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Bearboat Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, 2005

April 4, 2008

~$16 US, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, California

“Value” Pinots are rare these days (especially from California) due to the finicky nature of actually growing the grapes, vinifying them honestly, the Sideways effect, etc. There seems to be a big price-rift with scads of mass-market efforts floating in the sub$15 range, then a big jump to the $35-50+ range for the serious single-vineyard designates / artisan producers. But every once in awhile a compelling wine lands in the $15-25 range – I tend to seek those out…

I was in the mood for something American for a change, and popped and poured. Saturated but medium-transparent ruby color. Strawberries and cinnamon on the nose, with ripe red-raspberry patch and some smoky undertones. Round and juicy palate – big, but showing balance with firm acidic lift. Integrated tannins = drinking great right now. The initial sweetness and body of the fruit transition towards a lighter, fresher midpalate, where the wine loses a little steam and gets a little spike of alcohol. It come back together for the long finish, where red rooibos tea components mix with mineral flavors.

The Bearboat shows very well for a $15 Pinot (be it RRV, Central Coast, Village Burgundy, NZ, or elsewhere) with its clean fruit-driven approach and how it maneuvers around problem areas like over-oaking, alcoholic bitterness, over-ripeness or an awkward finish. It’s a fuller-bodied Pinot that could pair easily with burgers of any sort, grilled chicken, pork bbq, or the traditional salmon. It may have a year or 2 of upside, but probably wont gain additional complexity, so why wait? A yummy weeknight red.

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