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castle rockCastle Rock is an interesting winery. Essentially a negociant making a variety of appellation-specific wines, they own no vineyards but source grapes from various vineyards on the West coast and use a variety of production facilities. Their annual production is approaching 1,000,000 cases of exclusively value-priced wines.

This Pinot Noir from Monterey is as odd as their business model. It shows prominent herbal aromas, mushroom, and bright rose petal with black cherry taking a back seat. The palate flavors are more fruit focused but with the addition of persistent bitterness from front to back. The bold herbaceous quality inhibits fruit expression and comes across as unbalanced although the complexity is nice for a value wine. On the heavy side of medium weight, the mouthfeel has a glycerin quality resolving to a short spicy finish. Tannins are supportive and nicely done, and there is no overt woodiness marring the experience.

It is hard to find good, budget Pinot Noir. This one is competent and unusual, a cut above the ordinary supermarket wines from the conglomerates.

Score: 86

Price: $13 but often discounted

Alc: 13.5%

This wine has a languid, quietly romantic mood that will resonate with languid, quietly romantic jazz such as Bobo Stinson’s Music for Awhile