Delightful and reasonably priced pinot noir is found in a glass of the 2006 Clos du Bois Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.
Founded in 1974 by Frank Wood, Clos du Bois has grown from a small family winery to one of California’s larger operations, now owned by Constellation Brands, the world’s largest wine company. Along the way, it has added top-tier wines like its Bordeaux-styled red wine Marlstone, Burgundy-styled white wine Calcaire, and pure Alexander Valley cabernet sauvignon Flintwood, plus a middle-tier range of reserve wines without sacrificing the quality of its basic wines like the 2006 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.
In recent years, pinot noir has become America’s fashionable red wine, making merlot so yesterday. With demand spiking upward and vineyard plantings limited, some wineries have stretched their supply of pinot noir by adding syrah to it. California wine law requires a bottle to contain only 75 percent of the grape with which it is labeled. That’s not Clos du Bois’ method.
Over the course of its 35 years, Clos du Bois has expanded its Alexander Valley and Sonoma vineyards from 520 to 925 acres. Additional fruit is obtained from contracted growers, giving Clos du Bois the quantity of grapes it needs to make 100 percent varietal wines.
Winemaker Erik Olsen sourced the pinot noir for the 2006 bottling from cool-climate vineyards in Sonoma, Mendocino and Napa counties. After fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the wine was aged for nine months in barrels. This winemaking method yielded a pinot noir with a classic translucent light red color and attractive aromas of ginger, cherry, and strawberry. Traditional flavors of cranberry and cherry meld with mild acidity, keeping the palate awake and pleased.
Olsen shows his understanding of pinot noir’s charms by avoiding the jammy texture and candied taste that other California and some Oregon winemakers infuse into pinot noir. It is this combination of pure pinot noir married to skilled winemaking that makes this bottle a joy.
My glass accompanied a bowl of penne pasta coated with a sauce of chopped tomato, diced eggplant, mushrooms, fennel, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. A second glass followed with roasted chicken and sauteed spinach. It will be a tempting mate for an antipasto plate of salami, prosciutto, soppressata and a nugget of Parmesan cheese, and those who drink red wine with fish will find it perfect with grilled salmon.
The 2006 Clos du Bois Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir retails for approximately $22.