Gallo Family Sonoma Reserve Pinot Noir

Name: Gallo Family Sonoma Reserve Pinot Noir
Type: Red
Grape: Pinot Noir
Origin: U.S. – California
Year: 2004
Producer: Gallo of Sonoma
Price: $14.99

Has the characteristically lighter color of a Pinot Noir and some scents of currant and some general earthiness. I taste some smokiness and dark fruit. Ends in a medium finish. This is $5 more than the Cab of the same label but much more enjoyable.

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Moshin Vineyards Tusi Vineyard Pinot Noir

Name: Moshin Vineyards Tusi Vineyard Pinot Noir
Type: Red
Grape: Pinot Noir
Origin: U.S. – California
Year: 2004
Producer: Moshin Winery

Price: $20.00

This looks like the first good Pinot I’ve had in a while. The color is spot on, that nice light color that typifies Pinots. The aroma is fairly potent, smelling of dark fruit and wood shavings. The flavor is boisterous, with notes of cherry and cranberry. The medium finish has a bit of spice and the dryness of the wine comes out with a touch of oak. Very nice example of a reasonably priced Pinot Noir that actually meets your expectations of Pinot Noir.

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Big Fire Pinot Noir

Name: Big Fire
Type: Red
Grape: Pinot Noir
Origin: U.S. – Oregon
Year: 2004
Producer: R. Stuart & Co.
Price: $19.99

This one is supposed to be one of the best Pinot Noirs available at my favorite local wine shop. It does have the right varietal characteristics and it is interesting although I wouldn’t say it’s one of the best Pinot Noirs I’ve had. It’s relatively light in color, like it has aged longer than it actually has and it appears to be cloudy when you first see it in the glass, although if you hold it up the light that isn’t the case. The aroma has a bit of charred oak and the flavor is mildly fruity at first. It gets interesting as it makes its way past all your taste buds and off to its lengthy finish. It has a substantial spicy flavor along with some sublte tannins at the tail end. This is a very decent Pinot, just not one of my all time favs.

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Chalone Vineyard Pinot Noir

Name: Chalone Vineyard
Type: Red
Grape: Pinot Noir
Origin: U.S. – California
Year: 2004
Producer: Chalone Vineyard
Price: $15.99

Has a nose of berries and a dark red-purplish color. The flavor is a little smoky initially with some spice and tannins on the finish. It is a pretty decent wine but the price is high I think. For a few bucks more I could get a solid Pinot from Washington like Saintsbury and have a better shot at a nice bottle.

Chalone 2004 Estate Pinot Noir

Mirassou Pinot Noir

Name: Mirassou
Type: Red
Grape: Pinot Noir
Origin: U.S. – California
Year: 2005
Producer: Mirassou Winery
Price: $7.99

Smells like wood and berries. The flavor has quite a bit of spice and some barely noticeable tannins on the finish. Not a first class example of Pinot Noir by any measure. I got it on sale and I still think the price was too high after drinking it.

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Rex-Goliath! Pinot Noir – 2003

Name: Free Range HRM Rex-Goliath! 47 Pound Rooster
Type: Red
Grape: Pinot Noir
Origin: U.S. – California
Year: 2003
Producer: HRM Rex-Goliath! Wines
Price: $8.49

Ok, so this whole “high risk wine buying” jag I’m on is kicking my ass so far. I had to pour half the last bottle out and this one isn’t that impressive either. I’m going to review the rest of the bottles I bought there but I’m not buying any more wine at the corner store. Only scratch tickets from now on, I think my odds of winning are better actually gambling. I usually like Rex-Goliath wines to varying degrees but this one is a little off. It smells bad, not like it’s corked but just not like any smell I enjoy. I suspect the wines from the corner store of heat damage. Heat can kill wine and “lifeless” is a fair description of every wine I’ve had from there so far. This one has a fake fruit juice sort of flavor followed by another very spicy finish. Not good, but take that with a grain of salt since I’m not sure it is a viable bottle.

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Vampire Pinot Noir

Name: Vampire Pinot Noir
Type: Red
Grape: Pinot Noir
Origin: Romania
Year: 2004
Producer: Vampire
Price: $9.99

This one from Vampire is better for bringing to Halloween parties because the color of the Pinot Noir is much closer to a blood color than the Pinot Grigio. The bottle looks cooler too. Pinot Noir is an easy grape to screw up so I’m not expecting much from the Transylvanian attempt at this wine. It has a woodsy aroma with a faint hint of fig. The flavor is a little rough and unbalanced. There is a dominant berry flavor that seems a little sour and the finish is spicy. The finish is medium length but it leaves a strange aftertaste in your mouth. The whole experience is just out of step. This is a great novelty for a Halloween party but I’d leave it at that.

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the Little Penguin Pinot Noir

Name: the Little Penguin
Type: Red
Grape: Pinot Noir
Origin: Australia
Year: 2004
Producer: the Little Penguin Wines
Price: $7.49

It’s very tough to make a good Pinot Noir for less than $20 a bottle. It’s a small batch endeavor and a delicate grape so there isn’t enough supply to meet the demand, thus higher prices for anything decent. So I always taste a Pinot Noir with lower-than-average expectations. This one looks like a Pinot Noir, light red in color and it smells of blackberry, strawberry and tobacco. Again with the tobacco, the Little Penguin Wines must process this on the same equipment as the Merlot, which is dominated by tobacco flavors. With the Pinot, you get a bit of tobacco flavor up front but then it turns rather non-descript. The finish is rather lengthy and quite acidic. Overall, it’s a tasty wine. It’s just not a great example of Pinot Noir, as expected.

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Eola Pinot Noir

Name: Eola
Type: Red
Grape: Pinot Noir
Origin: U.S. – Oregon
Year: 2004
Producer: Eola Hills Winery
Price: $14.99

Bold aroma of currant, although my brother disagrees on that (the aroma not the boldness). Has some distinct tannins and a medium-long, spicy finish. I also detect some smokiness in the flavor and some cherry notes. This one needs some time in a decanter to open up and come to the right temperature, which is just below room temperature in my opinion. This is a heavy Pinot Noir. If it were a blind taste test, I think I would label it a meaty Cabernet rather than a Pinot Noir. It’s pretty good, but I could get a meaty Cabernet for half the price.

Laboure-Roi Pinot Noir

Name: Laboure-Roi
Type: Red
Grape: Pinot Noir
Origin: France
Year: 2003
Producer: Laboure-Roi
Price: $5.00

Smells like trees somehow, I can’t put a finer point on it than that. Has some tart flavors and a tart, medium finish. It has some nice tannins and the dominant flavor seems to be tree bark. Despite that, it’s slightly sweet. I have never tasted a Pinot Noir that tastes like this, so I’d say it doesn’t exhibit a lot of “varietal characteristics” as they say. It’s ok for a red wine in general, rather balanced, but don’t go in thinking you’re drinking a typical Pinot Noir.