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Wine of the Week: Under a Spell

When you're looking for a well-made wine on a budget second labels, or "second selections" as they are sometimes called, can offer an amazing value. In the case of Spell Estate's Nichole's Blend, a Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast, there is really nothing second about it, except for the price.

Winemaker Andrew Berge — Germany born, Minnesota raised — is a careful and thoughtful winemaker with a strong understanding of the vineyards in which he works. He is known for making single-vineyard wines that are balanced and elegant. Berge also makes wine for a small label called La Pitchoune. The Nichole's is a blend of declassified barrels from single-vineyard bottlings, but it's a wine of true character.

Lively, lovely, distinctive, and well structured, it's versatile at the table. Medium body with singing acidity, it tastes of bright red fruit and dried cranberries with an unmistakable aroma of freshly cracked black pepper and a hint of smoke.

2012 Spell Estate "Nichole's Blend," Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast is available directly from the winery and at Dry Creek Kitchen.

Courtney Humiston is a sommelier at Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg where she leads a wine list that includes over 500 labels from Sonoma County. Each week she will be selecting a Bay Area wine especially for 7x7 readers.