When it comes to red wine Pinot Noir is to me the temptress that appears every year in the early fall begging to be sought after and enjoyed with everything from golden sunsets to my first coq au vin of the season . From my first taste of a great French Burgundy I was hooked by this grapes silky, sexy, sensuous taste and earthy lingering finish. I started trying every old and new world Pinot Noir I could find more times than not preferring the old world style even though my true loves meant I may be eating ramen noodles for a week. Years later I worked at a vineyard once owned by an artist/writer that was also a chevalier at the Clos De Vougoet in the 60’s. I would look at his work depicting life in Burgundy and daydream about what it must have been like to experience the wines he brought to life with such passion in words and pictures. When I had the opportunity to visit Burgundy I felt I was in a heady daze from all of the fabulous scents and flavors of each village and vineyard. I spent 2 weeks of bliss traveling and tasting wondering how I would ever get over my Burgundy Jones when I got back home.
Back in the states I started trying different Pinot Noirs from California, Oregon and New York. I found some stellar examples and started building a place in my collection for some of these American gems. One night at a Women in Wine event I met winemaker Kathleen Inman of Inman Family Wines over a glass at the bar before the event. She shared a bit of her story and later her delicious Pinot Noir made at the Olivet Grange vineyard in the Russian River Valley of California. I was charmed by her incredible wine, down to earth personality and obvious passion for her craft. Try as I might it was hard to find her wines at the time in NY and I savored the few bottles I had acquired.
A few weeks ago I was excited to hear Kathleen would be pouring her wines at Appellation Wine Shop near my weekend tasting classes on 10th ave. Not only did her Pinot Noir and Gris surpass my memory but she also is now producing a wonderful Chardonnay. I walked out very happy with a few bottles of her 07 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley sourced from 2 sustainable vineyards in Sonoma County. Full of flower petals, tea and a light smoke on the nose it had a long slightly earthy finish touched with bright cherry and minerals.
Upon further research of this wine I learned about the Inman families careful attention to keeping their winemaking as natural as possible with measures taken not only in the vineyard and cellar but down to printing labels using recycled paper and water based ink. They also have a very romantic wine story of their own. Kathleen met her husband Simon who was visiting the states on her first day of a summer job at a Napa Valley winery. Shortly after Simon wrote a letter to the vintner asking if he could also pass along a note he had written to his pretty blond assistant. Two years later Kathleen and Simon where married and settled in England where they continued to taste and visit various European vineyards. Nearly twenty years later they both left their jobs to purchase a small farm in the Russian River Valley and pursue a life long passion for wine. In 2000 they planted 13,000 vines of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris starting the Olivet Grange Vineyard. Great story of romance and wine!
The legendary Julia Child has perhaps the best recipe for coq au vin I’ve ever tried. Get a few bottles of Inman’s fabulous Pinot Noir and try this famous French dish http://whatscookingamerica.net/Poultry/CoqAuVin.htm