"Pinot For The People" is the rallying cry for the value-priced Mark West 2007 California Pinot Noir (about $12 at big box stores and some supermarkets), an everyday wine blended, as its name suggests, from grapes grown all over California wine country.
"For too long we have waited for affordable Pinot," the Sonoma County winery's Web site (markwestwines.com) shouts. "For too long we have endured Merlot."
Amen, we say to that. But lest you think we are merely suckers for a clever ad campaign, we hasten to point out that we tasted and chose the wine before visiting its Web site. In fact, we first met this wine on the lists of a couple of restaurants we really like for their innovative approach to food and wine pairings. At home, we drink it with everything from roast turkey and sweet potato fries to Cuban sandwiches and dill potato chips, not to mention pork loin, lamb, grilled ribeye and the like.
This pinot noir is a rich garnet color, almost purple, in the glass. As you swirl it, sturdy legs develop, promising stamina and a finish with staying power. On the nose one notes ripe red cherries first with pronounced overtones of plum and fig. In the drinking, there is a complex blend of dark berries underlaid with hints of chocolate and tobacco. Mature tannins and aging in French oak lend structure. The wine is relatively light, as pinots tend to be, but it is hardly thin. Indeed, its easygoing assertiveness makes it quite a marvel for the price.
Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.