What I’m Drinking

By John Bancroft May 1, 2012

Trendsetter: Meiomi Pinot NoirI hadn’t really tumbled to an interesting trend until a sharp-eyed young colleague mentioned that Meiomi Pinot Noir, a blend of its namesake grape from several coastal California vineyards, seems to be popping up on all sorts of Sarasota restaurant wine lists. A couple of days after her insightful remark I enjoyed dinner with friends at a steakhouse noted for its wine list (OK, it was Fleming’s) and there it was, big as life, so I felt compelled to order a bottle.

At $64 it showed the standard restaurant markup of about three times retail, which makes the $20 to $22 you pay at your local wine shop a bargain for such a complex and elegant pinot.

Fifth-generation winemaker Joseph Wagner highlights cola, blackberries and cedar on the nose of his acclaimed pinot, to which I’d add a cookielicious whiff of Fig Newtons. On the tongue, layer after layer of flavors break in harmonious waves: cola, ripe blackberry, bouncy cherry, dry woodland, all nuanced with light vanilla and subtle bass notes of leather and oak. It finishes long and lush.

A mark of its complexity and versatility is that it paired beautifully at our recent dinner with three distinct and assertive dishes: juicy roasted lamb chops, seared and pepper-crusted rare tuna and a classic medium rare petite filet mignon.

An editor, writer and online publisher, John Bancroft has reviewed restaurants, books, movies and music for many magazines, websites and newspapers, most recently for the Tampa Bay Times.

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