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New Customers Save $30* with code SEPTNEW
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Caraccioli Cellars Santa Lucia Highlands Estate Pinot Noir 2010
In 2006 Gary enticed his Uncle Jim and brother Phil, to expand their agricultural roots into the wine businesswith the idea that they would make an exclusive and original wine that was not being produced anywhere else in the area. His goal was to develop a sophisticated and complex sparkling wine specific to the Santa Lucia Highlands.
When Gary met Michel Salgues and Joe Rawitzer, the plan was set into motion. Salgues, who was born and raised in France, and Rawitzer a Monterey County native of Swiss Italian decent, view wine very similarly to Gary. Their belief: to enhance the consumer's experiance through the best grapes and most stringent procedures.
?Today the Caraccioli’s continue to produce Brut and Brut Rose sparkling wine varietals as well as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The fourth generation of the Caraccioli family has joined the founders in their venture. In fact Gary’s son, Scott, is head of marketing and oversees day-to-day operations. In between running a thriving winery, guests can likely see the Caraccioli family members pop in and out of the tasting room or along the streets of the city. Scott is often found heading to a meeting in Carmel or Monterey where he sits in executive positions on boards for several organizations including the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association, the Carmel Chamber of Commerce and the Carmel Wine Walk.
Caraccioli wines have been described as “Old World” with deep roots, which is no surprise coming from this old world family
Perhaps the most highly regarded appellation within Monterey County, Santa Lucia Highlands AVA benefits from a combination of warm morning sunshine and brisk afternoon breezes, allowing grapes to ripen slowly and fully. The result is concentrated, flavorful wines that retain their natural acidity. Wineries here do not shy away from innovation, and place a high priority on sustainable viticultural practices.
The climatic conditions here are perfectly suited to the production of ripe, rich Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These Burgundian varieties dominate an overwhelming percentage of plantings, though growers have also found success with Syrah, Riesling and Pinot Gris.
One of the most difficult yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is commonly referred to by winemakers as the “heartbreak grape.” However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. More reflective than most varieties of the land on which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality, and demands care in the vineyard and lots of attention in the winery. It is an important component of Champagne and the only variety permitted in red Burgundy. Pinot Noir enjoys immense popularity internationally, most notably in Oregon, California, and New Zealand.
In the Glass
Pinot Noir Is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and lively acidity. It ranges in body from very light to the heavier side of medium, typically landing somewhere in the middle—giving it extensive possibilities for food pairing. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount), it can develop hauntingly beautiful characteristics of fresh earth, autumn leaves, and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon, ocean trout, and tuna. Its mild mannered tannins don’t fight with spicy food, and give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry—chicken, quail, and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, it can even match with heavier fare. Pinot Noir is also very vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
Pinot Noir is dangerously drinkable, highly addictive, and has a bad habit of emptying the wallet. Look for affordable but still delicious examples from Germany (as Spätburgunder), Italy (as Pinot Nero), Chile, New Zealand, and France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions.