Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Spirit of Wine Review & Rating: ***+ $ Crane Lake Pinot Noir, California, 2010 (BEST VALUE)

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By way of background, opening thoughts:  Searching for good value in pinot noirs under $20 has been a multi-year hobby of mine, with decidedly mixed results.  Today I am on a fool's quest for sure - hunting for reasonable quality in a pinot noir UNDER $5 - practically free!!  It must be from California (it is), and it must not have an estate or even regional designation (it does not).  Nonetheless, sometimes we just have to "take one for the team". This is part of Fred Franzia's Bronco Wine "dynasty", makers of the well-known (shall we say "infamous") "Two-Buck Chuck" (Charles Shaw Winery Cabernet Sauvignon). 

Original tasting and review, June, 2011: This is Crane Lake Pinot Noir, California, 2010, finished at a mere 12.5% alcohol.

In the glass: Medium bright red, a slight hint of purple.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows bright and fruity purpleness.  From the aroma, seems like this will be tangy, bright and likely without tannins.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact a softer fruit wash across the palate than I was expecting.  Less acids, more softness and depth in the fruit.  Think red cherries plus ripe blueberries. Quite friendly for the fruit it carries.  No apparent residual tannins.  The finish is brief, but extremely clean, without any residue sugar.  Perhaps a touch of red currant in the wrap-up. 

In summary: Overall, rates three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, as I would drink it again, and a remarkable plus for its extraordinary friendliness and good nature.  I can't see that age nore decant would serve it terribly well.  But, in my "take one for the team" mentality, I may just park some for awhile to see!  At this price, this is a crazy, awesome best value, even if pinot purists will be offended by the simple, quaffable nature of this juice.

Following long decant (see, I told you!), a full day kept at warm room temperature in partially filled bottle:  Pretty consistent nose, perhaps a bit hotter with alcohol (maybe due to the warmer temperature too).  Sweet red cherries have held up quite well on the palate too.  Surprisingly hearty with the decant.

Updated review, over a year later, August, 2012:  Ruby red in the glass.  Bright on the nose with a touch of charred oak.  Red berries and ripe blackberry on the palate.  Still hearty, simple and drinkable.

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