A Tale of Two Pinots


The thing about Chairman’s Selections is that you’re always trying to figure out the rub. How did PA get such a discounted price? Big buying power is part of it, sure, but it’s also often wine from what’s considered a “bad” vintage (which may or may not mean the wine itself is bad), or wine that a producer couldn’t sell under their main label for some reason, or because the wine is getting old. Sometimes, it’s still a nice bargain for a good wine, but other times they’re total duds.

With a couple of recent Pinot Noirs in the system, it’s actually rather obvious. At ages 7 and 8, these wines are either past their prime or nearing it. Pinot Noir, of course, can last for decades, but most West Coast US Pinots are more fruit-forward than their French counterparts, and generally made for near term consumption.

Tudor Pinot Noir Anderson Valley 2006 ($19.99)

This wine is actually holding up quite nicely. It’s Burgundian in style, meaning more restrained and elegant than fruity. Still, it features signature hints of cola, plus red cherry fruit. There’s also some warm spice and a hint of barnyard. Good acidity means it’ll pair nicely with a wide variety of mid-weight meals. For $20, this is a very good buy in the Pinot Noir market, and it might even last for a few more years.

Left Coast Cellars Pinot Noir Latitude 45 2005 ($15.99)

This wine is more obviously aged and probably past its prime. The color is rusty brick, the fruit is faded, and the secondary flavors (mostly warm spices) have taken the forefront. That said, it’s still a wine that can bring enjoyment, if you’re into the elegant, mysterious thing. Though it is admittedly thin on the palate, there’s still merit in trying it at this price, especially if you aren’t familiar with mature Pinot Noirs. In other words, if you’ve ever found yourself wondering “should I buy a bunch of Burgundy and lay it down for 15 years?”, this flavor profile of this wine – while obviously not matching the greatness of Burgundy’s best – will give you a hint as to what you might get.

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