Cakebread Pinot Noir

Try some CakebreadAfter a recent trip to Sonoma and Napa Valley, we came back with some really nice wine. Kids in a candy store is what it felt like. You better have a budget when you head out that way, because the odds are, you’re going over. Yes, you will run into a lot of wine you don’t care for, but for the most part good wine is everywhere.

My wife made a tour appointment at Cakebread Wine Cellars on our last day in town. We were definitely pretty burned out, but still had enough energy to drink some good wine of course. We’ve had several of their pinot noir’s in the past, so we knew what to expect.

We had a nice lady handle our tour and she offered a lot of great information. The most important, was the quantity of fruit they got in 2013. This year, when ready, should produce a lot of bottles and taste fantastic. There were also some really nice people on the tour, which made it even more eventful. People were coming from all over the place. We tried 5 different wines that day. There wasn’t a pairing, but that was not necessary for this enviroment.

The best white wine was the sauvignon blanc. This tasted like awesome butter put on a great piece of bread. This was definitely added to our case that we brought home.

We also tried the Chardonnay. This was fair, but not our favorite of the weekend.

On the red side we tried two Pinot’s and one Zinfandel. These were all fantastic. The Zin was really bold, but light enough where it wasn’t so peppery. It just had a real nice finish. The Carneros Pinot was very smooth and perfect for the price.

Of course, the bread winner was the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. This was a nice finish and made the trip to Cakebread well worth it. If we go out again, we would definitely come out there. The people were really nice and the wine is great. Very farm like, with a down to earth feel. No snobbery in this place, like some of the others.

We ended up bringing 8 pinot’s back with us. More of the Caneros, but the price was too good not to go that route. I know it’s been a while since our last post, but life got in the way. We are hopefully back and would like to provide more reviews for you. If you get a chance to go out to Napa, you definitely should check out Cakebread.

I can now setup my daily fantasy leagues with a nice glass of Pinot from Cakebread. I’ve been working on a site called Let me know what you think, if that is something that interests you. It’s fun and exciting and makes the wine taste better.

Big Fire Pinot Noir

Big Fire Pinot NoirLife should always be sunny in Florida, right? After all it is the “sunshine state.” However, when it rains for three days straight, one has to figure out how to pass the time. Especially when one’s street is flooded and there is no backing out of the driveway.

Rather than kayak to a nearby store or go see a movie, we instead opted for some On Demand movies and a bottle (or two) of wine to pass the hours. Because we were in it for the long haul, we decided to open one of the better wines in the collection. We went with Big Fire, a Pinot Noir out of Washington state. The 2008 Pinot Noir was purchased during a recent trip to Whole Foods. While the price wasn’t that attractive ($16 a bottle) compared to some others on the rack, we chose it for the fun name and with the hopes that it would live up to its price tag.
And that it did.

A bit full bodied for a Pinot, this wine lived up to its name. It was big and hearty with deep notes of chocolate and berries. It lingered on the palette just enough to warm you up and give you the slightest hint of cherries. This wine was made for a cold winter’s night or a rainy fall weekend. There is something about it that makes it stand out. It is the kind of wine that makes you hope there is no bottom of the bottle. You want the warmth and enveloping taste to linger.

This wine is perfect for a night in with that special someone or a great dinner party. It is truly worth every penny.

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Naked Grape Pinot Noir

Newest Pinot Noirs

When “fall” comes in Florida (the weather is below 80), it is common to see people sitting outside on their porches, drinking wine. Or at least it is around my neighborhood, with my friends.

We were blessed with unseasonable weather this past weekend so it was only natural that we gathered, shared some wine and talked/gossiped about life. The wine of choice was Naked Grape Pinot Noir. A cost effective wine choice (at $8.99), based out of a California and crafted by a 30 year old, wine making genius, this Pinot was light, fruity and the perfect choice.

Upon first taste it was a bit like raspberry jam, or even a bit like fruit juice. If you held the glass close enough to smell the wine, hints of cherry, blackberry and plum would waft into your nose, stirring up your taste buds. The scent isn’t the only thing that is pleasing to the senses. The color, a jewel tone, is reminiscent of rubies and fit in perfectly with the fall night.

The thing that sets this Pinot Noir apart from others, is that while it is mostly Pinot, it also has the bite of Tempranillo, Grenache and Alicante bouchet. Surprisingly, the wine does not linger much on the palette—in fact it is quite light—but it does have a nice acidity to it and packs a lot of ripe fruit flavor and scent, like a Pinot Noir should.

This Pinot won’t break the bank but it will compliment a great night on the porch. It will also ensure that the gossip won’t be the only fun thing of the night.

Magnificent Wine Comp. Pinot Noir

90 Point Rating Wines

When your best friend celebrates their 30th birthday, it calls for a great glass of wine. Something fun, original, yet simple. This is why we settled on Magnificent Wine Co.’s Pinot Noir – a medium bodied wine from Washington.

