I’m not sure what took hold of me the other day. Maybe it was the lack of heat in this cold, wet spring. Possibly it was the mountain of work I’ve got in front of me this month. Whatever it was, I decided that I wanted some Pinot Noir really bad.
The problem with Pinot Noir, is that most of the stuff I drink costs a little more, and that gets in the way of paying my fuel bill these days. So, loaded with two Andrew Jacksons in my pocket I headed for two of my favorite shopping marts for wine, Safeway and Grocery Outlet to see what I could find. The concept of my shopping spree was bang for the buck. I wanted to buy the largest selection I could with my $40.
At Safeway I found Sutter Home Pinot Noir, Mirassou, and MacMurray Ranch on sale. The Sutter was $5, the Mirassou was $6, and the MacMurray was $8 on sale. I have had these wines in the past, and I knew they were very drinkable options even though they were inexpensive.
Next, I headed down to the G.O. and picked up a few more bottles. My finds this day were South Sound, Sacred Hill, and Rainbow Creek. These wines were all $5 each. I also picked up a bottle of Toasted Head Reserve that was $8, which made my total “Pinot Palooza” experience go over my budget by $2, but I figure the kid’s college fund was worth spending on my experiment.
I hadn’t tasted several of these wines before, and the few that I have had were not something that I’d tasted in many years. The only wine that I could verify that I’d had in the last year was the MacMurray.
By and large I can say that all of the wines were overall very good in quality (for the price).
The MacMurray offers muted flavors of semi-ripe stone fruits and a slight smokiness. Conversely, the Mirassou had a nice ripe cherry flavor with a short finish. The Sutter Home and the South Sound were wonderfully fruity as well, with some hints of mushroom on the mid palate, and a fairly short finish. All of these were wines that I would easily grab from the shelf any time.
The one wine that stood out to be a fantastic buy for the money was the Rainbow Creek. Like the South Sound wine, it is from the famed Marlborough region in New Zealand. The wines from this region have good structure, yet are very supple. This particular bottle has a mixture of bright and dark fruits. It has a beautiful, earthy nose normally found in expensive Pinots, and has a lot of linger to the finish.
The Toasted Head and the Sacred Hill both offered up very elegant noses, as well as bright fruits on the front of the palate, but had a lot of alcohol on the balance of the wines, which means I’ll use them to make sauce with.
The next time you’ve got just a limited amount of money to spend on your wine I suggest going out and buying your own tasting palooza. You’ll have a great time, and get to enjoy some new wines you haven’t had before.