The Trader Joe’s Cotillion Pinot Noir 2016 is a $9.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive sourced from vineyards in 56% Monterey County, 33% Sonoma County, and 11% Santa Barbara County. These 3 counties are very solid Pinot Noir growing region and the bottle could have indicated California as the grape origin, since 2 of the AVA’s are in the Central Coast AVA and 1 in the North Coast AVA, but they wanted to “show-off” it’s semi-fancy pedigree (especially for the price). This is a TJ’s wine that comes back every year, we reviewed the 2013 vintage and as I recall, liked it. The back label indicates some sort of oak aging or conditioning and a 2016 vintage is a fair bit of bottle aging for a ten buck wine. Certain wines take longer to come together and be drinkable for release, they tend to produce $10 wines to find their balance quickly. So a current vintage of 2016 shows the producer didn’t rush this bottle to market and that is a good thing for any wine, but especially for Pinot Noir which tends to be delicate and shouldn’t be rushed. The alcohol content is 13.8%.
The color is a legit, see-thru garnet red, with so many Pinot Noir’s having Petite Sirah and other grapes blended in nowadays I am used to seeing deep, dark Pinots, I prefer the real thing. The nose is impressive, smoke, herbs, mushroom, black pepper, cherry, grilled meat, it’s the aromas found on the expensive stuff. This is a medium bodied, nicely balanced, old-school Pinot Noir. It tastes of cherry, a little Dr. Pepper (not sweet), a rough contrast of herbs, and creamy vanilla. The mid-palate offers exotic spice, raspberry, black pepper, and a late slap of Altoids spice. The tannins are soft and sweet and the acidity stays in the background, this can be a food wine as well as an excellent sipper. The finish is vibrant and lengthy.
The Trader Joe’s Cotillion Pinot Noir 2016 is an unexpectedly satisfying California Pinot Noir. It constantly reminded me of Pinots from the expensive, highly touted growing regions, not a best of California TJ’s $9.99 Pinot. It is not as delicate and etherial as the best Pinot Noir, but it does drinks very well and in a blind tasting you would never guess the price. Plus it has a label with Victorian-style animals dancing at a party where they are wearing masks of other animals. Wonderful label and a wonderful wine.