Smoking Loon Pinot Noir

       This was a gift from a client of Wife to Wife, so even though we didn’t pay anything for it (the ultimate Cheapskate price) it qualifies for inclusion in these pages. The Store where we shop prices this at $10.99 everyday (750ml bottle), but often offers it at $8.99, so like many other selections we’ve looked at here, some opportunism is necessary to stay under the ten buck ceiling.

      Smoking Loon, it appears, is sort of the Kevin Bacon of the wine world-you know-the game where you can get from anyone to Kevin Bacon in less than five moves. Looking into the family tree of the Smoking Loon brand, it quickly becomes apparent that, in moving up from the roots of the tree, the trunk twists and divides and vees, and the branches go out in many directions. Smoking Loon is the sibling, or half-brother, or cousin of lots of other labels. Its produced by Don Sebastiani and Sons, which also makes Pepperwood Grove, and The Crusher, which I’ve seen on shelves, and a few others I’ve not seen. The company came to be when Samuele Sebastiani, who emigrated from Tuscany to the U.S. in the late 1800’s made his way to Sonoma and started a winery making mostly bulk wine. In the 1940’s, they focused on their own name brand affordable wines. In the 1980’s, with patriarch Samuele’s grandson Don, a former California assemblyman, now at the helm, they grew into an eight million case annual behemoth through a partnership called Cecchetti-Sebastiani Cellar. That companie’s labels include Vendange, Nathanson Creek, and others, plus the Turner Road Winery. All that was sold off to what it is now Constellation, and Sebastiani again became a family owned and run winery in Sonoma. Strangely, the Sebastiani label on wines I see on Store shelves, is not part of Don Sebastiani and Sons, but is owned by Foley Family wines. Their portfolio of around 10 labels, Don and Sons lineup of around 8 names, the Turner Road names, plus their adoptive Constellation cousins make this a nearly infinite spider web of connections. Like Kevin Bacon.

    Ok, ok., the wine….lighter in color than some, more transparent-typical of Pinot Noir. Reddish, not deep, dark violet. Also light on the tongue. Not without any tannin, but no astringency or bite. Fruity. A wine cliché, which I try like Anthrax to avoid, is “fruit-forward” but that’s the words that come to mind here. Berries. A little spiciness. Very enjoyable. Certain foods scream for Pinot Noir-Salmon, Turkey, the other white meat, grilled tuna. The Smoking Loon makes an excellent candidate. And you can connect it to Kevin Bacon in five steps.

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6 Responses to Smoking Loon Pinot Noir

  1. J-P says:

    What’s the year? That makes a difference. The 2009 is far superior ro the 2010, and the 2011 just came out.

    • J, just J. says:

      Near the beginning of this blog, I made the decision to stop referencing vintage years. If we were doing Premier Cru Bordeaux wines it would matter greatly. The reality is, the cheapos I drink and talk about here are much more the result of manipulation between harvest and bottling than they are the relative quality of the fruit. Most, I think, include the year on the label because wine shoppers expect to see it. Particularly with wines labeled California, or South Eastern Australia, or Chile, the “appellation” is so huge that specific annual weather characteristics are much less meaningful. It is part of the marketing plan of these $10 wines to be consistent from one bottle to the next, one year to the next.

      • J-P says:

        The fact remains, if you taste the wines from different years side by side (or one year to the next), you cannot fail to notice very distinct differences.

  2. Stan says:

    Fully concur with your evaluation as just purchased a bottle of 2011 based on $7.00 price. Not too complex and true to Pinot Noir characteristics. Noted label says Chile but pasted on label says imported and bottled by Sebastiani in Napa.

  3. DENNIS says:

    not a wine drinker, per se, but did not enjoy this at all. too ‘peppery/sharp’

  4. J-P says:

    The 2012 SL pinot noir comes from Chile. All previous ones were from California. Why the change? I don’t know. What I do know is that the 2012 vintage is inferior, unfortunately. It doesn’t warrant a favorable QPR rating like many of its predecessors.

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