This week’s featured wine at Birds and Booze isn’t our first pinot noir, nor is it our first Barn Owl (in fact, this marks the third appearance of this species on a bottle here). And after checking the cellar, I know for certain that it won’t be our last on either count: we’ve got at least one more Barn Owl and a couple of pinot noirs coming down the pike.

It is, however, our first wine from Z. Alexander Brown of California, a winemaking project by the musician better known as Zac Brown. That alone merits some comment, though the real attraction about these wines for us is obviously the ghostly Barn Owl that graces the labels of the entire line. But as the tasting panel and writing team here at Birds and Booze (namely, yours truly) have been a bit busy this week, we’ll reserve a more thorough discussion of the Z. Alexander Brown lineup for another day, when we’ll have a look at the label’s 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon. So, for now, here’s just a quick review of this lovely and accessible California pinot noir.

The 2017 Z. Alexander Brown Uncaged Pinot Noir is a single-varietal wine made from grapes grown around Monterey, California constituting 82 percent of the recipe, with the remainder of the fruit coming from the Napa and Sonoma regions further north. The wine is aged in French and American oak barrels, which impart pleasant notes of vanilla, toasted oak, and baking spice to the nose, complementing deliciously jammy notes of ripe strawberries and raspberries. The Uncaged Pinot Noir is full-bodied, rich with ripe black cherry flavors and oak, plush tannins, and touches of cocoa and brown sugar, and closes with a nicely lingering finish.

Good birding and happy drinking!

Z. Alexander Brown: Uncaged – Pinot Noir (2017)

Three out of five feathers (Good).

Written by Tristan Lowery
Tristan Lowery’s busy homebrewing schedule took a hit in 2010 when he discovered birding and found that scanning the waterfowl at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on a frigid midwinter morning could be just as much fun as standing over a steaming mash tun in a sweltering Queens apartment in August. While his growing commitment to birding has undeniably diminished his brewing output of ales - fine and otherwise - Tristan finds that birding still affords him plenty of excuses to at least keep drinking beer, especially when celebrating life birds, lamenting unsuccessful chases, and capping off an exhausting Big Day or Christmas Bird Count. After leaving behind a hectic cooking career in New York City’s fine-dining scene, Tristan moved inland to the New York's Capital District, where the relative abundance of Pileated Woodpeckers almost makes up for the fact that he’s only seen a single Sanderling in Albany County ever. When he isn’t birding his local patches in urban Albany, Tristan works in energy regulation for the State of New York.