2007 Picket Fence Pinot Noir

Price: $8.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2007 Picket Fence Pinot NoirPer Picket Fence “This wine has an elegant, pure fruit forward style with the brilliant intensity of rich mouthwatering Bing cherry, blackberry and spice. The luxurious density, beautiful structure and velvety texture on the palate are hallmarks of this vintage and make this wine a superlative example of Russian River Valley Pinot.” – Don Van Staaveren, Winemaker

What I Think:

Really? The winery is selling this one for $30 a bottle on their site (see above link). As if that isn’t bad enough they are making you buy 3 bottles at a time. Typically (warning marketing speak ahead) customers that buy direct are your most valuable (and deliver the highest profit margin). They deserve special consideration instead of getting an extra $20 lifted out of their wallet for each bottle. If I am a winery and I have to unload wine I am making sure that I am sharing those same prices with my most loyal customers. I could go on and on about how wrong this is on so many levels. That said I’ll spare you. Let’s get to the wine…

Warm spice and tart cranberry notes on the nose. The palate starts with surprising weight given how light it looks in the glass. This wine is wound tight with cranberry flavors that merge with bright cherry overtones. The mid-palate shows flashes of cola acidity to keep it nicely balanced. From there the barrel notes emerge and lead to a nice creamy, vanilla finish.

Most Pinots in this price range are what I refer to as “on steroids” with heavier grapes (e.g. Petite Sirah) blended in (see Fin, Blue). This one is a very nice example of what much more expensive Pinot’s deliver. Load up (if you can) and pop one open whenever the mood strikes you. Better yet if you are looking for a Thanksgiving wine on a budget (it is November) look no further!

Rating: Buy It <- And I'm not the only one who thinks so. Interested in reading more about the Picket Fence Pinot Noir? Check out what Robert Dwyer had to say over on the Wellesley Wine Press.

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55 thoughts on “2007 Picket Fence Pinot Noir

  1. Wow, I don’t think we could have agreed more on a wine. Awesome to compare notes with you. Keeping an eye out at the east coast TJs for more value plays like this one – it seems outside their normal exclusive brand playbook.

    Good points about the winery selling this one way cheaper at TJs than they’d offer direct. Very strange.

    • Just re-read your post and we did indeed find this one similar. Just provides further evidence that our disagreement on the MacMurray Pinot must have been a flawed bottle on your end (or a flawed palate on mine ;-)

      When I first read the “500 Barrels” on the bottle they got me. I thought it was cases and based on that was surprised it made it out your way. As for more value plays keep an eye out for the one Anglea recommended in the comments on your site. Her’s is a palate that can be trusted. I’m hoping to grab a bottle of that one on the way home tonight!

  2. “Good points about the winery selling this one way cheaper at TJs than they’d offer direct. Very strange.”

    This actually happens alot for Trader Joe’s. A good example of this right now would be the Leonhardt Zin we have for $9.99. The winery sells it for $49.99. We also had a wine Trinitas Mataro Old Vine for $9.99. I had a girl come through my line and tell me she is a family friend of the owners of the winery and she couldn’t even get it from the owners at this price. I’ve seen prices from $26.99 to $29.99 for the Trinitas.

    • It does happen quite a bit and it troubles me more each time I see it as I find it disrespectful. That said I guess it is a good thing for those of us shopping at TJ’s. I’d just hate to be the Picket Fence wine club member who paid $90 for three bottles direct from the winery rather than for 10 bottles from Trader Joe’s.

      My example of who always gets this right is Rabbit Ridge and their Allure de Robles. Their direct customers get the same price as those people that buy at Trader Joe’s…

  3. hmmmm, I found this wine’s alcohol a bit too high for my liking. It seemed to mask most typical pinot characteristics which make this wine so appealing to drinkers. I did a side by side taste with the TJ’s Pinot from Carneros…hands down the Carneros Pinot was far more appealing right out of the bottle. After a few days, the Picket Fence seemed to calm down a bit, I should have decanted right away. I did the background on the Carneros Pinot, all signs point to a Bouchaine Vineyards. For the extra dollar, I found the Carneros Pinot a far greater value and ready to drink right out of the bottle. And yea, $30 at the vineyard and $10 at TJs? Reminds me how much wine is a value based item as opposed to cost based product. But I won’t complain about a solid deal!

