Tales from the Trellis 2014 Top Value Budget Wines with New Years Eve Sparkling Picks

31 12 2014

My Top Value Wines of 2014

2014 was quite a year and filled with great memories. Throughout the year, I have enjoyed many excellent wines at really great prices and want to share the best wines at the best values with you.

I will start with my favorite, as it is the day and evening to open some sparkling wine! These are all the wines that come to my mind when I think back on the year and what I have ordered over and over. See the BOLD for best value in each category.


1) Sparkling Wine:

a) Top Cava: Raventos i Blanc de Nit Rosé and regular Brut bottling, Llopart Rosé 2009*

b) Top US Sparkling Wine: J vineyards: Cuvée 20, J Vineyards XB, Roederer Estate, Scharfenberger, Roederer Estate Le Hermitage 2004

c) Top French Sparkling Wine (not from Champagne): Pollo Club, Charles de Feré 

d) Top Prosecco: Adami Prosecco Garbel 13 and Adami Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut Bosco di Gica, Mionetto

e) Top Champagne: Pierre Gimonnet Belles Annees (hard to find), Veuve Clicquot yellow label, Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut

f) Top Other: For those that love extremely sweet and syrupy – Banfi Rosa Regale or Barefoot Sparkling Pinot Grigio

2) Chardonnay: 

a) Novellum (french) 2012/2013

b) Foxglove 2012

c)  Kendal Jackson 2012

 3) Shiraz:

a) MollyDooker the Boxer 2012

b) Schild Estate

4) Cabernet:

a) H3 (Horse Haven Hills) 2012 

b) Hall

c) Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Cabernet Sauvignon

5) Pinot Noir/Burgundy:

a) Meiomi 2012 and 2013

b) Leyda Classic and Leyda Las Brisas (single vineyard bottling)

b) Walt

6) Sauvignon Blanc:

a)  J Vineyards Russian River Valley

b)  Hall Triple T Bar T Ranch 2013

7) Zinfindel:

a) Bogle Phantom (blend of 4 varietals)

8) Italian reds:

a) Falesco Vitiano Rosso (blend) 2010

b) Felsina Berardenga Chianti Classico 2011

 9) Italian Whites:

a) Bastianich Adriatico Pinot Grigio 2011

b)Santa Margarita Pinto Grigio 2012

10) Top Malbec

a) Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva 2011

b) Bodega Chakana Estate Selection Malbec 2012

11) Rose:

a) Charles and Charles

b) J Vineyards

c) Miraval 2013

My top pick for wine of the year – that provides the best value based on price vs. quality, is a TIE!

The Horse Haven Hills 21012 Cabernet from Washington State at $12 USD is an amazing wine that has tones of complexity and yet affordable to have every day.

The Leyda Single Vineyard Las Brisas from Chile (at $14.99 USD) is an outstanding value and taste like they are double the price.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year. I am grateful for your support and humbled by your following me here on talesfromthetrellis.com.

Peace, love and health to you all.


Steve from the trellis

Steal My Sip: Pinot Noir recommendations for around $12 USD and under: The blind tasting!

29 03 2010

Four Pinots on the Sill © Tales From the Trellis, 2010

Okay, after over a week of miserable allergies, my nose is back and I am raring to go on with this tasting!

Let me start by saying that this is not going to be easy. Typically to find a nice Pinot under $18 USD is almost impossible, but let me explain. Pinot noir is typically priced at starting points higher than other varietals because…it is a pain in the a@@ to grow. Some of you may have seen the movie Sideways (which explained a bit of this, but also put the screws to Merlot), and remember that Miles said it is a very thin-skinned grape and needs the perfect climate to grow into something extraordinary and become Pinot Noir.

Varietals like Chardonnay, Cabernet and Merlot are grown almost everywhere and are stronger, tougher grapes and can withstand the elements better than Pinot Noir. So that all being said, we pay for all of this at the checkout. The care needed and given to these grapes will cost us more, but…when it is done right, Pinot takes up to another planet. This is why you will find a ton of those varietals previously mentioned, on the shelves at much higher volumes produced and the ability to sell at lower prices. Much more available grapes to make these wines, blend with others, etc. So there are fewer produced at the under 11 price point.

There are so many styles from which choose. California is typically more fruit-forward, France is typically more earthy, Oregon skates the line between, New Zealand, and South America have become players now in their cooler regions.

