The most recent “Wine Find” by the Baltimore Sun’s Michael Dresser was a $25 California pinot noir. What’s a $25 wine doing in the DC Budget Wine column? Selling for $19 on sale at MacArthur Beverages.
The 2009 Paraiso Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir is from a wine making district in California that’s becoming an increasingly reliable source of fine wines, according to Dresser, including pinot noir. Readers of this column know we love pinot, but it’s not featured here often because the really good ones from California and Oregon start at about $35 to $45 a bottle and climb quickly into the triple digits. (And don’t get us started on French pinot from Burgundy!) Aside from this $8 California pinot and these from Chile, the term “value pinot noir” is an oxymoron.
So for most red and white wine varieties, our threshold for value is about $10 to $12 a bottle. But for pinot, a good bottle under $20 is considered a bargain. At $18.99 at MacArthur, Paraiso Santa Lucia Highlands is both a great buy and a nice blend of the full-bodied “New World” style with earthiness of a good French pinot. (See the slideshow for other local wine shops that carry Paraiso.)
“This well-made example offers full-bodied, lush fruit with hints of black cherry and blackberries,”Dresser wrote. “Its creamy texture is very Californian, but it has earthy, herbal notes that hark back to Burgundy.”
In the forthcoming Oct. 15 issue of Wine Spectator, James Laube calls it, “Appealing for its easy-drinking allure, with ripe plum, raspberry, wild berry and spice flavors,” agreeing with Dresser that it shows off, “a racy earthiness on the finish, which gives this a nice touch.”
Dresser recommended it at $25, but if you can’t get to MacArthur to save $6 a bottle, Paraiso Santa Lucia Highlands is available at a handful of area wine shops for only $21 to $23. If you love pinot noir, this one might be well worth the splurge.
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