The St. Somewhere Pinot Noir 2014 is a $6.99 Trader Joe’s wine that is 99.85% California Pinot Noir and 0.15% Oregon Pinot Noir, the Oregon juice is in the blend by accident. There is a story to tell here, Trader Joe’s says a big-time wine producer was creating a Pinot Noir sourced from the best coastal growing regions in California, when a tiny amount of Oregon Pinot was added to the blend by mistake. And once you pour it in, there is no getting it out. Federal alcohol regulations have no problem blending grapes grown in different states, but California regulations say a wine with California designated as place of origin must be 100% California. Now, this is a 2014 vintage and the current vintage for most Pinot Noir in this general price range is 2016. So, it seems this mistake batch of Pinot has been sitting around waiting for someone to figure out what to do with it. I imagine they spent some time with the California wine authorities saying what do you mean 99.85% isn’t good enough. But, having a couple of extra years of aging is actually a pretty good thing for the consumer. Even though the majority of value priced wines are “drink it now” wines, that doesn’t mean that they have no aging potential, many will actually improve for 5, 6, or 7 years, it just that most are consumed in the first couple of years and the average wine drinker doesn’t have the facilities to properly age wine. So, a Pinot Noir that has been held back a couple of years before release is something of an unexpected bonus. The producer on the back label is DNA Vineyards, it says they cellared and bottled this Pinot Noir and that does not mean too much, with shell companies and LLC’s figuring out who actually did what with each bottle of wine is very difficult. If you check out DNA Vineyards website you will find that they are behind some of Trader Joe’s best wine values. The alcohol content is 13.8%.
The color is clear, clean, cherry jelly red with black highlights. The nose is very, very promising for a 7 buck Pinot Noir, smokey, and herbal, with cherry, cooking spice, plums, and mushroom. This is fruit forward, but balanced Pinot with solid acidity and structure. It starts with black cherry, bitter dark chocolate, cola, herbs, and orange zest. The mid-palate adds soft plum, vanilla, sour cherry, and exotic spice. The tannins are in the mix but do not interfere, the acidity allows the flavors to unfold. The finish is full and slowly fades away, with some of the acidity refusing to give up.
It’s kind of funny, but the St. Somewhere Pinot Noir 2014 four-year old California/Oregon Pinot that still could use a few more years of aging to completely hit its stride. Seven dollars wines never ever need more cellaring, so I guess Trader Joe’s wasn’t kidding, this is a Pinot Noir designed to sell for a good deal higher than its current price point. This is a really decent bottle of Pinot Noir that just happens to sell for $6.99, sometimes your knee-jerk reaction is “at that price it can’t possibly be any good”, but like I always say “drink it before you judge it”. The St. Somewhere Pinot Noir 2014 is a good Pinot at a great price.