Today, we have a few bottles that were $12.00 USD or less from the 2008 vintage. Three of these 4 come from California. The other is French. I will blind test to see what I will use as my “house Pinot” and can serve to guests at events or give away as presents in the future. Again, everyone has a different sense of what is good, mine will be about color, nose (smell), mouthfeel, taste, price and of course – overall bang for the buck. Which of these will taste like a 2 dollar wine and which can pass for a $20? Let’s try them and see.

I have chosen these 4 bottles based on availability, popularity. Please note that I have had tried them all in the past – but different years (vintages) for each. So these represent, to me, the best of the best that are widely available. 3 of the 4 were purchased in a local Supermarket Chain wine store – if that gives you an indication about just how widely available they are here in NJ and the tri-state area.

4 glass tasting 1 © Tales From the Trellis, 2010

4 glass tasting 1 © Tales From the Trellis, 2010

Blind Tasting

I am getting some help with this tasting, as my wife Stacey will be sipping along to ensure a “fair and balanced” representation. Each bottle is wrapped with a blank paper and tagged with a number so we will be able to associate our notes with that bottle. There are some fancier kits you can purchase for wine tasting parties, but since this is merely for “science” and not for “show,” I will keep it fairly casual.

OK, the bottles are organized and covered (blind), and I have poured 2 sets of 4 Riedel Overture red wine glasses with about 2 ounces each of the 4 bottles and labeled napkins under each to tell us what to associate with our notes. Again, this is “blind” so we have no idea which we will be tasting until after we reveal out notes and rankings. I also allowed these samples about 45 minutes in the glasses to breath before we began.


Bottle One of 4

Bottle 1 of 4

Bottle number one:

Color: Medium Ruby, as we can still see our fingers through our glass, but not clearly. All 4 of these are similar.

Legs/Tears: After swirling, we see that the “tears” or “legs” which represent alcohol content, take a bit of time to develop then show – but slight. This is indicative of alcohol content. Higher will typically mean higher levels of alcohol.

Nose: A bit “tight” and not giving that much in the way of scent now. Dark fruit, a bit of alcohol burn (astringent) and a bit of a sour note. Not much in terms of the nose.

Mouthfeel: Think of mouthfeel like viscosity: water (light), skim milk (medium) milk (full), heavy cream (mouth coating and silky). This one was between light and medium.

Taste: Light raspberry, vanilla, and heat on the finish from high alcohol (burns the back of the throat a bit) – so not much to talk about. This was not pleasant and any taste disappeared quickly, except for the alcohol burn on the short finish. Think of the tasting as a movie or play. There is a beginning, a middle and end. This went from start to finish quickly and ended poorly, but quickly.

Bottle 2 of 4

Bottle 2 of 4

Bottle number two:

Color: Medium Ruby, as we can still see our fingers through our glass, but not clearly–just outlines (as all 4 of these are similar)

Legs/Tears: After swirling, very similar to the first glass

Nose: Differs from the first bottle as it revealed some interesting notes. A bit of cherry vanilla, but a very different characteristic was some orange peel. Perfumed with violets with herbs and  a bit of alcohol as well. Interesting nose overall. High hopes based on this.

Mouthfeel: This one was more toward medium

Taste: Light cherry vanilla, some cream soda, dark berry, and a bit tannic (tart and sour) on the finish. This tannic characteristic faded and got somewhat better after abut 15 more minutes in the glass, but still fruit faded into heat.

Bottle 3 of 4 © Tales From the Trellis, 2010

Bottle 3 of 4

Bottle number three:

Color: Medium to dark Ruby – the darkest of the 3 so far

Legs/Tears: After swirling, similar to the first glass. Then we see tears slowly forming and moving down the glass.

Nose: Sweet dark stone fruits, some cherry and a lot of vanilla, a bit of alcohol was wafting up, but not overpowering the vanilla notes. Hoping this tastes like it smells. I think I know which bottle this is, based on the nose alone.

Mouthfeel: This one was medium to full, with a creaminess – thanks to that heavy use of oak (probably oak chips not full oak barrels at this low price)

Taste: Very “manipulated” but smooth with “skittle- like” candy notes (kudos to my hero, Gary Vaynerchuck and WL TV) some cream soda, dark berry, and a bit of heat on the finish. This one had the longest finish, with the fruit giving way to the vanilla oak. Very smooth. Smoothest so far, but reminiscent of the wine I had made 2 years back – and it was not a pinot noir. I’m torn about this wine. I want to dislike it because it seems a bit “fake” but really do like the way the oak and fruit work together and how smooth it is. I think many people will really like this. Not as much a food wine as it seems an apéritif that can work alone. Best so far, but again, I’m still undecided on this one. Will come back to it later to see. I’m intrigued.

