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In This Issue
More Pinot, more food
 Keltie Brook '01 Carneros Pinot Noir ($30 restaurant price)
 Introducing a Canadian wine writer

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More Pinot, more food

Let's stay with Monday's topic for another day as I continue to explore the almost magical capability of Pinot Noir to match well with a remarkably diverse range of food.

As I said last time, this affinity makes Pinot an easy pick from the wine list when you're dining out with companions and trying a variety of dishes that might not normally go with a single wine.

The dining venue for this experiment was Azalea, an attractive bistro-style eatery on Louisville's East side, the latest incarnation of a historic building that has housed popular local eateries for more than a century.

My main course for the evening, chosen as tasty "research" for another article in a different venue, was an innovative salmon dish: hot smoked and seared salmon in a potato crust with asparagus and a shiitake Chardonnay cream. It was a delight, a block of delicate, freshly smoked salmon steak wrapped in a paper-thin, crispy crepe made from potatoes shredded as fine as angel-hair pasta, served with the aforementioned accompaniments and a dab of garlicky black-olive tapenade.

This is a dish made for Pinot Noir, demonstrating that red wine sometimes does go with fish, and its mixed but compatible flavors brought out almost explosive fruit in my modest wine choice of the evening, the Keltie Brook 2001 Pinot Noir reported below, a wine from the cool Carneros region that stretches across the southern end of Napa and Sonoma.

But it didn't stop at the salmon. The Pinot meshed perfectly with an appetizer (a lusty caramelized onion and garlic dip served with crispy homemade potato chips), a soup course (a decadently rich cream-and-mushroom soup that demonstrated Pinot's love-at-first-sight relationship with mushrooms), and even a gourmet-style pizza topped with prosciutto and the robust, earthy flavors of fresh arugula and molten Asiago cheese. The wine went so well with so many dishes that I almost think it might have worked with dessert. If we had room for dessert.

Discuss Pinot Noir and food (and anything wine-related) in our online forums:
If you have comments or observations about today's topic, please feel free to drop in on our interactive online Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, where I've repeated today's tasting report as a new topic titled "TN: More Pinot, more food - Keltie Brook 2001 Carneros Pinot Noir." To read the replies, and join in, point your browser to:
Click the REPLY button on the forum page to post a comment or response. (If your E-mail software broke this long link in half, take care to paste it all back into one line before you enter it in your Web browser.)

A number of you responded to Monday's topic, "TN: Two Oregon Pinots," and thanks to all who joined in. This discussion also remains active, and you're all still welcome to read the messages and join the conversation at

These free, friendly online forums are always open to you all, and I hope you'll feel welcome to drop by any time, participate in ongoing discussions, and post any wine-related comments or discussions you may have.

MacRostie Keltie Brook 2001 Carneros Pinot Noir ($30 restaurant price)

Produced and bottled by MacRostie Winery in Sonoma with wines it makes from purchased grapes, this attractive Pinot is a pretty color, clear garnet with reddish-purple glints. Its aroma offers simple, pleasant fresh cherries - not maraschino but black bing cherries - and subtle spice. Fresh fruit flavor is balanced by crisp acidity with just a hint of earthiness that stops well short of "barnyard." Quaffable, fresh if a bit simple at first, it opens up and develops texture with time in the glass. A very appealing wine and an easy match with food. (May 27, 2003)

FOOD MATCH: Gave good service with a broad variety of flavors in a restaurant meal that ranged from a caramelized garlic-onion dip to a rich and creamy mushroom soup and on to a funky gourmet pizza with arugula and Asiago cheese and a dramatic preparation of hot-smoked salmon wrapped in a crisp potato crust with tapenade.

VALUE: Reasonably priced for restaurant service. I would expect to pay $15 or less at retail, at which it would be a very good value.

WHEN TO DRINK: The wine maker reports that Keltie Brook blends "are meant to be tasty, affordable and ready for consumption." Still, its fresh fruit and good balance suggest that it won't go over the hill in the next year or two.

WEB LINK: The winery's fact sheet on Keltie Brook Pinot Noir will be found online at:

Introducing a Canadian wine writer

Nat Decants I am delighted to announce the addition of Natalie MacLean to our list of regular contributors. Based in Canada but reaching worldwide in her wine interests, "Nat" is a wine writer, speaker and judge and an accredited sommelier.

She won the 2003 James Beard Foundation Journalism Award for her drinks writing, and her free wine E-newsletter was nominated as one of the three best newsletters in North America. She also won the 2003 Bert Greene Award for excellence in food journalism.

To launch her presence on, Natalie has shared four columns from her archives: A skeptical look at wine snobbery; a close look at the wine critic Robert M. Parker Jr.; an inside peek at the secrets of the sommelier, and an extensive takeout on cocktails. You'll find links to all these articles - and more to come - at:

Her own Website, "Nat Decants," contains a full archive of all her online columns and much more. Click to

To subscribe to her free, award-winning E-letter, use the short form at
or send her E-mail at


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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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