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2011 Jackhammer Pinot Noir 

Central Coast, California

$14-$15 Retail

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Pinot noir is one of the most difficult grapes for vintners to ripen properly, but many California winemakers faced added difficulties in 2011. A long, cool growing season delayed maturity in many vineyards and in some cases growers discarded the grapes. In only its second harvest, Jackhammer Wine Company made the most of the situation and created a nice pinot. Drawing from vineyards in three Central Coast areas (Monterey and Santa Barbara counties and Santa Maria Valley), the winemaker's fruit selection and blending skills resulted in wonderful depths of flavors, punctuated by ripe cherry and baked spice notes. Mild tannins and a smoky character lend sophistication that makes the reasonable price that much more welcome. Open 30 minutes before serving for best flavor. Drink it with grilled tuna, roasted chicken, stuffed mushrooms, rack of lamb, pate and French cheeses. Buy it at: Swirl Wine Bar & Market and Rouses.

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