What we’re drinking: Trader Joe’s 2010 Russian River Valley Grand Reserve Pinot Noir

Mary writes:

Pinot Noir is the red grape responsible for red burgundy, the most capricious of all the vinifera vines.

So the Blind Wine group decided to get familiar with this grape that is the most difficult to grow and ferment. Part of the reason for the variation in Pinot Noir lies in its genetic makeup and its propensity to mutate. There are more clones of Pinot Noir than any other varietal.

The Russian River Valley has the perfect climate for this finicky grape.  Trader Joe’s 2010 Russian River Valley Grand Reserve Pinot Noir was one of the stars of the seven wines in our blind tasting.

But 2010 wasn’t an easy year in the Russian River Valley. The young grapes had a wet and chilly spring. Late spring rains prompted growers to pull leaves to open up the canopies and expose the fruit to drying breezes and sunlight. The summer saw plenty of fog and wet weather further slowing grape maturity. Thankfully, an August heat spike promoted development so the grapes were able to reach full maturity in September. This cool spring and summer resulted in balanced flavors and smooth tannins.

Despite the harrowing growing season, this wine had a wonderful sweet black cherry nose with hints of spice; big up front cherry, raspberry flavors with smooth tannins and a spicy, smooth finish. Under $15!