The "Swan" clone makes for good drinking.
A few nights ago, several friends and I were enjoying some charcuterie — excellent saucisson sec and speck — and looked for a bottle to open. We decided on a Pinot Noir I’d recently received, the Bouchaine “Swan” Estate, from Napa Valley, and when the final drop was poured, that decision was deemed a smart one.
Smart, because it was a lively and bright, exactly what we were in the mood to drink. Plus, it prompted a discussion of the “Swan” clone, an interesting and frustrating subject, full of lore and shrouded in the mists of time. (If you have time, and are interested in the subject, take a look at this.) After we debated the question of whether or not the clone came from Romanée-Conti vineyards and drank a toast to Joseph Swan, we focused on enjoying the wine and food.
Gerret and Tatiana Copeland own the vineyard from which this Pinot came, a nearly 100-acre property in the Carneros AVA of Napa Valley. First and foremost: This wine whispers “Old World” to me. It is not your typical California Pinot Noir. Here is what Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia has to say about Bouchaine:
Noticeable by its absence from most American critics’ thoughts, Bouchaine’s Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are probably too light and elegant to stir up much opinion in the U.S., but have a purity and finesse much appreciated by European palates.
Purity is a good word to use with this vintage. Purity, understatement, and stability. There are some tannins on the finish, but they are subtle. You’ll get raspberry and cherry, and some spice — cinnamon, perhaps — in a whole that is satisfying and round. Alcohol is 13.4percent, and this bottle goes for $40.
Pair with duck breast and puréed potatoes? Sure. Also, charcuterie, as above, and sautéed mushrooms.
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