Bottle 4 of 4 © Tales From the Trellis, 2010

Bottle 4 of 4

Bottle number four:

Color: Medium to dark Ruby – like  3

Legs/Tears: After swirling, similar to the first glass. Then thick tears, the most of this grouping

Nose: Wow, interesting! What the hell is this? Unusual tobacco and dirt. This is earthy and full of vegetable aromas. I am picking up green peppers, olives and even cut grass. Also, getting some oregano here. Unfortunately, I also am picking up a very strange (in a bad way) tar and burnt plastic aromas. I will come back later to see if this “blows” off /dissipates with air time.

Mouthfeel: This one was more toward medium like skim to regular milk

Taste: Picking up that tar in here like a young Barolo from Piedmont, Italy or perhaps that burnt plastic/acetone is reminding me of a South African Pinotage blend I had last year. This is interesting, for sure, but seems out of balance. Dark fruit. The alcohol is not playing well with the fruit just yet. Some bitter notes through this and that grassy vegetable characteristic from the nose is coming through on the palate. This differs from the first and second bottle, with a serious personality here, but not sure it is a friendly one. This may be like the annoying neighbor that we all know, but love despite his faults.This definitely reminds me of South Africa, like Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap (only not as smooth).

Empty Glasses for Pinot Tasting © Tales From the Trellis, 2010

Empty Glasses for Pinot Tasting © Tales From the Trellis, 2010


I was right, lol. It is really hard to find something under $18 USD that I really like and would want to have every day and is a real quality product with a sense of place and overall high quality. That being said, here are the final notes and placement of the bottles:

  • 4th Place: Bottle #1. This had little to offer in nose or taste. We both agreed that it was not something we want to drink again. I give it 1 star of 5.
  • 3rd Place: Bottle#2. Though this was smoother than the first, and had a start, middle and finish – it was light and did end on a harsh note with high alcohol burn. 2 Stars.
  • 2nd Place: Bottle #4. Ok, let me explain. Stacey hated this bottle, but for some of the reasons she did not like it, I found it interesting. Again, we all have our own palette so no answer is wrong. Since this offered up really different aromas and flavors, I found it interesting than the first 2, though it was not characteristic of a “real” pinot noir. I think that this bottle may have had higher levels of “Bret” in it, a wine flaw that could have been responsible for that “burnt plastic” characteristic. I would actually say it tied with bottle #2 to be fair, but want to see what would happen to an unopened bottle in about 6 months to a year. Perhaps that may help this bottle. I am giving it 2-2 ½ stars.
  • 1st place: THE WINNER! Ok, so this leaves Bottle #3. Even though this bottle tasted “fake” and “manipulated”, it was still the clear winner. It was fruity, smooth and easy drinking. Had notes of cherry vanilla, a bit of cola, dark fruit and a good mouthfeel. This is a wine that novice drinkers will flock to. Easy drinking, nothing to hate – no tannins, super fruity, a touch sweet with ripe fruit and plenty of cherry/berry vanilla. Intermediate to advanced pinot noir drinkers will not feel this way – but hey, this is for the majority out there that makes up this target market at pinot under $12. 2 ½+ stars.

Pinot Corks Blind Taste Rankings

Pinot corks rankings © Tales From the Trellis, 2010

The big reveal, in order of ranking:

HobNob Pinot Noir 2008, © HobNob Vineyards

HobNob Pinot Noir © Tales From the Trellis, 2010

1st Place: HobNob, Vin De Pays d’Oc, France

I think in a year, the over ripe fruit (skittles) taste may die down a bit and balance out a bit more, so I will put away a bottle to see and get back to you, but I do think this is a short-term wine. I am also surprised that this bottle came from France. This is the most atypical flavor profile for a French Pinot that I have ever seen (smelled, tasted, etc). I thought this would be a California producer for sure. I would have lost a lot of money on that bet. Hobnob has a fantastic website, so check it out.

This was like Rachel Ray compared to Bobby Flay. Many love Rachel for her mass appeal, familiar and comfortable like the girl next door  – and some dislike her for her lack of knowledge and label her as a “wannabe” chef to discredit her. Note: I appreciate what she brings to the table, which is getting more people interested in cooking!

