Rutz 2008 Pinot Noir Sonoma Cuvée

front label looks like “RVTZ”
Sonoma County, CA; 14.3% ABV
$10 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 11 June

RVTZ_2008_SonomaCuvee_PNSeedboy said of this wine, “Needs air but ends up a nice balanced pinot.”  5-Star Bar added, “Up front a complex, elegant, seductive bouquet leapt out like Pinot perfume from the glass. On the palate a superbly balanced blend of intense, authentic red berry flavors melded seamlessly with a pleasant dollop of slightly spicy oak on the finish.”  I thought those descriptions sounded promising, so I got a bottle, but I was disappointed.

Upon opening this bottle, I poured out half of it into 375ml (half) bottle and closed it with a stopper and very little air.  The half remaining in the bottle was consumed over nearly four hours.  It starts off with simple strawberry candy, and does indeed greatly improve to show more “authentic” and “balanced” red berry and cherry fruit.  However, to my taste, the finish was always strongly SweeTart, an artificial fruit candy that I really think wine should not taste like.  I feel like I’ve been making this complaint a lot lately, but, well, that’s how it is.  Anyway, I still have the other half bottle, so maybe that will be better.

I was indeed surprised how much better the second half was.  The SweeTart flavor was almost completely gone, replaced with full flavors of dark, ripe cherry / nearly plum, earth (almost cola), and a little orange.  However, the acid seemed a bit strong, suggesting, in its almost-vinegar-ness, that the wine is close to getting too old.  I guess I can call it Drinkable, but I’d hope for more from a $10 wine at the GO.


26 thoughts on “Rutz 2008 Pinot Noir Sonoma Cuvée

  1. 5-Star Bar

    I’ve noticed that the 2009 vintage of the Rutz Sonoma Cuvee has begun appearing on the shelves at local GO stores. As I recall GO Wine Lover found this bottling relatively enjoyable. If any of you have also sampled the 2009 vintage I would be interested to hear what your impressions are… Cheers!

  2. 5-Star Bar

    I believe that I can shed some light on what I would describe as the “Pinot Paradox” here on the blog. I hope that it will help shoppers to decide whether or not to buy a wine that has been given controversial and conflicting reviews.

    “To buy or not to buy, that is the question!”

    With apologies to the late, great Mr. Shakespeare in order to determine whether or not you will find a particular wine to be pleasant and delightful (or unpleasant and disappointing) we must first identify which “wine styles” we enjoy (and which ones we dislike).

    Even among savvy wine drinkers there are bound to be differences of opinion. I think that the explanation to the Pinot Paradox lies in another phenomenon “palate variation”. Like bottle variation, how we perceive a wine is based on our own complex taste preferences. Ask yourself the question

    Do I prefer the…?

    A.) Intense Fruit Style (New World)
    Strawberries, Raspberries, Spice, etc.

    B) Elegant Style (Burgundian)
    Rose Petals, Mushrooms, Black Tea, etc

    C) All of the above

    If you prefer the Intense Fruit Style I recommend the:

    2008 Rvtz Sonoma Cuvee Pinot Noir
    2010 Patassy Green Valley/ Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

    If you prefer the Elegant Style I recommend the:

    2008 Gloria Ferrer Carneros Pinot Noir
    1999 Draper & Esquin Carneros Pinot Noir

    “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning that’s as good as the’re going to feel all day”

    Dean Martin

    1. GOWineLover

      Very well put. I’ve only had the 2009 Ruts Sonoma Cuvee and I would say it falls more toward the Elegant Style. The Gloria Ferrer is more my favorite of the two but almost twice the price. Still a nice deal for a very good pinot.

    2. lim13

      The choice of these recommendations is very easy for me, 5-Star Bar…none of them are currently available here in my part of WA state. : ~) And I would add cherries to your descriptors of “New World” Pinots…in fact I’d have listed that first, as that often dominates the Oregon Pinots that we find frequently in the NW. You’re right on the money with “palate variation” aka. individual taste. And you’ve got to try a lot to find the one that suits you. However, I’m getting to the point where I’d rather take the $40 that I spent on GO wines that didn’t hit the mark for me…and spend it on wines at other retail outlets that I know I’ll like, based on years of positive experience with certain producers.

      1. Darrell

        Hmmm, that $40 will get you a fraction of a bottle of that Old World Pinot from your certain, favorite producer.

        1. lim13

          Quite true, Darrell. That’s why I stopped buying old world Pinot 20 or more years ago. But there are many other possibilities of various varietals and blends from a number of producers. Local producers like Thurston Wolfe, Barnard Griffin and Columbia Crest to name but a few. Or I can spend the whole $40 on one bottle of wonderful Gainey wines. I’m likely just disgusted with so little of interest at GO for almost a month now.

          1. PW

            I hear you. I found an absolutely lovely Cameron Hughes at a local market. 2009. Stags Leap. $12. It’s a no brainer as to where I’m going to spend my wine $ these days.

            In fact I was so enamored with that cab, I joined the CH wine club and I’m not a joiner.

            If they can get deals buying less volume than an entire chain of grocery stores, I think GO should have better options than they are presenting lately. Just my opinion. Sadly they are going to price themselves right out of a competitive slot (price is the biggest thing they have young for them IMO since selection is so down) and lose buyers like me who want a decent wine for a decent price.

