When we did this year’s great cheap pinot noir tasting, Diane Teitelbaum and I were surprised at how many wines labeled as pinot noir didn’t taste like pinot noir. Regardless of anything else, cheap merlot tastes like merlot, cheap chardonny tastes like chardonny, and so forth.
But that wasn’t the case with the pinots. There were some exceptions, but the most of the wines we tasted made us wonder: Was what the wine business considered pinot noir changing to meet pricing and consumer demands?
Fortunately, the Hardys ($10, sample, 13%) shows what can be done when the winemaker and the Big Wine company that pays for the wine want to make pinot noir that tastes like pinot noir. Even more amazing: This is an Australian wine, and Australia is hardly prime pinot noir territory.
Nevertheless, this is quality cheap pinot — not nearly as fruity as most of the wines we tasted in June and with more structure. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end, and not just the juicy fruitiness that is what most other cheap pinots offer. Look for a telltale pinot herbal aroma as well as muted cherry and raspberry fruit. And while it’s not to be confused with a $75 red Burgundy (pinot noir from France), it will more than do for those of us who don’t have $75 for a bottle of wine. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2014 $10 Hall of Fame.