11 September 2013

MacMurray Ranch Wines

MacMurray Ranch began as a cattle ranch in the Russian River Valley when actor Fred MacMurray purchased the property in 1941. The star of My Three Sons and many memorable Disney live action movies focused on cattle until his death in 1991. The family sold the ranch to Gallo in 1996 to grow grapes under the MacMurray Ranch label.

I first became acquainted with this wine around 2003 when a wine shop owner told me that the wine was personally grown and made by Fred MacMurray (who had been dead for a dozen years at that point), and I thought it would be an interesting conversation starter for a dinner party. It was the first Pinot Noir I ever purchased, and at $20 it was a bit of a splurge at the time. I remember that I served it way too warm, and with a really heavily seasoned steak, which was not the way that Pinot needs to be treated. Ten years later, I get the opportunity to try it again.

2012 MacMurray Ranch Pinot Gris
Russian River Valley/Sonoma Coast
100% Pinot Gris
$20, 14% abv.

Light citrus aromas with high acidity and a bold body. A few tropical fruit notes as it opens up. This is a much bigger wine than Pinot Gris from Alsace or Oregon yet has its own unique New World expression that reminds me a bit of a few New Zealand Pinot Gris bottles. Good match for well-seasoned shellfish.

2011 MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir
Central Coast
100% Pinot Noir
$23, 13.8% abv

This is the more recent vintage of the wine I had lo those many years ago. Initial aroma of strawberries with undertones of stewed fruit. Firm fruit flavors with a slightly tannic finish. Serve with roast lamb and a mild cream sauce.

2011 MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley
100% Pinot Noir
$35, 13.8% abv.

This bottle was much milder than the previous Pinot Noir, with aromas and flavors that focus more on raspberry with some touches of earth. While still Californian in character, it's pointing more in a French direction with a more delicate presentation. Light enough for salmon, but also one to be enjoyed with a tender veal chop.

Note: These wines were provided as samples.

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