The Wine Society’s Chilean Pinot Noir review

… is just the kind of wine into whose welcoming alcoholic embrace you’d yearn to tumble after a day of bubblewrap and despair

A closeup of the magenta-dominated label of the Wine Society's Chilean Pinot Noir. The label bears an image of a flower.

I’m on my way to London. Right now. Yeah, check out my power-commuting ass.

(Poor beast. He really doesn’t like the motorway traffic. I knew I should’ve taken the camel instead.)

Jokes, jokes. I’m actually on a bus. A bus enchanted with the sweet, sweet magic of wifi. When I boarded this bus, accompanied by a suitcase big enough to bury me in (although, I like to think, aesthetically unfit for such a purpose: let it be noted that I’d prefer my final place of rest not to possess zips and expandable compartments), I chirpily remarked to the driver that I had ‘all my worldly possessions’ with me.

That, dear reader, was what is known in the trade as a downright fucking lie.

Because — I have discovered — the sum total of Old Parn’s worldly possessions is roughly equivalent in volume to the sum total of the worldly possessions of the dragon in Beowulf.

(Although drastically inequivalent in terms of fiscal value.)

So you may well imagine (if you have nothing better to imagine, you poor, impoverished sod) the innumerable hours of box-stuffing, newspaper scrunching and cutlery-sorting that have lately consumed my evenings. As I BUBBLE-WRAP MY LIFE.

(Or rather — let’s keep this metaphor on its toes, shall we? — as I decide that large portions of my life will probably survive the journey without bubblewrap, because I can’t be arsed with that nonsense.)

Wha’? Uh, sorry, I think I just nodded off, there. You were saying something? Wine? What? You say this is a blog about wine? Uh. Right. Okay. Jesus. Have some patience, won’t you?

Because what I was leading up to (if you’d just let me finish) was this: should you find yourself bubblewrapping your life, what you’re going to need is a welcoming alcoholic embrace into which to tumble, at the end of the tedious, tedious day.

And The Wine Society’s Chilean Pinot Noir gives a pretty comforting embrace.

First up, let’s talk price. Because people keep saying these are straitened times (though I guess they might actually, on reflection, be saying that these are straightened thymes, and I’ve been reading a wholly unintended economic subtext to what are in fact observations of niche culinary trends. It would explain why they were waving a bunch of unusually rigid herbaceous offcuts in my face at the time).

YES, LONDON, YOU ARE LUCKY TO HAVE ME. There ain’t no suitcase big enough to bury my puns.

In any case, this wine is very, very good value. It’s relatively soft. Pinot Noir can (especially at a price like this) be on the austere side. Not so here. It’s pretty ripe, y’know? Fruited, gobfilling. Very accessible. It’s a wine that gives of itself generously; no haughtiness.

To be fair, it doesn’t have anything to be haughty about — it’s not a fine wine, not a highly-strung Pinot Noir racehorse. But you probably don’t need me to tell you that Pinot Noir racehorses don’t come with a price tag like this.

So should you find yourself — drained and desperate — at the end of a day of packing, I urge you to tumble into the welcoming arms of the Society’s Chilean Pinot Noir.

As opposed to tumbling into the dark, hypnotic maw of that large open suitcase in front of you…

Rating ★★★★ 4 stars (very good)
Region Leyda Valley
Grape Pinot Noir
ABV 14%
Price £6.95 from The Wine Society

Mistral Sauvignon Blanc, Naked Wines

… will underwhelm you. But the people selling it to you? They’ll whelm yo’ ass right off.

A bottle of Mistral Sauvignon Blanc in the foreground, with colourful abstract art on the label. In the background (out of focus) a glass of white wine.

Naked Wines underwhelmed me with this one.

But then (hot damn!) they went right in and fucking whelmed me something proper.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s talk about the underwhelm, first.

So. Mistral Sauvignon Blanc. A disappointing wine. I mean, it’s not bad. It’s just, well, rather uninspiring.

A bit empty, a bit nothingy.

Rather like Old Parn running the 400m, it starts off energetically enough (though already people are whispering that it’s worryingly thin and pale) — but then it has a really poor finish.

You’ll be snuffling and flaring your nostrils like something out of The Witches in an attempt to get much out of this wine: aromatically, it’s very closed down for so zingy a grape variety. And what aromas you do get out of it are typical, a tad uninteresting. Except (alas) for a faint waft of nappy. I’m sorry. Really, I am. But there it is.

Verdict

Increasingly, I’m coming to think that there’s a small problem with Naked Wines’ model: the ‘full price’ figure seems rather inflated. You see, I’d be chagrined if I’d spent £7.50 on this wine. In fact, I had it for a reduced rate (part of a taster case). But because I have £7.50 as an RRP in my head, I’m psychologically primed for a £7.50-quality wine. Even if I’ve actually paid a good generic viagra prices deal less than that (hell, this is a £5 wine if you’re a member — in which light it suddenly seems a heck of a lot less disappointing).

Alas, £7.50 is still the yardstick I’m measuring it up against. And it falls short.

Don’t take this as an attack on those fine Naked fellows. I remain intrigued and impressed by their business model — and I enjoyed the first two bottles of theirs I reviewed (whilst still harbouring the slight impression of over-optimistic ‘full’ prices, I might add). While this specimen is definitely less good than those other two, it’s still by no means terrible; just unexciting, middle-of-the-road.

So I suppose I’m just saying that, psychologically, their pricing model isn’t quite hitting the right note for me.

Then again, I’ll tell you what is hitting the right note: the fact that, a few hours after I’d casually tweeted a message about my disappointment with this wine, one of the Naked guys was contacting me to offer me my money back on it*.

That, in case you are wondering, is fucking uberwhelming.

Rating ? (1 star) — but ????? for customer service
ABV 12.5%
Price £7.50 from Naked Wines (£5 if you’re a member)
* Fo’ yo’ info, I didn’t take him up on his offer. It may’ve been disappointing, but it wasn’t bad.

Corriente Del Bio 2009, Pinot Noir

… is serious, poised and (at time of writing) rather good value

A bottle of Corriente Del Bio Pinot Noir from Marks & Spencer

I thought I’d crack open a bottle of this M&S Pinot Noir. It’s reduced right now, y’see, from £8 to a mere 6 — a bargain to which my attention was drawn by Fiona Beckett’s Credit Crunch Drinking.

Now, if you fervently adore pinot noir in the way that I do, your eyes will already be lit up at the prospect of a bottle for £6. But is it good?

Yeah, it’s pretty good. Serious, proper stuff. It doesn’t have that over-veggy, slightly composty thing that some cheaper new world PNs do. And it’s silky light, laced with becoming aromas of orange zest — though I’d like a little more body, please.

(But then, I’m a scrawny wee runt.)

Thanks to relatively prominent tannins, it also has that somewhat austere cranberry dryness. Best with food, I’d say.

Verdict

Not at all bad, M&S. For £6, this is definitely worth a try. It wouldn’t, though, be my £8 pinot noir of choice. I’d take the Wine Society’s Chilean Pinot Noir any day. And use the spare £1 to BUY SWEETS.

But if the notion of a serious, poised kind of wine for £6 grabs you, haul ass down to M&S soon. It won’t be on offer for much longer.

Rating ★★ at full price; ★★★ at its current price
ABV 14%
Price Reduced to £5.99 at Marks & Spencer (usually £7.99)