The Mark West Pinot Noir 2018 is sourced from several California grape-growing AVAs. It is a brand that has been around since the 1990s and had been the top-selling Pinot Noir in the US. Mark West is a brand that specializes in value-priced Pinot Noir. This is their taste of California blend, but they have one from Carneros, Russian River, and the Santa Lucia Highlands.
The last time we reviewed a Mark West wine was the 2010 vintage; back then, the grapes primarily came from Monterey with small portions from high-end Pinot growing areas. The wine was also aged in neutral French oak barrels for 10 months.
The Mark West Pinot Noir 2018 makes no mention of where the grapes came from. While it does say this wine was fermented in stainless steel vats, it simply mentions oak aging with no details. Mark West also makes AVA-specific wines, a Santa Lucia Highlands bottling, a Carneros, and a Russian River AVA Pinot. I would not be surprised if small portions of those wines made it into this blend.
Here is where the story takes a turn. Mark West was a brand owned by Constellation Brands, a huge wine and spirits corporation. In 2020, Constellation Brands sold a large portion of their under $11 wine portfolio to E and J Gallo, the largest wine company in the United States. Mark West was a part of that sale.
The Mark West brand owns no winery facility or vineyards. What changes may happen under new ownership are not yet known. Future vintages may have different grape sourcing and/or a new winemaking team.
But the immediate changes for value-priced wine drinkers are in many parts of the country; the distributor for Mark West and the other wine brands involved in the sale no longer handle these wines. Their deal was with Constellation, and Constellation no longer owns these brands. When the wine shops and restaurants call to order these wines, they will call the new distribution company.
In Chicago, this ten-dollar Pinot Noir is selling at Binny’s for $3.99. There should be a substantial list of budget-friendly wines available at cut-out prices. Be on the lookout for Ravenswood, Estancia, Black Box, and Franciscan wines, among others.
The Mark West Pinot Noir 2018 has always been a solid value-priced Pinot Noir, but at $3.99, it is a steal. It will be interesting to see what Gallo does with this brand; they know how to produce crowd-pleasing value wine. The Mark West Pinot Noir, 2018 alcohol content is 13.5%.
The Mark West Pinot Noir 2018 Tasting Notes
The Mark West Pinot Noir 2018 is a mix of smooth and slightly rough elements. The color is a clean, clear garnet red. The nose is a little shy; there is cherry, herbs, tea, dusty chocolate powder, and light spice.
The Mark West Pinot Noir 2018 flavor profile is more interesting than tasty. It tastes like cherry, spice with a slightly rough edge, exotic spice, and ripe plum. The mid-palate brings vanilla, orange zest, some not sweet Dr. Pepper, and a salty sensation.
- The Mark West Pinot Noir 2018 is a bargain at $3.99. With some of its more challenging flavors this is more of a food wine than a sipping wine.
- It has enough flavor to stand up to some of the bolder dishes, fajitas, pizza, burgers, and steak would all pair well.