Thursday, November 25, 2010


Queen Of Hearts Pinot Noir

The label and name on this Santa Barbara County red wine were unfamiliar to me when I picked it up at Whole Foods, but I couldn’t help but notice the Queen Of Hearts winery address was given as Buellton, CA.  Buellton is sort of a “gateway to wine country” town located just off the 101 freeway between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.
Turns out, it’s a Lucas and Lewellen Vinyards brand.  Winemaker Megan McGrath promises a nose of blackberry, black cherry and cola, with flavors of plum, strawberry and spice.

This Pinot Noir is a medium ruby color which I can see right through.  On the nose, raspberry and strawberry lead the way.  There’s an awful lot of heat noticeable in the aromas, even a half hour after pouring.  On the palate the fruit is as bright and perky as it can be, in fact it’s delicious.  An alcohol burn, unfortunately, spoils it.

It finally settles down after an hour.  Again, the taste is so bright and fruity, it’s hard to find fault.  But as juicy and fruity as it is, there is a decided lack of minerals.  An earthy layer would really add another dimension to the wine’s taste.

To compound things, the wine seems overoaked and fakey.  Fighting through the alcohol haze on the nose are a boatload of spicy aromas.  The spice and alcohol mix for a medicinal smell. 

In fairness, after two hours, this wine is much more approachable.  Two hours, however, is a long time to wait for a glass of wine to become drinkable.  Even on the second night it was open, the wait was over an hour before it was pleasurable to drink.  And it still seemed somewhat overoaked.

All this would be unremarkable in a wine that cost $5.  Queen Of Hearts sells for $15 - not a lot for Pinot Noir.  Still, I couldn't help but wish more had been delivered.

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