Categorized in their line of varietals called, “The Originals,” Magnificent labels their Pinot with a simple, black and white label that resembles a child’s handwriting. But what they saved on the label design they surely poured into making this wine. When opening the bottle, your nose will be hit with scents of ripened, sweet tomatoes and strawberry. Let the Pinot linger in the glass for a minute or two before you take a sip and taste the flavors of raspberry, strawberry and a slight hint of caramel.

Perfect for a night of celebrating one of the best people in my life, this wine is essential for special occasions: night with the girlfriends or a romantic home cooked dinner. The bottle ranges in price from $12-$20 depending on where it is purchased. (Read More…)

Parker Station Pinot Noir

What does one do with a two hour layover at the airport en route to vacation? Sure you can shop, eat or read the paper but, if you have time to kill why not indulge in some Pinot Noir?

Parker Station was the name that particularly caught my eye on this Wednesday morning. Yes, I said to drink Pinot in the morning…it is vacation after all. The label was simple yet appealing, with an endearing raccoon pictured on it, and I liked the simplicity of the name. I ordered the breakfast croissant and a glass of Parker Station and awaited the arrival of my plane.

The first sip of this California wine gave off hints of ripe cherries with almost a small hint of minty after taste. The wine is fuller bodied for a Pinot Noir and has a rich, somewhat earthy, flavor to it that pairs nicely with the fruit flavors it also exudes. This wine is nicely balanced and somewhat inexpensive, even at the airport.

Drinkable, appealing and priced at around $10 a bottle (retail), Parker Station is an excellent Pinot Noir to drink any time of day.

Lindemans Pinot Noir

When you spot a wine on the shelf that is selling for $6, one of two things will happen: you will scowl and move on or your curiosity will get the best of you and you will purchase it. My curiosity has always gotten the best of me, so I bought the $6 bottle of Lindeman’s Bin 99 Pinot Noir 2008 and indulged.

An Australian wine, Lindeman’s is a very basic Pinot Noir. There are no bells and whistles with this wine, no exotic lingering flavors or intriguing notes. A simple fruity taste and a light ruby color, it is simply a common Pinot that is ideal for a home cooked dinner or a middle of the week drink with friends. Perfect value for the price point, this wine would pair perfectly with spaghetti and meatballs or a chicken parmesan dish.

Keep a couple of bottles of this wine on hand for everyday use, maybe even for cooking/adding to sauces. It is a lower-end but delicious Pinot Noir, worth every bit of its $6 price point.

Bogle Pinot Noir

The time of the year has come when the TV will only be tuned to one station and what I have to say will fall upon deaf bears. However, becoming a “March Madness widow” has its benefits. I can drink wine while reading a book and pretending to pay attention to the score.

The wine that was chosen for this blessed event was Bogle Pinot Noir. Having had other varietals from the Bogle brand, I figured I would give it a go. With an $11 price tag, I really couldn’t resist the temptation. Easily available to the public and easy to drink, this Pinot Noir has a great cranberry and cherry flavor to it. Medium bodied for a Pinot, the strong fruit flavors of the wine are perfectly balance with the earthy, almost piney, scent it gives off.

Of course, no solo reading time is complete without a dessert of some kind and the Bogle paired perfectly with the chocolate chip scone I was eating. While one may not always have a scone available, rest assured any type of chocolate or sweet treat will pair perfectly with this Pinot.

Thea Pinot Noir

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Something named for a woman should be luxurious and sweet. Something named after the woman you gave birth to you should be powerful. Thea’s Selection Vineyard Pinot Noir (named for the vinter’s mother) is all these things and more.

Rich in color and flavor, this Pinot Noir from Lemelson’s in Oregon, is the real deal. Smoky notes, spice and strong fruit scents draw the drinker in but the ripe raspberry flavor and long finish are what turn them into a true fan of this wine. Thea can hold its own against many food pairings; however, lighter fare such as fish or pasta with a light olive oil and tomato would be the perfect complement to this Pinot.

Thea’s is priced somewhere in the middle of the road ( $30 from vineyard, $20 and up from online distributors), is worth the extra couple of dollars in shipping. Save this wine for a special event, as it is said to age well and is a bit too delicious to waste on typical after work drink. Another wine by Best Pinot Noir.

Ecco Domani Pinot Noir

Ecco Domani Pinot NoirAlways a fan of Ecco Domani’s white wines, I figured I’d give their Pinot Noir a chance. Sitting at a seafood restaurant deciding between Macadamian crusted Mahi Mahi and salmon croquettes, I chose my wine wisely, as it would determine which way my meal went.

I leaned toward the Ecco Domani Pinot Noir which inevitably led me to the salmon entrée. Both of these decisions were very satisfying. The rich blackberry flavor of the wine played perfectly off of the somewhat spicy, grilled salmon. However, it would’ve been just as delicious if paired with the lobster ravioli my server recommended. Deep red, almost ruby in color, the glass of Italian red had a fragrant cherry aroma and a smooth finish that was enough to persuade me to order another glass. A middle of the road price point is just another fabulous thing Ecco Domani Pinot Noir has to offer.

