2008 Caretaker Pinot Noir

 2008 Caretaker Pinot NoirPrice: $9.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Ruby in color the 2008 Caretaker delicate and floral with rose petal, raspberry and strawberry aromas. The palate is exuberant with sweet red berries that continue into a soft, earthy plum finish.”

What I Think:

Nary a word about this one to be found on the internet but that’s okay I knew that before I brought it home. You see, this one is a product of the Central Coast Wine Warehouse which appears to be a shared production facility. This is the same place that delivered the The California Wine Party Franc Merlot and the Pancake Cellars Big Day White. I’m still pretty certain the Central Coast Wine Warehouse is an operation/business that uses this facility to create the wine. But that is becoming less clear by the bottle… Here nor there, based on my history with the Franc Merlot I bought two bottles of this one on site. Seeing the listing of the  2008 Caretaker Pinot Noir
Pinot clones they used on the back label only reinforced my decision.

Shortly after bringing it in the house it is on the table. Opening it my first thought is really! A 2008 Pinot already? 7 months from the vine to my table. My initial inclinations proved right as this one came across disjointed and with little balance. I sensed the delicate, floral nature on the nose. But the palate couldn’t bring anything together. Not a bad wine, likely very young and needing some time. For now, no fruit and lots of acidity. No way I could recommend this over the Castle Rock Mendocino Pinot. I’ll let you know if the 2nd bottle changes my mind but thinking unlikely at this point…

Rating: Skip It

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38 thoughts on “2008 Caretaker Pinot Noir

  1. Hey Jason,

    Yea the 2008 is still way young. It was bottled less than a month ago. I would try decanting it for 30+ minutes or opening a bottle, pouring out 1/2 a glass and giving the semi-full bottle several good shakes… (this will affectingly disparage the CO2 that is in really young red wines) Once the CO2 is gone, oxygen will get to play with the wine more and it becomes quite lovely.

    I promise you this, in a month, the caretaker 2008 will be unrecognizable to what it tastes and smells like now… but most likely, it will be gone.. not that much was made.

    take care,


  2. Hey, just opened the 08 Caretaker (got it at Trader Joe’s, $9.99, and the listing of clones sold me as well) and to me, the nose has an amazing floral, fresh fruit aroma, and on the palate lots of cherries and spice, with a nice long finish. I think it could stand up to any other Santa Barbara, (or Santa Rita Hills for that matter) Pinot that would cost $30 or more. Very surprising from such a young wine, but very delicious, and a great price.
    Maybe a month did make a difference. Interested to see how your second bottle does.

  3. @John Glad to hear this one seems to be settling in. I’ll have to get to that second bottle soon. When I do I’ll let you know what I think!

  4. Jason,
    On Saturday your local TJ’s should be getting Howell Mountain Vineyard ’05 Cab (and possibly some ’02 and I believe ’04) for the highly discounted $14.99. Also, a TJ’s branded Santa Lucia Pinot for $8.99 and Domaine Alfred Syrah for $14.99.

  5. Your local store may not have updated their ordering system that would enable them to be ordered. I received the three wines on Saturday and tried the Cab. For 14.99, I thought it was a great deal. After that initial shipment, each store was placed on a 5 case limit of each wine per day. A wine flyer goes out Tuesday with all three wines in it, so you should definitely be able to find them on your next trip.

  6. @DP Thanks for the tips, I actually got the flyer today. Have you had the Pinot or Syrah? Where you getting your insider info from? Lastly since you seem to have the scoop here anything about the new Gigondas ($14) I saw in the store this weekend? I was tempted…

  7. DP, what’s your take on the 2004 Howell Mountain cab – did you try this? (and anyone else feel free to chime in, too!) My local TJ’s only has the 2004, not the 2005. Thanks!

  8. Just got this at Trader Joe’s for $9.99 and I would “almost” agree with John who stated “I think it could stand up to any other Santa Barbara, (or Santa Rita Hills for that matter) Pinot that would cost $30 or more”.

    Probably of equal par with Francis Coppola Pinot Noir Diamond Label which runs for about 14.95. Opened it up and though still young and a tad bit acidic was indeed flavorful. Light rasberry and plum with a hint of spice and perhaps even a whiff of smoke and very soft.

  9. Regarding the Caretaker 08 Pinot…I like many others fell for the listing of clones and the fact that I feel that Santa Barbara is the best Pinot region in the world, I got tempted. The negative was that it was so young…but that seems to be more and more common today with Pinot. I took the advice of some posters and decanted it for about 20 min. After that…not bad at all. Actually very similar in quality to Latetia’s or Domaine Alfreds excellent base Pinot’s which sells for 20-25 bucks. Has all the Santa Barbara characteristics of smokey plum, earthy strawberry…and enough acidity that puts it close to the truly Burgundian model. All that for 9.99! This is now my regular Pinot…but I will occasionally get the Domaine Alfred at TJ’s tomix it up. That one may be 10% better, but is 120% more in price.

  10. I like Pinots with a bit of ooomph – David Bruce is my fave – but that isn’t an everyday wine. Although not as smooth and well rounded as the Bruce, at $10 the Caretaker is a bigger tasting Pinot and a good bang for the buck in my book. I ‘ve had this bottle open for a couple of hours now and I’m enjoying a lot of the smokey plum flavors.

  11. I’d stand this up against any $15 bottle of Pinot. Perhaps it has improved in the 6 months since Jason tasted and rated. I think it is more complex than Castle Rock. I’m looking forward to laying down a few and tasting several months from now. It’s been awhile, but if my palate isn’t mistaken, it reminds me of the Pelligrini Olivet Lane Pinot Noir which runs well over double the Caretaker.

  12. @Jen I’ll break this out soon. That said as of late it faces some serious competition at Trader Joe’s of late. They are currently delivering silly values in the $10-$15 region. Outside of the Castle Rock and this one you have the Davis Bynum, the MacMurray and the Windmere on minimum…

  13. Tried it recently. Liked it. Good value. Viewed this site. Went today to get more. Gone – chef say no mo!

    If you have still have some, enjoy.

  14. Umm-couldn’t disagree more. I’m buying up as much as I can to lay down. I agree the MacMurray & Castle Rock are also great values (haven’t tasted the Bynum…) but the Caretaker is tickling my fancy mightily.

  15. @Ralph Think I saw some on my last visit but not sure. I’ll look more closely next time

    @dfarmer Had wanted to give this one another try but haven’t gotten around to it yet as, like you mentioned, Trader Joe’s is awash in quality Pinot right now! That said, I do need to grab this one again…

  16. Jason

    Re Caretaker

    The wine guy at my local TJs said that all had been sold out. Naturally, some stores may still have remnants but I have been unable to find any. Castle Rock is an okay replacement. Have not tried the Bynum or MacMurray.

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