Thanks to all who participated in my poll and decided the next three varietals I am going to review on my site! The winners are:
1. Pinot Noir – 32.49%
2. Red Wine Blend – 25.71%
3. Zinfandel and Petite Sirah – 11.74% each (Executive decission, I’m going to review Petite Sirah since I reviewed so many Zins just a few weeks back. But I have several Zins from TJ’s in my stash and it’s one of my favorite varietals, so we’ll talk about that very soon, too!)
The Wine: Pinot Noir is one of the four Noble Grapes; it’s also one of the most challenging grapes to grow and then produce amazing wine from. For lack of taking its Noble Title away, it’s a sensitive grape. Weather, soil, atmosphere, air quality, temperature and water, they all can vastly effect the success in producing rich grapes to make wine with; to make matters more challenging, any Enologist will tell you, you must stress the vines during growth so they struggle, thus producing richer and more complex grapes and ultimately wines. This puts into context why you don’t see ‘cheap’ Pinot Noir on many shelves, and if you do see one for $4, I’d be highly suspect of its ability to deliver anything more than a cheap buzz. Our wine today comes from the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County, California. This AVA has prime coastal fog and air, along with the rich California sun and soil to produce some Pinots which are worth trying, which is why it’s on the review board tonight…
Color: Right away, the youth of this wine is revealed through it’s very violet color. There are the slightest hints of red hues in the center of the bowl, but the wine remains rather thin in density. I’m going to go on a limb here and predict this is not the richest of wines.
Nose: Directly out of the bottle after removing the cork, this wine smells like applesauce. Kinda cool. It then develops into a cider-y nose with hints of several baking spices (cinamin, all-spice) making themselves known. Like a classic Pinot Noir, you begin to pick up earthy and grassy (green) qualities which definitely inform you that you are about to drink Pinot Noir.
Palate: Tart sour cherries was the first note I wrote down, followed by a short and more than slightly alcohol driven finish. Upon my second tasting, I tooke note of the earthy qualities picked up on the nose which deliver equally as apparent on the palate, but oddly, hardly any oak or vanilla components are picked up. I’m not sure if there are tannins or if my tounge is reacting to the 14.5% alcohol. Judging by the ‘drying’ effect of my entire mouth, I wouldn’t doubt for a second if was about 2-5% Petite Sirah in this wine. The body of this wine is on the thin side. The lingering finish reminds me of Welch’s Grape Juice with a little baking spice added.
Bottom Line: Next-Wine-Please!
I was really hoping for a diamond in the rough. Good Pinot Noir for under $10 is something hard to come by. But it happens! There was the 2007 Picket Fence Russian River Pinot Noir for $8.99 which wasn’t my style of Pinot, but it definitely delievered a more complex and ‘deeper’ wine. (Check out my friend Jason’s review, it was his wine of 2010) To be fair though, that was a hustle buy and the producer was normally asking for $30 per cork. Pinot Noir is a really difficult wine to review because you will hear ‘experts’ speak of its subtitles and power, which are completely contradictory attributes. Ultimately, these wines need a lot of harmony and balance between all components. This wine is rather disjointed and lacks depth in the fruit and too much (apparent) alcohol. I’d be really curious to see how this wine ‘calms’ down over the course of 1-2 years. If anyone does save a bottle that long, please do share!
Question: What was the last very good Pinot Noir you got for under $10?
- Price: $8.99
- Cellar: Trader Moon Wine Company. Manteca, California
- Grape Varietal(s): Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah?
- Alcohol: 14.5%
- Appellation: Santa Lucia Highlands. Monterey, California