The Wine Idiot Reviews: Caretaker Pinot Noir, 2013 ($9.99)
This Caretaker Pinot Noir was just a random grab at Trader Joe's--it was in one of those displays at the end of the aisle and the bottle was pretty, so I bought it. It's probably pretty sad just how often the label influences my purchasing decisions, but there it is.
I should let you know up top that pinot noir is one of my favorite types of wine--this is a double-edged sword for pinot, because that means while it enjoys some latitude that chardonnay does not, I've also tasted quite a few and am better able to discern ones I really like from ones I really don't. Additionally, I should admit that I am somewhat partial to wines from the Santa Maria valley, because I love being IN the Santa Maria valley. Again, that probably shouldn't influence my purchasing decisions as much as it does? But there it is.
So when I sipped my first taste, my hopes were high. This did not disappoint. My VERY FIRST reaction when it hit my tongue was "OMG I LOVE IT." Then, I braced myself for the "finish"--you know, that aftertaste that happens right after (sometimes while you) swallow. Pinot noir I don't like has a bitter, tart, combative finish that punches you right underneath your tongue as it goes down your throat. This one pulls no such surprises--just a delicious slow fade to nothing. I bet real wine-tasters don't like that part? But I do.
It's really smooth, not flavorless by any means but utterly drinkable. OK, not grape-juice drinkable like Cupcake Red Velvet wine, but I wasn't bracing myself every time I took a sip. I'm trying to figure out what it tastes like, but lacking a real wine-taster's vocabulary, I'm gonna go with...fall? It tastes like fall. Spices, but not like jalapeño spices, like the way a pumpkin pie is "spicy." Like it's something I would want to drink in fall. Maaaaaaybe it tastes like what real wine people mean when they say a wine has notes of "leather"?? But I could be thinking that because it makes me think of a really autumnal Ralph Lauren ad, and they're always wearing great leather boots in those ads.
And I'm sure there are "fruit" notes. Not sure what, though. Something mellow, like maybe blueberries? Not like how that chardonnay tasted like apples and melon. Maybe like a berry pie with spices in it. And alcohol, obviously. So a berry pie steeped in alcohol.
Because I'm a trooper, I just decided to taste this with that Spanish cheese tapas sampler from the other day. TURNS OUT THIS WAS A GREAT IDEA, GOOD JOB CARRIE. The salty tang of the manchego and the Trader Joe's multigrain pita chips balances the not-tangy-ness of the wine really well. Maybe this cheese sampler just goes great with everything.
What the bottle says: (guys, it's a novel, so I'm just including the part about how the wine tastes) "Deep, bright ruby color with violet highlights. Aromas of black cherry, plum, and macerated strawberry. Touches of clove and nutmeg are contributed by the French and American oak for complexity. The palate shows medium body, balanced acidity, and fine-grained tannins that support an extended, lengthy finish." Then there's like a whole chart on the wine details, including the soil the grapes were grown in ("shale, limestone, and sandy loam," if you're picky) and the "oak treatment" (91% French and 9% American, if you must know).
What the Wine Idiot says: HOLY SHIT I'M LIKE TWO FOR TWO YOU GUYS. Just so you know the parameters for these reviews--I read the label when I buy the wine, totally forget what it says by the time I drink it, try to describe it as I'm drinking it, then check the label to see how close I got. CLOVE AND NUTMEG??? DID I NAIL THAT OR WHAT?! OK this may reveal I know pumpkin pie when I taste pumpkin pie. Whatever. Also--how about those fruits?! Cherry, plum, and "macerated strawberry" didn't come to me, but yep that's totally it. Whoever wrote this label is a damn genius. Also was probably being paid by the word, because this label is twice as long as that chardonnay one was.
ABV: 14% (for those of you who don't always pay attention to this part, this is quite high for wine--which means more bang for your buck, IMHO.)
Who's responsible for this? "Cellared & bottled by Central Coast Wine Warehouse, Santa Maria, CA."
Do I need a corkscrew? Yes. Also, it's got a pretty cork if you collect those.
What do smarter people say about it? Apparently this wine isn't important enough to merit a real review. Someone on the internets said this is a Trader Joe's exclusive, even though it doesn't say that anywhere on it. Some randos on various wine-review sites said, "another great value from Trader Joe's, extra half star for value. Nice nose of raspberry, currant and cherry. Flavors of strawberry cherry and toasted oak. Little bit of a lingering spice and mineral make this the value pinot of the season," and "not a bad Trader Joe's $10 pinot - it was varietally correct and easy enough to sip - although I still prefer their Mission Point pinot."
Should I bring it to a friend's house? Totes. Unless they're really into wine. And you want to impress them. Then bring a bottle of Au Bon Climat pinot noir.