Wine of the Week: Red Car Zephyr Farms Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
You know you’re having a Sonoma County moment when you’re standing in line at the farmstead creamery shop and getting a hot tip on pairing artisanally made sheep cheese with Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.
There isn’t really a formal line at Bohemian Creamery, a goat dairy and creamery whose tiny cheese shop has become a weekend must for in-the-know curd fans since it opened to the public a year ago.
With a footprint no bigger than an elevator car, the shop is as packed with various styles of sheep, goat, cow, and water buffalo cheese as it is when much more than two people venture in, but the cheese maker’s assistant is always sure to share samples among the whole crowd.
On a recent visit to the Sebastopol area creamery, I shared samples of Boho Belle and Bo Peep while the young woman ahead of me decided on which cheese would best pair with a Friday afternoon of cleaning the house and drinking Pinot Noir, as it was her day off from work at a wine tasting room that’s just up the road.
She recommended a particular Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir from that winery as a pairing with Bohemian Creamery cheeses, some of which have aromatic natural rinds and earthy flavors that, she said, complement the funky, forest-floor aromas typical of this single vineyard wine. I had to check it out.
Red Car 2013 Zephyr Farms Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($68)
This medium-ruby wine offers a pretty aroma on the fresher side of potpourri, on the less spicy side of Christmas candle, and more like balsam than forest floor, I thought, with a hint of dried culinary mushroom. Still, it is more “funky,” in the way that many Pinot Noir fans adore, by a degree or two than many a simpler, bright, and fruity Pinot.
Aging in just 13 percent new oak barrels may have helped to hold the spice in check, allowing the vineyard’s signature to show. (The new oak percentage is something I learned from the back label of the bottle, as well as the clones, soil type and percent of stem inclusion, for those who need to know — “We like to be candid about our winemaking,” I’m told at the tasting room.)
Zephyr Farms is located above the little town of Freestone, about seven miles from the Pacific Ocean on bluffs surrounded by forest. It’s certainly a cool climate location.
When the fruit arrives, it’s sweet and silky, a strawberry-cranberry medley framed in fir wreath and dusted with vanilla and cola notes. While no “entry level” Pinot, this wine makes for a great entry to the funkier side of the category with its appealing blend of gently earthy aromas and sweet fruit flavors.
I like the Zephyr Farms Pinot Noir best with Bohemian Creamery’s Capriago, an asiago-style goat cheese. Not too funky, slightly nutty, this easily sliceable cheese accentuates strawberry conserve notes in the wine.