Thin beautiful purple-ruby with clear edges. Opening huge musty barnyard blows off after some time, leaving nutmeg fruit and sweet oak. Marvelously acidic core transforms into nicely balanced tannin in the finish.
This is a very nice Pinot with warm, solid fruit backbone, all the woodsy nuances a Pinot demands, and nothing out of balance. Very safe. A lovely Pinot. And *occasionally* I will factor in price-point–only to make a statement of value on un-assumed greatness or over-wrought distraction.
And here at 30$, you are beginning to expect a sort of greatness–something which wows, especially from such a great appellation and producer. Yes, I am not immune to the escalation of PN pricing post-Sideways. I get it. A really great pinot HAS to be 50 or 60 bucks, right? And yes, 50 and 60 dollar Pinots BETTER DAMN WELL BE FRICKIN AMAZING. But at 30, we really need to be seeing some of this greatness. And this wine has plenty of greatness. It is reasonably balanced, and has plenty of Pinot ummph. But the fruit heads south and the tannin takes over in a way that causes a little love-hate situation inside me. A case of these in your cellar would be an interesting predicament. It is a (high-end) super-market purchase, so that means it was intended to drink now.
What’s horrible about it? Nothing. What is great about it? Nothing. And maybe that is exactly where 30$ California Pinot Noir is supposed to be. So buy it, drink it, enjoy it. It is head-and-shoulders better than Meomi and most of its other shoulder-mates on the shelf. It appeals to me because the acid and tannin take hold and blister everything out by mid-palate. And anyone who knows my preference in wine will know a hardcore acid/tannin finish will get better marks. But will it appeal to the $30-supermarket Pinot consumer? This wine was probably not designed for a discussion anywhere nearly this long. It’s just… wine is meant to be talked about. Not just instantly graded on a finite scale and move on to the next one like a state-fair panel.
You should buy this wine. It is a lovely wine. It is designed a little geekier than most Pinots at this price-point. It just doesn’t have anything which punches you in the face and says OMG. Which is probably exactly where entry-level Pinot should be.
2012 MELVILLE Pinot Noir Verna’s Santa Barbara Co. 14.0