Ranging between $7.50 a glass (restaurant) and $12 a bottle (retail), this wine is the perfect choice whether cooking at home or dining out. You can use your promo code to save on your next order as well.

Coppla’s Silver Label Pinot Noir

Coppola Pinot NoirWhat makes a night out of town for two very busy 30 something’s even more romantic? A bottle of Coppla’s Silver Label Pinot Noir…and an ocean view. Life gets hectic. We all know this. Sure you can stay home and decompress with a glass of wine any night of the week but when you get the chance to go away, even for the night and try a bottle of nice wine, you have to grab it.

As divine as it’s shiny label, Coppola Silver Label was decadent and fruity without being over the top. While the Coppola name is synonymous with many things, it should be made even more famous for what it offers in the way of Pinot Noirs. This specific wine, part of the Diamond Collection, lingered long enough on the tongue to taste dark plum and cherry flavors; however, it was not heavy or very oaky, which is ideal for a Pinot Noir.

Pairing this wine with a huge piece of room service chocolate cake with chocolate ganache was, perhaps, our best idea. As the fruit flavors of the wine completely complemented the richness of the cake. This wine is available from about $16 a bottle and is as appealing to the taste buds as the label is to the eyes.

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Red Bicyclette Pinot Noir 2009

Attending a ladies night affair at a pottery place was possibly the last thing on my bucket list of life, but when you mention free wine and cheese, I’m in.

Hoping against hope that the free wine was tolerable, and not something off the shelf of the convenient store down the street, I lined up behind the other budding artistes and waited my turn. The label said “Red Bicyclette 2009.” It was a Pinot Noir. It was perfect. Priced somewhere in the middle of the road, (around $9 a bottle)this jewel toned wine has a smooth and full finish, making it the perfect complement to the pepper jack and Colby cheese offered up by the pottery center. The adorable bicycle on the label also helps as a selling point.

Oaky flavors and aromas of plum and dark cherry help to bump this well priced French Pinot up to the upper echelon of store bought Pinots. And after a glass or two I truly began to believe I was an undiscovered artist. We will see if it was the wine or just delusion that led me to that decision when I pick up my glazed piece this week.

Lucky Star Pinot Noir

Lucky Star Pinot Noir Review

With spring rushing in, it is a great time to sit outside and enjoy wine. With my mom coming to town, it is a great excuse to visit happy hour at a restaurant with a patio.

We decided to order a bottle of Pinot Noir while we lounged under the giant outdoor fans at the bar/restaurant. The chosen wine was called Lucky Star Pinot Noir and boy, was it. That magical bottle of wine was the answer to the mantra I had been saying in my head all day, “Serenity Now.” My mother was pleased with the taste and it was the perfect varietal to drink on a cool, Spring night.

Zesty strawberry flavors greet you as you take your first sip and the great balance of flavor raspberry and cherry linger on your palette for a silky smooth finish. Lucky Star is a playful Pinot Noir, well priced ($20 a bottle at restaurant/$10 retail) and pairs well with flatbreads, such as the tomato and basil one I ordered, or chicken dishes. Lucky Star is a great find, perfect for setting a calm tone for the evening with out of town family or indulging in alone. This whimsically titled Pinot is certainly worth the small price tag.

Kris Pinot Noir

Being locked out of your house on what is supposed to be the most romantic day of the year is never what one hopes for but it happened. And as I sat outside waiting for the locksmith and listening to my stomach rumble, all I could think about was the bottle of Kris Pinot Noir that was sitting on my counter, waiting to be indulged in.

Four hours and $60 later, I sat on the couch with my Valentine and drank the wine. Sure, I had missed dinner but I wasn’t going to let a little lockout stop me from enjoying a little Sam Cooke on vinyl along with a glass of Pinot Noir. I would fully celebrate tomorrow but tonight it was me, Cupid, my Valentine and Kris. What a perfect combination!

The wine was Italian and romantic. The label is colorful and fun, almost with the feel of a child’s art project. The color was a rich purple tone and it tasted like ripe berries ( mostly strawberry with a hint of raspberry). Had I been able to make the homemade Picatta I planned on cooking, the wine would’ve complimented it perfectly. It did, however, compliment my Minute Rice just so. I will be purchasing this wine again and pairing it with a heavier pasta such as Bolognese or Eggplant Parmesan. Reasonably priced ( $13)and a great treat for those who love Italian wine and a heavier Pinot, Kris is a great choice.

Jargon Pinot Noir

Jargon Pinot Noir

As an avid wine drinker, if there is one thing that turns me off its when someone drops words like “legs” and “tannins” while I am trying to enjoy a glass of the good stuff. I don’t need all the fancy schmancy verbiage, I just want to taste it for myself and see if I like it or if it’s overpriced swill. You can talk all the big words you want but if your wine doesn’t back it up, I won’t be buying it again.

