Over time things change. Different styles of wine go in and out of fashion. Agricultural conditions or currency fluctuations change the dynamics of pricing. Winemaking practices in some parts of the world evolve and improve (while others may slip). It makes us wonder if all the old maxims still apply.
In his Wine column in Wednesday’s Washington Post, Dave McIntyre explored a movement to bring more “balance” to California wine, particularly pinot noir and chardonnay. The piece is interesting enough to wine geeks, but as always we were drawn to his Recommendations box even before we finished the column to see if there might be some good inexpensive pinots available locally that aren’t on our radar.
The recommended bottles, all of which are California pinot noirs that embody the spirit of “the movement toward elegance and balance,” were listed at between $30 and $73 a bottle. Oh, there was one bargain on the list – Castle Rock California Cuvee Pinot Noir 2009, which has been frequently featured in this column as a consistently pleasing exception to the rule (which unfortunately still applies) that you typically have to spend north of $30 on a bottle of good pinot noir.
McIntyre praised the 2009 vintage of Castle Rock’s least expensive pinot – among no fewer than six different bottlings available locally from different West Coast winemaking regions – as easier to find and more affordable than his other recommendations. It’s not in their league, he asserted, adding, “Nothing deep here, just plain, tasty pinot.”
You can’t ask for much more from a bottle that McIntyre lists at $13, though as we noted just three weeks ago, the new 2010 vintage can be had for nearly half of that: for just $6.99 a bottle at Rodman’s Discount Gourmet on Wisconsin Ave., NW (just a few blocks from the Maryland line). That remains easily the lowest price in the country, according to wine-searcher.com, but it’s also available for just $9.99 a bottle at Total Wine stores in Virginia and at Cairo Wine & Liquor on 17th Street, NW.
Castle Rock (among others) defies the still-valid truism that it’s hard to find a good bottle of pinot for much less than $15 to $20. But if you know where to look, you can find one for less than $7.
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