Mention Sonoma or Napa in a conversation, and most people will nod their heads in recognition; sadly, the same can't be said of Mendocino, even though its high elevation and moist, mineral-rich soil make it an ideal region for wine production. Near tailor-made for Pinot Noir (a favorite around Sugar HQ), discover Mendocino's finest with a bottle of 2009 La Follette Manchester Ridge Pinot Noir. While it's on the pricier side at $50 a bottle, the carefully crafted wine exemplifies the vibrant Pinots that come out of this up-and-coming area.
The wine's cherry and rose scent coaxed us to pour a glass on the heavier side, and as we sipped, the flavor bloomed on our palates. Smooth yet smoky, jammy yet peppery, and floral yet earthy: each sip built upon itself with new notes. Although many Pinot Noirs are thinner bodied and lower in tannins, this wine held its own without being overly acidic. We'd pair it with rich, crispy duck confit or a vegetarian entrée with portobello mushrooms.