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Under-$10 Pitch-Perfect Pinot Noirs
Yes, they do exist.

It might seem like urban legend but there really are value-priced California Pinot Noirs that taste just as good as a Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon, or Burgundy, France, might.

Recently I opened up two such examples.

2012 Line 39 Pinot Noir (Central Coast, California, $10) has a little bit of heat (spices) that compliments the strawberry bouquet and raspberry notes well, yet it also embraces sweet cocoa notes and a silky profile concluding with soft, supple tannins. (cecchettiwineco.com)

2011 Redtree Pinot Noir (California, $9) expresses cherry notes and a fruit-forward, low-bodied profile packed with black pepper emerging towards the dry finish. An intriguing nose of candied red fruit and layers of oak are also in this wine. (cecchettiwineco.com)


Years ago I went on a wine pilgrimage of sorts, following in the steps of Miles and Jack in the 2004 film “Sideways.” Among my most favorite finds were Epiphany Cellars, a small producer whose tasting room is along the main drag (Grand Avenue) in tiny Los Olivos, Calif. Ray’s Wine & Spirits sent out an email today about this very winery: the 2012 Epiphany Grenache Blanc (only 987 cases made), for $16.99 a bottle. This is the only retailer in Wisconsin carrying this wine and bottles are going to fly – fast. Call 414-258-9821 or email raysliquor@bizwi.rr.com.


Close out summer with a bang – and with a wine glass in hand – by attending the fifth annual Wine & Vine at the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi Convent Arbor, 3221 S. Lake Drive, in St. Francis. From 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 24 you’ll be treated to tastings of not just wines but craft beers and other libations too (including coffee and tea). Frogwater will churn out the tunes and local restaurants are providing food. Discounted pre-sale tickets ($50) are available until Monday. Otherwise, the cost is $60. Viewing the 101-year-old grape arbor at the convent is a definite treat; a 300-foot stone arbor supports the grape vines, thanks to a restoration project in 2009.


Are you on the hunt for a white wine to please a crowd? The 2012 Francis Ford Coppola Pinot Grigio Emerald Label Diamond Collection (Monterey County, California, $16) is zesty and crisp, but with nice balance and packed with minerals, grapefruit and tangerine notes. (franciscoppolawinery.com)

homepage photo by Chris Kessler

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