Once again, I run into a wine that costs me $12 a glass at a restaurant that I can buy for about the same price per bottle retail. And I don't get angry because the wine meets my expectations. The restaurant is one of my favorites, the Common Grill in Chelsea, Michigan, and my entree--pancetta wrapped pork tenderloin in a fig balsamic sauce--is fantastic and a good match for the wine.
My only complaint about the Common Grill is its New World wine list, and I have been disappointed there time after time by California appellation Pinot Noirs. Picket Fence is Russian River Valley and worth a try, even for a premium price, I thought. In the glass, the wine delivered some of the northern coast qualities I prefer in a California Pinot. So no complaints.
The aromas are very smoky, even though there is no forest fire excuse for this 2011 wine. Smoked salmon cooked in bacon fat. Actually, quite appealing although a bit overdone. On the palate, the wine is tart rather than sweet. Tart cherries or maybe cranberries. I like the northern coast intensity. The wine could probably be called spicy but the spices are not the cinnamon/nutmeg baking spices that you get from Santa Barbara or Monterey Pinots. Not a wine I would want to drink on its own, before or after a meal, but it's a perfect match for the fig balsamic sauce. At $12 a bottle, I am a buyer. At $12 a glass? Okay. At least better than the California appellation Pinots I usually get at the Common Grill.