I've always had a thing for underdogs. I was a Mets fan growing up. I liked the L.A. Kings hockey team before Wayne Gretzky played for them. And I like wines made from grapes that nobody's heard of. So it comes as no surprise then, to me at least, that I would totally dig a Pinot Noir from Western Australia.
Now, I know what you're thinking...Australia? Pinot Noir? That's a beast of an underdog. But the 2008 Fonty's Pool "Single Vineyard" Pinot Noir ($12.99) from Pemberton in Western Australia isn't a blown out critter wine. Nor is it Syrah prancing around with a Pinot label. But it does have that Australian wine price tag that we all love. And loads of sweet blueberry and cherry fruit and savory herbs on the palate. But what really made me, and a number of others on the K&L Hollywood staff, fall for this at a recent staff tasting was the earthy, mushroom notes on the nose and garrigue elements on the palate. It's balanced, with a lot of secondary characteristics, good acidity and texture that belie its modest price.
The winery is located in Western Australia, about 335 kilometers south of Perth, where the weather is much cooler than what most of us think of when we think of Australia. Pemberton is actually the coolest wine region in Western Australia because of its elevation and the cooling influences of both the Indian and Great Southern Oceans, making it much more suitable for cool-climate grapes like Pinot Noir.
This is the perfect fall wine. It's still light enough on it's feet to match treats from the grill, with enough depth and structure to go with oven-roasted veggies, and lighter-style braises.