Wine Time

Dennis Sodomka is a guest columnist | Contact Dennis

Wine Time: Soul Sister Pinot Noir 2011, California

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COST: $11-$13

WHAT: If you like the California rock band Train, this is the wine for you. It’s also the wine for people who like easy-sipping Pinot Noir.

It’s produced by Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co., which was started by members of the band and is named after one of their albums. Celebrity tie-ins and clever marketing are fine, but what’s important is what’s in the glass. And Soul Sister delivers.

The Soul Sister Pinot Noir is a pretty, light ruby red in the glass, with mild aromas of tomato, cherry and a bit of vanilla. The tastes are like a spring fruit salad, with strawberries and cherries dominating.

The grapes come from the cool climate Central Coast, where the grapes stay on the vines for an extended time, allowing for a balanced acid content.

Pinot Noir is a difficult grape to grow, so you don’t often see decent Pinot at this price. This is not a wine you want to cellar and let develop, but it is a very pleasant wine for a weeknight dinner or sipping on the porch.

WINERY: The Save Me, San Francisco winery grew out of Train guitarist Jimmy Stafford’s love for wine. He likes to have a glass or two of red wine before every concert. He said he has had wine all over the world, but he still likes California wine best.

So he and the other members of the band decided to join winemaker James Foster and create their own winery. The Pinot Noir is the latest varietal to be added to their list.

‘‘Wine and music tell stories and connect those who share it,” says Stafford. “Just as a song’s message strikes a chord with so many people, our wines will transport you back to that moment.

“My favorite thing about having our own wine brand, aside from the wine-tasting and choosing the varietals, is working directly with our winemaker James Foster.”

A portion of the proceeds from wine sales are donated to Family House, a nonprofit organization that serves as a home away from home for families of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. The wine company also sells chocolate bars made by Ghirardelli.

The name of the winery comes from the band’s 2009 album, Save Me, San Francisco. The name of the Pinot Noir is taken from that album’s first single, Hey, Soul Sister.

The winery is part of Underdog Wine and Spirits and The Wine Group. Underdog also is home to Cupcake, Fish Eye, flipflop, Big House and Octavin Home Wine Bar.

Save Me, San Francisco also produces Calling All Angels Chardonnay, Drops of Jupiter California Red Wine, California 37 Cabernet Sauvignon and Hella Fine Merlot.

GOES WITH: My wife, Teri, and I had this wine with pan-fried, breaded pork tenderloin, a favorite from my childhood. We served it with mashed potatoes and creamed corn. It was an excellent pairing.

The crisp, juicy pork cutlets got even better with the lively fruit flavors of the wine. The wine had plenty of body, but it was light enough so it didn’t overpower the pork. This also would be good with grilled chicken, pasta with tomato sauce, beef stir fry or salmon over wild rice.

WINE EVENTS

THURSDAY, SEPT. 12

Wine and tapas tasting, 5-6:30 p.m., La Maison on Telfair, 404 Telfair St.; four wines and three tapas, $25; (706) 722-4805

FRIDAY, SEPT. 13

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

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

Wine tasting and art show, 7 p.m., Aiken County Historical Museum, 433 Newberry St. SW, Aiken; sponsored by the Center for African American History, Art and Culture; featuring artists Harvey Ramseur, Eric Bridges and Ann deLorg; African wines; $20 person or $35 couple; (706) 664-3989

SATURDAY, SEPT. 14

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

THURSDAY, SEPT. 19

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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