This brings me to Jargon Pinot Noir. Perhaps the thing that first caught my attention was the fun-poking label that features a man with a megaphone yelling while holding a book called “Wine Speak.” Immediately, I know this was right up my alley. I was also intrigued by the twist off bottle. What? No cork on a Pinot Noir? Is this company out of their mind? No, they are just fun people who know they have a great product.

This leads me to the wine and its sensational taste. With a hint of berries ( I tasted strawberries) and cocoa ( or is that cola?), this Pinot Noir is fruity and smooth. In a word, it’s complex. In another word, it’s delicious. While this is one of the lower priced Pinots (available for about $12), it doesn’t fall short on flavor and finish.

Paired with rich pasta or a savory salmon dish, this Pinot needs no fancy words or high class blurb on its label. Jargon’s taste speaks for itself.

Rex Goliath Pinot Noir

At first the appeal of Rex Goliath may be the funny “47 LB rooster” on the front of the bottle. Secondly, it may be the price tag (after all, a bottle of this wine sells for about $7 retail). Hopefully these two things are enough to convince you to bring this wine home because the thirdly and, arguably the most appealing part of this wine, is the taste.

Having tasted Rex’s other varietals before I had faith in the brand but was a bit leery whether they could do Pinot Noir and its signature taste and aromas any justice. Little did I know it is sold out from the vineyard and was given the Gold Medal at a San Francisco Wine Competition. Apparently whatever is in stock throughout the country is the last of the Rex’s Pinot Noir for a bit, so get it while the getting is good.
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Smooth and lush, especially for the price, this Pinot has the usual hints of raspberry and cherry flavors; however, it is the slight cinnamon-y flavor that sets it apart. If wines had a season, this would definitely be an “Autumn wine.” It has a velvety finish, almost coating the tongue with a sweet yet spicy taste. Perfect for a Thanksgiving dinner or for enjoying outside on a cold fall evening, with your favorite blanket of course.

Some things in the world seem to impossible to believe – like a 47 pound rooster or a remarkable Pinot Noir under $10- but if Rex Goliath can make a believer out of the San Francisco wine community, don’t you think you oughta give it a shot?

YellowTail Pinot Noir 2009

Yellow Tail Pinot Noir

Some say it’s hard to find the best Pinot Noir for under $20, these people need to be steered in the direction of Yellowtail. Available at most retail stores and usually listed under “Reds” column in most casual dining restaurants, Yellowtail is a brand that brings quality without breaking the bank.

Yellowtail Pinot Noir is approachable for so many reasons. Not only does it bring the stereotype of “snooty, upper-class” Pinot Noir to the common wine drinking public, but it does so in a moderately priced, inviting way. This Australian beauty is flavorful and aromatic with hints of vanilla, cherry and raspberry. Incredibly and unexpectedly smooth for a wine of its price point, Yellowtail holds its own in a world of over-priced, and often over-rated, Pinots.

I would recommend this wine both to share on a casual dining night out with friends and to keep in your wine rack for any and all wine drinking occasions. The real beauty of this wine is that it has enough of a bite and strong finish to compliment a steak or fish dinner, while still being sweet and fruity enough to compliment a baked brie. I would honestly even pair this with a fried chicken dinner…hey, fried chicken is a delicacy in some parts of the world.

This specific Pinot Noir does a great job of bringing a varietal to the masses. Add it to your shopping list (it sells for around $7) and see if Yellowtail can’t make a convert or a believer out of you.

Rodney Strong Pinot Noir 2008

Best Rodney Strong Pinot Noir

Tell someone you don’t know very well that you are planning on spending the evening with Rodney Strong and they may look at you a bit funny; however, tell a wine lover that same thing and they will want to invite themselves along.

A fan of all of Rodney Strong’s varietals, the Pinot Noir is now a surefire favorite of mine. This evening, in particular, I tried the 2008 Pinot Noir and it lived up to the brand’s reputation. Fragrant aromas, think roses and sweet plums, and a subtle oaky/vanilla flavor create the perfect union and make this wine a bit heavier for a Pinot Noir, yet so easy to drink.

A bit pricier than some of its competition, selling for about $20 retail, Rodney Strong lives up to the price tag and can become a great go to for a nice dining experience or a fun dinner party. This Pinot Noir does all that it can to meet the expectations synonymous with the Rodney Strong name. Even those first hearing about the brand would assume that the sweet bottled nectar would be flavorful, supple and a force to be reckoned with- that assumption would be true.

The taste is smooth, classy and pleasing to the palette. My glass in particular was paired with flank steak and mushrooms, but I also wouldn’t hesitate to pair this fine California-bred wine with rich pasta dishes. Whether out on the town or home on the couch, Rodney Strong Pinot Noir is the perfect thing to spend your evening with.

Best California Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir at

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Mark West Pinot Noir 2008

I like anything that boasts that it’s for the people. After all, I’m people and if something positive wants to help me along the way, so be it. Nevertheless, when I discovered that the mantra of Mark West Pinot Noir was “A Pinot for the People,” I was all about ordering it.

