Here's another one of those interesting finds at TJ's. You can find this wine directly from the producer - for a mere $30 bucks. Meanwhile, Trader Joe's is selling the very same wine for $8.99. That's all well and good and enough to whet the appetite, but some $30 wines wouldn't be a bargain at any price. So how does the Picket Fence stand up?
The quest for a varietally correct Pinot for $10 is of course one of the holy grails of wine consumption. You can get some pretty decent cheap Pinots for under $10 but they tend to be of a kind - cherry-fruit forward, and often blended with small amounts of other grapes. The Picket Fence is a real Pinot - lighter in color, a bit challenging on the palate, and quite complex and interesting. I suspect not everyone will love it, but it delivers a fair amount of interest, especially for the price.
The nose is spice. A bit of fruit - blueberry, perhaps - but spice is predominant, with a hint of vanilla and forest. Freshly corked the spice was pretty predominant on the palate as well, with more sweet vanilla and just a hint of cherry in the mix. After decanting the character changes quite a bit - both in the nose and on the palate the wine becomes much earthier, with intense loamy, mushroom essences joining the party. The wine is heavier in body than it would appear visually, with a nice, silky texture and not much heat despite the 14.5% ABV. The finish allows the oak to shine through, with a nice hint of dark chocolate. There's a nice tannic structure here, with plenty of acidity and a medium finish.
I think this is a worthwhile find, mostly because the Picket Fence is so different in character than what we get in most cheap Pinots. It's a chance to drink a wine with some real Pinot personality and a bit of bottle age for under $10, which isn't something that comes along every day. There's not much (500 barrels in total) so snap up a few while you can.