I’ve been a fan of Gainey Vineyard for some time, and this latest release only reinforces my view of the winery in the Santa Rita Hills appellation of Santa Barbara County. The wine could serve as a blueprint for how to produce reasonably priced (around $30)California pinot noir with balance and finesse. It all but jumps out of the glass with its lively acidity, delicious red fruit and moderate alcohol (13.9 percent), which make it a superb food partner that will match well with any number of dishes. In my notes, I described it as a “lean, lighter style” of pinot noir with lots of berry tastes – cranberry, raspberry, blueberry – along with cherry and punctuated by cinnamon and vanilla notes. Though it was aged for 17 months in French oak, only 22 percent of the barrels were new, so the oak influence is kept in check. These days, many California and Oregon pinot noirs are made in a dense fruit-high alcohol style that requires some effort to drink. Gainey’s pinot noir is a welcome exception. Wine received as a press sample.