The weather had finally cooled off here in the Sunshine State and it seemed like a great excuse to watch Sunday Football outside at a great local restaurant. Known for its immense, Mediterranean patio, obscene amount of flat screen TVs and great drink specials, we chose a favorite spot called Ember. While I showed up with all intentions of drinking beer, the 2 for 1 wine sign got me. I decided to try the Mark West Pinot. Why not be fancy while watching football? I was on a “Mediterranean style patio” after all.

Everything about this wine was fun. Eclectic in taste, moderate in price ($25 a bottle/restaurant price when not on 2 for 1, $11 a bottle/retail), this California beauty is everything you expect from a Pinot Noir without being ridiculously over-priced. One sniff of this Pinot and you get the sense that it may be floral; however, one sip and hints of raspberry, blackberry and a bit of vanilla. Mark West sticks to what Pinot Noir should be and what it does best. In other words, there is no hint of super sweet jam or a grape juice after taste here. It is smooth, fruity, light and refreshing.

We went crazy and ordered a bunch of appetizers and from empanadas to goat cheese crab Rangoon, the Mark West complimented them perfectly. Take a chance and order a glass and while you are it, visit their site and try not to fall in love with this empowering Pinot Noir.

Yellow Jersey Pinot Noir

Yellow Jersey Pinot Noir Review

Part of being in a book club, or at least our book club, is that you bring lots of great books to swap and you drink a lot of wine. Though we all prefer different varietals and brands, I stick with Pinot Noir and usually like to change up the brand, sipping on a new find at every monthly meeting.

This time I went with something classy, eco-friendly (as its package in a plastic bottle), French and fun – Yellow Jersey Pinot Noir. A sucker for a good label and all things green and eco-friendly, I liked the appeal of the Yellow Jersey bottle. Hoping it tasted as good as it looked, I brought my new find to book club and planned on sharing it with the other girls.

Result: This wine was delicious. I did not share it with the other girls. In fact, I kind of hoarded it. Perfectly fruity and silky smooth, this was a real treat for my taste buds. It’s subtle taste of blackcurrants is reminiscent of jam or preserves, but without being overwhelming. It was light enough to continuously sip on and carried a very smooth, non-acidic finish as with some Pinot Noirs. It also paired well with the antipasto plate and stuffed mushrooms we nibbled on while exchanging our literary finds.

$10.99 was all I paid for this fantastic, French find and like a good book, I will continue to go back to this one over and over again.

Araucano Pinot Noir 2006

Vina Araucano

Mention the word “fest” to me in conjunction with any kind of alcohol and I am there, so when my kind grocer at the local Whole Foods alerted me that a “Beer and wine fest” was happening, I had to hold myself back from hugging him.

$15 bought my entry and samples. A very good deal if I say so myself. As I perused the aisles, making my way through fine cheeses and organic vegetables, I sipped on shiraz, cabernet… if it was red wine it was mine for the taking. I may have snuck in a Belgian beer or two, but mainly I stuck to reds. Although most sips were good, one stopped me in my tracks. What was this one jewel-toned drink that beat out all the rest? Araucano Pinot Noir 2006.

This Chilean wine had a little something that set it apart from the others. In fact, I went back for a second sample and purchased a bottle. It was THAT good. A bit earthy for a Pinot Noir, which I prefer, this wine lingered on the palette just long enough to taste the berry and cola flavors and light acidity.

Selling for $13 a bottle at the market, this mid-priced Pinot Noir was a pleasant surprise and worth the purchase. I would pair this wine with a rich chicken dish such as marsala or primavera. Typically sticking to Pinot Noirs hailing from the Northwest United States, I would recommend this Chilean red to anyone looking for something different. I would also recommend making small talk with your

Queen of Hearts

Going out downtown for the night used to involved some type of “All you can drink” atmosphere but these days I tend to gravitate toward the wine bar scene a bit more. Maybe its old age creeping in but I am pretty sure you shouldn’t order a glass of Pinot Noir at a college bar. Chances are even if they have it, that glass probably isn’t clean.

In the mood for a great wine and cheese plate, followed by an equally amazing chocolate trifle, and some audible conversation, my cohorts and I met at a favorite wine bar and ordered a bottle of Queen of Hearts Pinot Noir. Cultivated in Santa Barbara, California, this Pinot is just as sassy and fun as its label (which features the queen holding a glass of Pinot).

As with a game of cards, trying a new wine is a risky endeavor; however Queen of Hearts was a great choice. Meeting everyone’s expectations and making a believer out of some of the non-Pinot drinking fans of the group, Queen of Hearts is flavorful and smooth while staying true to the characteristics of its varietal.

Complimenting both our cheese plate and our dessert, the strawberry and plum flavors went perfectly with the gruyere cheese and fresh fruit while the hint of spice at the end of each sip perfectly offset the sweetness of the trifle. Although we only ate small servings, I am sure this Pinot Noir would compliment any meal. Classy and appealing, like its namesake, this wine can be purchased for about $30 while dining out or online and in select retail stores for around $15.

