what wine would pair best?

Times like this I’ll sometimes feel panic. But in this instance, I felt this overwhelming calm. “Stacy, you know your wine and you know your food — just use your common sense.” Indeed, I did. Like I said, I have good impulses. I just need to trust them. Anyway…

I paired the 2014 Scott Family Estate Pinot Noir with a grilled Mahi Mahi fillet with a side of roasted butternut squash, onion, and brussel sprouts, garnished with pecans and dried cranberries. Yeah, I know, it’s Thanksgiving in Hawaii, right? But I’m telling you those flavors, well, they just work. And the wine? Yes, that worked as well. More than worked — I really feel like the wine pulled the whole meal together. it was that smokey, ashy finish that truly elevated the grill-cook on the fish, while that “burnt coffee bean” paralleled the roasted sweetness of the butternut squash. Meanwhile, the fruits in the wine cut through all of the “underground” flavors in the dish and wine and really enlivened the palate.

More Info: I found Scott Family Estate Russian River Pinot Noir at a local grocer (Zonatto’s) on sale (Sale Price: $19.99). And, although I am curious to try their Chardonnay, I must say I am even more intrigued to taste from the Rutherford Ranch Winery flagship wines. Will keep you posted on that front.

Of course, for more information about Scott Family Estate, their wines, and to purchase online, visit the Scott Family Estate website.

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