You may have noticed that I'm in the middle of a little fling with North Coast California Pinot Noir. My first love is still Southern Rhone, but my trip to the Anderson Valley last spring has kindled a little interest that has introduced me to some very enjoyable Pinots. I saw Painted Gate at World Market for $9.99--an excellent price for a Pinot with a specific Sonoma County (as opposed to California) appellation. Sonoma County is, of course, not as prestigious as Russian River or Sonoma Coast. (The latter, though, is much broader than it appears and the eastern edge is a good 30 miles inland.) And the vintage is the dreaded 2008--the year of the forest fires in northern California. Nevertheless, the wine is worth a try.
The color is a medium ruby, and I'm met immediately with attractive spicy, floral tones. Also dark cherries and, yes, a hint of smoke but not too much. The silky Pinot texture is on the palate along with some more smoke that is actually very pleasant. Adds some dimension. For $10, yes.