Value plus Pinot Noir is a not a word combination that comes out of my mouth very often. Pinot is a very finicky grape. At the low-end of the price spectrum, the wines often lack any resemblance to what Pinot Noir should taste like, and even paying top dollar is no guarantee of quality.
Last week I tried the 2000 Robert Mondavi Coastal Private Selection Central Coast Pinot Noir and found it very nice for the $12 price tag and a barnburner at $10 from discounters. The aromas and flavors are brimming with juicy black cherry fruit and a subtle note of spicy oak that enhances the varietal character. Its cleanly made in an approachable style with silky tannins and is fully ripe with none of the tomatoey herbaciousness found in some Central Coast Pinots. While the palate intensity and length of finish are both moderate, this is a solid 85-point effort. Drink now and over the next 12 months for its exuberant fruit expression. This wine could put many $18-$20 Pinots to shame.