A wine to sip by the fire? Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Silver Label 2005

Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Silver Label Pinot Noir 2005
Here's my review of an American wine from Monterey County. This moment has been a long time coming as over the past year I have posted on wines from all over the world, but never a Californian wine or anything from the U.S. at all. Seriously, it's true!


Other than America, only Austria and South Africa have been notably absent from these pages, and even that's about to change for South Africa as I have a Western Cape white that's ready for tasting. So U.S.A. -- it's about time.

Here are my notes and label notes from this bottle:

Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Silver Label Pinot Noir 2005
Diamond collection wines are made from grapes selected throughout California's unique and diverse viticultural regions. Precise winemaking techniques and aging methods which best showcase the grapes' characteristics culminate in complex and robust wines... with hints of smoke!

Silver Label Pinot Noir has a bright ruby colour and an alluring perfume of red plums, sweet spices, and French vanilla. Profuse flavours of black charry, dark currant, and strawberry fill the palate while notes of sandalwood continue into the soft elegant finish. Enjoy this wine on its own or serve with seared duck breast or herbed pork roast. Try dishes in which you turn your kitchen into a smoker...
It turns out that a small kitchen fire would interrupt my analysis of the Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Silver Label Pinot Noir 2005.

My toaster oven had burst into flames, but not before I jotted down my reactions to the wine. Luckily for you dear reader, my tasting was unaffected by the heavy smoke that was about to permeate my apartment.

I got a clean nose of herbal or eucalyptus tincture. It was reminiscent of cherry medicine, but with time it softened into notes of strawberry, raspberry, lush tomato. It was redolent and bright, reflecting the remarkable red hues described on the bottle's label.

On the palate, Coppola's Silver Diamond was smooth and fruity -- red currant notes with a light body. A bit one-dimensional with a short finish but thoroughly flavourful and enjoyable. Some nice acid added more brightness to the overall package. And true to the varietal, there were some lovely 'shroomy Pinot Noir echoes. This was an interesting expression that possessed earthiness and a vivid character. More complex than I originally had noted.

fire hazard unattended toaster ovenAnd it was at that point the smoke detector went off. I switched from wine tasting to fire fighting (as one so often does). Fortunately my tasting notes were at the other side of the room. They survived. The toaster oven and four slices of brioche did not. Neither did the Ralph Lauren bath towel I used to smother the flames. Then I waited about an hour while my windows stood agape in order to disperse the particulate and fumes. Whatever dinner I was in process of making on top of the stove (yes, I had something on the go on the stove too) turned out to be a flop. All I recall is that it was a poor pairing for the wine anyway.


This Pinot is not corsé, as they would say in French. It is smooth, not coarse, so I would have it alongside a hummus salad with fully ripened and sweet-ish vegetables, like roasted peppers, zucchini, olives, cucumbers, and sundried tomato.

It is perhaps a bad sign for Weingolb that disaster would ensue after the uncorking of this (inaugural) American bottle. Up until now, the dearth of wines from the United States on these pages was simply because my province-wide wine monopoly didn't do a good job relaying the value-price ratio from coastal vintners to Quebec consumers (this bottle was in fact a gift from a friend and is not available in Quebec). I have hope that fire and brimstone will not prevent further explorations south of the 49th parallel.

Oakville, California, U.S.A. 13.5%.


Salil said...

Californian wines are very rarely good QPR, regardless of coast-Quebec cost changes. I've come across very few wines from there at anything near a decent price.

Disconcerting at times that I'd have to pay at least 25 USD for a very good or excellent Cali Cab or Pinot, yet can easily get an intense, powerful red from Aus for about half the price here. [As for Pinot, I'd say the ones from NZ are as good or better than most other New World Pinot out there, particularly from Central Otago.]

g58 said...

One that I have thought is an okay deal is Beringer Stone Cellars. The Merlot is oaky but a nice expression. At around $15 CDN is not too bad on the QPR. But other than that I can't think of a U.S. wine under $20 that I would go back to. So yes, Salil, I tend to agree with you. But I'm imagining that all would change if I had more selection.

Where are you writing/drinking from? "Here" for you is Singapore?

Salil said...

Right now, 'here' is Chicago.

And from the wine stores I've seen here, I'm not sure how much it would change. Just for an idea of price differences though, a superb red like Wynn's Coonawarra Cabernet Sauv or a Peter Lehmann Barossa Shiraz can be found here in the 10-15 USD range (as well as a long list of other very good South Aussie reds). The only thing I've seen in that range from the Napa is a Rocking Horse Merlot.

I wouldn't put all US wines in that bracket though. There are some very good whites and Pinot Noirs from Washington State at decent prices. I recently picked up a Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling for about $9, and noticed a few others from Columbia Valley in the $ 8-15 range. See if you can try and find any of those, much better QPR.

g58 said...

Very interesting to hear this from you and furthermore to hear this from a perspective in the Midwest.

Last time I was in Chicago I was not yet drinking age. (O'Hare stopovers not included -- airport bars routinely scare me.)

I will definitely recall the names you mention when I'm in New York.