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2006 Merryvale Pinot Noir 

Carneros, California
$32-$33 Retail

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Grapes for this wine were harvested from Merryvale's estate vineyards and the noted Stanly Ranch vineyard. The fruit is derived from relatively new Pinot Noir clones that are producing Carneros wines of great depth and character. After fermentation, the wine is aged eight to 10 months in more than 50 percent new French oak before it is bottled. Exceptionally well-balanced, this high-quality wine shows great complexity, intense aromas and flavors, crisp acidity and supple, well-integrated tannins. In the glass, an engaging bouquet of fresh strawberry, vanilla, chocolate and toasty oak beckons, followed by cherries, spice and a hint of earthiness. Although it's a delicious aperitif, this incredibly versatile wine shines when paired with salmon, tuna, wild mushrooms, duck, veal and many other dishes. Where to buy it: Langenstein's in Metairie. Where to drink it: Ralph's on the Park and Crescent City Steak House. (Listings current at press time.) — Brenda Maitland

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