A lovely ’08 California Pinot that is drinking well right now. Opening is a bit alcoholic, which belies what is underneath—a nose of briar and blackberries and light chocolate. Brilliant sweet fruit, like cranberries with sugar. Languorous finish. Not overly complex, but lovely nonetheless. Simple food is best with this, like grilled lamb or, for you vegans out there, grilled eggplant. Highly recommended.

WHO: Spell Winery
WHAT: Pinot Noir
WHERE: Russian River Valley, California
WHEN: 2008
HOW MUCH: $46

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About The Author

Gary Thomas
Wine Review Editor

Gary Thomas is also a longtime professional journalist, and former senior correspondent at the Voice of America. He was the wine columnist for the Austin American-Statesman in Austin, TX, and has freelanced wine articles for other publications, including the Wine Spectator. He has spent much of his long journalistic career working overseas, managing to cadge needed wine in the hardiest of circumstances and unlikliest of locales, even in places like Pakistan and Iran.