John Turi - Wine, Red Wine

Kosta Browne, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 2009

Wine Rating: 96

“Drinks for all my friends!” cheered Mickey Rourke, portraying Charles Bukowski in the film Barfly after winning a bar fight.

We celebrate weddings, anniversaries, holidays and funerals with alcohol. For thousands of years, beer, wine and spirits have played an important part in the rituals of civilization. Ships are christened with champagne, Irish whiskey is poured on the graves at Irish burials, and beer festivals are cheered every October. This is who we are as a people; we raise our glasses and hail the occasion and, with merriment, we rejoice. And sometimes, more solemnly, we toast someone’s passing. In good times and bad we pay honor with booze.

Kosta Browne, 2009

What do you drink when the passing of the family dog occurs? What is the correct wine with which to acknowledge such an event? This is the question I am faced with this month. A few days ago my wife and I put our 13-year-old Border Collie, Buddy, down. Her kidneys and pancreas would not function any more. Since we chose careers over children many years ago, the family pets became a significant part of our lives. Many trips were cancelled because a pet sitter could not be had. Buddy had diabetes and needed special care twice a day, so we paid large veterinary bills which could have covered the cost of a child’s college education—at least a semester of it. This happened more times than I can remember.

We did try to have kids but, after many unsuccessful attempts, we focused on one another and our pets. Over the course of our 18 years together, my wife and I have had 10 animals, two of them being dogs. As of today, we have one big, mean, orange cat left, who himself seems a bit depressed from the empty feeling that pervades the house.

To honor our departed pet and true companion, we have decided to celebrate her memory with the best Pinot Noir we have ever had: Kosta Browne. We are not just going to pick any random bottle of K.B.; no, we are toasting Buddy with the Wine Spectator Wine of the Year for 2011—the Kosta Browne Sonoma Coast, 2009.

I own two bottles of this award winning California Pinot Noir and tonight my wife and I will be dining at one of our favorite restaurants, The Napa Rose, which is connected the Grand California Hotel at Disneyland, and opening what I am sure will be a spectacular bottle, celebrating a much missed member of our family.

Writing this review every month is more than sitting down and enjoying a nice bottle of wine and then telling you about it. This column is my therapy, a cathartic way for me to define my life to you, and so, before I uncork any wine, I think about the meaning of it to me.

My wife and I observe a rule that we adopted from Ernest Hemingway, wherein every new bottle we open is toasted. We celebrate the wine and cheer to one another, the coming summer, a low interest rate, you name it. We look into each other’s eyes, lightly clink our glasses, and salute the world.

After an exceptional night of celebrating Buddy the dog:

A few months ago I reviewed another vintage of Kosta Browne, the Kanzler label. The differences in each selection from this winery are significant. Please read the Kanzler review and learn about the history of the K.B. winery. It’s my favorite Pinot Noir being produced today.

I have a nice Kosta Browne collection of various years and labels, but the Sonoma Coast, 2009, by far exceeded my expectation of what a quality wine should be. There is one more bottle of this hard to find Pinot Noir in the wine cellar and maybe when Orange, our big orange cat, dies we will open it and see how well this vintage has aged.

Note: The Sonoma Coast 2009 label is a blend from three different Pinot Noir growers in the Sonoma Coast, California region.

Wine Spectator Wine of the Year for 2011

Kosta Browne
Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2009

Produced by: Kosta Browne
Winemakers: Dan Kosta, Michael Browne and Chris Costello

Winery: Kosta Browne
Label: Sonoma Coast (Gap’s Crown, Terra de Promissio and Walala)
Vintage: 2009
Region: California
Location: Sonoma Coast
Varietal: Pinot Noir

Appearance (Color): Ruby
Aroma (Complexity): Plum,Berry and Tobacco
Body (Texture and Weight): Medium
Taste (Balance of Flavor): Fig, Cherry, Walnut
Finish (What lingers): Strawberry, Apple, Spice
Price: $250
Serving Temperature: 64°
Food Pairing: Roasted Chicken, Pork Loin, Pizza
Drink: Now through 2019