Carneros AVA, Northern California; 13.8%ABV
$7.99 at the Long Beach, CA, store on 1 June
I had a pretty darn positive reaction from first sip, which clearly let me know that the wine needed to open up. Over the first two hours, the initial alcohol hit lessened and the dark cherry and raspberry came to the forefront. On the palate, this wine is medium bodied and just needed a good amount of time to smooth out and was better integrated at 3 hours than at two. There is a balanced amount of oak here, enough to complement, but not detract from, what comes across as a pretty straightforward and typical Carneros effort. It knows what it is and what it is not. It has structure throughout from initial sip to the finish. The fruit is pretty delicious without being too dominant and integrates well with the amount of oak used.
On the first night, the 13.8% alcohol kept getting in the way for me. Maybe from spending time in France recently, I got used to lower alcohol wines, and I’ve never really had issues with higher alcohol ones (I have a 16% ABV Old Vine Zin in my review queue). So, I left it to sit stoppered in its original bottle after using a Vacu Vin.
On night two, the wine was as good if not better with the fruit flavors coming through more profoundly. Night three was similar with a glass left to finish up and the only perceptible difference was some shortening of the finish and dissolution of qualities from the nose. It still drank well.
For me, though, I could never quite get past the alcohol which I felt was pretty pronounced here. This isn’t a huge knock on the wine overall but it was persistent, and I still give it an enthusiastic 2 Thumbs Up and a solid Very Good rating for the price. I think it reflects well at its supposed $19.99 retail price point and in that strong $7-8 Pinot Pricing segment we’ve seen over the last few years (at least in Northern CA). It’s far from the best Pinot you will ever try but I think this is a nice wine from someone who appears to be a proven winemaker and reflective of what most would expect from Carneros. Happy drinking!
More on the winemaker here if interested: http://www.spiritedgrape.com/double-j-ranch2.html