2008 Hamilton-Steven’s Pinot Noir

Price: $8.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2008 Hamilton-Steven's Pinot NoirPer the bottle Deep garnet red with spicy sweet aromas of dark plum, cedar and anise. Rich, complex flavors of cherry pie, spice and bittersweet chocolate finish silky smooth.

What I Think:

I think I was able to track this one back to Grove Street Winery who are affiliated with Windsor Vineyards where the Russian River Pinot goes for $28. I’m not insinuating this is the same wine by any stretch of the imagination but I think it is fair to say that there are resources being shared across this effort that give this bottling, at a third the cost, the potential to be a value play. Can the juice match the potential?

Great light, red strawberry color with the same on the nose coupled with cedar and spice. This one is on the attack bringing a full mouth feel straightaway. Lively acidity and brambly fruits turn juicy on the mid-palate leading to tart, under ripe fruits that mesh with barrel spices and warm tannins on the finish. Though it seems a tad nitpicky there is a bit of a hot spot toward the back of the mid-palate that throws this one momentarily out of sorts. That is enough to keep me from loving this wine but it is still a pleasant, smooth drinking Pinot Noir for $9 which leaves you nothing to complain about. Not to mention it is light years better than the Chateau Chevalier which goes for a buck more. If you are looking for a go to Pinot in this price range you should give this one a try. Otherwise if you already have one I’d love to hear all about it!

Rating: Buy It

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22 thoughts on “2008 Hamilton-Steven’s Pinot Noir

  1. Hey Jason. I had this one last night. Used the aerator for a few glasses. The nose was a bit tight, but I did get some floral hints and strawberry. The initial attack was strawberry jam and Asian spice. I agree there was not much on the mid-palate. The weight was a little heavy for a pinot. I would not be surprised if they slipped in some other juice to give it some weight. Good pinot for the price, interested to see if it evolves over time.

  2. The other day I found a bottle of the ’08 Pepperwood Grove Pinot in the far reaches of my “cellar.” It must have been left behind from the holiday season, when I purchased a few bottles based on RJ’s Wine Blog recommendation. I liked it enough then but didn’t think I would purchase again.

    This time around I found it to be a little better than I remember. Perhaps some time in the bottle served it well. It had some nice varietal characteristics going on. It’s certainly on the lighter side of Pinot but it had enough stuffing to pair well with some burgers off the grill.

    I was happy to see it going for $4.99 at Safeway yesterday, so I picked up a few more bottles for the summer. At $4.99 it’s a great to fantastic QPR.

    • I recently saw two bottles of the Pepperwood Grove at Ralphs grocery store for $4.99. Unfortunately, both of the bottles of wine had turned bad on the shelf. Fortunately, I returned them both and got my money back. The supply of this wine during the 2009 holiday season was delicious and I ranked it as my #1 bargain wine in 2009. Saw the wine today at Total Wine for $7.99, but couldn’t force myself to buy it at that price, Best

  3. @Kristi That is always my favorite? Do you have a favorite Pinot in the $10 range?

    @UCLA92 Great call on blending in some other juice, wish it would have occurred to me why there was some still in the bottle! Perhaps some Zin or Syrah?

    @joshiemac I thought I had reviewed that Pepperwood Pinot (from Chile) somewhere but it looks like it is still only in the annals of my tasting notebook. I had two bottles and wound up on the fence on this wine and for a $5 Pinot that certainly warrants a recommendation. Perhaps I’ll grab another bottle and see if I can make up my mind!

  4. I think my brain was writing to fast. I was saying that it’s nice to find comparable wines (like the Russian River Pinot) for cheap prices! I haven’t tried the Russian River before.

    My favorite Pinot is priced around $68 at the moment. Ha :)

  5. Anyone try the Trader Joe’s Petite Reserver Pinot Noir Monterey 2009? Saw it today for the first time in the store.

  6. @AN: Yeah, it has pretty nice flavor, but is fairly hot on the finish. Can’t recommend it.

    If you’re willing to spend a few dollars more, look for the Isay Peak Pinot Noir ($9.99)
    A well known Central Coast producer had some extra juice, slapped a brand label they had lying around and y’all can potentially save $6.

    Our Summer Flyer hits tomorrow and I’m doing a Tasting for the Crew on Thursday. I’ll report back ASAP.

  7. We should be getting this one in shortly, along with the Hamilton Stevens Dry Creek Valley Zin (a return appearance for this one).

    Don’t know who produces the Zin, but the last time we had it in our store, it practically flew off the shelf. If you can find it, buy it! If was one of my all-time faves.

  8. @Kristi Well I’ll certainly let you know if I find any great details. My favorite runs around $30.

    @JongS Indeed they do not, thanks for the kind words

    @AN I did try it and guessing they maxed out on including other grapes. Didn’t seem very Pinot-y to me.

    @Angela I saw the Islay Peak is Edna Valley juice, did you try it yet?

    @PeterB I’ll definitely keep my eye out for the Zin when shopping this weekend.

  9. @Jason: Yeah, the Islay Peak was pretty good for the price point. Nothing too complex, but light and easy-drinking. Definitely “New World”

  10. Pingback: ForageSF Dinner: Friday, July 16, 2010 « Our Food Choices™

  11. Hey Jason,
    Ya this is my new under $10 maybe even under $20 PNO. It has much more mouthfeel than Castle Rock and a dollar less. I’ve reluctantly even paid $30 a bottle in restaurants for Castle Rock as it is a reasonable consistent pour when dinning out. One of my favorites is the 08′ or 07′ Babcock Snta Rita Hills Estate Grand Cuvee’ PNO @ $35. It’s outstanding and very consistent. But tell me how did you find out the behind the scene on the juice. If true it is definitely case worthy. Peace!

  12. Yeah, the Hamilton-Stevens Zin came and went far too quickly. People were buying cases left and right.

    One fellow raved about how it reminded him of what Ridge used to taste like, and then bought 4 cases, returning right after putting them in his car to buy another 2!

    I only have a couple of cases stashed (one of which is being rapidly depleted).

  13. As far as their Pinot is concerned, I find it quite serviceable, but no great shakes. A good pinot for the money but not a great wine for that price. The Zin, however, IS a great wine at the same price.

    I should add that I have a hard time liking cheap Pinot Noirs since most remind me of light grape juice with a little cherry and/or strawberry juice thrown in.

    Acacia Carneros, on the other hand. leaves me dreamy eyed.

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