Cheers July/August 2012

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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The grape (left), grows well in many areas of the world; Wit and Wisdom in Baltimore (middle), serves serveral pinot noirs; and Santa Barbara (right) is a top growing area for pinot noir. NAPA VALLEY HEAVY HITTERS Better known for other grapes including chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, California's Napa Valley also produces intense pinot noir. "Napa pinot noir tends to be the darkest, richest, oakiest, fullest and boldest of the [regions] and can often rival syrah and cabernet [sauvignon] in terms of body and sheer intensity," explains Wildy. Indeed, Napa's warm climate produces a New World style Wisdom, the latest Michael Mina concept, a 248-seat American tavern at the 256-room Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore, 61 pinot noirs by the bottle priced $51 to $204. of pinot noir that is often fruit forward and juicy, with higher alcohol content, body, oak treatment and tannin than those from other regions. While some guests prefer this bigger style, Richard Hanauer sees napa pinot as falling off in terms of popularity. "Th e wines are massive, especially for the grape, and often times their complexity is hidden by weight and power," notes the wine director for the 74-seat, seafood-focused L20 in Chicago, which off ers 200 pinot noirs by the bottle priced $50 to $5,000. Still, he believes muscular napa pinot can often better stand its own next to dishes traditionally too robust for the grape—like a well-seasoned grilled steak. Rajat Parr, wine director for the 20 concepts of the San Francisco-based Michael Mina Group, thinks winemakers who make pinot noir in this style can sacrifi ce the grape's signature cherry and earthy notes. Over-extraction to achieve more color, tannin and fl avor can lead to wines varietally unrecognizable to more traditionally made counterparts. Parr shies away from this style, but nonetheless sees them as becoming the norm, as customers demand more intense fl avor, color and tannin from their red wine. Wit and becoming increasingly well known for high-quality pinot noir production."Santa Barbara has an almost perfect climate for pinot noir," muses Michael Scaffi di, wine director for Th e Jeff erson Hotel, a 99-room luxury hotel in Washington, D.C., which includes the 42-seat fi ne dining restaurant Plume and 53-seat bar Quill. Suzan Boyce, sommelier for the 53-seat Southern American SANTA BARBARA STARS Just west of Los Angeles, the coastal Santa Barbara region is restaurant Cotton Row in Huntsville, Alabama, agrees, citing its cooler climate as the reason Santa Barbara pinot noirs have both earthy, Burgundian traits and ripe but lighter fruit than Napa Pinot Noir. But an adept hand is required if the goal is wine that's recognizable as traditional pinot noir. "I think there is a battle with weight and power here," says Tim Baldwin, wine director for the Broadmoor, a 700-room resort in Colorado Springs with 18 restaurants and lounges. "Th ose who keep it in check make exceptional wine." Benchmark pinot noir for Santa Barbara usually touts medium body, acidity and ripe fruit, with fi nesse and subtle mushroom and forest fl oor aromas. Hanauer pairs these wines with delicate meats like rabbit and veal, but doesn't like to pigeonhole the grape. "Th e beauty of pinot noir is to not match it to one dish, but several across diff erent diners and courses." JULY/AUGUST 2012 | 31

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