Most supermarkets stock a variety of domestic Pinot Noir, primarily those brands that enjoy widespread
distribution. The most expensive and well-known offerings are on the top shelf and the prices and quality then
descend with each succeeding lower shelf to the bottom fourth or fifth shelf. Many supermarkets now offer 30%
off the market’s discounted price with the purchase of six bottles. I randomly plucked seven bottles off the second
shelf to see what these value priced Pinot Noir offer in quality for the price. Of the seven, there were three that I
would hardily recommend. The first price listed is the retail price offered at Ralph’s Supermarket and the second
figure is the 30% discount for buying any six bottles of wine.
2014 alta maria Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $15.70 - $4.71, screwcap. Produced and bottled
by alta maria Vineyards, St. Helena, CA. Winemakers are James Ontiveros and Joseph Wagner.
garnet color in the glass. The nose is not particularly appealing, offering scents of fertile earth, crushed purple
grapes and oak splinter. Light to mid weight in style, featuring a core of blackberry fruit offset with a noticeable
overlay of burnt toast. Soft tannins and a very modest finish. This wine has the backbone of Pinot Noir but the
burnt tone may or may not appeal.
2014 Evolution Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $31.99 -$9.60. Produced and bottled by Sokol Blosser
Winery, Dundee, OR.
Moderately light ruby red color in the glass. Upon opening, there is delicate aromas of red
cherry, cranberry and rose petal but with time in the glass aromas of tobacco, toast and stinky barnyard take over.
Light and elegant in style, with a core of red fruits accent with piney oak. Easygoing with balanced tannins and
some Dundee Hills typicality but lacks interest.
2015 J Vineyards & Winery Monterey County, Sonoma County and Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir
alc., $24.27 - $17.28. Produced and bottled by J Vineyards &
Winery, Healdsburg, CA.
Moderate garnet color in the
glass. Inviting aromas of black cherry, raspberry, and
compost hold up in the glass over time. Very satisfying,
with a middleweight core of fresh black fruits accented by
warm spices. Good attack, balanced tannins, a silky mouthfeel and some
finishing generosity. A steal at 17 bucks.
2015 Martin Ray Sonoma County Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $22.84 - $6.85, screwcap. Vinted and
bottled by Martin Ray Winery, Santa Rosa, CA. Bill Batchelor is the winemaker.
color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of dark cherry, timber and Asian 5-spice. A friendly
mid weight wine with flavors of black cherry and black raspberry framed by easygoing tannins and
juicy acidity. A touch of oak adds interest. I like this wine for everyday drinking.
2013 We Believe Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., $38.56 - $8.57, screwcap.
Cellared and bottled by Chateau Diana, Healdsburg, CA.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Shy,
but pleasant aromas of dark cherry and berry, with hints of Herbs de Provence and tutti-frutti. Good
freshness and vibrancy in a mid weight wine with flavors of Bing cherry, spice and cola. Good oak
harmony and gentle tannins that have moderated with additional bottle age.
2014 Z. Alexander Brown Uncaged Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $18.56 - $5.57. Cellared and
bottled by Z. Alexander Brown Wines, Napa, CA.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. This wine exhibits a very
ripe fruit profile offering aromas and flavors of slightly roasted black cherry, blackberry and rhubarb. There is
noticeable oak overlay with notes of tobacco, hay and anise chiming in. The texture is satiny and the wine has a
good tannic backbone.