The 2011 Block Nine Pinot Noir is sourced from multiple vineyards in more than one California grape growing AVA. There is a Caiden’s Vineyards mentioned on the front label that would suggest a single vineyard Pinot, but it’s not. The winemaker on this project is Larry Levin who was head of winemaking at Mondavi, Ravenswood and Franciscan, among others, so he has the contacts to find quality grapes and the friends willing to sell them at a decent price. This Pinot Noir was aged in French oak for a time and the alcohol content is 13.1%.
The color is pale cherry red, it almost falls into Rose’ wine territory. The nose brings the Pinot Noir funk, mushrooms and herbs, along with cranberry and faint cherry, a very expensive Pinot nose for a $10.99 wine. This does not taste like an inexpensive Pinot, it starts with sweet cherry, followed by bold herbal flavors with an undertone of tea. The mid palate shows tart orange zest, strawberries in cream and a final hit of POM wonderful. There is good, balanced acidity, this Pinot has some length and the tannins are there, you can sense them, but you can’t taste them. The finish is subtle but lengthy.
The 2011 Block Pinot Noir is a quality Pinot, I don’t know how it would fare in a blind tasting with more expensive Pinot’s, but that really does not matter, a good wine is a good wine. Pinot Noir was the last bastion for wine snobs, a Pinot had to come from a certain place, the vines a certain clone and the bottle a certain price or it was just not worth drinking. That just is not true anymore, there are talented winemakers out there that are taking the time and effort bring out the best of less expensive Pinot Noir grapes and there are some less heralded grape growers who are giving the big boys a run for their money.