The 2010 Santa Carolina Reserva Pinot Noir ($8.99) is sourced from vineyards in the Maule Valley of Chile’s Central Vally. Santa Carolina has been in business since 1875. The Central Valley is the largest of Chile’s wine regions and it is located directly on the other side of the Andes Mountains from the Mendoza growing region of Argentina. Bronco Wines (2 Buck Chuck) either has an ownership stake in Santa Carolina or is the US importer. The wine was fermented in both open vats (the old school way of fermenting wine) and stainless steel tanks (the modern way), 10% of the wine was aged in oak barrels. This is a young, “drink it now” Pinot Noir, there is no need for cellaring this bottle, in fact the wine will start to deteriorate after 3 years. The alcohol content is a hefty, for a Pinot Noir, 14.5%. Parker gave this wine 88 points and Wine Enthusiast named it a Best Buy.
The color is a clear see-thru raspberry red with an almost transparent halo. The nose is black cherry, herbs, very light mushroom and a hint of mocha coffee. It tastes of tart cherry, black Twizzlers (but not candy sweet), a bit of creamy vanilla and raspberry. The mid palate shows herbal tea, blueberries in cream and garden grown tomato. The tannins are soft and sweet and the acidity gives this Pinot some decent length. The finish is full and lasts a decent amount of time.
The 2010 Santa Carolina Reserva Pinot Noir finds the middle ground between simple, inexpensive Pinot and the expensive, complicated Pinot Noir. You wouldn’t describe it as complicated and layered, but it is by no means simple and boring. This is a medium bodied (in spite of the 14.5% alcohol), very tasty, approachable Pinot Noir. There was a time when inexpensive Pinot Noir simply did not cut the mustard, those days are gone, nowadays cheap Pinot Noir can be a very satisfying drink.