Pinot Noir Tasting — March 3, 2012

Submitted by the Wine Wise Guys

It was a blustery, rainy evening, but even the high winds didn’t keep the Wine Wise Guys and their guests from assembling for their first tasting dedicated to Pinot Noir wines.

The group of wine enthusiasts consisted of 6 women and 5 men, and among them were one professional and two amateur wine makers and eight former American Wine Society members.

Jan, Elmeda, Paul, Carolyn, Laura, Sue, Tom, Bill, Jean, Eric
Photographer – Jennifer

The tasting consisted of 13 Pinot Noirs. There were no price or geographic restrictions on the submissions.

The tasting was blind with each of the entries wrapped in a brown paper bag before the tasting. All the bottles were assigned numbers, and the names and prices of the wines were revealed only after the tasting was complete and the score sheets tallied. The scoring was based on appearance, aroma, body, taste, and finish, and the top four picks of each person were collected and used for the final rankings.

There were several surprises when the results were revealed. Two wines recommended by “those in the know” did not place as high as expected, and an $8 wine took fifth place ahead of several more expensive pinots. Also, despite the diversity of people tasting, there seemed to be consensus on the top placings.

Exhibiting many of the traditional characteristics of pinots—light-bodied, strawberry and cherry flavors—the big winner of the evening was Wild Horse 2010 Pinot Noir from California Central Coast.

The winemaker’s notes:
Our 2010 Pinot Noir has juicy cherry, pomegranate, and cranberry aromas, spicy red fruit flavors, a velvety mouth feel and a long, clean finish. French oak aging gives it rounder texture and subtle toast notes. Alcohol by volume: 13.9%

Coming in tied for second was Belle Glos Meiomi 2010 Pinot Noir. Unlike the first-place winner, this pinot was fuller bodied and more fruit forward with tastes of vanilla and dark berries.

The winemaker’s notes:
Meiomi (May-oh-mee) is a Pinot Noir that gets its fruit from the most noteworthy coastal areas in California. The wine is crafted, lush, balanced and luxurious. Three of the California’s most sought after coastal growing regions brilliantly meld together in this deeply flavored, stylish and truly balanced Pinot Noir; at its most fundamental core, it is an approachable, food friendly wine with a style and place all its own. Alcohol by volume: 13.8%

ast place is on the far left, and it moves to first place on the far right

The Final Results:

Placing Wine Price
1 Wild Horse 2010 Pinot Noir Central Coast $16
2 Belle Glos Meiomi 2010 Pinot Noir $20
2 Cartlidge & Browne 2010 Pinot Noir North Coast $13
4 Costiera Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2004, Seghesio Family Vineyards $30
5 Smoking Loon 2009 California $8
6 Savigny les Beaune 1st Cru clos des Grettes $40
7 Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards 2009 Pinot Noir $17
8 Alta Maria Vineyards Pinot Noir $24
9 Cupcake 2010 Central Coast $8
10 Tisdale, California $4
10 Mark West Pinot Noir California 2010 $10
13 Byington Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains $22
13 JanPark 2009 Pinot Noir priceless


Smoking Loon Pinot Noir 2009

Submitted By Tom & Laura Hatch

The Wine Wise Guys has a Pinot Noir blind tasting coming up soon, so two of us thought we’d give this “Value” pinot noir a try before adding it to the mix.

Swirling our glasses, we found it to have the light garnet color described in the  Winemaker’s notes. On the nose were jammy hints of strawberry and raspberry. On our palates, strawberry was the dominant fruit, and the tannins were soft in the mouth. It was not as fruit forward as I generally like my reds, although my fellow taster enjoyed the light fruitiness of this wine.  For $7.99, it’s a good value and one we would share with friends. We recommend drinking this now.

Winemaker’s notes:
Light garnet in color, fresh crushed raspberries, strawberries, and cranberries are all in the aroma of this bright, fruit-driven Pinot Noir, with a hint of cinnamon stick and spice in the background. On the palate, pomegranate and cranberry fruit have a zesty appeal, paired with the subtle, classic underbrush character that distinguishes Pinot Noir. Moderately light bodied, the soft tannins and fresh acidity strike a nice balance, creating a light fnish with red fruit and a touch of spice. Overall, this red wine shows genuine Californian winemaking at its best, with flavors that are approachable yet entertainingly complex.

