The 2011 Blue Fin Pinot Noir is a $3.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive made for them by Bronco Wines (2 Buck Chuck) at their Napa Valley facility. The Pinot Noir grapes are sourced from more than one California grape growing AVA. Pinot Noir grapes are very finicky and require very specific weather conditions, a long, cool growing season and just the right soil requirements to thrive. There are only so many premium growing areas for Pinot Noir on the West Coast, so with the law of supply and demand, solid Pinot Noir wines tend to be pricey. So, when a $3.99 Pinot Noir comes around, wine affectionados tend to turn up their noses. Obviously, the Blue Fin is not going to compete with top notch Pinot’s, but how is it as a $4 wine. A four dollar wine that drinks well definitely has value, The Blue Fin Pinot Noir has a very Burgundian alcohol content of 12.5%.
The color is a very pale, extremely see-thru candy apple red. The nose is subdued, some black cherry, a little tea. This is a light, but very dry Pinot Noir. It starts with black cherry, dried cranberries and a hint of dark chocolate with a little touch of herbal tea. There isn’t really a transition to the mid palate, what you get upfront is all there is, but what is upfront is more than what you would expect for a $3.99 Pinot. The tannins do not get in the way, the acidity is fairly well balanced, the fact that I am even mentioning the tannins and acidity in an under four buck wine is a compliment. The finish is light, but does linger.
It was only a couple of years ago, that I hated sampling under 5 dollar wines, there were some weird and funky (and not in a good way) wines out there. But now I am constantly being surprised by very competent and sometimes actually good extremely cheap wines. If you offered the 2011 Blue Fin Pinot Noir, blind (not knowing what exactly is in the glass) to a friend who is into wine, they probably wouldn’t like it too much, but they never will guess the price is $3.99. And when you tell them the price, they just might like it a whole lot more. With that said, sometimes when you have a wine that you expect nothing from and it actually gives you a little something, you get more joy from that glass than you do from a wine that you expect the world from and it only gives you 3/4’s of the world.