The Tractor Guy 2010 Pinot Noir

Sonoma Coast, CA; 14% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 27 March

TractorGuy_2010_PinotNoir_SonomaCoastThe first sip of this wine made it seem like it could be quite good with more air.  As it aired, it continued to ripen and darken until, after about 3:15 of air when it seemed fully open, it more resembled Syrah than it did Pinot Noir.  It showed ripe, fairly heavy, dark purple cherries and plums, roast beef, and black pepper / earth.  I found this quite surprising for a Sonoma Coast Pinot in a cool year.  There was, at times, a significant component of what I have been calling (perhaps inaccurately) “American Oak,” a sort of unpleasant red candy / funky wood.  However, it’s not dominant, especially as the wine aired more.

As often happens, the last few sips of this wine in the glass seemed to expand into something much more expressive.  In this case, more usual Pinot flavors surfaced, substantial and nicely complex, that I didn’t get a chance to really delve into.  In any event, it’s a very interesting Pinot and I’m hoping to get a more complete impression from the saved single-glass bottle of it.

The next day, this saved glass started out tasting much as the original bottle had.  However, this time, it never entered a Syrah-like phase.  Instead, after a couple hours, it came fairly close to being a fairly rich, complex and elegant young Pinot.  Thereafter, it seemed to become rougher and more simple again.  So… I don’t really have a conclusion about this wine.  It seems likely it would reward either 4 hours of air or a number more years of age, but I’m not sure.  Please report the results of any investigations you may conduct.  🙂

Vin du Pays reviewed the 2009 bottling of this wine here.


29 thoughts on “The Tractor Guy 2010 Pinot Noir

  1. JoelA

    This wine is still available for $ 6.99 at San Pablo, so I decided to see what f anything had happened over the nearly one year since it was first reviewed.

    Initially the wine scared me. There was a very spritzy component that I thought might be too mich acetic acid, but it disappeared after a while and never returned. One and two days later the wine became a nice heavy-bodied pinot with strong black cherry flavors and some (but not much) earthiness but did not in my opinion come to resemble a syrah. Don’t know about the aging potential. Did not seem to have the funkiness described above due to brertt, but I might have missed that.

  2. mchic

    That unpleasant funky wood is brett, short for brettanomyces, a fungus that does not spoil the wine, but contributes funky, barnyard nose to wines, especially pinot. It can also smell like bandaid. Some like a bit of brett, some don’t. Too much, it will ruin the flavor. I personally dislike brett. I’ve tasted The Tractor Guty wine mentioned here. I did pick up a slight brett… not bad tho. Was better than I expected from gross out… light red in color like a pinot should be, but also appears to be unfiltered, which I dislike in pinots. I did pick up that artificial ” toasted oak” flavor that I do not like in mass distributed wines. It can come from searing of the barrel to give wines an artificial “oaky” taste, or from flavor enhancers like Mega Purple that industries add to enhance their poorly made wine. That said, this pinot is passable for the masses, which is more than I can say for almost every other pinot I’ve tried from gross out.

    They currently are offering a split of Gloria Ferrer pinot at gross out. GF is decent, and I’ve had this particular one (Carneros, 2008) from the winery. Problem is, they are corked! ! What a disappointment (I bought 6 knowing there may be a problem ), but no surprise. It’s the only way a batch of a wine like GF would end up at GO. Buyer beware.

    1. EHL

      Hey mchic…thanks for enlightening us, the unwashed GO masses, for the umpteenth time regarding the evils of brett and the shitty Pinot Noir being fed to our ignorant palates…

      What would we do without your erudite guidance…LOL…


      1. BargainWhine Post author

        Now, now. Be nice. I hope there are also people reading who may not be familiar with the subject.

        1. Darrell

          Sometimes ignorance is bliss whereas a little bit of organoleptic sophistication can be quite costly.

          1. EHL

            OK guys…you are right…let’s be nice and celebrate the bliss of Mother’s Day and all that the beautiful women in our lives do, starting with giving us the spark of life…

            Can I get an amen…


      2. mchic

        Wow! I didn’t mean to stir up a hornet’s nest or anything. And umpteenth time? WTH? This is my first time responding to this blog, when I did a search on the Tractor Guy wine I had just tasted from GO. So I’m not sure what stats you are referring to there.

        It seems you all are versed well in the wine world, but I have talked to many, many people who love/drink wine and don’t know what brett, TCA, maderization, etc. mean/taste/smell like. Some have even been pouring in in tasting rooms without realizing/knowing. Was not at all trying to be snooty, just gave some facts.

        That said, DO avoid the Gloria Ferrer Pinot at GO. I braved to open a second bottle and it was corked as well. GO, like most other vendors in CA, have come on board with not refunding/store crediting faulted wine once opened, so buy at your own risk.

        1. EHL

          What…what country do you shop in, mchic???

          All the GOs we are aware of — give, at a minimum, store credit for returned wines, if not a full refund.


          1. mchic

            I am in this country, in SF bay area. Just attempted to return opened, corked wine to GO, and was told it’s against state law. They did accept my UNOPENED bottles for store credit. THEY said that is STATE LAW. Whether that is accurate or not, I do not know as I’ve not looked into what the state law actually is for returning wine to grocery stores.

            1. Darrell

              Mchic, please let us now which GO store this was since that is the purpose of this blog. I have never encountered a return at any of the GO stores I have patronized. I recently purchased a case of a wine I liked in Reno , but my wife was allergic to this wine so I hauled it back a few weeks later and the Reno GO refunded my purchase with no muss, no fuss.