Running with Scissors

To be honest the thing that grabbed my attention about this Pinot Noir was the name. Reminiscent of every cautionary yell my mother shot in my direction as a youth, “Running with Scissors” Pinot Noir was a must buy. After all the back of the label urges, “Do try this at home.”

Bringing it in for a night full of board games and mindless munchies with friends, I purchase Running with Scissors for both its clever label and its moderate price. Why not bring a fun, inexpensive wine to game night? Everyone can try it, give their feedback and if we don’t love it, the $9 price tag is justifiable.

So what was the verdict?

Well, although it was not the favorite of the night, it was well received. Lightly colored, like many of its varietal, this pinot was sweeter, lighter and easy on the tongue than its name would leave you to believe. The taste of berries and a hint of vanilla are what hit me upon first sip and while it is wise to serve most Pinot Noirs with a bit of chill to them, this one especially is more pleasing with a slight chill.

Worth the small price tag, this is a great sipping wine- easy on the palette with a smooth finish and a perfect raspberry/strawberry flavor for those fans of fruitier wine. It paired well with the garlic dip, hummus, cheese and crackers were nibbled on and I’m sure it would compliment a fish entrée, like halibut or clam linguini, very well.

Cloudline Pinot Noir 2007

Cloudline pinot noir 2007

The menu for the evening involved King crab legs, filet and fresh grilled vegetables so it was only natural the wine was just as mouth-watering. As bottle upon bottle were opened for our friend’s 35th birthday celebration, some were too fruity, some were too tart but there was one that took the birthday girl and the party by surprise: Cloudline Pinot Noir 2007.

Hailing from Oregon, this wine is light yet earthy, aged perfectly like our birthday girl and refreshing on the palette. Behind a simple, cloudy blue label sits a tasty ruby colored beverage that holds its own in a sea of Pinot Noirs. Cloudline perfectly represents the earthy quality that so many Oregon made Pinot Noirs are known for while still being light enough to drink throughout the night. Although it kept in the line with the “jammy” qualities associated with Pinot Noirs with aromas of strawberry and raspberry, the first sip offers fruity acidity mixed with a soft finish.

Light enough to drink before, during and after a hearty meal, Cloudline has the perfect light and ethereal name. Crab legs and filet won’t always be on the menu but luckily this stand-out Pinot has the makeup to compliment many a meal. Pair it with pasta, a fruit and cheese platter or just a hearty conversation, either way you won’t be disappointed. While many restaurants list Cloudline among their moderately priced Pinots (ranging from about $29 a bottle) it is available at retailers for home consumption for around $16.

Cavit Pinot Noir

The phrase, “You can’t always judge a book by its cover,” should also apply to wine. Often times the price tag doesn’t necessarily match up with the taste of the wine. Such is the case with Cavit Pinot Noir. Although the price tag is modest, the wine itself is full of aroma and taste.

An Italian made wine, Cavit is smooth and medium-bodied for a Pinot Noir. Although the classic hints of fruit and lightness are there, the wine has a bit of a heavier , velvety effect – which I happened to like. In some cases, I have paid three times as much for a bottle of Pinot that has much less character and flavor that the Cavit. Selling for around $8 a bottle at retail stores, this wine is budget conscience without tasting cheap.
Grab a Nice Bottle
I served this wine with my famous (only famous in my social circle) eggplant parmesan and it was the perfect compliment. The strong berry flavors went amazingly with the homemade red sauce used in the dish. Often times we want to taste good wine without spending all our grocery money on one bottle, for this reason Cavit is a great go-to for everyday wine drinking. Tasty enough for dinner guests and subtle enough for an after work beverage, Cavit Pinot Noir is a great addition to your home wine rack.

Erath Pinot Noir 2008

Erath Pinot Noir 2008

The saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Well, when my new saying goes “When in Oregon, drink as Oregonians do.” This new life mantra was created on a recent trip where my palette and my opinion were both completely changed by local Oregon wineries.

I’m not sure if it’s the cool climate or the laid-back vibe of Oregon but the wine created there is different- in a good way. One vineyard in particular, Erath, and one varietal in particular, Pinot Noir, completely impressed me. Those who subscribe to the school of thought that once you’ve tried one Pinot you’ve tried them all need to take a sip of an Erath wine.

As we took a moment from taking in all the sites of Oregon, we found ourselves in a great little restaurant that had a very interesting, yet small wine list. Erath Pinot Noir 2008 being the only Pinot Noir on the list, we took a chance and chose it. Everything about this Pinot Noir is spot on and perfect. Sweet yet spicy, fruity yet smoky; this wine has as much character as its home state.

Pairing perfectly with the pasta fra diavolo and mussels we shared, the Erath refreshed the palette after a spicy bit. While the taste of this wine is classy and satisfying, the price is moderate. Paying $28 at a restaurant, this wine is available at national retailers for around $14.

