The Beringer Founders Estate Pinot Noir 2017 is the #1 wine on Wine Enthusiast Top 100 Best Buy Wines of 2019. And that is somewhat remarkable. Beringer is the oldest (since 1876) continuously operating winery in the US and they produce a lot of wine, from $400 bottles to $4 bottles, they run the gamut. The Founders Estate Pinot Noir is not the typical wine that leads best-of lists (I have not tasted it yet, I do the tasting notes in real-time).
First, it is a Pinot Noir that I found on sale for $7.99, second, most of the grapes (along with a smaller portion of grapes from coastal Central Coast AVA) are sourced from multiple vineyards in the California Delta region. The California Delta region is basically the Clarksburg AVA and the Lodi AVA, they are about 100 miles from the Pacific Ocean. They are wine grape growing regions because of the San Pablo Bay, which is the bay north of the San Fransico Bay and is far enough inland that its influence can reach those areas through rivers and valleys. Neither AVA is known for Pinot Noir.
Value-priced (cheap) labels from giant wineries, featuring grapes from non-buzz-worthy Pinot Noir growing regions and nothing out of the ordinary production techniques. It is aged for 5 months “on” French oak, what does “on” mean in this setting? I thought you aged wine “in” barrels, is “on” some winemakers term or does it mean something else. Actually, I don’t expect a sub-10 buck wine to see oak barrels, it does happen from time to time, but the oak influence can come from oak staves or chips with inexpensive wine.
I am not trying to be negative, because I am intrigued. #1 wines on Top 100 lists tend to be some wine from France or Italy that you can’t find in any wine shop. Not that the Beringer was easy to find, I figured since it hit the top of the Best Buy 2019 list every store would feature it with a sign saying #1, but I had to visit 5 shops to find it and it was on the bottom shelf behind a kiosk of some other wine. I guess accolades don’t count for much anymore, but when I read it took the first spot, I knew I had to see what was what. The alcohol content is 13.9%.
The Tasting Notes
The color is crystal clear, see-thru garnet red. The nose is ripe fruit and funky herbs, there is ripe cherry, mushroom and a distinct herbal scent, oak spice, vanilla, slightly sour cranberry, and a faint hint of smoke. Ok, I kind of get it, it has a distinct mouthfeel, smooth, but with an edge and interesting flavor. It tastes of black cherry, spice, a little black pepper, chocolate powder, and ripe plum. The mid-palate shows tart cranberry and vanilla cream, along with soft herbs and orange zest. The tannins stay out of the way and the acidity does a good job of allowing the ample flavors to unfold. The finish is soft and does linger for a while.
- First of all, we at Cheap Wine Finder have known for some time that on the best, if not the best, inexpensive red wine was California Pinot Noir. In the last few years, cheap Pinot Noir has blossomed.
- Is the Beringer Founders Estate Pinot Noir 2017 my personnel #1 wine of 2019? No, but I am glad I gave it a try. It is more on the Meiomi side of Pinot Noir, which I like, but it isn’t my favorite style of Pinot Noir.
- If you like your Pinot Noir full of ripe and juicy cherries, herbs, and spice, yet nicely focused, then the Founders Estate might be your #1 wine.
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