Castle Rock Central Coast Pinot Noir

Wine: Castle Rock Central Coast pinot noir

Grape: Pinot noir

Region: Central Coast, Calif.

Vintage: 2009

Price: $7.99

Availability: Lee’s Discount Liquors

In the glass: Castle Rock Central Coast pinot noir is a deep crimson-red color with a fine semiopaque core going out into a light, slightly garnet-tinted rim definition with medium-high viscosity.

On the nose: The wine features pure pinot character with crushed red berries, cranberry souffle, pomegranate seeds, red currant jelly, and underlying hints of toast, warm cherry juice and touches of fruit-driven minerals.

On the palate: This wine is lovely and rounded with supple red fruits intermingling with cherry juice and soft hints of wood. The structure is more than sound and it carries it through the solid midpalate with nice pinot character and classic notes of crushed red flowers and some spice notes. The finish is lovely and lingering.

Odds and ends: Finally, a California pinot noir that actually tastes like a true pinot noir from whence it hails, namely Burgundy, France. Castle Rock Central Coast pinot noir has all the characteristics of a wine coming from the famous Chambolle-Musigny appellation of the Cote d’Or. While that area of France is home to legendary vineyards, the Central Coast in California is more modestly endowed, albeit in this case to the point where the wine is a tremendous pleasure to drink. For me, it is important that a winemaker stays true to the original intent of the grape variety. Far too many pinot noirs from California taste like syrah and petite sirah, and that annoys me. I understand that under normal circumstances the climate in California is much balmier than in rugged Burgundy, but just because you get riper fruit does not mean that you have to tweak it to such an extent that it oozes residual sugars and megaconcentrated flavors. Castle Rock is much more elegant and supple, yet with good fruit character. It is one of the finest and most exciting bargain-priced propositions that I have come across in a long time and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Since grill season is in full swing, you should try this with a classic salmon fillet on a cedar plank on the grill, lightly seasoned and accompanied by brown rice and some butter-dill sauce. Drink it now through 2015.

Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at

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