Life is better on the corner, the place where great wines meet reasonable prices!




Friday, December 3, 2010

Pinot Files: Three Nice Finds under $25


If we're not willing to settle for junk-living, we certainly shouldn't settle for junk wine/food. -Sally Edwards

I'm always on the lookout for a good Pinot Noir in the $25 and under price range. Sadly though, it's not a price range where you'll find too much quality, too often. In my opinion and from my experience any Pinot Noir worth quaffing and laying down one's hard earned dollars for, better bring a little something more to the game then just the Pinot Noir name on the label.

Most of us can appreciate the fact; Pinot Noir grape is unpredictable and difficult both to grow and to vinify and that automatically equals much higher costs for the producer. Something which translates to higher per bottle costs. Honestly tho, I don't mind paying a little more for a nice bottle of Pinot Noir, especially if it's done right. On the other hand, if you can't get the [quality] square peg into the [price] round hole, why do some folks keep trying anyway, is it just to cash-in on the Pinot Noir fad?

It leaves the average consumer like me to start speculating a bit, and maybe even out-right suspect some folks commodity-style jug wine producers, will just slap Pinot Noir on the bottle in hopes of suckering some hapless vino-sapien into making a purchase.

I say that because, some of Pinot Noir I've encountered under $25 price point doesn't even begin to resemble anything like a well-made, respectable New World Pinot Noir should be, but is still passed off as Pinot Noir.

Sometimes I just have to chuckle to myself, thinking "did you really mean to bottle this"? Which is why I don't drink too much Pinot Noir, on a regular basis. As we all know life is too short to drink bad wine, so I'd rather skip attempting to find a decent Pinot in that price range.  Especially, when I can find so many Cabernets Sauvignons, Syrahs, Merlot in the $10-$25 price range. Wines which are drink extremely well, well made, highly quaffable [trust me, this is a word] wine on a regular basis. It's too bad the same can't be said about the Pinot Noir category in the price range. Personally, I don't have the coin to be quaffing $30 to $50 New World Pinot Noir on a regular basis, I don't think too many other folks do either.

Still there are exceptions to every rule; it's here where I want to point out a few Pinot Noirs of the winners, wines I know licensed to thrill, so make sure you grab yourself a few of this very approachable and food friendly winners.

Personally, I've just had some of favorite Pinots land on my doorstep; wines from Sea Smoke, Kosta Browne and Patricia Green, the 2008's which I will be laying down until 2010. Seeing I'm just now getting around to the 2006 vintage, but most of those wines are in the expensive range and not what I would call an everyday drinker. 

Byron Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley 2008:  I purchased this beauty from BevMo who's selling this deftly made wine for just $22. Folks I'm telling you this one fantastic Pinot Noir for the money, bursting with cola, sweet baking spices and cranberry flavors, wrapped around some earthy goodness. 

It's light bodied and has good acidity making it very mouth watering. From the first sip to the last drop, flat out fantastic and I would decant this wine to fully release all of its wondrous complexities. This wine represents one of the "low-end labels that Bryon offers. They have a few other Pinot Noirs in their line up, I'm looking forward to.

Pairing Suggestion: After putting in a full day of work, I stopped by Costco for a nice Salmon fillet. Prepared some mustard, olive oil, lemon juice and brown sugar crystals, set the oven to broil, and 15 minutes later Pinot pairing perfection. On the side some steamed broccoli and some freshly mashed yams blended with thyme.

Other Voices: The folks over at the Wine Advocate had this to say; "The generic and least expensive Pinot Noir, the 2008 Santa Maria, is a user-friendly, yet seriously endowed Pinot Noir with loads of fruit cake  roasted herbs, black cherry, and plum notes. The wine has a dark plum color, deep, lush flavors, and succulence and fleshiness that are totally seductive. Drink it over the next 2-3 years and they scored this wine 90 Points.

Fort Ross Pinot Noir 2007: After decanting for an hour before dinner, I found both some barnyard [varietal funk], mixing together with baking spices and red berry aromatics wafting effortlessly from the glass [seriously, from the moment I poured it into the decanter]. 

On the palate a smear of black raspberry, bramble berries, intermingling with hints of subtle earth tones and a dash of baking spices. Perfectly integrated tannins and what has become known as the Fort Ross Vineyard "signature minerality" are apparent as it unravels nicely in a layered, velvety finish. I scored this wine 92 and give it a run don't walk recommendation.

Where to Purchase: To keep this under the twenty five dollar price point, you better see if your local Costco has any more left. That is where I scored mine last night for $24.99 each. You can find this wine at other online purveyors for $30 to $35 and still a good price. But for $25 if you can find it, buy them all.

Pairing Recommendation: This wine is a food freak, which will pair with many different types of dishes, but if you're thinking leftover Turkey and a raspberry reduction sauce, you are heading toward yumsville.

Other Voices: The folks over at the Wine Enthusiast had this to say, "What a beautiful Pinot Noir for drinking now with lamb chops or maybe a rich, exotic Ahi tuna tartare. Brilliantly crisp in acidity, with a clean, bracing mouth-feel, it offers dazzlingly rich flavors of raspberries, cherries, orange zest, Dr. Pepper cola and Asian spices, with smoky oak adding elaborate tiers of vanilla char. For the price, it’s a very great buy." and they scored it 95 Points.

Taz 2008 Pinot Noir: Another wonderful wine from Santa Barbara County. With so much hoopla around RRV PN it can be easy to forget about the wonderful expressions of Pinot Noir, coming from this area. In the glass you'll find a wonderful cranberry colored core, floral and baking spice aromas swirling about, leaning toward the strawberry end of the flavor spectrum. 

On the plate a well-balanced attack of baking spices, red berry fruits and finish is plush. I scored this wine 91 points. Just a fantastic wine from the SBC region. Taz really delivers a consistent wine tasting experience.

Where to Purchase: This wine sells for $24.99 most places and as low as $17.99 at some online purveyors. I purchased mine at the San Diego Wine Company on Miramar Road.

Pairing Recommendations: This wine is what I would call nicely intense and won't compete for your palates attention when paired with some lovey seared Ahi, Mushroom Risotto and sauteed asparagus spritzed with some olive oil. Just fantastic.

Well folks those are my faves that I've recently come across in the $25 and under category of Pinot Noirs and I hope to expand that list, as I am always looking for the next PN that will be rock solid fantastic and still fit within this price range. Geez, I  know there so many PN's over that price which are flat-out good, but those wines are meant for another discussion on another post, so until then sip long and prosper, cheers!
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1 comment:

Jainomo said...

When it comes to a cheap but drinkable Pinot Noir, I have to be honest when I say that I can enjoy the Blackstone Pinot Noir. It's not the best, but it's good for the price. An easy to drink, classic Monterey-style Pinot. My hometown!

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