Harding Estate 2012 Napa Valley Pinot Noir $8.99

Produced & Bottled by: Harding Estates, Healdsburg, CA
ABV 14.5%
Purchased: Corvallis OR GO 4-16-2015

FullSizeRender 2I looked online for this wine, and after two re-directs to another Napa Valley Pinot noir, gave up. The website on the bottle is: http://www.chateaud.com/All-Wines/Shop-Categories but this wine isn’t listed there.

To me, this is a typical, fruit forward, alcohol heavy, California Pinot Noir.

Is that bad? No, not if you like that style. I don’t mind it on occasion.

Color: Ruby red
Fragrance: Black cherry jam, plum
Taste: Very fruit forward (plum, black cherry), somewhat jammy without having a super heavy body; there is a bit of dryness (possibly caused by the high alcohol content) which balances out the jammy fruit, a bit. You definitely taste the “alcohol heat”.

Not a very dimensional wine IMO and rather high-priced for a GO offering. On the other hand, it’s easily drinkable. Not offensive…not too jammy, yes fruity but not too sweet; sweeter than my normal favorites though. No bell pepper (bonus). No earth, tobacco or leather either…I was hoping for at least one of the last three to balance out the fruit.

It has got a heavier body than its Oregon counterparts, but not as heavy (and definitely not glycerin-like) as that Steamboat Pinot Noir that came through last year however its high alcohol content and jammy-ness reminded me of it a bit.

If you are looking for nuances, this probably isn’t your wine. If you are looking for an easy quaff for bbq pairing, give it a go.


10 thoughts on “Harding Estate 2012 Napa Valley Pinot Noir $8.99

  1. inthewinecountry

    Can I throw in my two cents? While working at Domaine Chandon on the crush pad there was trucks bringing in PN from Carneros area, Dry Creek (too Hot, had a brix above 25 too high for Champagne I was told) and the Solano – Sacramento Delta area. I agree that Napa AVA could also be the Carneros. Darrell might remember I kept asking if he had tried this. I bought a bottle and it had a a flavor component I couldn’t place, wasn’t unpleasant but not what I like in a PN, The next day the partial bottle with about 2/3rd’s air space was better then the first day. But for less money I prefer to drink “The Tractor Guy” PN that Darrell recommended to me.

  2. Mark

    I have great respect for the time & energy you put into reviewing Grocery Outlet wines and I’m much appreciative, as it is my go to place to source some great values in wine.

    I must chime in on your review of this Napa Valley Pinot Noir because it breaks my 3 primary rules of buying wines at Grocery Outlet “Location, Location, Location.”

    Quite frequently when you’re at Grocery Outlet you will not have heard of the wineries on their labels. So the way to make a good educated guess on which wines to purchase is to learn the best regions where the varietals you enjoy come.

    In my case I love CA Pinot Noir, so when in Grocery Outlet I look for Pinots that source their grapes from regions such as Santa Lucia Highlands (SLH), Santa Cruz Mountains, Carneros, Santa Maria, Russian River or Sonoma Coast. These are regions that have more ocean influence to their climate and so tend to be cooler than other CA wine regions. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes thrive in these regions. I would never buy a Pinot Noir from Napa because the heat in that area is going to give you the jammy-ness and high alcohol that you described in your review. Those characteristics are more prevalent in Cabs which come from Napa and can be seen as more acceptable in that varietal.

    Your attempt to find a varietal that breaks the “Location” rule is admirable and I never would have known for sure about this wine if you had not….but I think I could have guessed!

    Thanks again,


    1. permiesworld Post author

      Hello Mark,
      Welcome and thank you for chiming in here. I have to admit your post has given me a great deal to think about re: CA Pinot Noir. I’m an Oregonian and live in the heart of our PN country. Our best PN grows in the valleys, away from the ocean. I never would have thought that Napa wouldn’t be a prime AVA for it. So now, you’ve got me launched on a CA PN research/tasting kick…mostly my knowledge of CA wine is limited to the Cabernet…I know what I like and from where I like it. Living in PN country…I really haven’t ventured abroad much, except for a GO wine that crosses my path. A few from the Carneros region have been through and they have been quite tasty. Same with the RRV area.

      Thank you for taking the time to fill in some gaps for me (and other readers who might be equally unfamiliar).

      1. seedboy

        As a general proposition, the Napa Valley is too warm to grow good Cabernet [ed. note: I’m guessing Seedboy means Pinot Noir]. There are some small plots on hillsides that are good. The grapes for this wine almost certainly did not come from those plots. Also, a good part of the Carneros AVA is in the Napa Valley AVA, and this winery may have decided to put Napa Valley rather than Carneros, on the label. This could easily be Carneros fruit. In my case I did not buy this wine because it is made by Chateau Diana, and I do not consider that operation to be a maker of good table wine.

        1. Darrell

          For all those decades of winemaking for BV, Andre produced only two very good to great (talking nectar of the gods here) Beaumonts from up valley grapes, 1946 and 1968.

            1. Darrell

              I knew the ’46 was Rutherford, but had to research the two anyway and found this from someone who might have been in the biz: ” André Tchelistcheff, who joined Beaulieu in 1937, produced two of the most famous Pinot Noirs in the history of California: the 1946 and 1947. These were produced from vineyards in Rutherford, and following the harvest, bud wood was selected and — in 1948 — replanted, but this time in Carneros, joining Louis M. Martini Winery, which planted Pinot there the year before. André told me it took 20 years for the character and quality to come back, and the third Pinot Noir he would consider “great” was the 1968.”

    2. Darrell

      I can think of exceptions to the warm weather PN. The first to come to mind is the Chalone appellation where there is little Salinas Valley wind whipping influence compared to the Santa Lucia Highlands ( which should be called Sierra de Salinas instead, IMO) and actually gets quite hot. The Willamette is quite warm compared to the Oregon and CA coasts whenever I have driven through. The Santa Cruz Mtn. appellation can be quite warm, too, and especially depending on whether the vineyard is on the windward or lee side of the crest. On the lee side as the air moves eastward into the Santa Clara Valley, there is additional adiabatic heating of that air and for me it’s hot. The RRV is quite warm when compared to the Sonoma Coast. Generalizations can’t be made about a particular AVA and the microclimate and topography should be considered within it. Oh, and another thing, PN is a fickle gritch.

      1. permiesworld Post author

        Truth, Darrell. I’ve spoken to several local winemakers and they all seem to agree that it is an incredibly difficult (delicate) grape, affected more by it’s environment (in their opinions…I have none) than most others. They’ve said that they can plant the exact same root stock up in the hills, by the evergreens, and get a completely different taste than in the central valley area. Also that the earth it grows in affects it’s tastes considerably…but it’s so nice when it’s done well.

        I enjoy a variety of PN. From fruity and lush to uber nuanced…just depends on my mood. It’s one wine I cannot pigeonhole.

      2. EHL

        Good points, folks, and very interesting reading on an intriguing varietal.

        I have come to appreciate more and more why the creators of “Sideways” made such a big deal about Pinot Noir…a really beguiling and enchanting wine…


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