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Starmont Pinot Noir 2012
Sitting at the crossroads of Carneros and Napa Valley, Starmont occupies a portion of the historic Stanly Ranch. Established as a wine growing region over 150 years ago, Carneros is world renowned for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. With foggy mornings and cool afternoon bay breezes creating the perfect conditions for these varietals, Starmont wines are expressive, food-friendly and distinctly Carneros.
The Starmont story began over 25 years ago, starting as an integral part of the Merryvale brand. Led by the Starmont Chardonnay and delivering high quality Carneros and Napa Valley wines at approachable prices, Starmont complemented the more mature Merryvale portfolio. For a decade and a half, these two brands shared space at our venerable St. Helena facility. It was a perfect partnership, but as Starmont grew from a single wine into a full-fledged brand, it became time to move out.
Opportunity to find a new home was realized in 2005. Starmont acquired 50 acres of prime Carneros vineyard, a portion of the Stanly Ranch Estate first planted in 1872, and broke ground on the new winery the same year. Honoring the heritage of the vineyard, Starmont has constructed a state-of-the-art “green” winery. Among other steps taken towards sustainability, the Starmont Winery recycles 100% of winery process water, diverts over 98% of waste away from ending up in a landfill and generates enough electricity each day to power over 250 homes. In creating a certified Napa Green Winery, Starmont ensures that the surrounding area will remain pristine for future generations to enjoy.
Known for elegant wines that combine power and finesse, Carneros is set in the rolling hills that straddle the southernmost parts of both Sonoma and Napa counties. The cooling winds from the abutting San Pablo Bay, combined with lots of midday California sunshine, create an ideal environment for producing wines with a perfect balance of crisp acidity and well-ripened fruit.
One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
In the Glass
Pinot Noir is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles delving into the red or purple plum and in the other direction, red or orange citrus. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount) it can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice, dried fruit and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon and tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay, not Pinot noir. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Village or Cru level wines. So "red Burgundy" still necessarily refers to Pinot noir.