Wine Time

Dennis Sodomka is a guest columnist | Contact Dennis

Wine Time: Frank Family Napa Valley Pinot Noir, 2011

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COST: $33-$36

WHAT: Tasting this rich, full-bodied Frank Family Napa Valley Pinot Noir 2011 is like biting into a handful of ripe black cherries. It is a beautiful expression of the grape.

The wine starts a bright ruby red in the glass, with aromas of black cherry and cinnamon. The palate bursts with lush cherry and plum flavors. It has a long, lingering finish with elegant tannins.

Though better known for outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon and sparkling wines, Frank Family has made some beautiful Pinots since 2007. This is one of their best.

I am very picky about Pinot Noir because it is such a difficult grape to grow and achieve excellence with. But good winemakers such as Todd Graff at Frank Family can turn beautiful grapes into heavenly wines like this.

Whether you are entertaining friends or sipping a glass of wine on the patio after watching the golf tournament this week, the Frank Family Pinot Noir is a great wine to keep handy.

It spent 12 months in French oak barrels, 35 percent new and 65 percent once or twice filled. I would chill this slightly and open the bottle at least 30 minutes before drinking. If you can decant the wine, it will be even better.

WINERY: Former Disney executive Rich Frank started visiting Napa Valley from his home in Los Angeles in the late 1980s and eventually bought the historic Larkmead property, which had been home to Kornell Champagne Cellars.

Rich and Connie Frank bought the property with Koerner Rombauer, and then bought Rombauer out in 2007. Since the first vintage in 1992, they have made outstanding wines.

The old Larkmead building, which dates back to 1884, is on the Registry of National Historic Places, but the winery is new. It opened a new tasting room in 2008 in a 1930s Craftsman home. The tasting room has been one of the most popular in Napa Valley for years, and won the reader’s choice award from the San Francisco Chronicle in 2010 and 2011.

The winery makes a range of varietals, including Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and some incredible sparkling wines.

The wines are made from 200 acres the family owns on parcels scattered throughout Napa Valley.

Frank now also runs his own entertainment company, Prospect Park, which is developing television projects.

GOES WITH: This Pinot Noir was perfect with our Easter ham, mashed potatoes, creamed corn and salad. My wife, Teri, thought it was an excellent match, and I liked drinking it with dinner and sipping it after dinner. It was a real treat. It also would go well with duck, wild game, pork roast, lamb, chicken, turkey, pasta with cream sauce or pesto, shellfish in a cream sauce and tangy cheese. It is an excellent food wine.

WINE EVENTS

THURSDAY, APRIL 11

Wine and tapas tasting, 5-6:30 p.m., La Maison on Telfair, 404 Telfair St.; four wines and three tapas, $19.99; (706) 722-4805

FRIDAY, APRIL 12

Wine and beer tasting, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-9463

Wine tasting, 6-8 p.m., Evans Towne Market, 4460 Washington Road, Evans; several wines, cheese and crackers and live music most Fridays; $5; (706)
303-8591

SATURDAY, APRIL 13

Wine and beer tasting, 2-6 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-9463

THURSDAY, APRIL 18

Wine tasting, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three whites and three reds and several cheeses; $5 with rebate on purchase of one bottle of the featured wines; (803) 279-9522


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