Tag Archives: Pinot Noir

Black Mountain Pinot Noir

One of the ~ $9 wine that Trader Joe’s has carried for years. The quality of the Black Mountain label has varied somewhat over the years, and I’m curious about how this vintage of the Pinot will do. When I tried the Cabernet over the summer, it had definitely declined, but the 2012 Merlot is excellent.

Black Mountain “Haro Hills” Pinot Noir (2012) California – $8.70

Photo0329Color: ruby-garnet red with a hint of purple; medium density for a Pinot Noir.

Aroma: the fruit notes also carry some hard candy (or ‘boiled sweet’ for the British), like you’d get from Beaujolais – the best way to describe that for the novice is to think of a watermelon Jolly Rancher. There’s definitely some blackberry and blueberry in there.

Taste: A feminine style, totally dominated by fruit, but with a harder edge thanks to those hard-candy notes. Reminds me quite a bit of a Beauolais (cru, not nouveau). This is definitely a Pinot Noir for American tastes.

Recommended. If you’re looking for a sub-$10 Pinot Noir, this is about as good as you’ll ever find. The style is definitely appealing to a beginner’s palate, but I’m enjoying this with some pork pot roast.



Thanksgiving Pairing: Cosmia Pinot Noir

A cheap Pinot from Trader Joe’s to go with turkey, mashed potatoes, and pie – we had 5 different desserts this year!

Cosmia Pinot Noir (2012) Sonoma County, California – $9

Photo0281Color: bright garnet red.

Aroma: fruit dominates on the nose – raspberry mostly.

Taste: Big fruit up front – raspberry, cherry, cranberry – and then just a touch of meatiness on the finish. A nice choice for the cranberry-sauce lovers. The finish is better than you’d expect for the price – long and balanced.

A pretty good deal for the money – I’d stock up on this if you’re serving any kind of poultry or game between now and the New Year. Recommended.

Winetasting Report: Trader Joe’s

Had to be down in Kettering today, so I timed my errands to do some shopping and taste wine. Bill had some interesting stuff on the table – the first you can find anywhere, the other three are Trader Joe’s exclusives.

Marques de Caceres Rosé (2012) Rioja, Spain – $10

Not a usual time of the year for a rosé tasting, but you should consider serving this with your turkey! It has a solid pink color, is fresh, and has loads of fruit. Not too acidic, either. This is delicious, and a good price for rosé – recommended.

Edition Maximillien Spatlese Riesling (2010) Rheingau, Germany – $11.50

Rheingau is one of the smaller wine regions in Germany – always a good thing to look for, since so many Germany wines are blended from dozens of individual plots. This has big sweet apple tastes – both Golden Delicious and Granny Smith – along with a nice kick of lime zest to keep it balanced. Nice and lively – very good quality. Not my usual style, but something to have with camembert and apple slices while you sit around the fire. Also recommended.

Edition Maximillien Pinot Noir (2010) Rheingau, Germany – $10.50

Very light in color and taste both. It’s a ripe, feminine style with just berry fruit and no earthiness at all. Unfortunately, it’s just too light for most people’s palates. I wouldn’t buy this unless you were a real aficionado of Germany wines, since it’s one of the few reds you’ll see from there on the US market.

Louise d’Estree Brut (NV) France – $10

This is a basic, non-vintage, no-appellation bubbly from France – but it’s made in the traditional manner with fermentation in the bottle. It’s light and clean – not bad for such an inexpensive bottle – but I prefer the Spanish Cavas in the same price range.

Winetasting Report: Trader Joe’s

Stopped in to shop food and wine and attend the Friday tasting today. I ran into a couple customers I hadn’t seen in ages, as well. They had an interesting assortment on the table – some great finds. Three of the four are recommended.

VinTJs Gewurztraminer (2012) Paso Robles, California – $6

Perfectly dry, with spicy/floral aromas and a lovely combination of lychee, asian pear, and apple on the palate. A real winner for this price – highly recommended. Get this for your Thanksgiving turkey!

Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Pinot Noir (2011) Russian River Valley, California – $13

This is the more recent vintage of what I had just the other night. This is lighter and livelier, with wild strawberry aromas and tastes. Much more of a feminine version. I prefer the 2010.

Trader Joe’s Private Reserve Mourvedre (2011) Paso Robles, California – $11.50

A nice example of this northern Rhone grape. It definitely needs time and air to open up, but then it develops a great combination of vanilla and brambly fruit, with a tannic, chewy backbone. Recommended.

