Swami 2009 Pinot Noir

Sonoma Coast, CA; 14.5% ABV
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 5 Jan

Swami_2009_PinotNoirI got this for the low price and the Sonoma Coast designation, one from which I have liked other Pinots Noirs.  This one is great.  It’s apparently made by some surfer dudes who decided to make Pinot Noir, as you can see in the label.  Although I’m glad, I have no idea why this is at the GO.

The nose seems to me slightly off, with a funkiness I don’t quite like.  However, on the palate, the bad funk is gone and the wine is fabulous.  It’s tasty enough at first pour that I found it tempting to just go for it.  However, I thought it was better when it opened up after about 80 minutes in a decanter.  Then, it showed lovely red cherry, root beer, earthy dried orange peel, and nice Pinot funk.  The medium body is gently viscous and silky, and the flavors are very elegant.  Over the next 90 minutes, the fruit became darker red, and still not showing any signs of being too old.  This is the most enthusiastic I’ve been about a GO Pinot in a long time.  While it doesn’t quite have the complexity of the Cima Collina, it’s more elegant and, in a way, substantial, and really has that CA Pinot wonderfulness.

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28 thoughts on “Swami 2009 Pinot Noir

  1. EHL

    Tried a couple of bottles of this Swami PN…the first time we were smoking some good stuff, so I can’t really comment on my perception of the wine, except that the bottle was finished in no time…lol.

    The second bottle I opened tonight…and from the get-go, it had a strong and overpowering nose that was highlighted by Pinot funk and ripe dark fruit. The wine was medium to full-bodied, appeared generally to be balanced, although marked by a slight acidic roughness and a strange metallic tang in the finish.

    We’ll see if things improve tomorrow with some air time…

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          1. EHL

            Got the ’09 at Oakland about a week ago, BW…they had around a couple cases then…

            Back now to the Swami PN, three days later…the wine darkened slightly, a brilliant medium garnet with a brick rim. The overpowering nose subdued somewhat, still marked by an earthy barnyard funk complemented by red/black plum and rose notes, with the palate pretty much following suit. Although the wine smoothed out nicely, it was a more robust PN and still had a slight metallic finish that was noticeable.

            While this is a fine Pinot bargain for $6, with retail hovering around $34, in totality, it strikes me as a less elegant and refined wine compared to the Cima Collina, Russian Hill Estate and Sanctuary PNs that have surfaced recently at GOs…although bottle variation is obviously in play here…

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  2. Pasowino

    Well got 2 bottle of the beautifully labeled Swami (would love a poster size label) I tried to like it but no matter how I tried to like it, no matter how much air; the bottle I had was pretty lame, funky smell, gave it glass “air” (Riedel PN glass even) and kept tasting it throughout the evening and even the next day or so. vacuumed it and took it to a tango milonga compared it to several other PN’s (incl GO’s Bad karma PN) and other reds It was the lamest of the bunch. May take the other Swami back to GO and get more Grand Father’s Clock Merlot or ante up for MYKA Meritage.

    Reply
  3. BargainWhine Post author

    I opened another bottle of this recently that I bought soon after the first one. It was a bit different from my first bottle. Instead of being elegant and delineated, this bottle showed simpler but richer, darker fruit (more black cherry toward plum) in a heavier body than the first. It also took a longer time, at least a couple hours in a decanter, to air to the point of seeming pretty well integrated. The saved single-glass screw-cap bottle was actually quite nice, more elegant than the first 3/4 of the bottle, but still with the darker flavors. This wine is still on some GO shelves. If you pick up another one, it may not be quite like this since the temperature in stores is probably more constant than in my house (and, of course, because of the bottle variation previously described in comments).

    Reply
  4. G.L. Pease

    I bought a couple to try, and liked the first one enough to go back for a case and a half. Not the most complex PN from the area, but no slouch. That first bottle was absolutely delicious. I opened another tonight, and found a little spritz, a little more of a funkadelic thing in the nose, and the wine wasn’t as refined. Talk about bottle variation! The fizz is certainly not from ML in the bottle, but more likely from gas in the bottling line. I’m leaving the case sealed, and will try the other bottles. If the success rate is lower than about 80%, it’s no bargain, and the case will probably go back…

    I found quite a bit of variability in the Cima Colina, too. Fortunately, the case I ended up with has been a good one.

    Reply
    1. BargainWhine Post author

      Hi G.L. Thanks for replying to confirm what we’ve suspected about this wine. I got another bottle myself to see if I could find the reported bottle variation, and I’ll report back when I try it. But please also tell us what you find in your larger sample size.

      Reply
      1. G.L. Pease

        I just tried a bit from the bottle I opened last night. The aroma fell apart a bit over a 24+ hour timeframe, but it actually still tastes pretty good, which is interesting. There was a pretty dominant pyrazine thing going on in the nose, but it blew off a bit after a few minutes. I also recall that last night I shook the hell out of the half that remained it to rid it of any dissolved CO2. Not really advised, but when you’ve got spritzy wines that shouldn’t be spritzy, it’s one way to mitigate it. Of course, this level of abuse goes somewhat beyond letting it breathe… Still, I like this wine. I’ll certainly let you know what future bottles bring.

