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Wine of the Week: Edna Valley tames fussy pinot

Pinot noir doesn't always play nice.

Joe Ibrahim, winemaker of Edna Valley Vineyard in San Luis Obispo, said the fussy grape can be overwhelming.

“I go to sleep worrying about pinot in the vineyard and obsess over it in the cellar,” Ibrahim said. “The truth is that you never know if your pinot noir is going to be exceptional until it's in the bottle, and that's why it's both challenging and exciting to make.”

Ibrahim is the winemaker behind our wine-of-the-week winner — the Edna Valley Vineyard, 2012 Central Coast Pinot Noir, 14.1 percent alcohol, $20.

It's a slightly earthy pinot with notes of black cherry, strawberry and cola. It has a nice mouth-feel, and it's a standout for the price.

“We have the luxury to be able to grow and use our own estate fruit, which allows us to control costs,” Ibrahim said.

What the uninitiated don't know about pinot noir, Ibrahim said, is that it's one of the oldest grape varieties in the world and its potential has to be teased out of it.

“It has been characterized as a fickle grape variety in the vineyard and in the winery,” he said. “It takes on the characteristics of the location where it's grown like no other grape that I have ever worked with. But it takes exceptional care to coax out its charm.”

Pinot noir, Ibrahim said, offers plenty of diversity.

“Next time you have a glass of our Edna Valley Vineyard pinot noir, imagine this: The morning marine fog is slowly lifting off of the Seven Sisters volcanic range as the sun begins to peek through the clouds and shine on our pinot clusters growing on deeply rooted vines ...

“That is the essence of Edna Valley,” he said, “and that is what I strive to capture in each glass.”

TOP PICK: Edna Valley Vineyard, 2012 Central Coast Pinot Noir, 14.1 percent alcohol, $20. 3-1/2 stars. A slightly earthy pinot with firm tannins and notes of black cherry and cola. Nice mouthfeel. A standout for the price.

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