The Castle Rock Los Carneros Sonoma Pinot Noir 2012 is, of course, sourced from long termed contracted vineyards in the Sonoma side of the Carneros AVA in Northern California. Carneros is located inside both Napa and Sonoma, which is why the distinction is made. If you are trying to find Carneros sail east under the Golden Gate Bridge and when you can turn left or north and when you hit land you should be near Carneros. The 2012 vintage is the current vintage which is kind of crazy for a wine that sells in the $10 to $13 range, 6 years of bottle age is unheard of especially when most value priced drink-it-now wines are produced specifically to come together quickly and be ready for sale sooner rather than later. I don’t even want to speculate on the story behind this Pinot Noir since it is such an outlier in comparison with the otherr Pinots in this category. Castle Rock Winery is something of a Pinot Noir specialist even though that is by no means all the wine they produce, they have a full selection of other varietals from an assortment of growing regions. But, what they do with Pinot Noir is interesting, they have bottling from all the main top-notch growing regions on the West Coast, Carneros, Russian River, Mendocino, Willamette Valley and on and on, all value priced. They don’t own their own winery, they lease space in 4 state of the art facilities and have a small production team, this is all designed to have the best facilities at the lowest possible cost and low production costs lead to reasonable prices on store shelves. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is a garnet red, a little dark for a Pinot, but still clear, bright and see-thru. The nose is really good, nosing this wine blind would lead you to believe it is well above its actual price range, cherry, smoky autumn leaves, bacon fat, mushroom, toasty vanilla, and light menthol cigarettes, very funky cool for a $10.99 Pinot. This is a medium-bodied Pinot, with solid acidity and complicated Pinot flavors. It tastes of ripe black cherry, pepper, and a good slap of exotic spice, a little cigar tobacco, a hint of leather, and softer plum. The mid-palate adds cocoa powder, toasted vanilla, orange zest and ripe, tart cranberry. The tannins are sweet and the acidity gives this wine plenty of room to unfold. The finish is intense and lengthy.
Well, I wasn’t expecting that from this $10.99 Castle Rock Los Carneros Sonoma Pinot Noir 2012. When I bought it I didn’t pay attention to the vintage date, with inexpensive wine the vintage usually doesn’t matter too much, once in a while a wine has an outstanding vintage, but they are mostly consistent year in and year out. But having a wine with 6 years of bottle range is a treat, especially a wine from an AVA that is worthy of the extra aging. A solid Carneros Pinot with plenty of aging for $10 to $12 bucks is a no-brainer, when I was shopping today I passed up about 10 other Pinots in the general price range, and I am glad I did.