Coppola Director’s pinot noir review: Cut!

27 03 2011

Today’s wine is a 2009 pinot noir from California’s Sonoma coast, which costs $17-$19. 

This Coppola “Director’s” pinot noir is a step up from the regular Coppola pinot, and it does indeed taste better.  It also tastes a little bit like the Archstone that I just recommended, here.  And like the Grayson, recommended here.  Those are $10 wines, so as you would expect, the Coppola is better. 

All three are California pinots, and all have a certain hard-to-define flavor in common, which I’m not used to in a pinot noir.  I’m not wild about it.  In addition, Coppola Director’s gives you a lot of rose, cherry, and especially cola.  Its color is a beautiful dark rose.

It’s nice and smooth, generally appealing, and it doesn’t do anything wrong.  However, for a $17-$19 pinot, it’s a little bit too sweet, and it doesn’t taste quite enough like pinot noir, so it juuuuust misses.  This California girl is:

Not recommended.





Archstone pinot noir review: wait – what?

23 03 2011

Today we look at a 2008 pinot noir from California’s Carneros area that costs around $10.

Boy, does Archstone pinot noir have a forgettable name.  In fact, I predict that if you turn away from your screen at the end of this sentence, you won’t be able to remember the name of this winery.  Archetype?  Archmere?  Apple Something?   Well, GOOD LUCK when you head to the wine store.

Which you should do, because this low-priced California pinot is worth checking out.  It’s not great, but for $10, it’s very good.  This pinot noir is powerful, rich, with a smoky licorice and black cherry flavor, and has a texture built to please.  It’s not AS pinot-like as the cheaper Mark West, but it might be more of a crowd-pleaser.  So grab $10, and write Architect down on your list.  Or Arch Enemy, something like that.

Archstone pinot noir reviewRecommended.





Red Bicyclette pinot noir review: Umm…

14 03 2011

Tonight it’s a controversial French pinot noir from 2009 that will cost you about $10.

This wine is famous, not for its taste, but because there was a huge controversy about it a couple years back.  It seems that the French actually sold about a kagillion gallons of fake pinot noir to the maker of Red Bicyclette, which affected 2006 and previous vintages.

So I bought a bottle, thinking “maybe now, it will be awesome for the price, to help give this label a credibility come-back.”  In my optimism, I ignored the absence of maker’s name (Gallo) on the bottle.  I ignored the winemaker notes, which admit that this pinot is still cut with 14% merlot and syrah.  And I ignored this, on the back label: “Bottled by: Reh Kendermann Gmbh Weinkellerei — Bingen, Germany.”  (????)

Rather than awesome, I felt it was just bland, sweet, fake cherry water that failed to resemble pinot noir.  I poured most of the bottle down the drain.  My bitterness from wasting $10 on this wine is lessened only by the satisfaction of writing those last two sentences.  If you don’t have a wine blog, but you, too feel burned by Red Bicyclette, please feel free to leave a comment on this review.  Or if you work for Gallo, and want to vent at me for being an unqualified wine-swilling jerk, please feel free to leave a comment.  

Unfortunately this pinot is:

Not recommended.





Chilensis reserva pinot noir review – WEB REDEMPTION

9 12 2010

Today we review a 2009 pinot noir from Chile that will cost you $9 at Total Wine.

This is a smoky yet juicy, leathery, slightly dry pinot noir.  Tasting it makes me think of those South American scenes at the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, even though that was Bolivia.  The arrow below points to the origin of this wine, Chile’s Maule Valley.

It smells great — like a box full of expensive spices AND high quality coffee cake — and it has a MANLY taste:  medium bodied, some tannins, and some dark fruit. 

And it utterly redeems the Chilensis name, after my recent encounter with this label’s carménère.  At this price, even at $13, Chilensis pinot noir is a no-brainer. 

I say, buy it.

Cheers!

Chilensis reserva pinot noir review





Kudos pinot noir review

11 11 2010

Kudos pinot noir reviewHere we have a 2009 pinot noir from the renowned Willamette Valley in Oregon, which costs $15 at Total Wine.

