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Bridlewood Pinot offers unbridled flavor

Northside Staff
Tasters:Dave Pohl, ed., Dana Malley, Kelley O’Neill, Jason Wentworth, Jay Reed, Travis Mordus, Chirs Coronel, Mike Yowhan

The search for good inexpensive Pinot Noir continues unabated. However, while grape prices in California have dropped somewhat, good Pinot for less than $10 largely remains a pipe dream.

The March 11, 2010, issue of PinotFile newsletter states that the average price of California Pinot Noir grapes was $1,800 - $2,800 per ton in 2009. A ton of grapes produces approximately 700 bottles of wine. Therefore, if a wine producer purchases a ton of Pinot Noir grapes for $2300, the cost of the fruit alone exceeds $3 per bottle before factoring in all other costs of production.

With this in mind, the Northside staff recently blind tasted a group of 35 Pinot Noirs priced less than $20 dollars per bottle. The tasting included bottles from California, Oregon, and New Zealand (whose cooler climate Pinot Noir wines have received increased critical attention in recent years).

The results were disappointing. Only 9 of the 35 wines were deemed above average. Many exhibited the unpleasantly “green” flavors associated with wine made from unevenly ripened grapes. Too many of the wines lacked the complexity and elegance associated with good Pinot Noir. Indeed, many tasted as though noticeable amounts of another more strongly flavored grape, such as Syrah, were present.

The staff’s favorite wine was the Bridlewood 2008 Monterey County Pinot Noir (about $17). Bridlewood, located in California’s Santa Ynez Valley, has been owned since 2004 by the giant E. & J. Gallo Winery. Though Bridlewood is best known for Syrah, the quality of its Pinot Noirs has arguably increased in recent years.

This 2008 Monterey County Pinot has an effusive nose exhibiting hints of raspberry, cherry, and clove, and possesses a beautifully rich mouth feel with a smooth, full fruited flavor that lingers nicely on the palate. Try this affordable beauty with roast turkey or chicken, braised meat dishes, coq au vin, or cheesy pasta dishes, and while it is a good accompaniment to food, the Bridlewood Pinot is also delicious on its own!

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