  4. I agree with Matt above, but maybe its my taste, both are good but the picket has less integration. We did a tasting of both bottles, I dont drink Pinot much, but as for red wine these are value buys at under $10 for sure. Decant.

  5. Howdy all,

    Today the new flyer hits and 8 new wines are in play in NCA. I’ve got a Tasting scheduled for Thursday and I’ll report back.

    Here’s the lineup:
    2009 Poet’s Row Cabernet: $8.99
    2009 Poet’s Row Merlot: $8.99
    2009 Poet’s Row Chardonnay: $6.99
    2009 Poet’s Row Viognier: $6.99
    Louise D’Estree Sparkling Rouge: $6.99
    2009 Sebastopol Hills Pinot Noir: $9.99
    Villa Carlotti Prosseco: $6.99
    (Not remembering producer)2009 Chateauneuf-du-Pape: $9.99!

  6. @Angela, what’d you think of the Picket Fence Pinot? I found the Picket Fence Chard to high abv, too much oak and just not that great. VINTJS Chalk Hill….now that’ some quality! Looking forward to trying the new goodies…

    @Jason, it’s really funny how often people come into the store looking for wines they find on this site. There was a case of Picket Fence Pinot ordered for someone yesterday…no doubt I know what swayed that choice… You’re site has influence and reach! Bravo/Kudos!

  7. I tried that 9.99 CDP last night. Very thin when first opened but I ran it through the Vinturi and it wasn’t half bad for the price!

  8. “It wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t impressed.”–This was a review of the Picket Fence Pinot Noir served at Thanksgiving by a family member located in Washington State 2,000 miles north of me. I’ve noticed few, if any, positive comments about this wine from readers of Jason’s Wine Blog. —which seems odd for the #1 wine listed in the current Trader Joe’s Top 10 by Jason.–Not all was lost for my close relative, however, because King Shag Sauvignon Blanc was also served and that was the hands down delight and favorite.

    • Danny,

      Very interesting feedback on the Picket Fence Pinot. I’m all about finding that intersection of interesting high quality wines at low prices – but I also like to serve my friends wines they really enjoy. Have you had it yourself?

      I think it’s “very good” but not outstanding for my palate, and in terms of it being a crowd pleaser it might not do as well because it’s a little lean compared to some other CA Pinots.

      Ken Hoggins liked it at $30( http://www.kenswineguide.com/wine_review/Picket_Fence_2007_Pinot_Noir ) so when I think of the same wine at $8.99 I still consider it a very good value.

      The Belle Glos Meiomi at $19.99 has been, for me, a reliable “oh that’s *delicious*” Pinot but it’s twice as much as the Picket Fence.

      Trying to think of a luscious crowd pleasing Pinot Noir around $10… Maybe the Michael Pozzan Annabella? That comes in around $11.99 in MA if you shop around (and I haven’t seen it at TJ’s) but I think that’s the best I’ve found in this range the past year. I’d still like to try Angela’s recommendation of the 2008 TJ’s Reserve Carneros Pinot Noir but I haven’t been to TJ’s recently.

      • Yes, Robert, I’ve had the $12 Annabelle Pinot Noir and I enjoyed it very, very much. I could have purchased more of it before it disappeared from the shelves last year, but I was loading up instead at the time on a fantastic and beautiful $6 Pinot Noir, Pepperwood Grove’s 2008 Valle Central (Chile)–which is now long gone from the stores and which I initially found as a recommendation on RJ’s wine blog in November 2009. Thanks for your thoughts and insights.

    • Do I think it is an impressive wine? No but I do think it is a very nice wine for the money. In the fact I’ve paid 3 times a much for Pinot I didn’t enjoy as much. The fact that it is/was available from coast to coast certainly played a factor in the #1 ranking as well but I hate to disappoint anyone much less yet you. That said I’m glad the King Shag delivered. Did you get to try the Steelhead Sauv Blanc?

      • Hi, Jason. I didn’t see your comment here on the Steelhead sauvignon blanc until just now . Yes, I tried it. Sorry to say that most of that one was poured down the drain.

