Mark West Pinot Noir 2012

First time I had a glass of Mark West Pinot Noir was during late night happy hour at Old Ebbitt’s Grill in Washington, DC.  Old Ebbitt’s is an institution in the nation’s Capitol.  It is located steps from the White House and has the distinction of being Washington’s oldest bar and restaurant.  Although it isn’t in the same location as when first opened in the late 18th century, you can feel the history when you walk in the door.  And you get the feeling that history is still being made there.  The grill attracts an eclectic clientele from Washington power elite to international tourists to locals looking for a place to kibitz after a show at one of the outstanding area theaters.

Vineyard: Mark West
Wine:  Pinot Noir
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  California
Price: $14.99

Notes:  I’d call the color of this Pinot a medium ruby.  On the fairly subtle nose I found scents of strawberry, blueberry and earth.  It was a light-bodied selection with good acidity.  Flavors for me were strawberry, a touch of blueberry, tea, and a hint of mushroom.  The finish was quite tart – zippy even.  

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Bogle Pinot Noir 2012

Because Pinot Noir is known to generally be a good accompaniment for a holiday turkey, I did a little advance tasting several weeks ago.  This Pinot was on sale at my local grocery store, so I decided to see about it.

Vineyard: Bogle
Wine:  Pinot Noir
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  California
Price: $9.99

Notes:  The color was a medium ruby.  On the nose I caught scents of berries, rubber, pine, and … a touch of wet dog.  I’m not kidding.  Anyway, It was light-bodied with high acidity and moderate tannins.  Alcohol was at 13.5%.  On the palate I tasted rubber, pepper, red berries and a hint of pine.  I’m not sure I’d pair this with your typical holiday turkey, but I think it would be a good match for a gamey fowl — duck or maybe goose.  

Smoking Loon Pinot Noir 2012

Some mysteries are important to unravel and solve.  Others, however, are perhaps better left to the mists of the unknown.  Take for instance the question, “What is a smoking loon?”  Seriously!  I know that a loon is a type of bird, but I don’t think they smoke – certainly not cigars as is suggested by the fun illustration on the winery’s colorful labels.  I have to admit that the name is catchy.  And, honestly, what I really want to know is what’s inside the bottle.  So, of course, I popped the cork on this Smoking Loon.

Winemaker: Smoking Loon
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Vintage: 2012
Appellation: California
Price: $11.99*

Notes:  I was surprised at how pungent the bouquet was on this Pinot Noir.  Although not hugely complex, it was vibrant with cedar and dark berry aromas.  Acidity was bright while tannins were on the moderate side but still players.  Alcohol was at 13.5% in this light-bodied selection, and there was a pleasant slightly plush feeling to this wine as it traversed the palate.  Flavors I found were a bit darker than many Pinot Noirs I’ve had, hewing to dark currant, cherry and oak with a medicinal/camphor zip when the tannins bit. I would think this Pinot Noir could pair well with a variety of dishes.  I appreciated this selection even more because I was able to grab it on sale for $6.99.

*  at Trader Joe’s for $7.99