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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Reasonably Priced Pinot Noir, part 2

Part 1 of my search for Pinot Noir in the $20 range was posted here on Feb 7, 2010.   I'm finding there are some decent Pinots for less than the "standard" $45 outlay with the current price pressure on (almost) all wines.  

The prices listed with each wine are suggested retail / what I paid.   The wines are listed from my favorite to least favorite.

Who knows, there might be a Part 3.

2008 Mark West California, $13 / $9

The label says this wine is Cellared and Bottled by Mark West Winery meaning they didn't actually make the juice, but purchased it from others.   So I guess there's even an over-supply of Pinot now.    Their website looks as though they want to appeal to the younger folks that can't afford to pay $50 for a bottle.   It also says the grapes are all Dijon clone Pinot from coastal California vineyards.

A deep plumy, chocolately nose with bright blueberry and red fruit flavors up front with darker fruit to finish.  Not a lot of complexity or depth, but at this price who cares!  A good wine, and for the price a very good wine.

2006 Cambria Julia's Vineyard Santa Maria Valley, $25  / $18

This wine received the highest accolades from Wine Enthusiast magazine.   Let's see if they know what they're talking about.

It has dried herbs-lots of dryness-and acid-too much acid, and they forgot the fruit except for a hint of sour cherry.  I dunno, maybe it was there a couple years ago.  Not too bad with a meal, but not very pleasant on its own.

2006 Laurier Carneros, $17 / $10

The bottle listed alcohol as 12.5%.  Pretty low these days.

The wine was thin and nondescript.  I wouldn't call it pleasant or unpleasant, but I also had no idea I was drinking a Pinot if it didn't say so on the label.  I also won't finish it as I was no longer interested after one glass with dinner.

2006 La Czar Russian River Valley, $30 / $13

The store's sign for this wine said it was originally selling for $30, but they got a great deal on it this time. So this one may be kind of a "ringer" and we may never see this price again. La Czar's website lists it for $35. Maybe they are just dumping the '06 as some wineries are already selling '08s.

This was a disappointing wine.  I guess I had my taste buds set for a $30 wine.   Thin body, not a lot of fruit.  The lack of fruit would be okay, but the wine finished with unpleasant oak and acids.   Not a wine I'd want to drink again.   No wonder it was selling for $13.   

Summary from Parts 1 and Part 2

I suppose the best way to rate these Pinot Noirs is by asking myself which ones I'd buy again.   This is pretty easy.  It would be the French Rabbit, Kenwood, MacKenzie, and Mark West.   That's four out of the nine I sampled.  Not so good of an average, but all except the Kenwood (that I've had before) were picked "blind" off the store shelf.

So it means even with a "hot" grape like California Pinot Noir you can find bargains, but you have to be careful as there are a few turds out there with the good finds.