Estancia Pinot Noir & Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

This is a special Surdyk’s sale report so I’ll [try to] be brief. You have until 10 pm Saturday (1/28) to take advantage of several great deals but I’ll talk about a couple.

Estancia’s Pinot Noir – here is a pleasant, unassuming Pinot from a big wine producer in Central California found near Monterey’s Pacific Coast.  Normally I stay away from Estancia. I don’t know why. I think I attribute big corporate California winery to sub-par wine. Oops, there is the snob coming out.

However, I made an exception because this Pinot is normally $17.99 and right now it is $9.99 at Surdyks. The store advertised they have a surplus due to an overloaded inventory and they got a smokin’ deal from some sales guys who haven’t met their 2011 quotas. What does that equal? A friggin’ great deal for us! They actually have deals on Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. I should have picked up a couple others to review but this sale runs quickly and I saw a few other deals I wanted to try.

Let’s bring this review back to the Pinot. I’ve been seeking a budget Pinot [under $15]. This one is mild – flavors of black cherry, plum and possibly blueberry. The finish isn’t long, meaning the taste doesn’t linger. I have to say this is a “Plain Jane” Pinot Noir. But hell, a Pinot that is decent for $10? Buy a couple. If you are a huge Pinot fan and you buy bottles around $25 or more [ie: Four Graces – a personal LOVE] you may find this incredibly light and boring. Perhaps this could be your everyday Pinot. But for the rest of us, it’s pleasing and unpretentious.

I stopped in the cheese shop on the way out to treat myself. I asked the cheesemonger (love that term) seems so medieval. Anyway, I asked her what she’s been enjoying lately and pointed me toward this Vermont Clothbound Cheddar and said it paired well with Pinot, so I picked it up. Mild, hard and a little crystallized; it is a Plain Jane cheese that went well with this Plain Jane Pinot. I’m not inferring that “Plain Jane” is a bad thing; sometimes all we want is simple and not labyrinthine. Go buy a hunk to eat all weekend along with your Pinot Noir. I have to admit, bypass the lines of folks cramped into that little cheese shop like rich sardines and walk a block East over to Lunds. Talk to Liz, the cheese gal. She’s very personable, zany and knows her cheeses! Plus, she’ll give you a nice sized sample, unlike the sophomore cheesemonger at Surdyks who sliced a cheese so thin you could see right through it like a veil and could hardly taste it. Lastly, the prices are a bit better at Lunds, too. Hmm – better service and better prices, seems like a no brainer.

In truth, if I could choose my night all over again – pick up this Montepulciano d’Abruzzo for $6.99.

I am taking you from Cali to the East Central region of Italy for this red that is a bit dry but not too strong, acidic or fruity. It is really drinkable and goes with so much. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is Italy’s equivalent to Argentina’s Malbec. You can drink this now and it is a great value! I suggest pairing with some gorgonzola dolce or pecorino fresco from Lund’s. Or, tell Liz what you are drinking and she’ll shave a few samples for you to decide. She will probably tell you about the farm where the cheese is produced. You’ll really enjoy a red wine with more depth of flavor along with a sweeter gorgonzola [dolce = sweet in Italian]. It’s less money, yet so much more rewarding!