What a run of luck – two pinot noirs in a week that are less than $15 and worth drinking.
In fact, the Matua (about $14) is a bit more impressive than the Cycles Gladiator, and ranks among the best-made $15 and under pinots I have ever tasted. It's barely New World in style at all, with very little of the berry lushness that distinguishes Santa Barbara or even some Oregon pinots. It is much more Burgundy in character -- low alcohol, earthy undertone, and light berry flavors. It’s so unlike New World pinot noirs that I’ve seen comments from people who think the wine is poorly made: “Perhaps I'm just not used to a pinot in this light of a style,” wrote one drinker on Cellar Tracker. Another wrote the words “cheap pinot” with such distaste that I could almost hear the snarl.
Once again, remember: If a wine doesn’t taste the way you expect it to, don’t assume it’s poorly made. Try and figure out why it tastes that way. It just might be exactly what it’s supposed to be.