McDonald’s is fake in every sense of the word, but still – many love it. It has mass appeal, hell – even Julia Child admitted to liking Mickey D’s! So, I admit it…out of the 4, this is what I would choose as the top of the lot. So kill me, I enjoy McDonald’s once in a while. When I asked which one Stacey wanted to have again if I could only pour one more, and she said bottle #3 (even after voting Mark West as her initial favorite). Not a wine for the “purist” pinophiles.

2nd Place: Castle Rock, Mendocino, California

Castle Rock Pinot Noir, Mendecino 2008

Castle Rock Pinot Noir, Mendocino 2008

Castle Rock is a fantastic producer of value priced wines, consistently. They have made wine from all over California and even Washington. I always recommend them to people asking for a solid producer across the board. I love their Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, so look for that too, and at around $12 a bottle, a steal. This pinot was really funky and I think that it is not for novices, and probably not for advanced drinkers as well, but for people looking for something different. It is interesting, but again, I want to see if some of that funk blows off in a year. That will help pull this one together.

Mark West Pinot Noir 2008 © The Purple Wine Co.

Mark West Pinot Noir 2008 © The Purple Wine Co.

3rd Place: Mark West Wines, California

Mark West has really taken the country by storm. Many magazines and critics have rated this wine as a best value and you see it all over. Huge acclaim and has beat out pinot up to $100 USD.

I remember when they were not as well know here in NJ and bought 2 bottles. One was the lower end (like this one we tried today) and one higher end. I loved the higher end version (Russian River Valley 2005?) but was more than double to cost. I don’t see those around and don’t think they make it anymore. I did not like the lower end version then, and though it has improved, still put it in 3rd overall. Light in style, an interesting nose but with fading flavor and heat and bitterness on the finish. Good start, decent middle but bad finish. Also “manipulated” tasting like the HobNob, but not as smooth. Not a wine for the “purist” pinophiles.

Heron 2008 Sonoma Pinot Noir, © Heron Wines

4th Place: Heron Wines, Sonoma, California

Heron has made quality Pinot Noir in the past. This is not one of them. Light, fading fast and a whisper of a flavor profile. Hoping they can have better luck next year, because I do like them very much.

Closing Statement: Pinot Noir recommendations for $12 or less

So there it is. Unanimous with an explanation. I poured us a second glass and we finished our dumplings – knowing we had a winner in the under $12 USD category anyway. Next time, I will work up to the $12-17 pinot and will include a global representation for more diversity. This time out, McDonald’s rules the day, as the others were not able to overcome their faults, while the winner won with sheer over-the-top excess in fruit and wood (and a bit of manipulation). Cheers to HobNob Vineyards for this import that will satisfy many here in the USA.

Also try these value Pinots:

  • Robert Mondavi Private Selection 2008: $10.00-12.00 USD
  • Chalone Pinot Noir, Monterey County 2008: $11.99- 16.00 USD
  • Deloach California Pinot Noir: $10-13.00 USD
  • Spend the extra and go for the Cambria, Julia’s Vineyard for $18.00!

Post your favorite Pinot Noir under $12 USD here! Let me know what you liked about them.

Full disclosure: I do not take money, wine, advertising or trade for higher or manipulated reviews–period.

Steve from the Trellis


© Tales From the Trellis and Talesfromthetrellis, 2010

You’ll always be my Valentine, but these bubbles are for anytime

12 02 2010
Valentine's Toast

Valentine's Toast © Tales From the Trellis, 2010

Where do I even begin. I love sparkling wine. It is my favorite. Bar none. Sparkling wine can be Cava, Prosecco, Crémant, Sekt and of course the grandaddy of them all…Champagne. Since I had no real frame of reference for sparkling wine (my father was not a big fan) my love affair with it began later in my wine drinking lifetime. I would say it was around winter of 1990, I had that big OMG moment that I will remember for the rest of my life.

My family and I were at our friend Tony’s home for Christmas Eve dinner. Tony was a real aficionado when it came to bubbles. He was a collector and avid drinker of many types and styles. At the time, Mumm’s Cordon Rouge was my comfort zone– until this magical night. Tony was kind enough to open up a few bottles of what I recall was Domaine Carneros (Taittinger via Napa Valley). We all seemed to enjoy it and we started to polish off his remaining case quickly. Tony came back out with another offering, I think this time we were hitting his reserve of Mumm’s René Lalou (vintage 1986?) – in a fantastic bottle with an unforgettable shape. I believe we moved into Dom Perignon after that – but it all got a bit fuzzy and don’t think I made it through dinner. But again, I digress.

