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Wine of the Week: Marimar Estate 2016 Mas Cavalls, Doña Margarita Vineyard, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

This week's blind tasting

Easter and Passover Pinot Noirs

TOP PICK

Marimar Estate

2016 Mas Cavall, Dona Margarita Vineyard, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 13.5% alcohol, $45. ????½

A food-friendly, cool climate pinot noir with great structure, tangy fruit and refreshing acid. Aromas and flavors of Bing cherry, a hint of cranberry and sandalwood. It's a touch earthy, which gives this balanced pinot depth. Impressive.

TASTY ALTERNATIVES

Hagafen Cellars, 2018 Coombsville, Napa Valley Pinot Noir, 14.1%, $42. ????: A lovely kosher pinot that's fruit forward and zesty. Notes of cherry, cranberry, toast and clove. Balanced, buoyed by crisp acid. Smart.

Paul Mathew Vineyards, 2016 Ruxton Vineyard, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 14.1%, $50. ????: An earthy pinot with bright fruit and edgy spice. Notes of black cherry, a hint of plum and cracked black pepper. Balanced, with crisp acidity. Well crafted.

Yarden, 2016 Galilee Pinot Noir, 13%, $32. ???½: A tasty kosher pinot with quench. It has bright red fruit –– cherry, pomegranate and cherry –– with notes of violet and white pepper. Pretty.

Small Vines Wines, 2018 Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County Pinot Noir, 13.7%, $55. ????: A striking pinot with generous, tart fruit. It has aromas and flavors of black cherry, tobacco and sage. Earthy. Nice length. Lovely.

It was a board meeting right out of the Twilight Zone.

In mid-March, Vintner Marimar Torres was at Bodegas Torres, her family’s Spanish winery, and everyone on the board sat 6 feet apart, wearing a mask.

“It feels like we’re living in some alternate reality,” said the founder of Sebastopol’s Marimar Estate, who witnessed an “eerily empty” Barcelona airport when she left on March 20.

“The numbers are unsettling indeed. There are no words to describe this feeling of uncertainty and how worried we are about our community and our business.”

The world citizen, who calls two continents home, is behind our wine of the week winner - the Marimar Estate 2016 Mas Cavall, Doña Margarita Vineyard, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir at $45.

It’s a food-friendly, cool climate pinot noir with great structure, tangy fruit and refreshing acid. It has aromas and flavors of Bing cherry, a hint of cranberry and sandalwood. A touch earthy, this balanced pinot has depth. It’s impressive.

“A good pinot noir is the best wine to pair with so many dishes,” Torres said. “It has soft but firm tannins, good acidity and great balance. It complements anything from fish to chicken to meats to vegetables, as long as the dish is not overly spiced and overwhelms the delicacy and elegance of the wine.”

With a nod to Easter and Passover celebrations, we offer a lineup of tasty pinot noirs, including these two kosher wines: Yarden 2016 Galilee Pinot Noir at $32 and Hagafen Cellars ?2018 Coombsville Napa Valley at $42. (What makes a wine kosher, for the uninitiated, is that Sabbath-observant Jews craft the wine, with rabbinical oversight.)

Wine is at its best when paired with food, said Torres, the vintner/cookbook author who has penned “The Spanish Table” and “The Catalan Country Kitchen.”

“That’s the way God intended it to be,” Torres said.

As for her house style with pinot noir, Torres prefers free expression, “listening to the grapes,” as she puts it.

“I want the grapes to express the personality of the vineyard,” she said.

Growing up in one of Spain’s prestigious winemaking families, Torres joked that she was christened with wine.

“I was drinking wine at 4 years old, blended with water, of course,” she said, “and looking forward to the day I could drink it straight.”

To best express her delight in pinot noir, the vintner refers to a passage from Miles in the film “Sideways:”

“It’s a hard grape to grow, you know? It’s thin-skinned, temperamental and ripens early. It’s not a survivor like cabernet that can just grow anywhere and thrive even when it’s neglected.

“Only when someone has taken the time to truly understand its potential can pinot be coaxed into its fullest expression. And when that happens, its flavors are the most haunting and ?brilliant and subtle and ?thrilling and ancient on the planet.”

Torres, who keeps this passage close at hand, said she loves Miles’ sublime take on pinot.

“The more you know about pinot, the more you realize how much more there is to learn, and the more you love it because really it’s the Holy Grail.”

You can reach Wine Writer Peg Melnik at peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5310.

This week's blind tasting

Easter and Passover Pinot Noirs

TOP PICK

Marimar Estate

2016 Mas Cavall, Dona Margarita Vineyard, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 13.5% alcohol, $45. ????½

A food-friendly, cool climate pinot noir with great structure, tangy fruit and refreshing acid. Aromas and flavors of Bing cherry, a hint of cranberry and sandalwood. It's a touch earthy, which gives this balanced pinot depth. Impressive.

TASTY ALTERNATIVES

Hagafen Cellars, 2018 Coombsville, Napa Valley Pinot Noir, 14.1%, $42. ????: A lovely kosher pinot that's fruit forward and zesty. Notes of cherry, cranberry, toast and clove. Balanced, buoyed by crisp acid. Smart.

Paul Mathew Vineyards, 2016 Ruxton Vineyard, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 14.1%, $50. ????: An earthy pinot with bright fruit and edgy spice. Notes of black cherry, a hint of plum and cracked black pepper. Balanced, with crisp acidity. Well crafted.

Yarden, 2016 Galilee Pinot Noir, 13%, $32. ???½: A tasty kosher pinot with quench. It has bright red fruit –– cherry, pomegranate and cherry –– with notes of violet and white pepper. Pretty.

Small Vines Wines, 2018 Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County Pinot Noir, 13.7%, $55. ????: A striking pinot with generous, tart fruit. It has aromas and flavors of black cherry, tobacco and sage. Earthy. Nice length. Lovely.

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