Christmas Day is a traditional time to have dinner at my cousin’s house. She puts on a very nice spread of food, and there is always a lot of fun and good cheer. She starts the evening off with several favorite appetizers of Armenian food and there are several different rooms where the guests enjoy these dishes. One could make a meal just on these plates and if you are not careful there will be no room for the main course, as everyone is just nibbling and having good conversations and maybe a beer or a cocktail as well. Then she puts out a fine spread for dinner, this year there were two different preparations of beef tenderloin, one in a traditional mode and one with Moroccan seasonings all cut into medallions for the dinner with gravy, and Armenian pilaf and several different side dishes and salads as well. If one was not sated by the end of the meal, it was their own fault, as the food was all excellent. Then there was the assortment of desserts, just to make sure that you did not leave hungry. How can one not enjoy a great Christmas dinner?
There were several wines being poured that evening, but I thought that I would focus on two different Pinot Noir wines both from the Russian River Valley of Sonoma in California. The first bottle of wine that was opened was a Mac Murray Ranch Pinot Noir 2011. I wrote about this wine and their 2010 vintage, and the 2011 vintage was fine, but would probably enjoy some cellar time for added value. This winery was originally a cattle ranch owned by the late actor Fred Mac Murray and later became a winery through his children, who changed the arrangements of the land. The wine had good color, and was a good California Pinot Noir although lacking the terroir that one would expect from a classic wine, but it may develop some more nuances as this was a very young wine.
The second bottle that we had was one that I brought over, besides a nice bottle as a gift, which I left untouched. This bottle that we opened was a Russian Hill Estate Pinot Noir 2007. This was a bottle that we discovered at a wine tasting in Charlotte, North Carolina and we were very impressed with it, even in its youth. There was more body and character to this wine, than was found in the first wine, even though they are from the same area, and perhaps part of it was due to the extra cellaring time. Russian Hill Estate started in 1997 and they offer several different Pinot Noir wines, a Chardonnay, a Syrah and a Viognier; they do not try to offer every popular varietal of California. This wine had better reception from some of the wine drinkers that evening.