All bubbly wine is sparking but not all sparkling wine is Champagne. Many of you already know this, but only sparkling wine that comes from area in France called Champagne – can legally be called Champagne (they are very strict about enforcing this and have gone after people who have broken this rule). In recent years, there were some changes made to expand the area so that more of the wine could be deemed Champagne. Great for the growers and wine makers there! Of course in France, where it seems they carve rules (and tradition) in stone, this brought controversy.

Champagne is really special, but it is not the only option for sparkling wines (just tends to be the most expensive). Other regions within France, and other parts of the world, make really impressive wine at great everyday (ok- at least once a week) prices. Spain makes Cava, Italy has Prosecco, France makes Crémant  in other regions and in the same style (and principle grapes) as Champagne, California makes quality sparklers, as does Oregon. And yes, you can actually find a quality value sparkling wine in New Mexico from a producer named  Gruet, (it’s true, and good). So many regions are making sparkling wine (too many to get to in this post).

Let’s get to the wine! As I said earlier, I love to drink sparkling wine all the time. Summertime with a nice flute, the best! I love it with everything and it is one of the most food friendly wines of all. Many people only seem to buy sparkling wine on Valentines Day and New Years Eve. There is a misconception that it is pricy and only for special occasions. I am of the belief that every day we are alive is a special day. I am also of the belief that good everyday drinking sparkling wine is in reach for everyone.

Ok, so what if I told you that you can find decent everyday “house” champagne for the price you would pay for that bottle you just bought last night. Yes you can. Below are a few of my personal favorite “value priced” sparklers under $17 USD that bring a lot to the table in terms of quality/price ratio. Real values and well made. Can not go wrong here. Great as an apéritif, and I will have a piece on other heavier styles in the future that can be paired with main courses.

Llopart Rose Brut Riserva Cava (Spain). It’s is dark, a very dark rose that looks like it will be sweet, but people let me tell you that it is dry as a bone and amazing! It is creamier and more effervescent than most cava I have experienced. I tasted strawberry, raspberry, vanilla and a bit of minerality. Very floral nose. This newer edition seems a bit stronger overall in terms of body and flavors than the previous. In NYC, you can find it by the glass (where I found and fell in love with it) at Tom Colicchio’s CraftBar. Try it with the sausage stuffed grape leaves- heaven!

Veuve de Vernay (France) is a “blanc de blanc” which means it is pure chardonnay (as opposed to a typical french blend that includes Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier). This one is very dry, with nice fruit and a good finish. For the price ($8-12 USD)  you can also buy in large quantities for  a party or other celebrations – without breaking the bank. We enjoyed this at hour holiday party at work.

Charles de Fere Jean Louis Brut (France). I feel this one is a step above the Vernay in terms of sophistication. Lighter in style with pear notes, apple and  toast. Hints of peach. Really nice and this is my “house sparkling wine” of the moment. ($8-12 USD)

Argyle Brut (Oregon) Great spices (the Pinot Noir does this) and toast (chardonnay) with a lot going on and a crisp and long finish. ($16-24 USD)

Gloria Ferrer (Sonoma) Brut. Real quality, small bubbles and smooth. Creamy pear and a hint of nut and finished with toasty crispness. ($14-18 USD)

Riondo Prosecco (Italy) is blow-away for the price. Around $10 USD and a must try. Find this! Vanilla and a bit of lemon character. Amazing mouthfeel and fairly sophisticated for Prosecco. Robert Parker says 90 points and I say YES PLEASE. Don’t walk, run to get this.

In closing, I hope you will enjoy some of these sparkling wines – paired with nice oysters, chocolate, spring rolls, tempura, salmon, fried anything (the acidity cuts the grease/fat)..well, you get where I am going with this. Make sparking wine your anytime choice. No, these probably wont change your life-like a better quality and higher priced option can, but they can make it more fun for less!

For those of us that like it a bit sweeter, you can buy some Veuve de Lalande Rose (available for $9.99 USD in Stew Leonard’s Wines across the USA). This is a touch sweeter (off-dry) and you can taste strawberry and dark fruits within. It does finish dry but short. If you want, you can also add splash of Creme de Cassis, orange juice, peach or pear nectar to your flute filled with any of the above value sparkling wines. Remember never use those wide-mouth margarita looking glasses. The flute will hold the bubbles while the wide mouth will kill them with all that exposure to the air.

