The Wine Idiot Reviews: Ocean View Pinot Noir, 2014 ($14.99)
For our last fire-pit-party before he headed off for parts unknown, my neighbor Marti and I went all high-roller and cracked open a FIFTEEN-DOLLAR BOTTLE OF PINOT NOIR. Yeah that's right, I picked one off the TOP SHELF (of Trader Joe's).
I told the friendly TJ's sommelier (or whatever they call the employees that hang out in the wine aisle and are SUPER enthusiastic about helping you find something) that I had rather enjoyed the Mayhall Tibbs Pinot Noir and was looking for something in that vein. I wasn't really looking for another pinot noir, but again...I've got a thing for pretty labels. And this one looked QUITE classy.
It does live up to the label! And it does taste a lot like the Mayhall Tibbs. At first it's light, with fruitiness like strawberries and blackberries without being jam-sweet. Then, as you swallow, it gets peppery but not overwhelmingly so--I think the technical term is "dances on the tongue." Marti proclaimed, "it wants to be sweet but it keeps bein' spicy!"
We decided the "finish" is decidedly not like biting on a penny. Do you hate that as much as I do? After a sip of wine the flavor just turns into this metallic zing that sorta hurts your teeth? I hate it when wine does that. This one isn't like that.
We also decided Marti should take a picture of the wine bottle to show me how a real photographer would do it. I'm embarrassed I'm including it in this post because it's so much better than mine, but it really deserves to be released to the world. Isn't this one nice??
While this won't be the last wine review post featuring Marti Matulis, it is the last that was as easy as, "yo, wine tonight?" Thanks for being a rad neighbor, Marti! The Chancellor and I miss you already!
What the bottle says: "Located only 1.3 miles from the Pacific Ocean, lies the steep rolling hills of our Estate Ocean View Vineyard. The steady maritime fog and sheltered sunny days provide cool evenings and warm days, the perfect climate for ripening Pinot Noir grapes."
What the Wine Idiot says: It tickles my funny bone when wine bottle labels spend most (or all) of their real estate telling me something I could have Googled. I would rather know what the wine tastes like. So, I'll just say--they are probably right about the growing conditions (I did NOT Google it). This wine was quite tasty, but I would save $5 and buy the Mayhall Tibbs while it's still around!
Who's responsible for this? "Produced and bottled by Sinor-Lavallee, Arroyo Grande, California."
Do I need a corkscrew? Yup.
What do smarter people say about it? Joe at Good Cheap Vino says this of the 2013 version: "This is one of those wines made exclusively for Trader Joe’s, and when this vintage is gone there is no gaurantee that another vintage will be on the shelves at Trader Joe’s. This Pinot Noir is from a vineyard near Avila Beach in the San Louis Obispo area. Thus, the name of the wine, Ocean View. The vineyard is owned by Mike Sinor and his Cheri La Vallee-Sinor. They make wines under the Sinor-LaVallee label. Mike is also the head winemaker for Ancient Peaks winery in Santa Margarita. I spoke with Mike on the phone, and he told me that this was a huge yield for this vineyard. With the extra Pinot Noir juice, Mike made and bottled this wine for Trader Joe’s. The first notable characteristic is the aroma, very strong and full out of the glass, without any breathing time. It pops with strawberry. Good flavors in the mouth, light to medium bodied. I like the spicy finish to this wine. I asked Mike what a comparable price would be for a similar Pinot Noir and without hesitation he replied, 'Around $35.' Of course this is the winemaker speaking, but it is a great value in my opinion. 89 Points."
Should I bring it to a friend's house? You won't disappoint anyone, but your wallet will thank you if you just grab the Mayhall Tibbs instead! And if the day comes when the Mayhall Tibbs has run out? This one will do quite nicely.