            2. mchic

              Darrell, this was in the Tracy, CA store. Again, they did give store credit for the UNOPENED bottles, but did not give any credit, exchange or refund for the OPENED bottles.

            3. mchic

              Also, they cited CA state law- so that obviously would not apply to the Reno store. I was surprised myself, as I have returned wine to various GOs here in CA in the past- no problems. Costco has also changed their policies. You can only exchange a faulted wine for the exact same bottle. It used to be easy to return wine to Costco- many would overbuy for a wedding or event and be able to return. Not any more. They also cite state law (CA) but seem to interpret it differently than GO.

            4. seedboy

              It is unfortunate that our newcomer has met this tone. mchic, I hope you continue to participate.
              I’m pretty familiar with brett and do not mind a bit of it in pinot or in syrah.
              mchic, what the Tracy store did is not consistent with what happens when I return wine to the Berkeley or Oakland stores – I have probably returned over 100 opened bottles and have always received, at least, store credit. This is true even if I bought the bottles years earlier and I have no receipt (so long as the bar code reads, they know it came from them). Indeed, you are the first person I have heard from who has had any trouble returning an opened bottle.
              I recently supplied wines for a large, fancy party. All of them came from the GO. They were universally praised, including by the winemaker who was pouring them. They included the Cima Collina pinot noir that has been so well liked on this board, and which is still available at the Santa Rosa store for $7.99 a bottle, and the Van Duzer pinot rose that is still available.

            5. mchic

              Seedboy, yes the “new” policy at that store surprised me as well. I know GOS are independently owned, so perhaps there is some variation in policies. I, too, have returned many opened bottles over the years to several GOs, including the Tracy , Livermore, and Dublin store.
              On another note, I have not seen the Cima Collina in any of the stores I frequent. I’ve been to their tasting room in Carmel Valley and enjoyed their wines. That would be a nice find. The last great pinot I found at GO was the Fort Ross. I ended up with several cases of that one, but there was about a 30% corked rate. At that time, I did not have an issue returning open bottles (to the Tracy store), but their policy at that time was that you must have receipt, and exchange, not refund, was given. Seems there is a huge variation going on with policy. And citing state law sounds like a load of bull to me, as they would all have to be following the same rules one would think.

            6. Darrell

              Mchic, thanks for the info on Tracy, Maybe it’s just me, but I get a bit rankled when I encounter BS from stores. I probably would have been in that store’s face when they cited the so called state law. I especially can’t stand the BS about no 10% discount when the store’s line is ” the wine is already discounted.” I know other stores give discounts so don’t BS me with that line. Just say you don’t give discounts and I will take my business elsewhere.

            7. mchic

              Agreed, Darrell. I won’t be buying wine from the Tracy store anymore. We are taking a risk buying wine that for reasons- some benign, some not so benign- has been deeply discounted. I want that option of return if there is something wrong. I have long since stopped buying wine at Costco, another who cites “state law”. I never really bought much there anyway, but had picked up a bottle of Hanna sauv blanc to try. Something was very wrong with that wine- I believe it was sulfur fault. Anyway, the only thing they would offer me was an exchange of the same exact wine. I did not want that same wine as I distrusted the lot. So I left empty-handed.

            8. BargainWhine Post author

              Hi mchic. I, too, find that odd. Even when I do not like a GO wine, I usually just cook with it. Sometimes, however, the wine is so offensive that I return it in hopes of making a point. I have never had trouble returning an open bottle, usually for store credit. They just have me fill out a line on a form saying why I was returning it.

            9. Darrell

              Just reread this subject of returns due to JoelA’s recent post and got irritated again since my experience with the Novato GO and the putative Customer Service rep, Kyle. One can return defective wine and the line “it’s state law” that you can’t is pure bunk and bovine stuff. So I guess GO stores on my Shhhhhtuff list are: Tracy, Gilroy and Novato. Are there more around the Bay Area?

    2. JoelA

      I have been drinking the GF pinot for some time and have not encountered any corky bottles. But it’s important to note that there have been some.

  3. inthewinecountry

    Wow, is all I have to say. I picked up a bottle of this on Sat. at Darrell’s recommendation and thought it pretty good. I just went to Sun. Brunch in Livermore and a group of us stopped to taste as Wente V. and after trying their Nth Degree PN that Has a 95.00 list I stopped on the way home and bought 4 more of these. I was told Wente’s was barrel aged in French, European (Yugoslavian?) and American oak. I felt this Tractor Guy PN was a fairly typical PN with clean flavors that was more on the Medium body side quite similar to the Wente I had today

    1. Darrell

      ITWC, for awhile there I thought the antecedent to” bought 4 more of these” were the $95 bottles, but you clarified this under another post. Phew!

      1. inthewinecountry

        Thanks for the good laugh Darrell, see where I might have given people the impression I was buying 4 bottles of a 95.00 wine!

  4. Rod

    Thanks for the rwview . Enjoying it now after an hour in the decanter. Nice acidity, raspberry, soft mouth feel, almost going to candy, but doesn’t get there.

  5. BargainWhine Post author

    I briefly tasted another bottle of this wine this morning. It was quite different from the bottle I reviewed, darker and more accessible from the start, definitely Pinot Noir, and without the objectionable “American Oak” flavors. I got another bottle to take another set of notes from, but in the meantime, I’d give this a cautious Thumbs Up.

    1. mereimage

      Hey BW, I too have had two bottles of this wine and found the second much more pinot in character and quite enjoyable. I tend to raise an eyebrow on bottle variation as an excuse but here it clearly seems to be he case.


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