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Stewart Russian River Pinot Noir 2011

Pinot Noir from Russian River, Sonoma County, California
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    Winemaker Notes

    Hailing from what is often referred to as the "true" Sonoma Coast AVA, only a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, this Pinot Noir bursts forth with rich aromatics of blackberry, violet, and smoky tobacco. The palate is elegant yet dense, featuring flavors of pomegranate and blackcurrant. Savory and subtle notes of dried mushroom and clove reveal themselves in a lingering finish while fine tannins and well integrated French oak provide backbone to this engaging Pinot Noir.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Stewart

    Stewart

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    Stewart, Russian River, Sonoma County, California
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    Michael Stewart came to the Napa Valley in 1999, intent on making high-quality wines that meet the expectations Napa Valley wines demand. His first venture was the purchase of Juliana Vineyards, a 1,000 acre vineyards in the Napa Valley appellation. He also sought out the best vineyards, the best grapes, and finally the world-renowned oenologist Paul Hobbs to start the Stewart brand. Today, 13 years after Michael came to Napa Valley, his son, James and daughter, Caroline have joined the family business

    Russian River

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    A standout region for its decidedly Californian take on Burgundian varieties, the Russian River Valley is named for the eponymous river that flows through it. While there are warm pockets of the AVA, it is mostly a cool-climate growing region thanks to breezes and fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean.

    Chardonnay and Pinot Noir reign supreme in Russian River, with the best examples demonstrating a unique combination of richness and restraint. The cool weather makes Russian River an ideal AVA for sparkling wine production, utilizing the aforementioned varieties. Zinfandel also performs exceptionally well here. Within the Russian River Valley lie the smaller appellations of Chalk Hill and Green Valley. The former, farther from the ocean, is relatively warm, with a focus on red and white Bordeaux varieties. The latter is the coolest, foggiest parcel of the Russian River Valley and is responsible for outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

    Pinot Noir

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    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.

    Perfect Pairings

    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.

    Sommelier Secret

    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. 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 Villages or Cru level wines.

    HNYSCLPNR11C_2011 Item# 140868