As we’ve noted in several recent columns, the grape made famous by the iconic and insanely expensive red wines of Burgundy, France is notoriously hard to grow well – typically requiring cooler growing regions like Burgundy’s. And it’s also more finicky once harvested and at the winery. That’s probably why good pinot generally costs noticeably more than most other wine varieties (though there are other wacky reasons related to the laws of supply and demand for the astronomical prices of wines from the prestigious estates of Burgundy). There are plenty of great wines of all types that can be had for $10 a bottle or less, but with a few notable exceptions (like this and this), good bottle of pinot will usually set you back a minimum of $12 to $14.
An even better bargain for just a few dollars more at Montgomery County Liquor stores is the 2010 Angeline Pinot Noir Reserve, which took a gold medal at the 2012 San Francisco International Wine Competition and costs just $14.69 in Maryland, compared to $15.99 – not a bad price – at Potomac Wine & Spirits.
Wine Spectator’s James Laube liked it at $18 a bottle, and Bloomberg News’ John Marianirecommended it at $17 a bottle.
“Well-centered on ripe huckleberry and wild berry fruit, this is supple and refined, picking up a pleasant wild berry zest on the finish,” Laube wrote in the May 31, 2012 issue. “Ends with a mix of crushed rock and pebble.”
Mariani called it, “an admirably balanced wine, where the acids underpin and refresh the tannic qualities,” in his recommendations of pinot noirs that belie the California trend toward “big” wines with high alcohol levels. “This bottle’s plummy character will appeal to those who crave big fisted wines. It would go equally well with a generous serving of Parmigiano-Reggiano or cheddar as it would with the sweet flavors of Chinese food like Peking duck.”
Both the less expensive California bottling – meaning the grapes that were crushed to make it could have come from anywhere in the state, rather than a specific winemaking region – and its Reserve big brother (made from 50 percent grapes grown in Sonoma County, 30 percent from Santa Barbara County and 20 percent from Mendocino County) sport alcohol by volume of between 13 and 14 percent, much closer to the tradition in pinot noir’s ancestral home of Burgundy, rather than the California norm of 15 percent and up.
These are great, light-bodied reds to enjoy with the backyard barbeques of the season (or with Peking duck?). And they should be much easier to find these days.
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