            1. flitcraft

              Nothing new of interest at my local GOs in ages. But I did notice that the Lake City GO just discounted several wines that were positively reviewed in the past–the Red Door Oregon pinot is now 6 dollars, down from 8; the Viano Zin is now 5 dollars, down from 7, and the Tuke Holdsworth reserve ruby port is 7 dollars, down from 14. So maybe there’s a recognition that their price point isn’t attractive enough to move even well reviewed stuff.

              On a more depressing note, the SODO 4th Avenue GO has eliminated the entire wine section on the left hand side of the store–which was where their better stuff once lived–leaving them with maybe a third the wine space that they used to have. And that mainly occupied by Bronco and Bronco-style dreck…

          2. Darrell

            Lim, I hear you, but don’t give up hope in acquiring Burgundies. These precious, wonderful wines from Burgundy can be funded by your older wines if you are willing to part with some of those older bottles. The added advantage is it makes space in the cellar. The percentage of Burgundy in the cellar has always been miniscule, but of late, the Burgundy section of the cellar has increased by several fold by parting with bottles I can’t afford to drink. Bottles like your upcoming older wines tasting could get some of these wines.

            1. Seedboy

              The story I’m hearing is that the buyers have been put on hold because of excessive inventory (probably too much Bronco wine). It is true that pricing is an issue but there are still bargains in good wine at the GO. That Road Less Traveled Cab is pretty good (more of that at Berkeley yesterday), Berkeley still has a mess of that Echelon pinot for $5.99, and that screwcap Trebbiano for $2.99 is still around and a great deal. They have probably overestimated the amount of $10 to $20 wine they can sell (the Rock Wall zin, those Riojas, etc) but they will eventually drop the prices on those wines. Personally I’m hoping for a price reduction on that Barbaresco that is still around, it is a very nice wine.

            2. lim13

              Something to ponder, Darrell…and I’ve considered that…and may still. But Burgundies are not at the top of my favored varietals list. I’m really a man of more simple means…and taste.

            3. BargainWhine Post author

              Hi Seedboy. I’m not sure about a price reduction on the Risorgimento Barbaresco. If I observed correctly yesterday, it is now $12 at the Berkeley store, up from its previous $11.

            4. lim13

              Appreciate the info about 4th Ave./Seattle, Flitcraft. I only get in there a few times a year, but it’s good to know. And nice to hear from you again, as it’s been a while. I received an email from the Silverdale GO on Wednesday listing all the marked down wines. Must have been about 35 wines…most of them plonk…as you noted. The three you mentioned were included…and likely the only wines of real interest (though I was not particularly a fan of the Red Door). I was in the Kenmore store last weekend and left empty handed. Just more of the same stuff.

            5. Jim H

              Heard from one of the wine guys (on Tuesday 6/24) that the hold on buying has been lifted and some new inventory should soon be appearing.

            6. lim13

              If we can believe that wine guy…that’s definitely good news, Jim. And hope it’s true for us Washingtonians too!

      2. BargainWhine Post author

        Yes, after this wine, I was thinking that, instead of a $10 crap shoot at GO, I may as well spend $15 for a Pinot I can be pretty sure I’ll like, New World style or Old.

  3. Allen Rivers

    The buyers at grocery outlet have clearly lost their way, why do you keep buying the stuff at 10 bucks a bottle? Just stop spending and they will get the message.

    1. BargainWhine Post author

      Hi Allen and welcome to comments. For myself, I’m mostly interested in whatever’s new, so I don’t usually buy second bottles of any wine. Lately, there haven’t been that many new items, so I have gotten second bottles of the some wines I liked best: Luna Negra Tempranillo, Road Less Traveled Cabernet, Arceno Chianti. This Rutz Pinot won’t ever be one of them, but I have no problem with anyone who likes it buying more. If I want a GO Pinot, I’ll get a bottle of the Echelon that everyone seems to like, and of which there seems to be plenty. Anyway, do you have any GO wines you’ve liked lately?

    2. GOWineLover

      I don’t know that they have lost their way. The market has recovered and their access to great deals is likely not what it once was. I agree that the quality of product, regardless of price, is not what it once was. The $10+ bottles of yesteryear are nothing like what they are today.

  4. GOWineLover

    2009 at Pleasant Hill was good and similar to your description. I think they have quite a bit of stock. Doesn’t have quite the depth as I wanted though it certainly drinks pretty nicely – no thin, watered down cherry cola here. Nice bottle for $5.

    1. BargainWhine Post author

      Hi GOWineLover. Which 2009 bottling was this for $5? I can recall only two Rutz Pinots of late: this 2008 Sonoma Cuvee for $10 and a non-vintage Proprietor’s Reserve (I think) for $6. (Seedboy and Jim H say there was a 2000 at Oakland.)

      1. GOWineLover

        Sorry – Sonoma Cuvee. They had 2009 Proprieter’s Reserve, too, but I stuck to Sonoma Cuvee based on the previous rec.

  5. Jim H

    I too saw this for $5.99 @ Oaktown. However re: the 2000 there was only one bottle sitting around and that was ten days ago.


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