The Petiole Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2015 is a $9.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive sourced from vineyards in the Willamette Valley AVA of Oregon. In case you have forgotten your 4th-grade science lessons the “petiole” is the part of the plant that attached the leaf to the stem. This is a Trader Joe’s Negociant wine, they purchased grapes or juice and the wine in their words was, “crafted for us by one of Oregon’s premier winemakers”. The description in TJ’s Fearless Flyer is vague, sometimes they give you pretty good hints on who actually produced the wine, but here, there is little to go on. They mention being aged for 14 months, but not how it was aged, all oak barrels, some oak barrels, or no oak barrels. And they use marionberry as a descriptor for the flavor of the wine, well I thought Marion Barry used to be Mayor of Washington DC, but it turns out it is a blackberry-like bush that grows all over the Willamette Valley. So, checking to see which winemaker uses marionberries in their tasting notes didn’t help because they all do. Therefore, what we know is that we have a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir that has been aged somehow for 14 months (a fairly long aging process for an under 10 buck wine). The alcohol content is 13.2%.
The color is a see-thru garnet red. The nose is dried cherry, a little Heath bar, a savory note, freshly mown lawn, blackberry, and vanilla. This a medium to light-bodied Pinot Noir, not as silky as the more expensive Willamette Valley Pinot, more earthy and delicate. It tastes of blackberry, pepper, exotic spice, chocolate, and cigar tobacco. The mid-palate adds strawberry, tart cherry, and herbs. The flavors in popular, higher alcohol content Pinot Noir are bold and easy to pick out, here the flavors are subtle and dance around the edges. The acidity is balanced and does a decent job of giving this Pinot Noir some length. The finish is subtle and slowly fades away.
The Petiole Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2015 is an interesting wine, it has some of the qualities of really good Willamette Valley Pinot, just not all of them. It’s missing the luxurious silkiness of the best Oregon Pinot, but then again, this one sells for $9.99. It is not fair to expect a clone of $50 Pinot for 20% the price. The Petiole is a very solid ten buck Pinot Noir and to its credit, it had enough going on to make me think about the high-end Oregon Pinot. And that is something value priced Pinot Noir seldom does.