We needed to buy wine for a dinner with relatives in an unfamiliar town recently. We were disappointed to find that, aside from a few Chiantis, the only varietals available in this "wine and liquor" shop were the standard seven: Chard, Sauv Blanc, Cab, Zin, Merlot, Shiraz and Pinot Noir. What gives? No Tempranillo? No Petite Sirah? Oh well... We had to bring some wine that would appeal to a variety of tastes and go well with lamb chops. We decided to look for a Pinot Noir.
The PN selection was not great. All of the Santa Barbara Pinot Noirs were between $30-$60. No thanks. Luckily, they did have a Duck Pond PN for around $20. Taster A visited the winery during a trip to Oregon last fall so we knew what we were getting ourselves into. Also, we thought it would be fun since most of my relatives live in the Pacific Northwest.
In typical dinner party style, I didn't take any tasting notes but, I remember that it it was dominated by bright flavors of cherry, with deeper aromas of blueberry and caramel, and a hint of barnyard on the nose that worked very well with the lamb flavors. It was not as rich as the Merlot we selected as one would expect but, it was very dynamic and lively on the palate.
We also had fun experimenting with some dark chocolate wafers my cousin picked up from the local chocolate shop. They were dusted with chili and salt and the pairing made the Pinot sparkle. Our Merlot was lovely too--from another winery we enjoy visiting: Benziger.