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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Glass of Flowers: Ferry Plaza Pinot Noir Tasting Explores Sonoma's Terroir

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2009 at 2:57 PM

click to enlarge Flowers Pinot Noir: Where Burgundy meets Sonoma - JSPATCHWORK VIA FLICKR
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  • Flowers Pinot Noir: Where Burgundy meets Sonoma
French winemakers are always talking about terroir, that elusive term that can't really be translated into English, or, for that matter, into American concepts about viticulture. Terroir encompasses all the environmental factors that give grapes their character: soil, climate, weather, and so on. The winemaker influences the grapes further, crafting wine in a certain style.

The best way to experience terroir for yourself is to taste several different wines from different growing areas made from the same grapes and in similar styles. A perfect case in point is California Pinot Noir from Sonoma. There are two kinds of California Pinots: fruit-forward, ripe, American-style wines, and earthy, restrained wines more akin to French Burgundies. The former far outweigh the latter.

Flowers Pinot Noirs fall into the Burgundian camp. Most Sonoma County Pinots are fruit-laden; the best have balanced tannins, the worst are overripe. Flowers takes advantage of its position in the Sonoma Coast AVA -- coolest growing area in the county -- to produce crisp, smoky wines with beautiful red-fruit flavors that don't overwhelm the palate.

Taste them tonight at Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, where $45 gets you two-ounce pours of four recent Pinot releases, plus one of their equally beautiful Chardonnays. Then go taste a Russian River Valley Pinot Noir: You'll be able to talk terroir with the best of them.

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Kim Westerman

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