Do you ever think about what course for your life would you select if you knew back in high school what you know now?
For me, if I had a time machine I would travel back in time and enroll at the University of California-Fresno and study oneology, the history and appreciation of wines, in the midst of the richest grape growing region in the country.
While time machine research and development in this country has been sadly deficient, I can still recommend great wines. And one of my favorites is Mark West Pinot Noir. This is a special occasion wine for me because it just barely surpasses my self-imposed price limit of $7.99/bottle: I paid $8.06 for a bottle at my local discount liquor store recently.
But spending the extra 7 cents was worth it. Decent pinot noirs are generally more expensive than other wines, usually $20 and up. Part of that has to do with their skyrocketing popularity after the 2004 movie “Sideways” festishized pinot noirs.
Other than Mark West, any pinot noir I’ve found for less than $10 doesn’t taste the way pinot noirs should taste. Typically they have a distinctive black cherry flavor, which the Mark West definitely has. Pinot noir always reminds me of the black cherry soda I would drink when I was young.
Wines from the Burgundy region of France are made from pinot noir grapes. But back in the 1970s, California pinot noir enthusiasts Bob and Joan Ellis found an area next to the Mark West Creek in the Russian River Vally region os Sonoma Valley, California, that they felt perfectly reproduced the growing conditions of Burgundy. This wine is made from the grapes they planted.
In 1990, the Mark West Winery became the first to be certified organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers. Which is all very nice, but what’s even nicer is the flavor and the price of this wine. For my money, there aren’t many better values out there.
We have even frequently give this wine as holiday gifts because it tastes like it costs several times what we paid for it.
If you like pinot noirs and are tired of paying inflated prices because of some dumb movie, or sick of buying inexpensive pinot noirs only to be disappointed later when they don’t taste the way they are supposed to, do what I did: Spend the extra 7 cents and give Mark West Pinot Noir a try.