Villa Alena (2011) Moscato d’Asti, Italy – $10

Forget every bottle of headache-inducing Moscato you’ve ever tried – this is the real deal. Yes, it’s sweet, but it has a light, lively, bright texture and definite notes of apricot and peach fruit. Quite lovely and refreshing. Also Recommended.

Drinking Tonight: 2 Pinot Noir

I’m making some venison stew with a forestierre (mushroom) sauce, and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to crack open some Pinot Noir.  One has been kicking around in me cellar for years – I don’t recall when or where I bought it, or what I paid – but it’s an excellent sub-appellation in Burgundy, and the other is a recent purchase from Trader Joe’s. I’m using some of the TJ Pinot in the sauce.

Sebastien Roux (2005) Pommard, France – $ ??

Color: starting to show its age, with a little tinge of brick-orange on the edge. Still a nice healthy red color in the middle of the glass.

Photo0261Aroma: a little faded, but what’s there is lovely – wild strawberry jam and a hint of something floral.

Taste: ah, I wish I’d had this a year or two ago. It’s past its prime. Still recognizably a feminine style of Pinot Noir, but the fruit has died off faster than the tannins and acidity. No oxidation or other faults, just the normal process of aging.

Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Pinot Noir (2010) Russian River Valley, California – $13

Color: nearly identifical to the Sebastien Roux, but without the color change on the edge.

Aroma: cherry fruit, a hint of kirsch, and some licorice spice notes.

Taste: definitely American – after tasting the Pommard, this is almost thick in texture. More cherry fruit, with some oak coming on in the mid-palate and just up to the finish. Definitely more masculine on the finish, with licorice and just the slightest touch of white pepper.

I’m going to mark the Trader Joe’s bottle as Recommended.  It doesn’t have the ethereal quality of really top-notch Pinot, but it’s more than good enough to serve the boss for dinner. And at a very reasonable price. As I mentioned above, I wish I’d tried the French Pinot a few years ago – I’ll keep my eye out for other vintages of Sebastien Roux, but I won’t let the bottle get past 5 years old in the cellar.


Drinking Tonight: Pinot Noirs from France and New Zealand

I have a beef pot roast resting, and just cracked open two new Pinots – both inexpensive Trader Joe’s purchases. Pinot is one of those grapes where you generally get what you pay for – it’s a low-yielding vine that is prone to hail damage and rot. I generally don’t even try Pinot Noirs that retail for under $20, but let’s see what these have in store.

A good wine pairing tip – the less fat in the food, the less tannin you should have in the wine. Since pot roast is especially lean, it goes great with Pinot Noir – the lowest-tannin red out there.

Picton Bay Pinot Noir (2012) Marlborough, New Zealand – $12.00

Color: light, clean red – New Zealand Pinots are known for their light coloring.

Photo0247Aroma: candied cherry and some licorice/spice notes – I can’t tell from the nose if this is going to be masculine or feminine.

Taste: lively with good acidity. I think this comes down more on the spice/earth side, but there is some definite cranberry and raspberry fruit in there as well.

MGM Pinot Noir (2011) Pays d’Oc, France – $9.00

Color: just half a shade darker.

Aroma: this is closed off – I get a touch of candied fruit (what the English would call ‘boiled sweet’).

Taste: uneventful – it’s Pinot, but there’s not much to say about it. Let’s see if the beef improves it. Annnnnd….. no.

Well this was a disappointing tasting. I can’t recommend either of these wines – the Picton Bay is just barely passable.


Drinking Tonight: Liberté Pinot Noir

I’ve made a cous-cous and vegetable salad, and grilled a salmon filet, so I’m going to be drinking this 2011 San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir with it. I purchased this for $14 at Trader Joe’s.

Photo0179Color: light garnet; a good color for a young Pinot.

Aroma: berries and cherry, with just a hint of cola.

Taste: light and feminine, with more berry notes, that little touch of cola and spice, and good acidity. Very much a food wine, and a good choice for the salmon.

This qualifies as a ‘value’ Pinot – it’s almost impossible to find anything under $10 worth drinking at all in this grape, so I’m grateful to find something under $20 that’s I can keep a couple of bottles of. It’s quaffable Pinot, suitable for drinking with a little chill on it during a lazy summer afternoon.