I’ve never heard of Starmont Winery before. This was an honest-to-goodness random pick at my local TJ’s. My only requirements were a) Pinot was a must and b) I was specifically craving a California Pinot. And this particular TJ’s is slim-pickins’ in the wine aisle (ok, I guess requirement “c” was that it wasn’t labeled as a TJ wine). Anyway…I had two choices and this one was more in my price bucket. So I nabbed it, crossed my fingers it’d taste how I was craving, picked up my pizza, and went home. Read more.

starmont-pinot-noir-2012

Ok, so let me start off by saying it wasn’t exactly what I was craving. In all honesty, I was craving a more “traditional” Sonoma-style Pinot (you know, super fluffy and oaky). And, to be fair, I knew that something from Carneros wasn’t going to fulfill that exact flavor profile. So when I got home, my mind was reeling…what did I just buy? My friends, I bought a wine — for $20 at TJ’s — that rivals my Testarossa (in my house that’s the Gold Standard for Pinot Noirs).

About the Wine: Starmont Winery started out as the more approachable counterpart to the Merryvale brand (you may have heard of Merryvale Vineyards), meaning they produce a more approachable and affordable wine portfolio. When Starmont first started, it was only producing Chardonnays, but its full library of wines now includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé. Oh yeah, and Pinot Noir. So, with their expanded offerings bringing in an expanded following, as they say, “it was time to move out.” Starmont now has their own estate vineyards and tasting room in Napa.

Starmont Winery Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes harvested from the Carneros AVA in Napa Valley. The wine went through both open- and closed-top fermentations (depending on the character of the individual lots), and winemakers utilized both native and cultured yeast. The wine was aged for nine months in French oak barrels.

14.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: This is a medium bodied Pinot Noir with a medium to high level of acidity and a medium to low level of tannins, which don’t really come to the forefront at all during the tasting.

Starmont Winery and Vineyards Pinot Noir pours like a liquid gem. The smell is a combination of a beautiful bouquet of fresh velvet red roses and a basket of just underripe berries — you can smell the bright acidity of the fruit. The initial palate is clean, clear, as refreshing as water. Let the wine sit and settle on the tongue and that bright acidity awakes the tastebuds, bursting those berries sensed in the aroma. Hang on to the wine a bit longer and feel how it takes a darker turn, with secondary flavors of dried fruits, like currants. The finish is a solid one, emitting a distinct earthiness with a bit of grit or sand.

This combination of light/bright turned to dark and dirty is something usually saved for wines from the Old World. I was overwhelmed with the depth and complexity of this very New World wine.

Food Pairing: I’m not going to lie, this was a Pinot and pizza night the night I first tried Starmont Winery & Vineyards Pinot Noir. But with such Old World depth and complexity, I think this wine deserves something a little more special, something simple yet elegant. I’m thinking a smoked steelhead trout atop wilted greens, alongside steamed veggies.

More Info: Like I said, this was a by-chance encounter for me. I found Starmont Winery & Vineyard Pinot Noir at Trader Joe’s (Price: $20). If I find more from them, I’ll be sure to (not so impulsively) buy and try. I’d be most curious to try their single-vineyard offerings (though I’m not positive this will be available in stores.

Fore more information about Starmont Winery & Vineyard, please do visit the Starmont Winery website.


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