2006 Sweet Cheeks Pinot Noir

After spending the last three days tantalizingly close to Napa Valley, to which I could not venture due to being on a business trip, combined with reading a fantastic book about the Mondavi family called The House of Mondavi, The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty, I was primed for a glass of rich red when I stepped off the plane this afternoon. A quick stop at Eugene's Market of Choice (lovingly known as PC Market) brought home with Steve and I cedar plank roasted salmon with rough chopped garlic and basil, spicy charred green beans, and artichoke heart balls for a quiet Valentine's Dinner.

To satisfy my craving for red wine, we opened a 2006 Sweet Cheeks Pinot Noir. Steve and I have both written about Sweet Cheeks before, and the Pinot Noir we had tonight is the third of the four Sweet Cheeks offerings we've tried. I opened this wine over some of our other notable cellared reds because I really wanted a red that I could sit and sip comfortably without being overwhelmed. This wine certainly fits that bill.

The 2006 Sweet Cheeks Pinot Noir is on the light side of Pinots, with a fresh fruity taste overall. After breathing, anise becomes one of the stronger forefront notes on the nose. It does have a slight tart twang at the finish, which is an indication this wine could benefit from a bit more aging. After the sip is complete, a warm brown sugar rounds out the flavor. After sipping this wine while dinner was heating and then while enjoying the spicy green beans and garlicy salmon, I lean toward only offering this wine as a stand alone. It's a light Pinot that doesn't overwhelm the palate without food to temper it, but it fails to show up full force to the dinner show when paired with stronger flavors. Perhaps a light pasta or salad would be better suited as a food pairing to this red.

And if I can venture into the land of book reviews for just a moment...I wholeheartedly recommend reading The House of Mondavi. I am as yet only halfway through, and am enthralled in discovering how Napa Valley really got started. It's a fascinating foray into the major American wine industry, and the inner workings of family business. It's a fantastic read, even for those who might not love wine as much as those of us at the Oregon Wine Blog!


Anonymous said...

I too have read the House of Mondavi and highly reccommend it to anyone interested in the history of wine, especially Napa Valley. It's really a fascinating tale about that family. I could hardly put it down.

Anonymous said...

We've had tremendous success in our family restaurant with Sweet Cheeks wines, particularly their whites (their Pinot Gris wins gold regularly). Their local popularity is astounding considering they've only been promoting themselves for the last 2 years or so. The restaurant sits conveniently central to many of the Southern Willamette Valley Vineyards and we benefit from using those wines exclusively. Being ten minutes from the vineyard doesn't hurt either. We'll get Sweet Cheeks or Silvan Ridge wine tasters in evenings. I have yet to taste a bad vintage or corked bottle from Sweet Cheeks!