Sept. 5 2014 06:17 PM

Affordable brand makes a familiar grape seem new

2012 Love Noir
Photo by Jen Van Tieghem

As a wine lover, some days you'll spend ages in your favorite wine boutique or bottle shop, poring over labels and agonizing over what to spend your hard-earned dollars on. Other occasions, you'll go Target on your way home from a long day of work, pick up the first wine that tickles your fancy and meets your under-$15 budget and be on your way. The latter scenario is how I ended up with a bottle of 2012 Love Noir, a California Pinot Noir that boasted key words like "rich" and "silky" on the filigreed label. Sold!

Most Pinots I've had, and enjoyed, were on the lighter side, with berry flavors and a refreshing appeal (Pinot rosés are another tasty variation on the grape). This version, however, was indeed the "darker side of Pinot," as its tagline promised. Immediately, I noted the color was a deep ruby, matching the first scent of black cherry on the nose. 

The mouthfeel was medium to heavy, making me nearly forget which varietal I was enjoying. This heartiness translated to flavors that were vivid but not overpowering. I nibbled crackers and cheese with my first sips and was still able to appreciate the characteristics of both. Some less-enjoyable Pinots (and other varietals) can get lost with food or subdue it, instead of the pairing enhancing, or at least complementing, one another. 

Bittersweet chocolate and cola notes developed as I continued. Both are flavors I wouldn't normally equate with the grape but found appealing. The "smoothness" promise was delivered, especially when I let the wine get some air. 

As best I can tell, Love Noir is its own brand, focusing solely on this Pinot. Its website leaves an air of mystery, perhaps to maintain the intrigue of the wine. The label is eye-catching with an enticing description that, thank goodness, is accurate. Buying something on a whim for this cheap is often a gamble; luckily this one paid off. 

Write to jenv@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Jen_VT.

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