The 2011 Fat Cat Pinot Noir is 88% Pinot Noir, 9% Segalin (a cross between a grape from the south of France and a grape grown in Germany, used to give the wine some added body) and 3% Dry Red grapes (they must be really obscure grapes, it Segalin made the list and these didn’t) sourced from vineyards in more than one California grape growing AVA. Fat Cat is a label owned by Bronco Wines and no, this is not a Trader Joe’s wine. The wine was aged in oak for a minimum of 2 months, but they didn’t say oak barrels, so it could be oak staves or chips added to the stainless steel tanks. It used to be there were two kinds of Pinot Noir, the complicated and challenging expensive stuff and the fruity and simple cheap Pinot. But in the last few years the line between the expensive and the inexpensive Pinot Noir has started to blur, cheap Pinot’s have been bringing a bit of character and nuance to the table. We will see what category the $7.99 Fat Cat Pinot Noir falls into. The alcohol content is a Burgundian 12.5%.
The color is a proper, see-thru crimson red. The nose is promising, cherries and herbs, with a little mushroom and cold coffee. This isn’t one of those super complicated Pinot’s, but it’s not bad. It starts with tart cherry along with an astringent medicinal sensation (in Pinot Noir that’s good not bad), followed by a light touch of licorice and plum. The mid palate brings a little unexpected, rough texture from the tannins and strawberries in cream. The acidity is muted and the rough texture from the tannins lasts into the finish, which if not exactly long, isn’t bad.
The Fat Cat Pinot Noir is a very pleasing $7.99 Pinot. While you wouldn’t describe it as complicated, there is more than enough going on to hold your interest. This is a Pinot that is smooth, but has an edge. While not a replacement for the best Pinot Noir’s, the Fat Cat does a very good job at an extremely reasonable price.