  9. Danny, one factor is that this wine was no longer available in many locations by the time Jason posted his review. I recall there may have been positive chatter about it in the comments of other posts. FWIW I was very impressed, but Caretaker may be more of an easy-drinking, crowd-pleasing pinot noir.

    • Robert,
      The next iteration of the Pepperwood Grove pint noir was sourced from Italy and it’s horrible, believe me. But thanks for the heads up on the 2009 Annabelle. It’s available at my local “BevMo, 119 bottles in stock at $11.99. Because of your comment, I think I’ll pickup a bottle up and see how it goes. Best

    • Jason, Robert,
      Sorry to say I found the 2009 Michael Pozzen Annabella Pinot Nor to be a big disappointment. Despite a beautiful dark purple color and some Burgundian notes, flavors of asphalt and stones overpowered some nice fruit flavors. Also, the wine lacked acidity and had very little aroma. Save your money for something better.

      • Danny, you are NUTS. ;) Just teasing. Different palates and preferences is what makes this wine game fun.

        The 07 Annabella has a CT community average of 89 whereas the 08 drops down to 86. I think the 09 will trend more towards 89 but of course it all depends on what you’re looking for in a CA Pinot Noir. For me, it hits the mark.

        I looked back at my CellarTracker notes of Pinot Noirs I’ve tasted this year. Out of 55 notes, I can’t find a widely available sub-$15 wine that performed as well. There’s a few I caught on closeouts or deals that come close (05 August Cellars, 08 Blue Jay Ranch, 06 Londer, older Carmel Road Arroyo Seco, etc). But they were kind of one-off buys probably not available in a lot of markets.

        I wasn’t clear from your comment whether your friends didn’t like the Picket Fence -or- you didn’t like the Picket Fence. Could you clarify?


      • Danny did you try the Sebastopol Hills or TJ’s Carneros Pinot? Any Pinot’s in the under $15 neighborhood you have found impressive as of late? I checked my tasting notes as well and the last I could find is the Davis Bynum that was previously available at Trader Joe’s for $15. I think I am going to try the Robert Stemmler (tjs, $20) this year. Have you tried that one yet?

        • Jason, I haven’t tried the TJs Carneros, nor the Sebastopol Hills (nor the Picket Fence, for that matter, because the reviews of them are not exactly appealing to me. I’ve not tried the Stemmler, yet, either. The only under $20 I can recommend is the Ponzi (Willamette Valley, Oregon), but even that lacks the Wow factor I look for in a Pinot Noir. Sadly, prices these days for a good Pinot Noir, like prices for a good Zinfandel, seem to start in a range from the high $20s the $60s, IMHO. Oh for the good old California wine glut days in the early 2000s when huge amounts of quality Pinot Noir grapes were being dumped on the market with a result that a fantastic Pinot Noir for $5 could be had at TJs under the JW Morris label

  10. And speaking of Pinots and other things:

    Vorte Sante by Coppola is a VERY light, tasty wine that’s easy to drink and has a really pretty bottle.
    “Regular” retail: $24 TJ’s: $6.99
    There is also a Chardonnay that has some nice minerality & friut to it, but again not too complex. “Regular” retail: $20 TJ’s :$6.99
    A nice bottle for “Company” wine: Those people who don’t know a lot about wine but sure like to drink lots of it.

    BTW, the Carneros Pinot on Day 3 was so good I had a monster glass and finished the bottle. Great with cheese and chocolate as well. : )

    TJ’s Reserve Rutherford Chardonnay: $9.99
    A more traditional California style with some oak up front but mellowing out into a decent effort for that style.

    2009 VINTJS Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon: $8.99: Quite friut-forward, almost jammy, but in a good way. Smooth, easy tannins that don’t get in the way of the friut, but also help hold this wine together. Went quite well with the chocolate cupcakes. One of the favorites.

