I first became acquainted with Mark West Pinot Noir with the 2003 vintage. I touted it then as a great value because the price was sub-$10 and the product was solid, if not overly simple. My point at the time was, not every bottle has to curl your toes or send you into rapturous convulsions – having a solid, well-made quaffer is fine, especially when that sip is really cheap. Here, here…

So I watched with dismay as successive vintages came to market several dollars over $10 and when it hit $16.99, I moved on. No great loss, but I was disappointed that such a clear cut value leader had succumbed to what I have dubbed “the West Coast disease,” wines that are clearly priced beyond their provenance.

And you can imagine my pleasure when a recent trip down the wine aisle yielded the current Mark West vintage priced at $12.99/bottle, with a special markdown to $9.99. Boo-yeah. We were back in the sub-$10 zone, so I picked up a bottle and was equally pleased that the quality was still there. Again, this is not a paean to age-worthy Pinot Noir with layers of complexity, unfolding with grace and elegance that conjures images of red-robed Chevalier paying homage to the Dukes of Burgundy. No, it is just a really fun, drinkable glass of red wine that’s weighted perfectly for summer. And it’s cheap enough not to worry about the fact that ketchup and BBQ sauce is going to spoil the party.

My tasting notes:

Bright, fruity nose. Ripe red berry and soft floral hints. Medium-bodied with moderate acidity and supple tannin – good balance. Juicy raspberry and strawberry palate – very easy drinking. Moderate length – smooth – not complex, simply quaffable. Not for aging.

At an average retail cost of $12.99/bottle pre-discount, this wine is an okay value – with the special discounts my cost dropped to $8.99/bottle – at that price this wine is a superb value!