Bias alert!  I don’t usually like light pinot noir.  This review should be taken with that grain of salt. 

Kudos is made by NW Wine Co and has lots going for it: it smells, and tastes, like cherries, with rose petals and dry earth.  But it mostly smells and tastes like a natural, untainted, honest pinot noir.  It does almost nothing wrong.  The cherry is balanced by a nice tartness and moderate acidity.  The price is a bargain for any drinkable Oregon pinot.  Somebody on Snooth called it “astonishing.”  The modest 13.9% alcohol content means it’s not fire-breathing.  And it’s far more interesting than most bargain pinots.  If you enjoy light pinot noir, I think you’ll like Kudos, and maybe even love it. 

On the down side, the fact that it’s a light pinot noir means that I can’t stop dwelling on its leanness, its translucence, its thin, light, not-heavy — OK yes, I do need counseling, but I just wish it were more medium-bodied.  I preferred Mark West Santa Lucia Highlands, reviewed here, at this price level.  Also Kudos isn’t very complex.  But it’s much more interesting than a Mirassou or a Hob Nob.  Finally, I feel that Oregon pinots are overpriced these days.  But in today’s market, Kudos clearly IS a great value for an Oregon pinot. 

Since I liked it despite my bias against its light style, and because it’s an easy-drinking Willamette Valley pinot at a bargain price, Kudos 2009 pinot noir is:

  Recommended.

  Tip: Mine was better on day 2 (cork in place overnight).





Mark West 2009 Russian River Valley pinot noir wine review

13 10 2010

Hi!  Today we review another Mark West pinot noir, a California red wine that costs around $20 a bottle.

Bottom line: A yummy pinot, but at $20, not recommended.

OK folks, I’ll keep this short.  You’re forgiven if you’re thinking. “Hey Wineguider, shut up already about Mark West!!” — this is the 3rd I’ve reviewed — but I have good reason for my focus on them: that amazing 2008 $9 pinot with the orange label.

This $20 pinot is also good, although its label is beige: it’s fruity, it’s a bit minerally, and it’s balanced.  It tastes like real pinot noir.  And it’s a beautiful ruby red color.  However, it doesn’t have serious depth or strength of flavor, and doesn’t have a lot of complexity.  At $20, I start to expect these things.  Another problem: I enjoyed it with a spinach salad that included hard boiled eggs and bleu cheese, and honestly, the salad overwhelmed the wine. 

I love their $9 pinot from 2008, and I liked their $17 2009 Santa Lucia pinot a lot, but at $20, this Russian River pinot is unfortunately:

Not recommended.

Next!





Hob Nob pinot noir review: REVISITED

21 09 2010

Hi!  Today, we re-examine Hob Nob pinot noir, a cool designer bottle from France that was $11 for our last review.  We concluded that Hob Nob tastes better than many other cheap pinot noirs, but it is often too sweet and is inconsistent from bottle to bottle.  It couldn’t be recommended at $11.

But then I saw it selling for only $8 — holy mackerel, time for a re-review!  So — this wine smells like, not cherries, but “cherry flavor.”  Giving it a whiff, I’m not sure if I’m about to enjoy a glass of wine, or suck on a Luden’s cough drop.  That’s fine — I’ve enjoyed many wines with unusual aromas.

As for taste, a young wine drinker who drinks “sweet nothing” wines might like this a lot.  Hob Nob is fairly sweet, but not offensively so. For $8, it even has a nice little complexity to it, with a trace of tannins.  More prominently, it has a heaping helping of cherry, with a cameo appearance by strawberry and Kool-Aid “black cherry” flavor.  My throat feels better already!

But to me, the flavors in this wine seemed confused, mixed up with a hint of something hard to identify, but which you don’t really want in your mouth (isopropyl alcohol? sterno??).  Finally — the kiss of death for most cheap pinots — Hob Nob pinot noir tastes almost nothing like pinot noir.  It’s good for only $8, but these issues lead me to decide that it is:

Not recommended.

Next!