“Good Cheap Pinot Noir”
As the wine drinking public has felt the sting of the economic recession, there has been more
interest focused on trading down and buying value-priced wines. If you are a Pinot Noir lover, however, this is
a daunting challenge. As writer Jordan MacKay remarked in Wine & Spirits (April 2009), “There are certain phrases
that you rarely, if ever, hear in wine circles. One example is “good cheap Pinot Noir.”
One producer that stands out in the value-priced Pinot Noir category is Verve, the wines of Aubin Cellars.
Some of the Pinot Noirs have not only been good, but very good, and relatively cheap too. In the 2007 vintage,
I reviewed three Verve Pinot Noirs from California and Oregon that were rated Very Good or Very Good (+),
and priced from $24 to $33 (www.princeofpinot.com/winery/68/. Three more releases from the 2008 vintage
can be recommended.
Jerome Aubin is a wine barrel broker based in the Bay Area of California who imports barrels from Rousseau in
Burgundy, Saint-Martin in Bordeaux, and Balazs in Hungary. In 2001 he started his own label with the
assistance of noted winemaker Fred Scherrer who made the wines from 2001 until 2004. Subsequent vintages
were crafted by winemaker Loren Tayerle. The word, “Verve,” refers to the energy or vitality in the expression
of artistic ideas. Each label features a different work of a special artist. The wines are easily drinkable upon
The wines are usually crafted in lots of less than 200 cases and the sources vary from vintage to vintage
depending on Aubin’s resourcefulness in obtaining quality grapes. The wines are offered on the website at
www.aubincellars.com along with some retail distribution.
2007 Verve Carneros Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 410 cases, $24.
complex aromatic profile featuring scents of wild berries, leather,
wildflowers, herbs and even cream soda. Impressively smooth on the
palate with a discreet arsenal of darker stone fruits and berries with a
touch of hi-tone pomegranate. The oak is nicely integrated and the
finish is well-endowed with fruit. Very good.
2007 Verve Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 100 cases, $28.
Released October 25, 2009.Clones 777 and Cruz. 100% de-stemmed,
aged an average of 20 months in 25% new French oak barrels from
Tonnellerie Rousseau. Bottled unfined and unfiltered and bottle aged 5
An easygoing wine with pleasing aromas of cherries with hints
of Herbs de Provence and seasoned oak. Highly enjoyable array of
fruits including raspberries, strawberries and cherries with an earthy
underpinning. Juicy with soft sinewy tannins and a vibrant finish. Nothing out of
place. Very good.
2007 Verve Russian River Valley Emeritus Vineyard Pinot Noir
214 cases, $33. Released October 25, 2009. From vines that average 8 years
in age planted in sandy Goldridge soils. Clones 777 and Cruz. 100% destemmed,
fermented in one Rousseau 2 ton French oak open top fermentor
and T-Bins. Aged on average 20 months in 33% new French oak barrels from
Tonnellerie Rousseau. Bottled unfined and unfiltered and bottle aged 5 months.
Darkly colored in the glass. Bright and clean scents of black cherries initially,
showing a slightly roasted, raisiny quality over time. Moderately rich and very
ripe Bing cherry fruit with hints of spice and savory herbs cruising to a crisp
finish with a fine grip of acidity. Good.