2009 Sebastopol Hills Pinot Noir

Price: $9.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2009 Sebastopol Hills Pinot NoirPer Trader Joe’s Food Pilgrimager “Last year, our buyers procured a limited quantity of Sebastopol Hills Pinot for an unmatched in the market price. As quickly as the word got out, the wine ran out. It happens. But it also happens that because we approach our partnerships with respect and prompt payment, we were able to do it again! (It helps, too, that we prefer a great price per bottle to a prominent vineyard on a label.) Our Sonoma County Sebastopol Hills Pinot Noir is ripe and fleshy. Aged in French oak for 10 months, it’s well structured. And at $9.99 for a 750 ml bottle, it’s very well priced.”

What I Think:

As mentioned in my review of the ’08 I was able to trace this offering back to Willowbrook Cellars where their standard bottle goes for $24. I was a fan of the ’08 but am always apprehensive when the next vintage arrives (see below for my reasoning). Given that I was curious to see how the ’09 would play out. Here were my notes…

(14.5%) Loads of orange rind, currant and cranberries on the nose. Medium to full bodied on the palate with juicy blueberry fruit and more orange rind flavors along the edges. The mouth feel is smooth and creamy showing just a bit of heat from the barrel. The finish is short but pleasant and lingers on warmly. Given the big fruit and big style (what I call “Pinot on Steroids” which I think I lifted from @RobertDwyer) I suspect this one is getting some help from another varietal or two. A nice wine for sure but I prefer the Picket Fence which I felt was a bit more varietally correct (and it’s a buck cheaper). That said if that weren’t available I’d probably be grabbing some more of this one.

Now back to my new vintage apprehension. When comparing this to the previous vintage I’m guessing the ’08 was the real deal. As in a wine that was made from day one with the intention of being labeled “Willowbrook Cellars”. On the other hand I’m guessing this one was made for Trader Joe’s from the get go. That would likely mean two things: 1) trying to scale production while 2) trying to maintain the price point. And therein lies the conundrum of a successful wine offering at Trader Joe’s From that perspective they did a pretty admirable job of maintaining quality while scaling production. Wonder what the 2010 will be like…

Rating: Pricey

Interested in reading more about the Sebastopol Hills Pinot Noir?

  • Good Cheap Vino prefers the Sebastopol Hills to the Picket Fence
  • WineBites likes the Sebastopol Hills but wishes they had made a wine with more subtle complexity
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14 thoughts on “2009 Sebastopol Hills Pinot Noir

  1. I agree, a little pricey for a Pinot Noir that’s not very good in my opinion. Jason you have to try (if you can find it near you) the Trader Joe’s Reserve Old Vine Garnacha for $9.99. It might just be me but this wine is really nice. Garnacha is usually on the lighter side for a grape but this wine has good body to it. Very well balanced.

  2. Interesting points on this ’09 Sebastopol….and why we aren’t huge fans of it, we have secretly bought cases of the 2007 Pickett Fence Russian River Pinot Noir. For $9 it is truly fantastic…nevermind the fact that they should have cold stabilized it…that sediment can be picked out at that price! Cheers. -The Crew at 19.

  3. The garnacha is from Bodega Virgen De La Sierra, Calatayud, Denominacion of Origin. It’s the first international offering I’ve seen under TJ’s own Reserve offering. I enjoyed it, as well.

    • Going international. I fully expected this would be a California and was finding myself slightly confused by the “Old Vine” mention for garnacha given that. These are the same producers who were behind the Condessa de Sarabella label. Are you going to buy again?

  4. I initially bought two bottles of the garnacha: I enjoy Spanish wines, and it came recommended. But I still haven’t touched the second bottle. There are just too many other great wines out there, including the Henry’s Drive 2006 Reserve Shiraz I picked up this morning.

    That one won’t last long.

  5. 2009 Sebastopol Hills Pinot. I think this wine is a tremendous value, if you like big pinots. I agree it probably has Zin or Petite Sirah addded, so maybe not a good recommendation for purists.
    My notes are: A deep ruby color, opening on the nose with blackberry and spicebox. The palate opens with luscious sweet creme de cassis, followed by blackberry, and finishes with liqourice and a bit of white pepper. Intriguing, if you ask me. I think the grapes were probably picked a little too late, but there seems to be enough acidity or tannin to keep almost enough brightness. For the price, I don’t see how you can beat it, though I haven’t tried your “Picket Fence”.

  6. @Andy I’ve yet to see that Henry’s Drive… Hopefully sometime soon before it disappears.

    @Jack Glad to hear you like it. If I didn’t have the Picket Fence to compare it to I would have likely been a far bigger fan as this was certainly a nice wine. Did you get a chance to try the Picket Fence? If you do I would love to hear your thoughts/comparison.

  7. That 09 Old Vine Reserve Granacha from Virgen De La Sierra is really a find. One of the managers at TJ’s said he served it to his staff at a dinner, and everybody agreed it was splendid.

    I can’t believe how beautifully it opened after twenty minutes or so. Couldn’t guess that it is 15% alc. Not hot or overly tannic. I am going back for more in a couple of days. Don’t remember how much it was though?


  8. I tried the 2009 Sebastopol Hill Pinot and hated it from the first sip – actually tossed the rest of the glass and the pored the remaining bottle down the drain.

    • Sorry to hear that Paula! Do you have any Pinots in the $10 price range you have enjoyed of late? TJ’s has a few others on offer; mainly the Picket Fence and Trader Joe’s Pinot Noir Reserve Carneros. Have you tried either of those? If so what did you think?

  9. Never drank the 2008, but the 2009 is dishwater apparently resting on the laurels of earlier glories. Avoid it.

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