100% Pinot Noir from California.
SRP of $14 and available as low as $9. Sample received courtesy E. & J. Gallo for review purposes.
From the bottle:
“Inspired by the hand stacked rocks that help you find your way along a trail, Red Rock Winery wants to inspire you to Find True Balance. Our winemaker believes that “Making a great wine is all about finding balance. It’s about fitting the fruit characteristics together in a harmonious way, so that no single element overpowers another.” In our Pinot Noir, dark red cherries are complemented with layers of raspberry jam creating a smooth wine that is truly balanced.
Today we continue on our hunt for the best Pinot Noir under $20. Before we get to today’s wine I should note; however, that while this series is about Pinot Noir, from the beginning this blog has been about finding great wine of any variety under $20. As such, I’m pretty much agnostic when it comes to the variety of a wine. This means when when we’re talking about Pinot Noir, which is more often than not priced above $20, we won’t recommend a wine simply because it is one of the best of the sub-$20 wines in its variety if it doesn’t also measure up against the sub-$20 wines from other varieties as well. (As a sidenote, this also means we don’t dismiss wines that don’t measure up to the magical standard that someone somewhere has declared for each variety.)
The goal with every one of our reviews is to discover if the enjoyment received from each bottle justifies its cost. This is also why it gets harder for a wine to get a Buy rating as its cost increases — the measuring stick goes up in order to justify the increased expenditure. (See more about our Wine Rating System.) And all of this is not to say that varietal distinctions are irrelevant — that’s hardly the case. There are certainly times I crave a certain variety or I am looking for a specific match to a food; it’s just that we simply won’t recommend a wine that may be the “best” of a variety if it doesn’t also measure up against all the other sub-$20 wines out there. Now, on to today’s review…
The 2009 Red Rock Reserve Pinot Noir begins with light strawberry and raspberry aromas and a few toasty spice notes. This easy to drink wine tastes of smooth dark fruit with soft tannins and a little bit of black licorice. The dark fruit flavors continue on the finish along with some nice spice notes and a little lingering vanilla and caramel. A nice wine that doesn’t taste like a typical Pinot Noir — and that’s perfectly fine.
Wines in the Hunt For The Best Pinot Noir Under $20 Series:
2008 Stone Wolf Vineyards Willamette Valley Barrel Select Cuvée Pinot Noir
2009 Stoneleigh Marlborough Pinot Noir
2009 Smoking Loon Pinot Noir
2007 Seufert Winery Pinot Noir Cuvée
2010 McManis Family Vineyards Pinot Noir
2009 Red Rock Reserve Pinot Noir
2010 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir
2008 Robin K. Central Coast Pinot Noir
2009 Dashwood Marlborough Pinot Noir