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Van Ruiten Pinot Noir 2015
Five decades later, the Van Ruitens farm over 800 acres of wine grapes, with only their optimum fruit destined to carry the family name. After more than fifty years, their ambition became a reality, as the Van Ruiten Family Winery was built just prior to the 2000 harvest. Two generations of the Van Ruiten family now work together to tend the vineyards and manage the winery.
With a distinctly Mediterranean climate featuring warm days and cool nights, the Lodi AVA in California’s Central Valley provides growers with ideal conditions for grape-growing. As most of the rain falls in winter months while vines are dormant, the risk of disease and pest problems is low and irrigation can make up for the dry conditions during harvest.
By a wide margin, Zinfandel is the most successful and widely planted variety in Lodi. Often made from old vines, these wines are robust and fleshy with ripe, plummy fruit and represent excellent value at the lower end of the price spectrum. Over 100 other varieties are grown here, ranging from the classic (Merlot, Chardonnay) to the obscure and experimental (Portugal’s Touriga Nacional, France's Picqpoul).
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.