Monday, December 12, 2011

Echelon Vin de Pays de l'Isle de Beaute Pinot Noir, 2009

Wonder why a California label is selling a wine from the "Isle of Beauty"? Because Pinot Noir is now such a popular wine, some California vintages, such as 2009, simply do not produce enough grapes to meet demand. So large-production wineries such as Echelon go to the cheapest source of Pinot they can find--the island of Corsica in France. This is the same appellation that produces Pinot Evil, generally the least expensive wine you'll see in any wine store. (And well worth the money, in my opinion.)

Yes, this wine reminds me a lot of Pinot Evil: cherries, red plums, cinnamon and just a touch of Pinot earthiness. Fragrant, ripe, medium bodied and fruity. The only thing this wine lacks is the complexity you expect from a $25 red Burgundy. But then it sells for $7.99.

Although the "l'Isle de Beaute" appellation represents "the sticks," even to French wine drinkers, it's a very good micro-climate for growing Pinot Noir--better, I think, than nearly any area of California. The 2010 Echelon has been released, and it's made from California grapes. I'd rather have the Corsican version...and it's at least a few dollars cheaper.

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