You’ll agree that Migration is a good winery to gravitate toward when you taste its 2007 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.

Duckhorn winery has been producing top-flight cabernet sauvignon and merlot wines since its founding in 1978. Over its 30-year history, Duckhorn Wine Co. has started three other wineries: Paraduxx, Goldeneye and Migration. Napa Valley Paraduxx focuses on a red wine made from zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon; Goldeneye and Migration are farther north in the Anderson Valley, making wines from pinot noir and chardonnay.

Neil Bernardi is the 29-year old winemaker at Migration. Last month, he made is first trip to New York, and was welcome with a 14-inch snowstorm. His wines treat us a lot better. Bernardi graduated from America’s top enology school, the University of California at Davis, and worked in New Zealand before teaming up with Zach Rasmuson, the winemaker at Goldeneye.

In 2007, Bernardi began a two-year stint at Littorai winery making chardonnay and pinot noir, than returned to the Duckhorn fold as the winemaker at Migration. He and Rasmuson divide the 207 acres of vines in Anderson Valley; each has separate blocks with Migration’s share coming from the cooler sections of the vineyard. And while both make quality pinot noir, the style of Migration is more to my liking.

Bernardi’s 2007 Migration pinot noir has a black cherry color and aroma with hints of cinnamon. Its tart black cherry flavor is combined with an earthy, mineral finish that is more Burgundian than Californian. Texture is very important in pinot noir, and the 2007 Migration delivers an excellent mix of fruit and acidity giving the mouth a lively sensation and the wine a long, pleasing finish.

Too many California pinot noirs are boring from the overripe fruit and over-aging in new French oak barrels. Bernardi avoids both faults by limiting the new oak to 63 percent and the time in the barrel to ten months. In his own way, Bernardi has made an un-Californian pinot noir.

Equally delightful at our luncheon was the 2008 Migration Russian River Valley Chardonnay. It has the same restrained use of new oak barrels and balancing acidity. For a winemaker only 29-years old, Bernardi knows a lot about style. Hopefully, some older California winemakers will learn from him.

I enjoyed the 2007 Migration pinot noir with grilled tuna. Its delightful fruit and balance makes it a versatile wine for pairing with foods ranging from winter stews to summer’s grilled chicken.
The 2007 Migration pinot noir retails for approximately $35. The chardonnay is not yet in our market.