In case you weren’t aware, pinot noir has a couple different faces it can show. As I mentioned when I paired its duality with Moonlighting, there are more fruit-forward pinots, and earthier, subtler pinots.
I tend to like them both for different reasons, but if I was pushed to choose, I would go with the earthy, mushroomy, a little dirty version of pinot noir popular in Burgundy. It’s not that I don’t like fruit1 but the earth-tone side of pinot noir is simply more unique. There are plenty of grapes that make big, fruit-forward wine. But few that make the subtle dirty-but-you-like-it flavor profile of a good pinot noir.
Now, the issue, of course, is that if you try this and screw it up, you have wine that tastes like dirt. There are people who will like this, no matter what. But the true elegance, in my opinion, is arrived at when you can please the mushroom, forest-floor-seeking pinotards and still bring some of the “I like juicy juice” folks into the fold at the same time.
Obviously, one cannot please everyone, nor should anybody try. It makes for muddled shit, frankly. Have a perspective, go for it, don’t compromise. I just personally like it when some elements of both of pinot noir’s personalities end up in the final product.
Which brings us to this wine, the quite aptly-named King’s Ransom RRV Pinot Noir. In the glass, the wine is ruby in the center and clears up considerably to the edges. On the nose, you discover which kind of pinot this is: you get mushroom here, and forest floor. But there is a sweetness present as well, which I believe is actually the presence of the 14.5% alcohol. The sensation isn’t hot or burning, but rather a touch sweet. Like smelling Porto, which I have to admit, was a bit off-putting here.
The palate is balanced fairly well, neither the perceived sweetness nor the masked alcohol show off here. More forest floor, more moss, more mushroom. What tiny bit of fruit is here tastes spicy in a way, like lightly-brined raspberries. It’s strange, but not altogether unpleasant.
The worst thing I can say about this wine is that it simply does not live up to its price point. While it is tasty, and should please those who like this style of pinot noir, the price—truly a king’s ransom—will shy many, if not most, away.
Price Point: $80-$100