I happen to be very lucky and I know Alison Crowe well. She is a vibrant, energetic and influential winemaker as well as blogger. I am happy to call her a friend. This $15 pinot, is a fun, fresh and youthful wine made from Central Coast fruit. As a Santa Barbara County native, Alison was educated at UC Davis and worked her way up through jobs at Chalone and other well known wineries. She now has her own brand, Garnet and also consults with Saintsbury. Pinot Noir is the easiest grape to show true expression of the fruit, and Alison loves to play with it. The Monterey fruit is different than all the other pinots as it’s a classic Central Coast wine, with fresh, savory red fruit. Crowd pleasing and inexpensive! Viva la Garnet!
Garnet: -A semi precious mineral gemstone, often mistaken for a ruby. -A middle English word meaning dark red. -A wine producer that specializes in Pinot Nor from Carneros. Recently, I was tretaed to a dinner featuring the wines of Garnet, hosted by winemaker Alison Crowe. Once a lower brow brand of large California fighting varietal house Saintsbury, Garnet was sold to the grape supplier Silverado Winegrowers in 2011. With over 11,000 acres of California vineyards, Silverado has been a longtime supplier of premium grapes to several brands. With the purchase of Garnet, they now focus on production of higher-end wines. Creating wines that retail between $11 – $30, you can bet there is something in there for everyone. I was delighted by the quality of the lower price point Monterey Pinot Noir, which typically can be a bit off putting to me. I just don’t personally care for the Monterey terroir in my pinot. While most Garnet wines are sold at restaurants, they recently announced a partnership with Safeway to sell the Monterey pinot in stores, which means you can get a inexpensive wine for a steal. The Garnet label has been around since 1983; in the mid nineties, the production swelled to 15,000 cases, which, while I don’t know for sure, probably lead to some degredation in quality. Alison cut her winemaking teeth at Chalone, one one of the great family houses in Central California (ok that’s another story). From there, she move don to work with Randall Graham, and really honed her style with some of the world’s best renegade wine makers. Now, she has the opportunity to build a brand in to one of Carneros’ finest. It is her goal to ensure that each wine is a true expression of the terroir, and by selecting specific sights in the vineyard portfolio for each bottle, she can do this. Before dinner, we were greeted by the 2010 Sonoma Coast Chardonany. Now, you know that I’m not the world’s biggest chard lover but this was a nice departure from the overly cloying, butter bombs that are typical of the region. Filled with bright lemon and citrus, there was a lemon curd sprinkled with nutmeg hiding in there. I loved the brightness with a hidden agenda. The fruit is 75% Carneros and 25% Green Valley (Russian River). It’s my personal opinion that the Green Valley fog brings an acidity and zip to this wine that you wouldn’t otherwise find in a Carneros chard. The other quality that has promise in this is that it is 100% stainless steel fermented and is just kissed by oak barrels when the wine is finished, so you get very little of the oaky butter bomb effect. For $15, this is a great wine for your white wine sipping ladies on the porch. A- The 2009 Monterey Pinot was a sleeper hit. As I mentioned, I don’t care for the flavor profiles I often find in Monterey Pinot. There is an oddness in there, and something that doesn’t sit well with me, in the form of green sticks and odd leaves. But this example […]