Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, CA
$6 at the Long Beach, CA, store on 2 June
Poured though an aerator straight, the wine’s nose invites immediately with some dark, bright red cherry fruit, heavily toasted wood, and barrel spice and paired with dark ruby color and long legs in the glass.
First thoughts upon tasting summon those similar to tasting $15-20 Pinots where there’s some defect that permeates through the wine’s presentation. Here, it’s a combination of the heavy fruit and bright, almost mineral acidity where neither comes into balance with the rest of the wine.
Many winos are familiar with the industry commentary surrounding the emergence of the word “smooth” in reviews in recent decades but this wine does smooth out with time, and not much time at that. 30 minutes in, it begins to sort its idiosyncrasies out and the components harmonize a bit more. Now we are getting somewhere. It’s a blind date that begins questionably that is potentially worth the time by the middle of the appetizer.
As time passes, the wine doesn’t come all that much more together and the elements that combine to make it more inviting cannot do anything more to overcome what is too much ripe fruit, toasted oak and acid. The wine is bigger than expected and to its detriment.
Tasted on Day 2, the wine deteriorates quite a bit and the fruit sweetens considerably, moving this even more into the Thumbs Down category.
“Cheap pinot” from CA seems to go one of two ways for me: thin, tart, dilute cherry cola with zero finish or something similar to this wine. It’s not terrible but it’s a Thumbs Down for me, especially compared with comparably-priced GO Pinots. I was hoping for something better out of SLH, which in my understanding can be a decent, lower-cost alternative to Santa Maria Pinot. Not here.