The Wine Idiot Reviews: Scratchpad Central Coast Pinot Noir, 2012 ($12.99)
CONFESSION: This wine is not from Trader Joe's.
I'm staying with my parents for the holidays, and my dad and I did a grocery-run to Vons on the 24th for Christmas dinner. While we were there, I realized that, if I wanted to drink wine while wrapping presents (and there's maybe no better time to drink wine), I was going to have to get a bottle at Vons.
It has been MONTHS since I've bought a bottle of wine just to buy a bottle of wine. As in, not picked something out at Trader Joe's that I haven't tried yet for the blog. So I felt a little unmoored.
Unless you buy six bottles, wine at Vons is generally $1-2 more expensive than at Trader Joe's (with a Vons card--if you don't use a Vons card, it's even worse). So part of me gets really annoyed at the thought of buying a bottle at Vons that I could theoretically purchase at Trader Joe's for cheaper. Additionally, it was INSANELY CROWDED, and my dad did NOT want to wait around for me to go through reviews online to pick something out.
So I knew I just had to pick something. Either something I'd had before, or something new based ENTIRELY on the label. And just as I was internally chastising myself for picking something based on the label...
I stumbled across a bottle with a blank label and a pencil tied to the top.
Curious, I picked it up. The attached tag exhorted me to "show us your work." And it clicked. YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO DRAW ON THE LABEL!!
And it was a pinot noir. A new Central Coast pinot? A label I'm supposed to draw on? And an included tiny pencil? DONE.
I have to tell you, this is probably one of my favorite wine purchases of 2015. I am a total sucker for gimmicks--which probably makes me an unreliable reviewer of this wine. I really enjoyed it, but it could be because I was having so much fun sketching my dog onto the bottle.
I shared it with my brother Patrick because Christmas, and he was not a fan. He says that when he has pinot noir, he wants it to taste like a typical light pinot noir. This isn't really that. It reminded me more of the Ocean View Pinot Noir, which is also from the Central Coast of California. It's more peppery, more earthy than your standard-issue pinot noir. Patrick thought it was jammy--"currant, or blackberry, or cranberry, or raspberry, or lingonberry even." He may have been messing with me. I agreed with the cranberry or lingonberry, honestly--there are fruit flavors but they're not sweet. Patrick also said there are a lot of tannins, which I think is correct.
The spicy-ness of it inspired me to attempt pairing it with some Godiva chocolates my dad had brought home from work. There was a Dark Chocolate Spiced Cocoa Palet (spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom, if you must know) that I thought would be superb with it.
I was way wrong. That was not good together. The spices in the chocolate competed too much with whatever was going on in the wine. Then we tried it with the Dark Chocolate Ganache Bliss, and that was mind-blowingly good. The sweetness and richness of the chocolate really brought out the deeper notes of the wine, but the alcohol in the wine cut through the gooey-ness of the chocolate. SO GOOD I WANT MORE RIGHT NOW.
So as I sipped and sketched and scribbled down our notes, I asked Patrick, "would you drink this wine alone?"
To which he responded, "like...by myself?"
No, Patrick. Would you drink it sans food? He says no. I, however, vehemently disagree. And I also would drink this by myself.
What the bottle says: "Your chance to be creative is in front of you. Grab a glass, pencil, and go for it. This Scratchpad label is your open canvas to express yourself and inspire the world. Images or writings, it's up to you. Sketch it, snap it, post it. #scratchpadcellars"
What the Wine Idiot says: You gotta hand it to them for marketing. They're basically saying, "look, you're buying this for the label and the social media-ing. You'll drink the wine and you'll enjoy it."
Who's responsible for this? "Vinted and bottled by Scratchpad Cellars, Buellton, CA"
Do I need a corkscrew? Yep.
What do smarter people say about it? According to WineSearcher, this wine won a Gold Medal at the San Francisco International Wine Competition in 2014! I can't find any real official reviews, but on Vivino it's got 58 reviews and has earned 3.5 out of 4 stars, so I would say at the very least it's not atrocious wine.
Should I bring it to a friend's house? I'll do you one better--I think this wine is a great gift idea! If you know someone who likes to doodle (or at least likes to post quotes on Instagram), this would be a great wine to bring for a host/hostess gift, or a small birthday gift or something!! It's pretty good basic red wine, and I'll be keeping my bottle!