jeniffer connelly Gorgeous but dark and complex—no one gets a better brood on than Jennifer Connolly. From Dark City to Requiem for a Dream to A Beautiful Mind to House of Sand and Fog, she fuses beauty and innocence with occult, unfathomable mystery.

This wine from Richard Sanford’s Alma Rosa Winery in the Santa Rita Hills is my Jennifer Connolly wine.

Great wines have this capacity to enchant the imagination while satisfying the craving for intense flavor, and they do it effortlessly without a lot of flash and bombast. Cool subtlety refreshes the palate; the promise of boundless depth enlivens the mind; generosity warms the heart. A comprehensive experience only rarely achieved via consumption. For me, this wine succeeds.

Dark fruits, black cherry and plum, meld with generous allspice aromas supplemented by muted vanilla and dried flower accents. Unusual citrus notes play around the edges. The palate has a kind of slow-burn intensity enlivened by a blast of concentrated cola midstream that carries through a lengthy flavorful finish. With time in the glass wisps of smoke weave through emergent, subtle earth tones that will become more prominent as the wine ages. Darkly complex, there is nothing playful or frivolous here.

But belying this Orphic personality, it lays down in the mouth like a soft blanket exuding much grace and charm. Lively acidity that never turns sour; refined tannins with just enough grip to hold your attention, the poise and balance is extraordinary.

Alma_Rosa_PinotNoir_LaEncantada_2010-278x300 Richard Sanford who founded the Sanford Winery in 1981 was the first to discover the potential of Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara. He has since moved on from that winery that still bears his name. Alma Rosa is his more recent project—he is still at the top of his game. The winery is worth a visit if you’re in the area—tasting through the various clones and blends of Pinot Noir on offer is a fascinating education in clonal and vineyard variation.

Score: 94/100

Alc: 14.1

Price: $39