Tasting – Mark West Pinot Noir


Mark West – Pinot Noir – Oakville, California – 2016 – $12.99

This was the #1 recommended Pinot Noir from TWO different employees at Corkscrew Wine & Spirits in Norman, so of course I had to buy it. And for only $12.99, I couldn’t beat it. The same manager that always helps me was there and he was really nice when helping me decide which wine to buy. I didn’t have a specific type I wanted to try, so I just told him something not super tannic, because I’ve been drinking really full reds lately. He suggested two different Pinot Noirs – one was the more traditional California Pinot Noir that was really sweet and fruity, but this Mark West bottle was noted as having toffee, mocha, vanilla, and caramel tastes and is a wine with deeper cherry and dark fruit notes. I was more drawn to that and I’m actually very excited to see if I can taste the candy flavors. This Pinot Noir should be really soft and light and almost not tannic at all – I think it’ll be good with the honey balsamic brussel sprouts I made for dinner. Let’s see!

Critic Review: The deepest, darkest, smoothest Pinot in our collection, with notes of black cherries, plums, mocha, vanilla, and caramel.

Winemaking Notes: Grapes for this darker side of Pinot come from premier, cool-climate growing regions in Monterey County. After harvest, we put our grapes through a French process called “Saignée.” What is Saignée, you ask? Well, it’s when some of the lighter colored wine is removed before it has time to soak into the grape skins. And why would you do that, you may ask? To give it its deep, full-bodied flavor and dark color—because we all know that Black is the new Noir.

The back of the bottle reads, “With this Pinot, our winemaker styled a dark, full-bodied and smooth wine. Look for aromas and flavors of ripe black plums and blackberries along with mocha and vanilla notes from eight months of aging in French oak.” I just learned about the aging period in barrels and how they can add flavor to a wine, but I thought it was all a myth. Wow, these winemakers really have this thing down to a science…

My Review:

This is the first Pinot Noir I have tried that I have been aware of what I was drinking — after beginning this class I realized that I think I’ve tried almost all of these wines before at some point in my life but I never paid attention to what I was drinking or how it made me feel, so it all seemed the same to me. Now that I’m actually paying attention, I love the wine world!

The smell of this wine is really unique, and I’m having a hard time putting my finger on it. I smell no alcohol, which is usually my chief complaint with wines. The smell is rather smokey, like a leather-scented candle that was just blown out. The taste was very unique and I totally understand what they mean by the “Black” label. The wine is not tannic at all and very easy to drink; super smooth and refreshing. The flavor profile is complex, because there is the initial bitterness from the leather but followed by sweetness from the plum and the mocha. I can very easily detect the notes that the critics claimed would be there, which is really interesting. It has taken virtually no time to train my tongue to notice things that it didn’t used to. And this wine pairs very nicely with my brussel sprouts, because they are just the right amount of sweetness to counter the smokiness of the wine. I could easily drink this whole bottle right now, and I just might.