2011 Francis Tannahill The Hermit Pinot Noir Dundee Hills front

We’re in the sweet spot of the Holiday Season, that gastronomically-rich period that spans Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day, when there’s plenty of food around that begs to be paired with great wine. On a recent dinner adventure at Walnut Creek’s Va de Vi Bistro & Wine Bar, I discovered that the 2011 Francis Tannahill The Hermit Pinot Noir is a great wine that compliments a wide variety of dishes.

But first, a few words about Va de Vi, one of the great small plate bistros in the Bay Area. It’s located about an hour northeast of San Francisco and half an hour south of Napa in Walnut Creek’s exclusive (ok, expensive…) downtown shopping district – two doors from Tiffany & Company. There’s a nice bar (packed after 4pm daily), bistro-like seating indoors and plenty of outdoor seating on the back patio. The menu is a simple list of starters, vegetables, burgers & sandwiches, pasta & risotto, meat & poultry and seafood with usually about three to six selections under each category. Servings are sized for sharing between two or three people, which means you’ll probably be ordering five, six or seven different dishes – not including dessert. As Wine Adventurers, this provides an excellent opportunity to spread our wine pairing wings. Va de Vi offers wines by the glass, flights around which you can make your menu choices, and a very nice bottle list.

My appreciation for wines produced in Oregon’s Willamette Valley south of Portland has grown lately (read Stoller Family Estate Chardonnay), so when I saw Dundee Hills on the Francis Tannahill label I decided to try the The Hermit Pinot Noir. It’s a Pinot that opens up nicely in the glass if you give it a few minutes. Lots of body and rich, dark berries that paired well with both broiled meatballs and grilled salmon. For more details about production and characteristics, read the winemaker’s tasting notes. A bit pricey at the restaurant ($105), but more reasonable elsewhere (Wine.com $47.99).

The Francis Tannahill brand is a joint effort of husband-wife team Cheryl Francis and Sam Tannahill, read more about them at: Rex Hill.

This holiday season, try pairing some of your favorite foods with 2011 Francis Tannahill The Hermit Pinot Noir.