If you can find an Erath, try it. The vineyard prides itself on making Pinots- from Noir to Gris and the pride is much deserved.

Middle Sister Goodie Two Shoes Pinot Noir

Middle Sister Goodie Two Shoes Pinot Noir

Middle sister doesn’t just describe Jan Brady. It’s not just the nickname for my fabulous sister who often felt a little lost in the mix. It’s also the name of a perfectly blended, adorably labeled wine. Though they make both red and white wine and name each something catchy and fun, it is the Pinot Noir, “Goodie Two Shoes,” that caught my eye.

Sweet at just the right times. Bold at just the right times. Just like the personality of a true middle sister, this Pinot is smooth but has a bit of spice and tartness to it. It has the taste of a raspberry with a bit of a cola taste to it and pairs amazingly with pizza and typical BBQ fare.

The purchase of this specific brand of wine is always necessary when my sister comes to town. Always making her pose with the bottle, we try a new varietal with each visit. This visit coincided with her birthday and I hosted a BBQ/house party in her honor. Although I am sure it will go just as well with other dishes, or carry out pizza, this Pinot went well with the homemade Margherita pizzas and turkey burgers we had crafted for the party.

A little bit more playful than its Pinot Noir counterparts, Goodie Two Shoes has a sort of chocolately-cola taste at times, which makes it a perfect party wine. Not too serious but completely satisfying for the adventurous wine fan, Goodie Two Shoes is a safe bet when toasting to your perfect middle sister or simply for a night when a more serious Pinot Noir won’t do.

Flowers Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 750ML 2006

Flowers Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006

A person only turns 85 once. For this reason alone, we made the pilgrimage to South Carolina to visit my fiance’s grandmother and celebrate her amazing life. A milestone this monumental calls for a celebratory dinner and a wine that is as delicate and amazing as the birthday girl herself. The dinner was delicious and the wine was absolute perfection.

As we walked into the private dining room I couldn’t help but eyeball the wine table. Full of tempting bottles, it was, of course, the Pinot Noir that struck me. “ Flowers Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006” the label read. A cute name, a Sonoma Coast red…this had to be a surefire safe bet, right? Right. Full bodied, for a pinot, and smooth on the palette, this had all the makings of a perfect Pinot Noir.

Living up to its name, Flowers was a treat for my senses. Aromatic and literally floral in smell, I didn’t know if I should fall in love with the scent or the taste. Why not both? Often, Pinot Noir can be a bit too light; however, Flowers was perfectly balanced with subtle hints of raspberry and a rounded finish. The perfect wine to celebrate the perfect woman.

The meal, undoubtedly, was as lavish as the wine and pairing Flowers with the mushroom risotto and prime rib I was fortunate enough to dine on was priceless. Not knowing the price point of the wine at the time, I would have placed it in the $45-$60 price range. My guess would’ve been right. Available at select national retailers, online stores and fine dining establishments, Flowers Vineyard Pinot Noir is as beautiful a wine as its namesake and makes for a perfect drink to toast a loved one.

Haute Pinot Noir

If there is one girl cliché I live up to it is that girls love shopping and shoes. With this in mind, this girl also loves some red wine. When these two things are paired, it is a very good night. Enter girl’s night. The perfect excuse for ladies to put on their best shoes and talk about love and life; however, this girl’s night we opted to stay in. Each coming with the understanding that we had to bring a fun bottle of wine and our best gossip, we met at my best friend’s house and the evening began.

My pick was Haute Pinot Noir. I purchased this well designed wine for $10 at a local store- a bargain as far as well-versed shoppers are concerned. With a fabulous shoe and a cute description of fabulous women in history featured on the label, this wine is meant to appeal to the kind of girl who loves a night with her girlfriends. Very light and full of berry taste, this Pinot Noir was a good choice for a night of flipping through fashion magazines and sharing secrets. It is easy to drink, going down smoothly, almost like fruit juice with a kick. While this wine isn’t for those who love a heavier Pinot, it is a perfect sipping wine, it’s crisp, clean and a great starter if you plan on sampling a few wines in one evening. It would also be a great alternative to a white wine for daytime drinking.

No estrogen filled night with my friends is complete without some snacks and we managed to create quite a buffet. Haute Pinot Noir paired perfectly with our guilt-free buffalo chicken dip and the delicious seafood nachos one of my genius girlfriends concocted. Fashion and fruit met and made one haute but easy-going baby.

Cellar 8 Pinot Noir 2008

For some girls Fantasy Football drafts are the dreaded enemy of the Fall season. For this girl, it is a great excuse to select a great Pinot Noir and a couple of good running backs and wide receivers. Men have their beer and their silly team names. I like to bring a bit of class to the situation. I have my Pinot Noir and my silly team name.

For this wonderful draft day, I selected a lesser known libation: Cellar 8 Pinot Noir 2008. Straight from the Asti Winery in California (the same geniuses that bring us Foster’s beer), this garnet colored wine was light, but with a tiny spicy bite at the end. In all honesty, in my first sip I thought, “This tastes just like a jelly sandwich…and I like it.” To clear things up, that’s strawberry jelly, not grape.

