2009 Mayerdale Pinot Noir $9.99

Garnier Vineyards, Columbia Gorge, OR
14% ABV
Purchased: Salem, OR 9-27-2014

MayerdaleWhat is it with all these higher alcohol wines? I do remember when wines were more subtle and alcohol was an “enhancement” rather than a over-shadowing contributor. This wine is hot. The nose is heavy on the alcohol and it seems like even though we’ve given it a lot of air, you can still feel the alcohol as you swallow.

That being said, it’s the only strike against it, in my book. I looked it up online. There was one cellartracker review in 2012 that gave it an 85 points (and I disagree with this rating although it’s entirely possible that it was applicable back then). The review also mentions the alcohol (both on the nose and the taste). I don’t think much has changed there in the year +, since that review was written.

Don’t get me wrong though; with all that being said, I do like this wine quite a bit and I will buy more if it’s still around at the sale.

Alcohol aside, there are many good things to be said. Firstly, it is herbal without being “green pepper”. Bonus! It’s dry and not very fruit forward at all, yet there is a bit of cherry or possibly black raspberry making itself mildly noticed without being overbearing. Again, it’s a style I very much like; earthy with black pepper and very (very) subtle notes of leather (not usually a taste I associate with Pinot Noir) as well as more than a hint of tobacco. It reminds me of a good Italian Pinot Noir. Nuances galore. Body is perfect. Color shows no sign of bricking. It’s not showing its age in taste either. In fact, I think it’s got a few years left of on it…impressive.

The 2011 Pinot Noir is $24 on their website. I actually prefer the 2009 vintage of Oregon Pinot Noir to the 2011’s (on average). At $10 it’s a pretty good deal; at 20% off (during the sale next week, Nov. 5 – 9), it’s a no brainer for me.

11 thoughts on “2009 Mayerdale Pinot Noir $9.99

    1. lim13

      Thanks. Got a good chuckle out of me too, PW. And served as a reminder (not that I needed one) of why I cancelled my subscription to Wine Spectator many years ago.

  1. palfrey12

    Due to warmer temperatures (who’d have thunk it) and the desire to keep grapes on the vine longer for fuller flavors, the sugar in picked grapes is getting higher. If you want dry wine you must convert all or nearly all the sugar to ethanol and the equation is relentless, one sugar to two alcohol molecules:
    –from the web–
    “The Gay-Lussac Equation
    C6H12O6 2CH3CH2OH + 2CO2
    180g Sugar is converted to 92g Ethanol and 88g Carbon Dioxide
    BUT, this can only be achieved if there is no yeast growth and ethanol is not lost as vapor. In
    practice, ethanol yields observed are 90 to 95% of theoretical.”
    I have heard of winemakers using centrifuges or osmotic membranes to extract alcohol to make their wines less hot. But I don’t think you brag about doing this, nor about applying the old home method of adding water to the barrel. It is a justification for mixing types of grape and even vintages in the barrel to get a high standard product. But US marketing has us favoring 100% varietal and single year bottles.
    Too much alcohol is a growing problem for wine-making going forward, As the old sales adage goes, it’s only a feature if you can turn it off.

    1. permiesworld Post author

      Very interesting info. Palfrey. Thank you for your input! It’s definitely something that I wish would turn around in the U.S. market.

      I had heard that the only wines that were quite bad during the cool 2011 Napa harvest were the ones where the grapes were left on the vines far too long in hopes of forcing that higher sugar/alcohol taste usually acquired from the warmer years/longer harvests. One winemaker commented that the 2011’s were offering lower alcohol (“that everyone has been clamoring for”) and more subtle wines. Yet the vintage was panned before most of the wine had been bottled and tasted. She was quite indignant about it too, because she believed their 2011 was a quality wine.

      So that leads me to wonder what the critics are wanting? Parker obviously likes the high alcohol wines. Are they all being led by him? He’s obviously had such a powerful influence that it’s hard to find something from CA that isn’t a “fruit bomb” (without paying $200 a bottle). Growers and winemakers aren’t going to provide more graceful wines if they are being panned for it, low scored for it and unable to sell because of it.

      I’ve noticed pockets of resistance who are snapping up wines that have been panned (I can’t remember the vintages…2001 & 2004 I think, but don’t quote me) that have aged so beautifully, while their fuller “in your face” counterparts from (what Napa considers) better vintages bloomed early and faded quickly. I somewhat expect that to happen with 2012, TBH. So many are drinkable now that I’m guessing most won’t have true aging potential.

      1. seedboy

        I’m pretty sure that Parker is not actually preferring higher alcohol. Instead, he prefers a very ripe style, and high alcohol is a byproduct of that.

        1. permiesworld Post author

          …and I posted that above link because it does offer an alternative view from my own. I’m obviously of the camp that prefers balance in my wine. I don’t drink for a buzz. I drink it because I like the taste exploration. And if all I get is fruit and alcohol, it’s not much of a journey.

  2. Expat

    permies, at the risk of sounding sycophantic, I love your reviews. You give great descriptions and your perspective seems to track very close to mine. I feel like you’ve tried the wine for me and I know exactly what to do. Sorry to gush so shamelessly but it’s true. And I really like all the reviewers on this blog but I wanted to give you your props.

    1. permiesworld Post author

      Thank you, Expat! I consider that a great compliment. I have noticed that we have similar tastes from reading the reviews you’ve posted. I know that wine tasting is so subjective, I often think that if you have 10 people tasting the same wine, they would walk away with 10 (sometimes completely) different opinions; so it IS nice to know that the reviews are helpful.


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