Although Echelon is a California winery, this Pinot Noir is made from grapes grown in Corsica, an island off the coast of France. And it's all the better for that. Inexpensive Pinot Noirs from California can be quite bad, but Corsica has a good micro-climate for growing this finicky grape. And Corsican wine grapes are almost embarrassingly inexpensive.
This Echelon Pinot is one of the best bargains right now in the Kalamazoo area. I saw it recently for $4.99 at World Market, and D&W has it for $7.99. But if you see the 2010 Echelon vintage (already on the market), don't buy until you try it. It will probably cost $12 and be made from inferior California grapes.
The wine is deep, dark and lushly fruity on the nose and palate. I smell cherries, plums and a strong note of cinnamon and other spices. Has correct Pinot Noir varietal characteristics with a bit of earthiness but much more lush in texturre than most Pinot Noirs. It's not very tannic and goes down easily. Not a lot of complexity, either, but a good match for mushroom and vegetable soup.