    2008 TJ’s Grand Reserve Napa Meritage: $12.99
    71% Cabernet, 23% Merlot with Petit Sirah(?), Malbec & Petit Verdot rounding out the line-up.
    Pretty yummy. Friut forward as well, but more subdued than the Rutherford. Will definitely need decanting since the longer the bottle was opened, the more aromas and flavors developed. Too bad I left my Vinturi at home that day. Our First Mate Clive, one of our resident Big Red guys really liked this one.
    I wouldn’t mind getting or giving this as a gift, especially if there was a nice steak and a chocolate ganache cake in my future.

    We’ve got a Demi-Sec Sparkling Red from Germany in the flyer right now (4.99) that is fairly light, not too syrupy and would make a nice party punch or Sangria. WARNING: Open over sink or outside. Lost half the bottle on the floor and a couple of crew members.

    This year’s Vintage Ale had good flavor to it, but is much lighter than last year. More like a porter to an amber with lighter citrus & spice notes, many of the lighter beer-drinking crew really enjoyed it. Myself, I miss the ’09.

    Hoping for more wine tomorrow.
    I’ll post when I can.

    • Thanks for all the notes Angela! Just saw a bunch of these in the flyer that arrived here tonight and appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I have another bottle of the Carneros Pinot here that I will open some time soon so I can publish a proper review.

  11. TJ’s has decided to stop selling the red Schloss Biebrich due to excess carbonation causing the kind of problem Angela described. Hopefully this can be resolved in future batches. Supply of the regular white Schloss is not affected.

  12. In the flyer on the east cost too. My store was able to refuse deliver, but this has to be a huge headache for TJ’s. For the winery to allow such a glaring flaw…I hope this doesn’t cause us to break off relations with them on the regular white Schloss.

  13. I just recently found this blog/site and really enjoy the comments and feedback! I have also recently started to drink a lot of Pinot’s and love all the great coverage here!
    Jason, one of my “all time” favorites vintage after vintage from TJ is a Chianti Classico called “Lamole di Lamole” $9.99 and always truly great for the price.
    I will be watching this page from now on! Great work and great “real life” comments from all. Fresh!

    • @SkiBootGuy Thanks for the compliment on the site and am happy to have you participating. We have a great group of people here. I’ll check into the Lamole di Lamole Chianti next time I’m at TJ’s. Anyone else out there a fan? btw, glad to hear you enjoyed the Picket Fence!

  14. Love the Picket fence! Picked up a few bottles here in Laguna Beach (Dana Point TJ’s). My wife went WOW as well and she can be hard to please. I’m going tomorrow to clean em out!

  15. To Rob Dwyer, If you could find a 2008 Beringer Calif. collection Pinot, that one is also good stuff for an entry level Pinot. Tried Picket Fence, tannins are are still very dominant on the finish but good fruit and acidity balance. Could use some cellaring.

    Has anyone tried the 06 Henry’s Drive Shiraz ?


    • @RMN thanks for the tip! I’ll keep an eye out for that 08 Beringer Pinot.

      PS Only experience with Henry’s Drive is their Dead Letter Office bottling which I recall as being pretty tasty.


    • @RMN I happened to see an affordable bottle of Beringer Pinot Noir yesterday so I picked it up. It was a Founder’s Estate rather than a California Collection bottling so I can’t compare notes with the exact wine you recommended. However, I thought it was a good $7.99 bottle of Pinot Noir. Interestingly, it’s labeled as a Pinot Noir but listed on their website as being a Pinot Noir/Syrah blend.

      Anyway – thanks for the recommendation. I’ll continue to keep an eye out for the California Collection. Cheers.

  16. I enjoyed the 07 Picket Fence for what it was, but at $30 I don’t think the “wow” factor would be there. (Inside joke for you fellow crew members who read this blog)

    For you West Coast TJ’s shoppers, check out the Tribunal Red Blend if you want something big and intense. Just give it a few hours of open time first.

    • I want to be on the inside! Even not being I wasn’t “wowed” by any mean though it is a nice wine. I added the Tribunal Red to my list. Hopefully I can grab it this weekend. Thanks for the tip! When you have more send them my way ;-)

      Thanks for the comment Beau!

  17. Just got the first 10 cases of Tribunal Red in this week and it is already gone. Don’t know how much of it is available, but if you find it, buy it. I’ve heard rumors that it was produced by Orin Swift. I will look into this further.

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