My go-to Pinot Noir, under $10

Welcome back to Wine Friday! It’s Memorial Day weekend and you’ll probably have something on the grill at some point, unless it’s still snowing/raining where you live. I’m currently loving the So Cal sunshine! So let’s get to it.

Talking about wine…It cracks me up to read Food & Wine Magazine, and see what they recommend to drink. The May 2011 issue touts “discovering fantastic pinot noir” on the cover. As it turns out, that article is about some great winemaker in Italy making Patagonian Pinot Noir. Not, I think, something I’ll find at Vons for under $10.

Looking further in the magazine, I think maybe I’m going to get lucky – there’s an article on page 70 about “Finding Tasty Wine on a Public-TV Budget”, so I head over there to check it out.

The article is well written but I skim it, looking for the prices…aHA! Found them! To my surprise, all the wines are at the $15 or lower price range. Hmmm. There’s a 2009 Bibi Graetz Bianco Di Casamatta for $11 – apparently it’s a vibrant, citrusy Vermentino.

Um. What? Any wine that makes me think of rats and cockroaches isn’t on my radar (Vermentino – vermin – get it? lol…).

The next one is a 2008 Argiolas Perdera at $12, from the Monica grape (who knew?), and this is a juicy red that’s now grown in Sardinia. Ooookay.

Well now here’s one that I understand. More or less. It’s a 2008 Michele Chiarlo Le Orme Barbera D’Asti for $12. This is an aromatic, berry-rich wine, which according to the author has a fantastic price tag.

Okay now I’m just tired, lol! I’m a busy woman. I pick up my wines at the grocery store, and I search out those well under $10 a bottle. Am I the only one? Don’t think so. All the above wines can be found in several NY City wine shops which is great if you live in NY City. We don’t have a wine shop where I live. Oh, WAIT – we DO! BevMo! Okay, consider this whine cut short.

Still…when I get dinner, and need to pick up wine to go with, I really don’t want to hop on the freeway at rush hour and question the BevMo staff about wines made from the Monica grape that are in my price range.  I buy 95% of my wine at my local grocery store, so getting a well-made wine for as little as possible is always my goal.

(Before I go further, I do adore Trader Joe’s and still shop there for wine, but I outgrew Two Buck Chuck about ten years ago. I still try $2 bottles of wine, though. You never know when you’ll hit on a winner.)

I have a definite go-to wine that I buy when I don’t want to think and don’t want to spend over $6. My go-to wine is the Smoking Loon Pinot Noir. It’s usually $5.99 at Vons, sometimes it goes up to $6.99 – but even when it’s NOT on “special”, it’s a $9.99 bottle of wine – at least, it is in California.

As a matter of fact, when I go wine tasting up in Paso Robles, if a wine isn’t considerably better in my mouth than a Smoking Loon Pinot, I won’t buy it. I really don’t want to spend the money, especially now.

Why Smoking Loon Pinot Noir? It’s consistent over vintages. It’s an easy sipping wine that goes with a lot of different foods. It’s got depth, flavor, and a nice lingering taste (plus, goes great with either a campfire or at the beach). It’s perfect with an elegant chicken dish, vegetarian offerings, or hamburgers and dogs off the grill. It’s unpretentious, a nice bottle of wine. Kind of like the unspoiled girl next door.

Okay – I understand that I’m not talking of the taste of the wine, the aromas, the flavors that I sense – I guess because my tastebuds will vary from yours. I will include those things when I write while I sip, and that’s not the case currently – but always remember, when it comes to wine? Your mileage may vary.

Oops, and I forgot! I rate the Smoking Loon Pinot Noir as ~Very Drinkable~ mainly because it has been consistent over the past five years. Plus – I just discovered that Smoking Loon is owned by the Sebastiani family, and has been in existence since 2000. So there are their bona fides!

Anyway – to further my wine education (which began many years ago with a trip to Napa Valley), I will continue to read Food & Wine Magazine (as they highlight expensive wine and fouffy food, for the most part, also NOT CHEAP to make, tho in their defense they never promised CHEAP dishes, now did they?) and stop by at BevMo for tastings. Plus have tastings with friends – that way, you get more opinions than just mine.

In the meantime, if you’ve got a wine you like that’s under $10 a bottle (and I’m not talking box or jug wines – I’ll get to those in a year or so), give me a holler!

Coming next week (probably): Three different Chardonnays, under $10

P.S. Oh, one thing I should mention – these wines are mostly grown in California, and I live in California – so my prices will be lower than yours if you’re in the Central states or on the other coast. I can tell you that every time I visit my friend Tammy in Snowmass, Colorado, I am shocked at the wine prices – one bottle of Smoking Loon there is around $15!

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16 Responses to My go-to Pinot Noir, under $10

  1. i like the way you think, christine! when we lived in france we bought tons of wine at the french equivalent of von’s – and never looked back. the selection can be amazing. and those bev mo tastings are so much fun. have a happy holiday!

  2. Bobbye Terry says:

    Christine,
    Smoking Loon Pinot Noit is at World Market for under $10 a bottle. Most everyone should have one of those!
    Bobbye

  3. Hey, I love Smooking Loon, but I’m a white wine gal, so I’ll look forward to next week’s blog about chardonnay.

  4. Catie Rhodes says:

    I can’t talk about jug wine?! Come on…

    How about Becker Vineyards Icon Cab Sauv 2009? In Texas, you can almost always catch it on sale for under $10. My husband says the Icon is good, but he likes Becker’s Malbec better. It is, of course, not under $10.

    Check them out at http://www.beckervineyards.com.

    • Christine says:

      LOL Catie!

      I’ll have to check out the Becker Vineyards Icon Cab. I’m not a big fan of Malbec, but maybe I’ll give it a shot – depending on BevMo!s pricing. Thanks for the link!

      • Christine says:

        Becker only ships the Icon cab within the state of Texas. So…I won’t be getting any, sniff! Unless BevMo carries it.

  5. katjameson says:

    I will be looking for this next week when I am at Pavillions. I like having a lesser priced wine as a to go to. Of course that could be bad, I may want to drink more then 😉

  6. Robena Grant says:

    My favorite Pinot Noir is BV Coastal. I usually can get it for $7.99 at Trader Joes (in the Cali Desert) but it is often a dollar dearer at Von’s. It has a slight cherry flavor and is delish with Brie. Darn, now I want some. I haven’t tried Smoking Loon but will give it a whirl. ; )

  7. Christine says:

    BV Coastal is always good, you’re right. I don’t know why I gravitate to the Loon (unless it’s the name? lol) but I’ll make a point to grab the BV next time I’m in the store.

    Just stocked up on Chardonnays for next Friday’s blog! BevMo! is having a sale…

  8. Great post! I’ll have to give the Smoking Loon Pinot Noir a try. I’m not much of a wine drinker, but I’m always looking for something that I’ll enjoy. You sold me with “easy sipping”. 🙂

  9. Julie Glover says:

    Wow, this is great! I was just asking my sister for red wine recommendations. I’m usually a white wine or blush drinker, but I know the reds are better for your heart. I’ll be looking for the Smoking Loon!

    By the way, I buy Llano Vineyards (another Texas wine) for cheap, and I think it’s consistently good.

  10. Julie Glover says:

    Hey, I checked. Smoking Loon Pinot Noir – $6.99 at my local H.E.B. (Texas).

    • Christine says:

      Julie,

      That’s awesome! Smoking Loon in general has good wines – you hit on a winner! Glad you could find it local at Cali prices!

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