The 2011 Garnet Vineyards Monterey County Pinot Noir is sourced from Estate vineyards located near (but not in) the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA in Monterey County, California. Garnet had been Saintbury’s value line, but they sold the brand name and the winery to the Silverado Wine Growers, who had been the main supplier for Garnet’s Pinot Noir grapes. The 2011 vintage is the new Garnet Vineyards first vintage. This Pinot was aged in 100% French oak barrels (60% new barrels, the rest used) for 11 months. The winemaker is Alison Crowe, who has worked with Chalone and Bonny Doon and has written a how-to guide for making wine “The Wine Maker’s Answer Book”. The alcohol content is 13.5%. The Garnet Pinot Noir lists for $14.99.
The color is a clear, deep, garnet red (go figure). The nose is cherry, strawberry jelly, oak spice and a little smoke off the grill. This is a medium to light Pinot Noir with a nice blend of ripe fruit and spices. It starts with black cherry, herbal tea and sweet strawberry. The mid palate adds an interesting display of spices and herbs along with a late splash of plum. The acidity is well balanced and this Pinot has a good amount of length. The finish is a little fruit and a lot of spice and manages to linger around for quite some time.
The Garnet Vineyards Monterey County Pinot Noir is a solid, unpretentious (it has a screw cap), tasty and interesting, real California Pinot Noir. It is the perfect wine to add to the picnic basket for the concert at the outdoor bandshell, classy, but fun. Many wine geeks get bent out of shape if a Pinot Noir isn’t sourced in this exact location and produced by this specific winemaker, nothing else can possibly do. Man, they are missing out on all these beguiling, inexpensive Pinot’s that are perfect for enjoying on a warm summers evening.