Sitting at home with the heater on, fireplace blazing, curled up in a comfy quilt while listening to rain patter against the window — it’s the perfect scene for a heart warming glass of Pinot Noir. The kind that enlivens you with its earthy aromas; envelopes you in its smooth, silky texture; and kisses you softly with the plush, subtle finish of over-ripe bush berries. The experience itself is like being wrapped in a warm blanket.

It’s an experience that Pinot lovers appreciate as an endulgence because not every bottle will gift it and, in fact, not every wine drinking moment calls for it. But when it’s what you want, it’s what you need — and there’s nothing like satisfying that craving.

There’s a reason that Testarossa sets my Pinot Noir bar — more specifically, Testarossa Gary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir. Because with each vintage it continuously delivers that undeniable — inescapable — heart-warming and utterly indulgent Pinot Noir experience.

About the Wine: Testarossa claims, “Garys’ Vineyard is arguably the most famous property in the Santa Lucia Highlands.” I would probably back that argument seeing as how its 50 acres are predominantly dedicated to Pinot Noir. And, with its perfect location along Santa Lucia where Monterey Bay coastal winds maintain foggy mornings, clear and breezy afternoons, and a long growing seasons with temperatures never peaking much above 70 — well this is certainly an ideal place to grow the fickle grape.

Rumored to be a “suitcase clone,” the Pisoni clone (named for Gary Pisoni — one of Gary’s Vineyard’s proprietors) makes up 42 acres of the property. Three of those Pisoni acres are annually allocated to Testarossa Winery for their Pinot Noir production.

Testarossa Gary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pisoni clone Pinot Noir grapes from Gary’s Vineyard in Monterey County. I can’t speak to the specifics of the winemaking process (though I would, at some point, love to interview winemaker Bill Brosseau), I can certainly tell you, on taste alone, that this wine was certainly aged in oak barrels (best guess a combination of new and seasoned for about a year).

14.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: Why does this wine taste so good? Why is it that I can sit there and sip, sip and discuss, sip and eat, sip and savor the night away, and still words escape me on how to most successfully describe this to you? I’ll do my best, but the honest truth is that when I drink a Gary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir — it’s like I’m in another world.

Pouring the wine from bottle to glass, there’s an immediate sense of comfort. Those warm aromas of oak barrel-aging combined with the soft fluffy soil of a fresh garden bed and subtle notes of lush greenery and soft petals — other worldly indeed.

In the glass, the wine has a beauteous glow that shines from the inside out — there’s no real specific hue I can name other than saying it’s and iridescent wine color.

The taste — the taste is all those things combined: soft fluffy soil, herbaceous greenery, soft-petaled flowers, all wrapped in the comfort of a subtly spoken oak barrel. But just like that glow from the inside of the glass, so does the palate have a light that shines right through, as if the sun is shining on each component of that freshly laid garden bed.

What I mean is that the wine is neither acidic nor tannic, but it must have a percentage of each, because it’s a medium to full bodied wine. But at the end of the day, everything is so well balanced and so seamlessly integrated that you almost can’t take tasting notes because it’s just so hard to pick apart individual flavors, textures, even thoughts or emotions — other than, “I like this wine and it makes me feel good.”

Food Pairing: Are my tasting notes a cop-out? Tell me have you ever felt the same way about a wine?

But when it comes to food I have a firm position that this wine needs to be paired with something light and delicate. Think soft, flaky salmon atop a bed of wilted greens with a side of steamed rice infused with a bit of cilantro and just the light touch of edible flowers and microgreens for garnish. That is my perfect pairing.

Otherwise, take the time to drink this wine on its own — and on your own for that matter. Indulge in the not-so-guilty pleasure that is Testarossa Pinot Noir.

More Info: I received this wine as a gift (thanks partner in wine crime!), but you can purchase the 2014 vintage (sorry 2013 is no longer available) on the Testarossa website (Price: $66).

For a slightly more casual, less intense Testarossa Pinot Noir, please read my Testarossa Brosseau Vineyard Pinot Noir review…Cheers!


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