Vintage ’10 looking lighter: Sebastopol Hills Pinot Noir
Once again, Trader Joe’s continues to support the low cost trend in Pinot Noir wine with another very good under $10 selection. This one comes from California’s Sonoma Coast (Russian River), and is not only a fine example of wine from that appellation, but it’s also a great value.
Its label indicates that this one is from the Sebastopol Hills area in the Russian River Valley, an excellent locale to find a quality Pinot Noir. Rumor has it that it’s sourced to Trader Joe’s from Owl Ridge Wine Services , but this is not 100% certain for the 2010 vintage. That (where was it made?) is one of the problems with a “private label” selection.
As with their “2-buck Chuck” (Charles Shaw brand), Trader Joe’s sources their lower cost wines wherever they can cut a deal, so you’re never really sure of either the vintner or the blend of fruit that’s in the bottle. This is because wineries don’t really have to list all the small percentages of other grape varietals that have been added. However, many wineries go ahead and list them anyway as a courtesy to their customers, but enumerating all this stuff for minor amounts is not mandatory.
Hey, with these wines, just shell out and give it a try. If you personally like it for the price, you win.
The 2010 Sebastopol Hills has a bouquet of dried red cherries, mushrooms, and hints of toast. Unlike many other low cost Pinots, this one comes off quite well balanced. It’s soft on the palate, and with a food-friendly acid content. A clean finish, with no bite and low alcohol, make it an ideal red table wine to keep on hand. With a lighter color than many American Pinots (just a tad darker than a Rosé), it’s more Burgundian. Although this Pinot Noir’s roundup of flavors is simpler than its well-heeled Sebastopol competitors, the overall value is tough to beat.
Note: This could be an accurate indication of what the wider Russian River Valley region has in store for the 2010 vintage. Keep this in mind as the more refined Russian River 2010 Pinots are released this year.
When pairing, be sure to take advantage of the fact that this Pinot will go with just about any food, especially salmon or grilled tuna. You can serve it with cheese appetizers and follow up right through the cold cuts and casseroles. Using this wine for a large gathering is a good move because it will have a wide appeal and won’t get a bad reaction from anyone (except for those pesky Pinot snobs, of course).
Serve slightly chilled from the fridge after 20 minutes (about 65 degrees).
Article by Tom Peiffer, Phoenix Wine Shopping Examiner at Examiner.com
View more of Tom’s articles on Examiner.com by visiting his writer’s page.