Monday, July 26, 2010

Pinot Noir--Both Red and Rosé

I'm writing from the Sonoma Coast appellation as I often do this time of year, and it wouldn't be proper if I didn't include a post about the coast's favorite grape: Pinot Noir. Today, I'm highlighting the versatility of the grape by writing about a traditional red Pinot Noir, as well as a rosé made with the grape--and both are under $20. In addition, I'm tipping you off about what just may be the best value in Pinot Noir. Period. It is a little pricier than most wines I review here at just under $30, but drinks like a wine that is easily twice or perhaps even three times the price.

First up, we have the 2007 The Other Guys Pinot Noir Moobuzz ($17.99 in my local independent grocery store; available for $11-$18) Underneath a truly bizarre closure that must be peeled and then tugged, this wine goes through an awkward stage when first opened, when I detected a strong note of acetone in the aromas. It settles down quickly, though, to more appealing aromas of red raspberries, huckleberries, a touch of high-toned pomegranate. These red fruit aromas are evident in the flavors as well, along with additional earthy and spicy notes (especially baking spices like allspice, cloves, and cinnamon). A decent food wine, think of this when you're serving some grilled salmon this summer. Very good QPR.

For another very good QPR Pinot Noir, think pink. The 2009 Fort Ross Pinot Noir Rosé from nearby Fort Ross Vineyard is a delicious wine that expands your sense of the grape into the land of affordable summertime sippers. ($11.99 in my local independent grocery store; available elsewhere for around the same price) The wine is surprisingly dark in color--a rich, deep tea rose--but the aromas and flavors are quite dry and laced with mineral notes. You will find strawberry and herbal flavors and aromas, too. The aftertaste is dry, but retains its mouthwatering juiciness.

And finally, I recommend the excellent QPR 2008 Cep Vineyards Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast. ($25.99 in my local independent grocery store; available elsewhere for $23-$31) It used to be something of a hush-hush matter that this was Peay Vineyard's second label, but it's all over the web now. This is perhaps the best value in under $30, made by talented winemakers with some amazing fruit that just wasn't quite up to their high standards. This wine is quite young at present, which translates into "quite spicy" so give it some time in a cool dark place or some time to open up before you drink it now. (It would be a lovely wine for holiday dinners in November and December, by the way). Its raspberry, orange peel, clove, and allspice aromas and flavors are scrumptious and a perfect lead in to the flavors that follow. As wine opened there were mineral, cinnamon, and herbal notes, too. This wine is very complex for the price, and with a classic--and classy--Sonoma Coast profile.

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