Name: 2005 Chalone Monterey Co. Pinot Noir Grape: Pinot Noir
Region: Monterey County, California
Price: $15.99 to $18.99
Good, inexpensive Pinot Noir is hard to find. This finicky, elusive grape is hard to grow, difficult to vinify and, thanks to the Sideways effect, more popular than ever. These supply and demand issues make values difficult to come by; regardless I'm on a mission to find delicious Pinot Noir for under $20 a bottle.
In a systematic approach, I am working my way through my local wine shop's Pinot selections. I started last week at the arbitrary mark of $24.99; purchasing the one selection at that price and have subsequently gone down, buying all bottles at each lower price offering. Fortunately it's a small selection so it is doubtful that I will tire of Pinot Noir or go broke before running out of options!
This week I tried two bottles at the eighteen dollar mark, one was awful, the other delicious. I'll bite my tongue about the terrible one in lieu of waxing poetic about the other.
The 2005 Chalone Pinot from Monterey County was surprisingly good. Being a romantic who fancies handcrafted-boutique projects, I tend to have a bias against the bigger wine production houses and Chalone is very big.
Fortunately my systematic approach prevented me from skipping over this wine, as it was a delicious find. Bright cherry and raspberry fruit followed by chocolate and clove spice with excellent acidity and length. The acidity was a tad tart, which made it a perfect match with food. The fat of some goat cheese softened this tartness immediately and really opened up the wine.
Stores: PJ Wine, $18.99 (4898 Broadway between 204th St & 205th St), Young's Wines $13.99 (505 Plandome Road, Manhasset), Gary's Wine & Marketplace $14.99 (121 Main Street, Madison, NJ), Wine.com, $17.79 (online wine retailer)