Our 2009 Smoking Loon Pinot Noir gets its fresh character from a number of cool climate California growing regions, including Monterey, Anderson Valley, Santa Barbara, and pairs nicely with pork and savory sandwiches. Try a roast pork loin or the ever-popular Thanksgiving turkey-and-cranberry sandwich with this versatile red.

alcohol by volume: 13.9%




Castello Monaci Piluna Primitivo 2008

Submitted by Jean Engelke


We chose Castello Monaci Piluna Primitivo 2008 to pair with our home made pizza. We love Primitivo (and/or Zin) and were intrigued by this Italian selection. Castello Monaci is relatively new and it is located in the boot of Italy. It is near the Gates of Salice Salentino. “The tufa (‘rocks’) of local soils contribute structure to the wine, aid in drainage for the vines, and reflect the light, helping the sun’s work for the vines.”

We tasted the wine before pairing with the food. We agreed, fruit forward, very berry nose, cherry and a little tannin. Not like a bold California Zin, but very respectable.

The winemakers notes: “Piluna” translates into “pot of clay” or an ancient container used to store water or wine. This 100% Primitivo is grown from vineyards surrounding the ancient Castello Monaci estate in Puglia. The wine has broad, ripe black fruit and spice aromas, with notes of pepper, toasty vanilla and Mediterranean scrub. On the palate, the wine has a robust, concentrated character, a firm structure, and small black fruit and licorice notes on the aftertaste. Alcohol by volume: 13.5%. (I can’t write something like that!)

“The nose of this 2008 Primitivo is loaded with red raspberry; underneath that hints of vanilla and cedar pop through. The palate is loaded with layer after layer of dry red fruit flavors. Touches of anise and fresh blackberry poke their heads through as well. The finish is relatively long and somewhat lusty. Earth, sour red fruits and cocoa all make their presence know here. Firm acidity keeps everything in check.” We agree, all of the above is true. A great value!!

We paired with the pizza. The tomato sauce brought out the Earthy and cocoa notes described above. It was a perfect pairing. The wine held up well to the mozzeralla, and was further enhanced by the flavors of onion, olives and mushrooms. A thoroughly enjoyable, value wine. Will buy again!


Submitted by Jean Engelke

Vintage:    2009
Area:        Patagonia
Price:        19.99

Tried this wine after seeing an article in Food and Wine on Patagonia (southern most tip of Argentina). This wine was rich, bold and full of flavor, characteristic of very good Malbec. We paired it with a grilled Delmonico steak with a port wine mushroom cream sauce. The cream sauce, steak, and wine went so well together it was one of those “wow” moments that you actually exclaim after you swallow and before you open your eyes. We will be going back to Marketview Liquor to buy several more bottles. My opinion is that it will cellar very well due to its robust characteristics.


Submitted by Jean Engelke

This is a pleasant white wine from Muxika, Spain, just South of the France border in the Basque region.  Txakolina is a traditional white Basque wine made by blending indiginous Hondarrabi Zuri grapes. In this case it is a blend of 90% Hondarrabi Zuri, 6% Folle Blanche, and 4% Reisling.

The region is actually part of the Catalanas region, more commonly known for Cava. Prior to phylloxera, the region was heavily planted in reds. After phylloxera, the area was replanted in whites that complemented CAVA production. Included was Folle Blanche, a traditional white grape of Cognac and Armagnac regions of France used in Cognac production.
The region is the Denominacion de Origen, Txakoli de Bizkaiko – Bizkaiko Txakolina DO. The region has a Mediterranian climate.  The soil is limestone surface ad sandy sub-soil. The wine was feremented 25 days on lees in stainless steel.
Robert Parker gave it a rating of 89. It has aromas of citris fruit, ripe fruit, herbs and flowers. Nectar, pear and white flower, minerally, with green apple. It is crisp yet is savory, well balanced and a fuller body than you would expect.
It was enjoyed with a spice rubbed Lake Ontario lake trout, steamed broccoli and wild rice. The wine was a little on the warm side, it would be very enjoyable chilled on summer deck. Would probably be enjoyable with any seafood and would stand up to rich buttery sauces.
Wine, one bottle at a time rating = Enjoyable, will buy again, serve on the deck.

2007 Reserva Falernia Elquie Valley Carmenere Syrah

 Submitted by Jean – January 2012

Falernia Carmenere Syrah 2007 Reserva had a deep red color. It was sweet on the nose, very fruit forward. Since it was a blend of Carmenere and Syrah, this was not really expected.  We tasted the wine first, before dinner. The taste was rich with fruit, soft tannins.

