The first thing you notice about our Wine of the Week, Line 39 2012 Central Coast Pinot Noir ($11), is its delicacy. It splashes over the palate with the lightest of touches and none of the brashness of youth. It's not a thin wine but it's not heavy, either. Tannins are long, smooth and supple, with a silken texture, a quality that makes this wine very food-friendly.
Sweet spices, especially allspice, clove and star anise, weave through the wine, but with a light touch. Suggestions of black raspberry, Rainier cherries and red currants come to mind, though none dominates. The wine is beautifully integrated from its first sip to its teasing finish.
Those who prefer ponderous pinot noir, the ones that have been over-extracted to attract the cabernet crowd, may dismiss this wine as wimpy, but anyone who appreciates the pretty, subtle spectrum for which the varietal is famous will embrace this wine enthusiastically. And at $11 it's a steal, among the finest inexpensive pinot noirs I've ever tasted.
This wine is a natural companion to duck, especially rare duck breast and grilled duck heart; and mushrooms, from mushroom soup to mushroom risotto and mushroom ragout. When we finally have local tomatoes, serve this wine, slightly chilled, with a BLT sandwich. Roasted eggplant, celery root and parsnips make good companions, too. Lamb welcomes this wine alongside and if you enjoy lamb burgers, this wine is a perfect choice.
For today's recipe, I've taken some of the elements of a lamb burger, especially the Dijon mustard, to make a delicate meatball, perfect as an appetizer on a summer night. You can also enjoy these meatballs in a sandwich.
Lamb Meatballs Dijonnaise
Makes about 20 small meatballs
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for frying
2 shallots, minced