Although I should’ve been full from the hints of jelly the wine was giving off, I opted to sit in front of the laptop with my ESPN loving fiancé and homemade jambalaya and draft my team while enjoying the little punch this sweet wine was packing. The food/wine combination was amazing. This wine pairs so well with fish. Part syrah, part petite syrah with a bit of cabernet, this wine is 100% refreshing and goes down smooth. It’s great for night on the couch or an evening of conversation with friends. It can be purchased online from the winery for $10 or if you are lucky you can snag a bottle at a local grocery store for $8.99.

For those not interested in Fantasy Football and who may just be in the market for an easy-to-drink wine, Cellar 8 is it. Perhaps it was the wine or maybe a stroke of genius but my is arguably the best drafted one in my league. If my name is on that trophy in February I will thank Reggie Wayne, Chris Johnson and Cellar 8 Pinot Noir.

Poppy Pinot Noir 2008

2008 Poppy Monterey Pinot Noir

With a name so cute you can hardly resist it and a price so good you just want to stock up on it, Poppy Pinot Noir 2008 is a delicious, fruity choice for the casual wine drinker. If a fresh glass of wine after a hard day’s work is your speed, this wine is an excellent choice to have on hand.

Running about $12 a bottle at retail stores, Poppy lives up to its loveable name. Exploring the wine aisles in hopes of something that would catch my eye and please my palate, I was ready to give up. Today wasn’t the day to break the bank and I just wanted to have a glass or two of Pinot while relaxing. At the end of the aisle something caught my eye. A bright white label embossed with a simple word “Poppy.” Suddenly the image of my fiance’s adorable grandfather or “Poppy” sprung into my head and I had to get it.

Without reading the description, I bought it and rushed home to share this find with the live-in love. Everything about this wine was comforting. The simple label, the reasonable price and the delicious flavors. Hints of strawberry and oak blended together to make a perfect balance. It’s the kind of Friday evening/after work yet before dinner kind of wine. Light enough so you can enjoy the rest of your evening but rich enough that it helps melt the stress of the week away, Poppy Pinot Noir is definitely worth a pour.

Although we opted to enjoy the wine before dinner, I would definitely pair it with something light like an angel hair pasta dish or an ahi tuna salad.

Mirassou Pinot Noir 2008

Mirassou Pinot Noir

Sometimes the inevitable question arises: “Is it too early for wine?” The answer, at least in my house, is always “No.” But if you find yourself feeling a bit of the guilt at noon on a Friday, order a glass or bottle of Mirassou Pinot Noir and wash the guilt away. After all, the wine label is composed of a sun.

Whether its lunch with the girls or a weekend getaway, every once in awhile a little wine must fall a little early in the day. When this time comes starting off with a harsh red, for those of us who prefer red, can ruin the day. No one wants a dry mouth, headache or sluggish feeling at 3 pm- nothing good will come from that. So when the opportunity to drink some wine in the daylight presents itself, opt for a lighter red like Mirassou Pinot Noir.

Light, bright and fruity, this Pinot Noir makes for the perfect “early” drinking red wine. While many Pinots can be richer, darker and a bit heavier on the palette, Mirassou is a great alternative. Try this wine with a gorgonzola salad, like I did, or pair it with a hummus or brie. Everyone has heard that wine, fruit and cheese go well together and that old cliché is ever present here.

Just as easy on the wallet, Mirassou can be purchased at retail store for around $15. While not on a lot of national wine menus, this wine is a can’t miss and a is worth a sip if you see it featured.

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Chalone Pinot Noir 2006

Chalone Estate Pinot Noir 2006

Going out to eat should always be an experience. Whether it’s the table next to you that helps create a conversation piece or a meal so great that you literally talk about it your whole ride home- every meal should be an experience. Usually for me the experience involves a wine so great that I have to hunt it down and buy it at the retail price so I can indulge in it while I watch mindless television in the comfort of my own home.

I’d like to thank Chalone Pinot Noir 2006 for that experience.

Literally like velvet, this Pinot Noir moderately priced, listed for less than some of the other reds on the menu, but tasted like a million bucks. From the minute I took my first sip to the end of the bottle, I was completely smitten with this Monterey County red. Everything about it was just right. From the slight taste of berries (was that strawberry or raspberry I tasted?) to the smooth finish, this wine had me questioning whether or not it was wrong to order another bottle…for myself.

While I could’ve dined on the Chalone alone, I opted for a real meal and ordered a halibut and risotto dish and I have to say it was the best decision I made. The richness of the wine complimented the creamy richness of the risotto and I would recommend this wine with fish or pasta dishes. Chalone Pinot Noir can be purchased at some national online vendors and restaurants and usually runs from $28 and up. Take those pennies you’ve saved for a rainy day and create your own Chalone experience.

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