Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Favorite Pinot Noir

My toddler/early childhood years were spent in Richfield, MN. 6524 Irving Avenue South to be precise. It was the first house my family ever owned. We were less than a decade removed from the end of WWII and the Korean war was in full swing. But those wars meant nothing to me at the time...the focus of my entire existence was the Creek Indian War.

I spent the vast majority of my time at 6524 Irving thinking about the Creek Indian War. Every chance I got I was out on the swing set in the backyard, singing at the top of my lungs. Singing about the hero of the Creek Indian War, Davy Crockett.

In December of 1954, Disney had launched a new TV show called "Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier." Starring Fess Parker, the show ran for 6 seasons and spawned a full-length motion picture. It became my obsession. I spent every waking moment playing Davy Crockett. To this day, my father talks about his memory of me swinging on the swing set, coonskin cap on my head, singing the Davy Crockett theme song, over and over and over and over. I could never get enough.

This last November, my wine cellar was running low on Pinot Noir, so I decided to pit my old favorite against eight, new Pinot Noirs that I had never tasted before. Over the course of three weeks I paired the new ones up with different dinners, hoping that a few winners might emerge.

None of them stood up to my every day favorite, Fess Parker Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir. While Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs from Oregon have always been my favorite, it's all but impossible to find a decent one of those south of $30. The Fess Parker wine retails for $28, but I routinely get it for $23 when I buy it by the case.

Fess Parker, star of that 1950's Disney TV show, "Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier", started his winery in 1987, 27 years after the series was canceled.  His 714 acre vineyard has won numerous awards through the years. He died in 2010 and the winery is currently run by his son, Eli (Fess III) and his daughter, Ashley. At the time of his death, he was survived by his wife, his 2 children, 11 grandchildren, 1 great grandchild and me, his ever-adoring fan. And every time I take a sip of his exceptional wine, 57 years of memories come rushing back.

The Fess Parker Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir is incredibly rich and thick on the tongue. You'll taste black cherry, cranberry, mocha, vanilla and a hint of chocolate. It's aged in French oak for 10 months and the 2009 vintage is ready to drink right now. I find the wine tastes even better if you drink it while wearing a coonskin cap.

Born on a mountain top in Tennessee,
Greenest state in the land of the free.
Raised in the woods so's he knew every tree,
Killed him a bear when he was only three.
Davy, Davy Crockett King of the Wild Frontier.

He fought single handed through the Injun war,
Till the Creeks was whipped and peace was restored.
And while he was handling this risky chore,
Made himself a legend, forevermore.
Davy, Davy Crockett the man who don't know fear.

When he lost his love, and his grief was gall,
In his heart he wanted to leave it all,
And lose himself in the forest tall,
But he answered instead, his country's call.
Davy, Davy Crockett, the choice of the whole frontier

He went off to Congress and served a spell
Fixin' up the government and laws as well.
Took over Washington, so we hear tell,
And patched up the crack in the Liberty Bell.
Davy, Davy Crockett, seein' his duty clear. (Serving his country well)

When he come home, his politickin' done,
The western march had just begun.
So he packed his gear, and his trusty gun
And lit out a grinnin' to follow the sun.
Davy, Davy Crockett, Leadin the Pioneers.

His land is biggest, and his land is best
From grassy plains to the mountain crest
He's ahead of us all in meeting the test
Followin' his legend right into the West
Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the Wide Frontier
King of the Wild Frontier.

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