As I was cruising the aisles at Trader Joe’s last weekend, I found myself looking at some wines and wondering “Russian River pinot noir for $8.99, really”. Yes, I know there’s a grape glut and the economy has gone south, so grapes and juice can be bought for less than a gallon of milk, but I had to wonder, is it any good? Under normal circumstances(good economy & balance of supply and demand for grapes) conventional wisdom says that pinots noirs under $12 usually aren’t very good. Why you ask, well pinot noir grapes are thin skinned and need to be handled w/ care and it’s a very finicky grape and a bit harder to turn into wine. Why that is I don’t know, ask a winemaker. So a friend and I doubled back and picked up a couple of bottles to see if it we could do a price to quality comparison.

1st wine we tasted was the 06 Mission Point from Central Coast. Probably one of, if not the oldest of pinots on the shelf this pinot seemed like the vines were to young or harvested to early. Stemy and green on the palate, the fruit component was dry and there was to much wood. This wine was out of balance and actually got returned for something else. 1 cork of out 5.

Then we tasted the 08 Hamilton -Stevens Russian River which had a good nose, soft & spicy on the palate, it had good fruit. A well balanced wine and hard to beat for $9.
3 1/2 corks out of 5.

Both wines cost is $8.99. So in the end it’s buyer beware, sometimes you do need to spend a bit more for certain quality expectations or if you’re looking for a easy drinking $9 they are possible to find, but you may have to taste a few to find them.

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