Have a happy Valentines Day! Let us all know what you will (or have had) on Valentines day and how you liked it! If you need help locating these, email me and let me know.


Steve from the Trellis


Tales From the Trellis

Pair It: Salmon and Pinot Noir

7 02 2010
Chirashi Sushi bowl

Chirashi Sushi Bowl © Rebecca Li, 2009

This is my first post to this section (Pair It) devoted to pairing wine and food. Just so that you understand how insane I am, when I go out to a restaurant (except if it a BYO)– I do not behave the way most do. The first menu I look at is for the wine. I actually chose the wine I am in the mood for, then choose the best thing I feel will pair with it.

This post is about my most favorite pairing. My love for food is second only to my love of wine (but barely), but happily they both bring out the best in each other. Something happened to me about 18 years ago. Back in about 1992, I had just bought Joel Robuchon’s first English translated book (well before he was as popular as he is here now) and began to cook through his recipes. I had a lot of fun doing this, and each night, my mom and brother would come home to something different on the table. That year, I was experimenting with these recipes, and decided to cook a 5 corse meal in honor of my mother’s birthday (I believe it was her 45th). The main course was a salmon in a red wine shalot sauce. I had never had nor made this before, but it sounded both intriguing with options for a visually dynamic presentation. So I went for it.

The myth about fish being served only with white wine was already being debunked, and this meal changed it for me forever. Though it was more about the wine based sauce (lot’s of butter whisked in off the heat) that opened up my mind to this pairing – and happily, I have not been the same since.

These days, living in New Jersey has its benefits. The vast amounts of BYO restaurants is a boon to everyone that either collects and enjoys the benefits of pairing in advance, wants to save money by patronizing a local wine shop and not spending what are between 200 and 400% markups in restaurants with wine programs, or just knows what they want. For me, it’s all the above.

When I want sushi or better yet, sashimi, I have a clear picture in my mind both where and what I will be doing in the basement in preparation for this trip out. If I intend to go Japanese, and crave top quality, fresh out of the water salmon, I will be hunting in the racks for a Pinot Noir to create the magic that will soon follow.

In past years, I have enjoyed the 2005 Chandon Pinot Noir and found a great deal under $20 for these bottles by “going case” to receive a %20 discount. Let me say that this combination of the silky, sexy mouthful of pure and fresh velvety salmon –with it’s inherent rich fattiness that melts in your mouth – with the soft and subtle sour cherry, clove, vanilla and cola notes from the Pinot Noir create this sensation in my mouth and my brain that can only be describes as an outer body experience. When the perfect wine meets the perfect food – and reinvent the way we taste something as a whole…this is what really drives me to tell you to open your mind to some of the pairings I will talk about in this blog.

I have tried other Pinot Noir pairings since, some have been a bit overripe and the fruit a bit too much which throws off the balance and suppleness of the fish. I will explain in my next post – that with patience and the right conditions, we can store the wine and put some age on it so that that fruit (and sometimes high alcohol levels) may fade back to allow the pairing to work at it’s best.

Note, Pinot Noir not only  loves raw salmon, but grilled as well. I have enjoyed some Oregon based Pinot Noir with my cedar plank grilled salmon at home. Bergstrom, Chehalem, Ponzi and Adelsheim come to mind, but those can be on the pricey side from $25 to $65 USD. Pessagno from the Central Coast (CA) was just rated 94 points from Wine Enthusiast, and at around $25 USD, a steal. For more budget conscious, try the Cambria Julias Vineyard at under $20 USD. Australia has some values with Innocent Bystander 2008 achieving high marks for its strawberry/raspberry notes and a lingering trail of minerality. For around $15.00 USD, a steal. Castle Rock is the lowest price with best value at under $12.00, but with Pinot, it is a typically expensive varietal as it is a hard grape to work with and costs more to create (but worth it).

The other thing I love with salmon (raw) is sparkling wines. When you are having especially fatty Salmon or even Toro, the acidity cuts the fattiness of the salmon and really works to refresh your mouth and palette. But that post is for another time.

Question for all of you out there, have you had salmon (cooked or not) with Pinot Noir and if so, what was the dish and the wine – and your overall impressions of this pairing.

Thanks for reading and participating, as always!

Many thanks to Ray Chan and Rebecca Li for these excellent images! Good Friends and great foodies with a love for great wine too! Keep them coming!

Steve from the Trellis

© Tales From the Trellis 2010

Salmon Roe Sushi © Ray Chan, 2009