I chose this wine because it is Carmenere, the signature red wine of Chili. As we know,  Carmenere was a common  Bordeaux variety. Wiped out in Europe with phylloxera, it remained untouched in the very unique geographic landscape of Chili.  It is believed that the highly protected geography of Chili, with the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Andes on the other, allowed the varietal to flourish. Chile is one of few places on earth that escaped the phylloxera devastation.  Chili occupies a strip of land 2700 miles long and 100 miles wide on the west coast of South America. One of the developing areas is to the North, the Elqui Valley in Coquimbo, northern Chile. Its climate is similar to Baja, California.

The winemaker is Giorgio Flessati. An Italian native, he makes wines in Italy and Russia as well. It is no surprise that “one third of the 60% Carmenère Is ‘Amarone’ style from grapes dried on the vine until June.” As mentioned, it had a sweetness, was smooth, and fresh. Research indicates Robert Parker gave this wine an 88.

We paired this win with Asian Lettuce Wraps. We incorporated pork loin with soy and hoisin sauces, garlic, ginger, green onions and water chestuts. Wrapped in butter lettuce, accompanied by a side of white rice, the food paired extremely well with the wine. The food was light, the wine did not dominate, but complimented the Asian flavors. We did comment that this wine would have stood up to a more substantially rich ribeye.

Recommended as a good value, food friendly wine.

Meiomi 2009 Pinot Noir

Laura Wayland-Smith Hatch – November 2011 

I’ve been disappointed by pinot noirs in the past, finding many of them to be lacking fullness and flavor. My latest purchase, a 2009 Meiomo Pinot Noir, surprised me with its aromas of dark berries and flavors of black cherries and raspberries and vanilla.

Full bodied with soft tannins, it was a wonderful find for sipping on a cool fall evening. I found this locally for about $18. Also available through online stores.

“Complex savory herb, black cherry and wild berry flavors are tight and firm, full-bodied and tannic, ending with a somewhat clipped finish. Drink now through 2017. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. 25,564 cases made. ” Wine Spectator

Opolo 2005 Syrah

By Tom & Laura – September 2011


On a recent visit to Atlanta, we stumbled upon a wonderful little wine store that carries one of our favorite wines from Paso Robles — Opolo.

After some decision making, we packed into our suitcase two bottles of Opolo’s 2005 Syrah.

This rich red wine is full of dark cherry and chocolate and has a finish that won’t quit. While it pairs wonderfully with pork and beef, I love it for slow sipping on a cool fall day. What could be better? You can purchase this wine for about $24


The Other Guys (TOG) PENNYWISE 2008 Petite Sirah

Submitted by Tom Hatch – March 2011

I was out wine shopping recently and brought home this great find. For under $10 a bottle, we were pleasantly surprised at how nice this wine is. Definitely recommend the pennywise 2008 Petite Sirah to all our friends.

The Other Guys Web Site Tasting Notes
With deep purple color, this wine has an exotic aroma of blackberries and smoky bacon which draws you further into the glass. The first sip shows you Petite Sirah’s silky fruit forward flavors of black raspberry, strawberry, and candied blueberries. The second sip shows you the depth of this wine, with notes of tobacco leaf, French roast coffee, and blackberry compote smuggling even more fruit that shines throughout this blend. This is a brilliant berry explosion that holds its ground with round tannins, bacon nuances, and rich French oak. 
Our 2008 Petite Sirah blend is the collaboration of two lots from the heart of Lodi. The Petite Sirah came off the vine bursting with flavor and incredible color. This lot was almost too fruit forward (if there is such a concept) and needed the depth from a neighboring Syrah lot to add some structure to the blend. The result is all the berry fruit you can handle with enough depth and tannin to stand up to a number of different cuisines.

Wrongo Dongo

 Submitted by Laura Hatch – Jan 2011

Producer: Bodegas Juan Gil
Grapes: 100% Monastrell
Appellation: Jumilla (DO, Spain)
Vintage: 2008
Alcohol: 15%

During the holidays, our fellow wine-loving friend, Greg recommended a nice “house wine” to have on hand. The 2008 Wrongo Dongo is 100% Monastrell from the Bodegas Juan Gil family estate vineyard. Smooth and with dark berry flavors, it goes well with hearty meals. Ranging in price from $6.89 to $9.98, it’d a great value to have on hand.