Always on the lookout for a juicy California Pinot, one with some character and grit, I think I've found it in the 2011 from August West. The label is a collaboration between Ed Kurtzman and growers Howard Graham and Gary Franscioni. The grapes — a tiny crop this year — came from the vineyards Rosella's, Sierra Mar and Sberanes.
Tasting of black cherry, plums and earth, this latest vintage of Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands, their fourth, has gorgeous fruit and ripe tannins. It's an all-occasion wine, great with cheese, braised lamb shanks or a hearty bean dish, sautéed mushrooms or maybe a lovely roast chicken.
Region: Central Coast
Price: About $32
Style: Intense, yet elegant
What it goes with: Braised lamb shank, roast chicken, earthy casseroles, cheese
Where to find it: Wally's Wine & Spirits in West Los Angeles, (310) 475-0606, http://www.wallywine.com; Wine Exchange in Orange, (714) 974-1454, http://www.winex.com; and from the winery at http://www.augustwestwine.com.