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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Reasonably Priced Pinot Noir, part 1

This Pinot got banned in Alabama cuz she's nekked
So if you're reading this in Alabama destroy your monitor now!

Pinot Noir is expensive. Worse, paying $45 for a bottle does not guarantee it'll be good. So I'm on the lookout for something in the $20 plus-or-minus range. 

The prices listed with each wine below are suggested retail / what I paid. As they say, "Your mileage may vary."    The wines are listed from my favorite to least favorite.

I expect this will be a continuing quest that's why this is "Part 1."

2007 MacKenzie Russian River Valley, $25 / $14

It's a single vineyard, plus was produced and bottled by MacKenzie. With a little searching I found a Shelton-MacKenzie company with the same address as Carol Shelton wines.

This is kind of an old style PN in that the alcohol is moderate and there's definitely acid on the finish.  Enough fruit and good backbone to make it a nice food wine and it should age a bit.

A good wine with decent complexity for the price.  A food wine.

2007 Kenwood Russian River Valley, $18 / $9

This wine retails for $18, but you can usually find it for under $15. Sometimes well under $15.  Gary Heck of Korbel owns Kenwood.  He has billions of tons of Pinot growing along the Russian River so there's no shortage of "free" Pinot grapes for them.

I've had this wine in the past because it's always seemed a good deal and it still is.   The '07 drinks young as there's a bit of a tannic and acidic bite.   It's a little floral and herbal with a sour cherries though the wine is a bit on the light side, but still a good accompaniment to food.

A good Pinot, not great, but I've had $45 ones that aren't as good.

2007 Husch Anderson Valley, $23  / $17

Much more on the spicy side rather than fruit-forward though I picked up sour cherries.  A bit of a rough, acidic and tannic finish though not out of balance.  Decent complexity.  But if you like lots of cherry fruit then this isn't your wine.

As it's tough to make a bad Zinfandel in Dry Creek Valley it's also nearly impossible to make a bad Pinot in Anderson Valley.

2007 French Rabbit, $10 / $9

This is one liter of French Pinot in a "Tetra Pak" rather than a bottle. It's advertised as earth-friendly packaging. It's from the Boisset family--the same folks that own Deloach Winery and turned them biodynamic.   They don't say exactly what the box is made from, but it seems to be paper products and it's recyclable.  Most of the descriptions on the box were about the advantages of the packaging rather than about the wine. I have a new tag line the family might want to use on it's products, "Saving Mother Earth, one glass of wine at a time."

The box is a good idea as it's light, shatterproof, easy to open and reseal, plus easier to sneak into a ballgame or movie ...

I wasn't sure whether I was getting a new world fruit forward wine or an old world Pinot with stinky smells the Burgundy lovers crave.  It's new world with balanced fruit (not fruit-forward), easy-drinking yet enough acid to stand up to a meal.  I'd call it a good wine with no real flaws.   Not complex and not dripping with Pinot characteristics, but enjoyable and a heckuva deal.   Remember, it's nine bucks for a full liter so that comes out to $6.75 for a 750 ml bottle.   Definitely one of the better deals in Pinot Land.

2006 Gallo Family Sonoma County, $16 / $10

I've found this wine selling for $9 or $10. I picked this bottle up at a Safeway market while noticing quite a few Pinots for under $20 on their shelf, but many had a California, North Coast or some other broad appellation. Doesn't mean they're not good, but I just wasn't sure where the fruit might be from -- or maybe I shouldn't worry in this price class.

Good body, some distinctive floral notes ("distinctive" doesn't necessarily mean "good"), and not much in the way of varietal characteristics. Muddy, murky. The only wine of these listed here that I'd consider flawed.  I dumped most of it down the drain.

One of these "bottles" is out of place!