Calera 2016 Central Coast Pinot Noir

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Tasting notes
Full, rich and fruity with a long aftertaste. Ideal with duck, roast root vegetables, charcuterie and hard cheeses.

Why we recommend this wine
When we visited California a while back (see our trip notes here) we grew to like their rich style Pinots and this is a great example.

The wine
The grapes came from a handful of the finest vineyards on the Central Coast, California and were vinified in French oak - 10% new, 10% second vintage, 80% neutral (that is 3rd or more fill).

The wine estate
Calera is recognized as one of the top Pinot producers in California. Josh Jensen (the founder of Calera) spent time in Burgundy where his winemaker mentors were adamant that pinot noir and chardonnay must be grown in limestone-rich soils, as present in the Côtes d’Or, to make great wines. Upon his return from France in 1971 he spent two years searching throughout California to find limestone. Several years later he found a limestone-rich parcel near Mt. Harlan in San Benito County, located 100 miles south of San Francisco and about 37 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. Its elevation at 2,200 feet above sea level makes it one of the highest and coolest vineyard properties in California. Calera make several single vineyard Pinots and Chardonnay as well as their Central Coast entry level wines.
Jensen was worried about the future of his life’s work and so, in 2017, struck a deal with private equity, San Francisco-based TSG Consumer Partners who specialize in luxury brands including winemakers. They also own Duckhorn, another iconic Californian winemaker, among others.

Food and wine
Rich and fruity with good tannins. Will pair perfectly with duck leg confit on a bed of roasted plums. There are cheat’s recipes on how to make duck confit in 2 to 3 hours rather than several days and they work for us. Also see our guide to pairing food and wine here.

Did you know?
California’s famed Highway 101 has an underappreciated, long stretch between Monterey (1.5 hours’ drive south of San Francisco) and Santa Barbara (two hours’ drive north of Los Angeles), commonly referred to as the Central Coast. It’s only a four- or five-hour drive between the two towns with the Pacific on the West and Vineyards in the mountains to the East. A day’s drive doesn’t cut it; several days to a week between the restaurants and the wineries is definitely our kind of holiday.