Wine review: Harlow Ridge Pinot Noir 2008

The Bronco Wine Co. is most famous for its Two Buck Chuck, the $1.99 wine that is sold only at Trader Joe’s (and that costs as much $3.49 in states other than California). I have never been much impressed by Two Buck Chuck, and have always thought that Bronco’s best wines were the ones that cost around $10.

One of those is Forest Glen, which I tasted earlier this year while judging a wine competition in New York state. It was solid, quality $10 red wine, made mostly, I think, for restaurant sales. Another is the Harlow Ridge pinot noir (available at Centennial, Sigel’s, Majestic, and Goody Goody), which was sitting in the back of the wine closet and I found by accident. In fact, I’m not quite sure how it got there.

But it was worth finding, a surprisingly drinkable $10 pinot. The wine tasted more like pinot than it should — especially since it’s from Lodi, which is usually too warm for quality pinot grapes to thrive. Plus, it’s very low in alcohol at 12.5 percent, has more fruit (strawberry?) than some $30 pinots I’ve tasted lately, and was not unpleasant in any way. Which is an important consideration with pinot at this price. A contender for the $10 Hall of Fame.

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Serve this on its own before dinner or with burgers, pizza or any weeknight red wine dinner.

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