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Tag Archives: pinot noir

Wine of the week: Hardys Nottage Hill Pinot Noir 2012

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BT008501-ARDAGH-460g-PinotNoir-NottageHillWhen we did this year’s great cheap pinot noir tasting, Diane Teitelbaum and I were surprised at how many wines labeled as pinot noir didn’t taste like pinot noir. Regardless of anything else, cheap merlot tastes like merlot, cheap chardonny tastes like chardonny, and so forth.

But that wasn’t the case with the pinots. There were some exceptions, but the most of the wines we tasted made us wonder: Was what the wine business considered pinot noir changing to meet pricing and consumer demands?

Fortunately, the Hardys ($10, sample, 13%) shows what can be done when the winemaker and the Big Wine company that pays for the wine want to make pinot noir that tastes like pinot noir. Even more amazing: This is an Australian wine, and Australia is hardly prime pinot noir territory.

Nevertheless, this is quality cheap pinot — not nearly as fruity as most of the wines we tasted in June and with more structure. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end, and not just the juicy fruitiness that is what most other cheap pinots offer. Look for a telltale pinot herbal aroma as well as muted cherry and raspberry fruit. And while it’s not to be confused with a $75 red Burgundy (pinot noir from France), it will more than do for those of us who don’t have $75 for a bottle of wine. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2014 $10 Hall of Fame.

Cupcake wine review 2013

cupcake wine review 2013The Wine Curmudgeon has discovered the flaw in the Cupcake Vineyards marketing juggernaut. It’s almost impossible to find the wines in a store, whether grocery or wine, that has any kind of inventory. It took me 10 minutes to locate the two bottles for this review, scuttling between aisles at my local Kroger; would a less determined consumer have done as much?

Maybe they would. Cupcake is the post-modern wine business success story, eclipsing even Barefoot and its millions and millions of cases. Three years after it started, Cupcake was named wine brand of the year, and its sales increased 67 percent in 2012, according to one market research firm.

Cupcake, as Blake Gray wrote last year, approaches wine from a different perspective. It markets its brand before it markets its products, so its customers don’t buy on varietal, like pinot noir, or region, like France, the way most of us do. Rather, its customers buy Cupcake first and worry about varietal and region later.

In this, the wine is marketed almost like women’s clothing, where Cupcake is the designer that shoppers look for before they look for a specific item like a dress or a skirt. That’s why Target has long offered designer collections, whether from Isaac Mizrahi, Jason Wu, or Phillip Lim.

None of this, of course, takes into account whether the wine offers value. That’s why I’m here – this year’s take is after the jump:

The revolution in cheap pinot noir

The moscato and sweet red wine trends have received more attention, but the revolution in cheap pinot noir may eventually be just as important to the wine business and to consumers.

That’s the gist of a story I wrote for the Beverage Media trade magazine. Pinot, traditionally the province of oenophiles with deep pockets, has long been considered fine wine more than mass wine for two reasons: The grape was always difficult to grow and difficult to turn into wine. Neither is especially true any more, and these changes have allowed winemakers to produce millions of cases of pinot that costs less than $15 a bottle and is clean and professional – if sometimes not very pinot-ish in taste.

In addition, the popularity of these wines is another indication that U.S. wine drinkers are looking for fruitier, less tannic, and less alcoholic options than merlot and cabernet sauvignon, and this ties into the moscato and sweet red trends. The tremendous growth in the popularity of these three wines hints at larger changes in what wine drinkers want, though it’s probably too soon to know more than that.

The story’s highlights and a few other thoughts, after the jump:

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