The Parducci Small Lot Mendocino County Pinot Noir 2014 is 100% Pinot Noir produced from sustainably farmed vineyards in the Mendocino County AVA of Northern California. Parducci is a family owned winery celebrating their 85th year of winemaking. Mendocino is located north of the Sonoma AVA, west of the Lake County AVA, and north and west of Napa. The Small Lot in the name comes from Parduccci fermenting and aging in smaller tanks and barrels and then hand selecting the various lots to blend into this bottling. This is standard practice for blending more expensive wines but is less common for value priced wine (list price here is $12.99). This Pinot Noir was aged for 12 months in French oak barrels, 20% new oak and the other 80% in neutral oak barrels. Neutral oak barrels are barrels that have been used 4 or 5 times, by this point, the barrels cease to impart much influence to the wine. I asked a winemaker, “why use neutral oak barrels if they don’t add anything? Wouldn’t stainless steel tanks be easier and cheaper?” and he said the wine tastes different coming from a neutral barrel than from a stainless steel tank, it’s as simple as that. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is see-thru garnet red. The nose is a pretty mix of ripe red berries and herbs, a hint of spice and a whiff of smoke. This a medium to light-bodied Pinot Noir, with well-balanced acidity and a delicate array of flavors. It tastes of raspberry, herbs, dusty cocoa powder, and cherry. The mid-palate adds dried strawberry and a little cigar tobacco. The tannins are sleek and hidden out-of-the-way, the acidity is full enough to allow the flavors to keep chugging along for a very respectable length of time.
The Parducci Small Lot Mendocino County Pinot Noir 2014 is a very tasty, well-made value-priced Pinot Noir. This is a real-deal California Pinot Noir, it gives what a Pinot Noir is supposed to give. Make sure you give the bottle time for the flavors open up because the interplay between the red berries and the herbs are reminiscent of far more expensive Pinot Noir. There is a reason that more expensive Pinot Noir costs what it does. There is added time and more intrinsic winemaking techniques that just cannot be accomplished for 10 or 12 buck bottle. And that makes this very solid $12.99 Pinot Noir all that more noteworthy.