Bitter Fruit

I bought this bottle of Castle Rock Pinot Noir in hopes that things the second time around would somehow be different. You see, the first time I tried one of their pinot noirs was about nine months ago when I had their Carneros bottling. I was very unimpressed by that pinot; I found it to be too ripe, raisined and cloying in fruit quality. However, the Monterey County pinot noir I had last night faired far worse: it was hard to get beyond the first glass and impossible with food.

2003 Castle Rock Monterey County Pinot Noir is a deep cherry-red in the glass while to the nose the wine is spicy oak, cherry juice and strawberry jam. This pinot IS the proverbial fruit bomb! Castle Rock’s texture was jammy, slightly tannic and astringent. In fact, this pinot was only marginally more pleasurable to the nose than to the palate. This pinot noir tastes very manipulated and I would not be surprised if it had been heavily acidified with late additions of tartaric acid creating the bitter astringency with which it is plagued.

In the end, Castle Rock’s Monterey County Pinot Noir was undrinkable and in no way indicative of what Monterey County pinot can and should be. Unfortunately, due to a wine glut which has persisted these last five or so years, California is awash in bulk wine and phantom wineries such as Castle Rock (perhaps you too have noticed a new label each week case stacked in your favorite retailer?). I strongly suspect Castle Rock is buying bulk wine for pennies on the dollar, possibly from good producers bulking-out their mediocre lots, and bottling this under specific appellation labeling to increase the wine’s cachet. Based upon my experience, whether from Carneros or Monterey County, Castle Rock Winery does not deliver a pinot noir worth the price of admission. Not Recommended!

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