The Wine Idiot Reviews: Granite Coast Vineyards Pinot Noir, 2013 ($5.99)
I was in the TJ's wine aisle specifically to buy two Pinot Grigios for a side-by-side taste test I had planned with my friend Natasha. However, I realized that I better grab another bottle if I didn't want to have to come back to the store in the next week or so. But I didn't have time to seek out an obscure bottle or ask for any suggestions.
Under these circumstances, I like to check out those displays on the end of the aisles. Usually it's just what's featured in the Fearless Flyer that month, but sometimes they put random new stuff in. That's where I found this Granite Coast Vineyards Pinot Noir. We all know California Pinot Noir with a pretty label is my ultimate weakness, so I felt like this was kismet.
I honestly had zero expectations when I popped the cork. It could have been as delightful a surprise as that Mayhall Tibbs or as depressing as the Cherry Blossom Pinot Noir. It's a very light red color in the glass, almost rusty-colored. It smells a little...spicy?
And then my first tasting note that I wrote down was "WOW." It's super-interesting! Well, probably as interesting as a $6 bottle of wine is gonna get. It has lots of spice (maybe pepper?) at first, but as it traverses your tongue it morphs into a fruity burst! Then there's a quick switch back to bitter-ish as you swallow. The finish is complex--not sour, not astringent, just...interesting! So many dancing flavors I couldn't keep up.
Now here's the weird part. I swear on a stack of Bibles this tastes like Trader Joe's fruit leather. Like, EXACTLY. Not sweet, yet fruity. Almost...earthy?? If "gritty" described a flavor instead of a texture, I would say this was gritty.
It's entirely possible that I just really needed a glass of wine, but I LOVE this pinot noir!
What the bottle says: "The rugged coastline, carved out by the relentless force of the wild Pacific Ocean, is a hallmark of California's Central Coast. The proximity of our vineyards to the sea and its cool marine air ensures our grapes ripen slowly and evenly, developing ripe, concentrated fruit flavors while retaining an ideal level of acidity."
What the Wine Idiot says: This description is apt. The fruit isn't the first thing you notice but it does sock you in the mouth mid-palate.
Who's responsible for this? "Estate Grown, Produced & Bottled by Granite Coast Vineyards, Greenfield, CA"
Do I need a corkscrew? Yes you do. Did you want to borrow mine?
What do smarter people say about it? OK so first of all, when I first published this review, I inadvertently linked to a review of the Red Blend, not the Pinot Noir!! QUELLE HORREUR!!!! Much thanks to reader Tom S who notified me of the error.
So just now I decided to find a correct one. Nothing official, but this review on Vivino by Elliot Mercer made me laugh my pants off: "Trader Joe's: when it's good, it's good, when it's bad, it's pretty recognizably bad. Don't get fooled by the pretty label, or the fact that it's a central coast Pinot, this is no bueno. Dark red color. Lots of pepper to mask the lameness of flavors, a spice that comes from a long time in barrel (12 months). Then a bunch of fruit pops up--cherries, strawberries, raspberries, pomegranates-- then it fades to a stale bitterness with some tannins. This tastes like cheap fruit leather. This is a stupid wine." So, I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO THINKS THIS TASTES EXACTLY LIKE FRUIT LEATHER. Elliot just is a little angrier about it than I am, apparently. If you hate fruit leather, then you probably will also think this is a stupid wine.
Now, "Domaine Dave" at Cheapwinefinder had some interesting stuff to say about Granite Coast, so I'll give you the pertinent highlights: "Granite Coast Vineyards seems to be a brand name and not an actual vineyard and winery, so if you want to know which estate grew the grapes and made the wine, look up wineries in Greenfield, California. If that does not answer your question then Google who owns the trademark for Granite Coast Vineyards." So guess who DID Google who owns the trademark?? THIS GIRL. It's Scheid Vineyards. Means nothing to me but I feel like I just solved a mystery.
Should I bring it to a friend's house? Oh I definitely think so, especially if you've been tasked with finding a wine to go with dinner. (UPDATE: Apparently don't if your friend is a killjoy who doesn't like fruit leather.)