2019 Sunny With A Chance Of Flowers “Positivity” Pinot Noir, Monterey, California (Alcohol 9%, Residual Sugar 0.0 g/l) LCBO $17.95 (750ml bottle)
So, firstly I’ll have to be quite frank and admit that usually when someone mentions low-alcohol wine I’ll pull a gentle smirk not dissimilar to that of a Gene Wilder Willi Wonka meme. Now, it’s not that I disparage the “Better For You” category itself, but more that I have previously found such efforts to be seriously lacking in… well… everything that makes wine enjoyable; it’s as if the actual process of dealcoholization strips out the very soul of every wine it touches (for my particular palate anyway).
Which brings me to the Sunny With A Chance Of Flowers “Positivity” Pinot Noir.
In my experience, it’s rare for a sub-$25 Pinot Noir to express anything approaching varietal expression. With this in mind, to find a $17.95 bone-dry Monterey Pinot that’s had it’s alcohol reduced, and still sings of glorious Pinot fruit is something to be celebrated.
In the last decade or so The Golden State has been responsible for some of the most egregiously vinified Pinots the world has ever seen. And sure, there’s obviously an audience for almost black, sickly-sweet (17+ g/l), high-alcohol (>14.5%), and hyper-oaked “loaded for bear” Pinot Noirs, but for me that’s certainly not what that particular grape is all about, quite the opposite actually.
Chilled down, this unashamedly simple, bright, fruit-driven, lightly oaked bottling is just the thing for summer nights on the deck/dock.
Exhibiting loads of lifted red cherry, raspberry, and cinnamon/nutmeg on the nose, the palate is light-to-medium-bodied, with a core of pomegranate and sour cherries. The acid is pretty up there, just where I like it, and the tannins are soft and most enjoyable. The medium finish echoes the warm wood spice found on the bouquet.
I’m surprised at just how balanced this wine ends up being, and probably put this down to vigneron Heidi Scheid’s proprietary take on reverse osmosis. Eschewing spinning cones, and thus avoiding those dreaded “burnt popcorn” aromatics, and dilution (a practice much more common than one would imagine), Heidi’s RO system is a more gradual one that she believes leaves the aromatics and flavours relatively intact, and I have to give it to her, despite the removal of alcohol, it certainly smells and tastes like Monterey Pinot.
I’m sent a lot of wines to taste from our Good Food Fighters (read: invited sponsors), and if I’m not fond of one of them I simply don’t write about it; so I don’t rate wines favourably simply because they are carried by our supporters. This one, on the other hand, is a discovery that I wanted to share with our readership, as it certainly perplexed me. I never thought I’d say this, but in this wine I’ve found an extremely well-crafted low-alcohol Pinot that actually performs like Pinot. Impressive stuff. Oh yes, and it’s a snip at only $17.95.
(Three and half apples out of a possible five)
Heidi Scheid’s Sunny wines are represented in Ontario by Dionysus Wines And Spirits.
Dionysus Wines And Spirits are a Good Food Fighter.
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