The StoryThe Castle Rock Mendocino Pinot Noir 2017 is an inexpensive Pinot Noir, I found it for $7.99 at Costco that should provide a solid value. Castle Rock is an interesting wine company, they have been around for 25 years and have a unique business model. They own no vineyards, all their grapes come from long term contracts with well-respected vineyards. They own no winery or equipment, again they lease space and winemaking gear from existing wineries. They have a very low overhead which allows them to produce wine that will hit above its pricetag. Another interesting thing they do is they get grapes from all the leading AVAs. For instance, with Pinot Noir, they source grapes from the Central Coast, Monterey, Carneros, Russian River, Columbia Valley, and Willamette Valley. If you are looking to explore the Pinot Noir regions at a value price they have you covered. They do the same with other grapes.Mendocino County is just north of Sonoma County on the Pacific Coast and has all the climate advantages as Sonoma, but somehow is overlooked by many wine drinkers. While there are many well-respected Pinot Noir producers in Mendocino, it is a great place to look for Pinot Noir bargains. The Pinot is a 2017 vintage which is a decent amount of aging for a wine I found for $7.99. You can tell a great deal about wine by the year it is released, a 2018 Pinot would be a young fruit-forward, made to come together quickly, while 2017 will most likely have a more involved winemaking process which added another year to its release. That does not mean that one is better than the other, just in some way produced differently. The alcohol content is 13.5%.The Tasting notesThe color is a see-thru garnet red. The nose is black cherry, herbs, dried autumn leaves, black pepper, brownies cooking in the oven, and exotic spice. This is a light side of medium Pinot, subtle, delicate Pinot Noir. It tastes of smooth cherry, black pepper, herbs, and strawberry. The mid-palate adds spice that has a bit of a sharp edge, cooling black cherry, jammy raspberry, orange zest, and a little dark chocolate. The acidity is well-balanced and the finish is soft but lengthy.The Summary This is an elegant Pinot Noir, that is something I did not expect in a sub-$10 Pinot. It has the same body and texture as expensive Pinots, it does not have the layers of flavors and depth, but it does just fine for a $7.99 Pinot Noir. The Castle Rock Mendocino Pinot Noir would pair well with the Thanksgiving feast, it nails the turkey, stuffing, and sweet potato thing. Gooey, cheesy side dishes may throw the pairing off a little, but there is enough acidity on hand to pull-thru.
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