The Emma Pearl Pinot Noir 2013 is a $3.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive sourced from vineyards in more than one California grape growing AVA. The Emma Pearl Pinot is 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Petite Sirah. Now, California Pinot Noir does not usually sell for under 4 bucks, there is a story to tell here. Treasury Wine Estates, Emma Pearl’s parent company, has had difficulties. They have extensive holdings in Australia (the Grange is one of their wines) and California (Beringer is theirs) and they have decided to adjust and regroup in 2015. They have sold off many wines and have actually dumped (as in down the drain) wines that have been in inventory to long and have started to deteriorate (some wines such as White Zinfandel and other wines that have low acidity and little aging are only drinkable for 2 or 3 years before they start to go bad). Trader Joe’s says a supplier came to them with a great deal if TJ’s paid upfront. So, it seems the Emma Pearl Pinot Noir is part of Treasury Wine Estates adjustments and Trader Joe’s gets a wine that was never meant to sell for four bucks. The alcohol content is a heavy 14.5%, a classic Burgundian Pinot is closer to 12.5%, so with the Petite Sirah and the elevated alcohol content the Emma Pearl figures to be a fruit-forward California style wine.
The color is a clear, see-thru strawberry red. The nose is black cherry, oak spice, plum and hint of smoke. The Emma Pearl is fruit forward, but there is a surprisingly solid structure with a decent amount of acidity. There is a good amount of alcohol on the palate, I don’t mind a little alcohol, but keep that in mind. Be sure you let the wine open up before you pour, the alcohol takes some time to integrate. It tastes of black cherry, bitter dark chocolate, vanilla, tart cranberry and a late slap of Nestle Quik powder. The acidity gives this Pinot length and the tannins are smooth. The finish is strong and long.
There is too much fruit and too much alcohol to be an old school Pinot Noir, but the Emma Pearl does drink well. At 5 bottles for $20, the Emma Pearl would make an outrageously good party wine, if you have a wedding or a reunion coming and want to impress on the cheap, it is hard to do better. When TJ’s sells out of the Emma Pearl Pinot, it is gone for good, it will not be available at this price again. Buy a bottle, see if you like it, then come back and grab all you need. After all, a case is only $48 and the Holidays are not that far away.