The Angeline California Pinot Noir 2020 is the second brand of wine from the Martin Ray Winery of the Russian River AVA in Sonoma. While the Martin Ray brand wines are expressions of the AVA or a single vineyard or two, the Angeline wines are more about the varietal.
Martin Ray Winery was originally in business from the 1940s to the 1970s and was dormant until Courtney Benham resurrected the winery in 1990 and it has been a privately owned winery ever since.
The technical notes say the Angeline California Pinot Noir 2020 was sourced from grapes from the warmer Central Coast AVA to the cool valleys of the North Coast. That is a very broad area for finding grapes. Having grapes sourced from such a wide area does not always inspire confidence, but the winemaker seems to have done a great job.
James Suckling, America’s premier wine critic, issued the Angeline California Pinot Noir 2020 91 points, which is remarkable for a wine that I found for $9.99 (Trader Joe’s). This wine is widely available at all sorts of wine shops and should be found in the ten-dollar range, though the list price is $15.
Another point to consider is that 2020 was one of those vintages plagued by fires. So instead of this Pinot Noir being one of those best of California value-priced wines that are ok for the price but nothing exciting, we have a 2nd brand wine that ranks with Martin Ray’s $35 and up AVA-specific wine.
The tech notes talk about fires and shifting temperatures that shortened the growing season and lowered the yields. They said picking the right grapes was not easy and took a great deal of testing and knowledge, but it all seems to have worked out in the end.
The Angeline California Pinot Noir 2020 was hand-picked and destemmed. The grapes were not crushed but pressed. Pressing is a gentler process that is used to minimize the tannins from the stems, seeds, and grape skins. The problem that can arise from pressing is that not all the grapes will give up their juice.
This Pinot Noir was fermented in stainless steel tanks and then aged in French oak barrels with 30% of the barrels new. That is a very solid oak program for Pinot Noir at this price point. Martin Ray Vineyards is known for their quality Pinot Noir wines and that expertise seems to have filtered down to their value-priced brand. The alcohol content is 13.8%.
The Angeline California Pinot Noir 2020 Tasting Notes
The color is a see-thru garnet red with a little purple. The nose is a surprise, it is smokey and brooding, the tech notes said this is a bright fruit-forward wine, but the nose is intriguing. There is black cherry, exotic spice, herbs, licorice, black coffee, vanilla, and oak spice. The Angeline California Pinot Noir 2020 is a wine that engages your palate, you feel sensations at different places in your mouth.
This Pinot Noir tastes like slightly sour cherry, ripe black cherry, black pepper, plum, spice from India, and faint milk chocolate. The mid-palate shows orange rind, that salty/nutty on-lees thing, a hint of Dr. Pepper, and jammy raspberry. The acidity allows the flavors plenty of time to unfold, this Pinot Noir has good length.
- The Angeline California Pinot Noir 2020 is an excellent Pinot Noir that just happened to find for $9.99. Forget the price it is simply an excellent effort.
- This is not a sip and forget the wine, take the time to enjoy this Pinot, it is worth the time and effort.