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Embarrassingly, day-job demands have kept this column on the back burner. But with Thanksgiving looming, there’s at a bargain on an ideal holiday wine that’s just too good to ignore. Pinot noir, the delightfully light red wine that’s food-friendly and versatile enough to go great with turkey and the traditional fixings, has been a repeated Thanksgiving recommendation. (See "Thanksgiving wine tips: more of the same" and "Giving thanks for value pinot noir".) And one of the most consistently excellent pinots, from a perpetually pricey source—Oregon—is on sale in Montgomery Country for about the lowest price in the country. Okay, two Total Wine stores in Minnesota sell if for $1 a bottle less, but it's at least $5 a bottle less than the best price we could find in the District.
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The 2012 vintage of Acrobat Pinot Noir Oregon made the Wine Spectator’s much anticipated Top 100 Wines of 2014 (No. 78) and earned a “Smart Buys” designation at a price of $20. “The crisp tannins and sleek structure give the up-front blackberry, currant and floral spice flavors good lift, coming together smoothly on the persistent finish,”wrote Harvey Steiman in the Feb. 28 issue.
At a national average price of $17 a bottle, Wine-Searcher.com calls Acrobat Pinot Noir, “More affordable than the typical red wine from Oregon.” And at only $12.99 at Montgomery County Liquor stores, it’s an incredible bargain, perfect for buying in bulk if you’re entertaining a houseful at Thanksgiving. Such bargains are rare for MoCo buyers, but the Acrobat Pinot Noir sells for $16.99 a bottle at Total Wine $17.99 at Magruder’s on Connecticut Ave.
Pinot noir is a go-to Thanksgiving wine because it’s almost always light- to medium-bodied and won’t overpower the relatively delicate flavors of roast turkey. Yet it has enough bright, red fruit flavors to stand up to exotic stuffings and heavily seasoned side dishes typical of the Thanksgiving feast. It’s one of the most versatile wines around, and it doesn’t have the mouth-drying tannins that turn some people off to red wine. That’s why it’s often called – along with Beaujolais made from the gamay grape – a white wine drinker’s red.
We rarely recommend pinot noir from Oregon, a premier “New World” source of good pinot, because—like its ancestral home in France’s Burgundy region—Oregon commands ridiculously high prices, typically $40 to $70 a bottle and up for the good stuff. With the exception of Castle Rock Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, Chile, New Zealand and California tend to produce the best values. (If you’re not convenient to a Montgomery County Liquor store, read our Top 5 value pinot noirs.)
Acrobat pinot scores well with the critics year in and year out. Wine & Spirits magazine scored the 2011 vintage 88 points and called it, “More savory and complex than many of its counterparts in price.”
Wine Spectator scored the 2012 90 points and awarded at least 88 points to each of the past five vintages. Wine Enthusiast has also been a fan, going back to the 2008 that it awarded 89 points. Paul Gregutt was less enthusiastic about the 2012 than his peers, scoring it only 86 points (still very good).
“Deep in color and lushly scented, this wine speaks of moist earth, dark chocolate and black cherry,” he wrote on the web in February. “While the start is promising, the palate falters a bit as the wine thins out and quickly loses its fruit.”
We tried a bottle last week in preparation for the Thanksgiving holiday and noticed no such thinning in the finish. But it will only cost you $13 to try it for yourself.
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