Calera Pinot Noir Central Coast
It’s been almost two years since the movie “Sideways” surprised the movie critics and sparked a nationwide increase in Pinot Noir sales in the USA. Yet, Pinot Noir remains the hottest-selling varietal in terms of growth, with no slowdown in sight. In fact, AC Nielson reported late last year that Pinot Noir sales in supermarkets was up 43% over 2004 … a tremendous figure.
For years, Pinot Noir was something of a secret of the wine geeks. Any connoisseur who does not worship Bordeaux will be quick to point to Pinot Noir from Burgundy as the finest red wine on earth. However, both the cost and availability of Burgundian bottles has made Pinot prohibitive … until Sideways hit the scene.
Since Sideways, Pinot Noir is everywhere you turn, from all kinds of places, at prices starting under ten bucks and going through three digits. Where a wine shop’s Pinot Noir inventory used to consist of a few dusty bottles of Burgundy sans price tags behind a temperature-controlled glass case, the same stores now stock ten versions of Pinot on the shelves, and maybe three more on the floor. This new demand for, and glut of, the grape is a mixed blessing: a boon for retailer, a guessing game for the consumer.
You see, Pinot Noir used to be easy to buy; you went to the Burgundy section, chose an old, well-known producer, and paid through the nose for a bottle of liquid magic. If you paid less than $40, then you likely weren’t getting a worthwhile wine … at least not in terms of true Pinot Noir.
However, we now have Pinot Noir priced all over the place, coming from areas in France outside of Burgundy, from California, Washington State, Argentina … the list of origins seems to grow every day. So now selection is difficult, as the bar (and the price) has been lowered.
I still believe — and feel free to post your arguments — that the very BEST Pinot Noirs, the ones that are nearly life-changing, come from the Grand Cru vineyards of Burgundy. But, I’ve started to recognize — albeit with great resistance — that there are some decent, affordable bottles made from the Pinot Noir grape.
One under-$20 bottle I particularly enjoy is Calera Pinot Noir, Central Coast. Ripe black berry fruit and vanilla spice aromas are inviting to the nose, and similar black and red berry fruit flavors are enjoyed on the palate. It’s just a touch hot upfront, causing a slight sting, but mellows out, with blackberry, black raspberry, black cherry, and vanilla spice flavors dominating. The tannins are medium, acidity is mild to medium. Because of the slight hotness (from a 14.4% alcohol level), it is a little overbearing on its own, but when paired with food, the alcohol is pushed to the background and the wine is quite enjoyable. It provides structure to hold up against both acidic and slightly fatty dishes, and will make a nice companion to a number of dishes. Try it with cheeses, pizzeria-style dishes (anything based on a marinara-type sauce), and barbecued lean meats such as chicken and pork. At around fifteen bucks, it is a good value.
a-7 t-7 b-6 fc-8 v-7 +50 = 85 Points
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