        Reply
  5. BargainWhine Post author

    Last night, I opened my saved single-glass screwcap bottle (with no air inside) of this wine. It was still quite tasty and I had no trouble finishing it, but I noted a couple differences. First, the flavor of the slightly objectionable nose was now in the more forward palate, where it came across as a sort of harder, woody / earthy root beer, not bad exactly but a bit more prominent than I’d probably prefer. Second, I would no longer call it “gently viscous and silky.” Instead, it was a more rough-edged. Overall, I liked it better on the first night, but it was not at all bad on the second.

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  6. GOWineLover

    Agreed in general. Nose is funky. Just tasted through an aerator straight out of the bottle after having some Cima Collima with dinner. Wine was very hot as poured even with aeration. Underlying structure promise but seems to need air. My bottle probably needs 2+ hours after a rough pour into a decanter.

    At $5.99, good buy. More at Pleasant Hill and they will order more tomorrow.

    Reply
  7. Darrell

    While Jeff Bundschu may be a surfer dude, he probably has wine running through his veins since the family has been making wine, off and on, since 1858. I like the part of his being a locavore, wild locavore more than likely. When I first got into wine, the Gundlach-Bundschu label didn’t exist, but I had seen pre-prohibition bottles with Rhinefarm on the label. I must have too much time on my hands. I checked out Gunbun.com and saw a video with Jeff and the label artist, Nate, resurrecting an old jalopy to decorate the property. I saw the wine in Oakland and almost bought the bottle because the bottle is produced and bottled by, but the garish label put me off. Might have to make a run to the East Bay since BW gave this a thumbs up as opposed to a drinkable Cima Collina. You should be able to find this bottle in the dark since the label is phosphorescent. Surfer dudes in my day would have made the label fluorescent.

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    1. BargainWhine Post author

      Hi Darrell. I have mixed feelings about my “Drinkable” on the Cima Collina. On one hand, when it was good, it was definitely better than this Swami. On the other, it often seemed to fall apart quickly, which lowered my opinion of it. In contrast, I have full confidence that my saved bottle of Swami Pinot will still be quite tasty, maybe better. Of course, I’ll report back when I find out for sure. 🙂

      About the label: I thought it was unusual for wine but nicely designed, and was more intrigued than put off.

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    2. lim13

      I used to buy a lot of Gundlach Bundschu Gewurz in the late 80’s and 90’s…good stuff…when Lance Cutler was making the wines. He was a real character…very funny guy, who used to wear a baseball cap with a battery-powered clock on it that said “Anytime is wine time!”. I still have a black and white poster from them in my wine cellar with a cop who pulled over an old lady (both G-B family members) in an old beater car that says, “If you can’t say Gundlach Bundschu, you shouldn’t be driving!”.

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    3. Stan

      Sorry, but no. It’s a very simple wine, with some pinot-noir overtones, but very muted. I opened it and let it breathe for about 30 minutes. (I did not decant it, though, figuring it’s pretty old.)

      Reply
      1. BargainWhine Post author

        Hi Stan and welcome. Thanks for sharing your opinion of this wine. Out of curiosity, how did you let the wine breathe after you opened the bottle?

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        1. Stan

          I just left the bottle opened for 30 minutes. As I said, i didn’t decant it, fearing “to lose ghe baby with the bath water,” so to speak, considering it was fairly old. After it was poured into large (Riedel) glasses, it got some more breathing in the glass, which really didn’t do much for it.

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          1. BargainWhine Post author

            Hi Stan. This is what I was concerned about. “Airing” means exposing the surface of the wine to air. This is why so many decanters are wide (see article and photo here). If you just open the bottle and let it sit, usually the wine surface exposed is only about the size of a quarter, and the wine hardly airs at all. If you have let the wine air well (e.g., in the glass) and you still don’t like it, I guess that’s how it is. (Darrell seemed to have an opinion similar to yours.) But if you only took out the cork, let it sit for 30 minutes, and then tasted it, you likely did not get a good sample of what this wine might have to offer.

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          2. Pasowino

            my experience with the Swami PN was similar even aired in the Riedel PN glass for hours other than that I enjoyed the label. I may open my second bottle and try again.

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      2. Darrell

        I had this wine tonight and agree it’s a simple PN with the nose muted, but with the flavor substantial enough with a sweet PN taste. A real defect I found in my bottle was the spritz in it. Looked for ML bacterial sediment, but the wine was clean. Don’t get the gassiness.

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        1. Stan

          My bottle was fine, no spritz. I got it at the South SF GO. By ghe way, i also got the at the same time a bottle of the Gravelly Ford PN which i hadlast night. It was pretty good, not great, quite a bit better than the Swami. (It was $5, a buck less than Swami.)

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        2. BargainWhine Post author

          Hi Darrell. I’m sorry to have raised your expectations for this wine, but thanks for your alert to likely bottle variation. I would not call the bottle I had (no spritz) especially complex, but I wouldn’t call it simple, either.

          Reply
  8. Seedboy

    I liked this wine also. It has character. The label is loud but the wine is not. I agree with this assessment of this wine.

    Reply

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