Truth be told, I'm not a fan of Pinot in the sub $20 category. Pinot is a tough grape to grow, requires much attention, typically doesn't yield nearly the amount of fruit that other varietals do, the fruit often has lower juice content, and there is a higher demand and lower supply currently. All that makes for grape costs and wine prices to be significantly higher than nearly all other widely planted grape varietals.
So, when a friend, who also enjoys Pinot, suggested I try the Angeline Russian River Valley, I kindly thanked him and never seriously gave it much thought. When wine is priced significantly below the $20 point, it's a mark of a few possibilities, none of which are in the "let's make good Pinot" department.
...and besides that, it's one of the most popular Pinots in restaurants. What would I want with that?
I'm at a party recently when someone brings a glass of red wine to me. I wasn't thinkin' about what it was, or how good it would be, I already figured it would be pretty mediocre and I was OK with that. Drink some wine, have a chat. Cool. ...but then....Wow! What's this I'm drinkin'?
Dork. I fall prey to the same trap as the wine geeks, just at a lower price point. Regardless, I should be better at it. We all should. If not for luck, I would have missed a very decent Pinot with great but mellow fruit, extremely low tannins and aromas of plums and blackberries.. The nose is quite bright and accordingly, I was expecting quite a different mouth feel, but a very smooth feel and finish were right there for me. I suspect that Bryan Davison, the winemaker at Martin Ray Vineyards is cold soaking and fermenting fairly cool to develop initial brightness and leave the tannins behind. Good technique.
This is an extremely versatile wine and would work equally well with chicken under a brick, pork medallions in Madeira or Halibut with roasted root veggies.
Again, try something new. Try Angeline. She's an excellent value and is kind to both the palate and the wallet.
2006 Angeline Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley