Sean Minor Carneros Pinot Noir


The 2007 Carneros Pinot Noir from Sean Minor sold out from the winery in 60 days! We were enthusiastically recommending it to our customers knowing we were on to something good – practically everyone came back for more! It had been in stock for less than a month when we were informed we could have our last drop of 5 cases – take it or leave it. What?!? The wine seemingly disappeared overnight – POOF! I can assure you, wine does not sell out this quickly on price alone. The fact is Sean makes tremendous value-priced wines and it is about time you discovered them.

While it lasts, Minor’s 2008 Carneros Pinot Noir is that rare California Pinot Noir priced under $20 that takes the subtle approach. The fruit has a piercing red cherry flavor enhanced by subtle brown sugar and spice notes that enter on the finish. It is a balanced Pinot Noir that is charged with vibrant fruit devoid of harsh, manipulative flavors; this is NOT the kind of wine that Decanter’s Michael Broadbent describes as “not a food wine, more suitable as a headache-inducing City wine-bar drink”. No other category of wine poses such immense challenge to the retail wine buyer than sub $20 Pinot Noir. We are always searching, tasting and tasting, hoping to find that value-priced Pinot Noir that does not make us gag. Ok, that is a bit harsh. But in fairness to Pinot Noir, it is not a varietal that lends itself to mass plantings, though that is what has happened. My strong endorsement for the 2008 Sean Minor Pinot Noir is not meant to dupe anyone into thinking they are getting a high-end wine masquerading as a price-friendly red. It does however meet the standards set by the winery to “make delicious, quality wines that continually exceed your expectations” and the claim on their back label that they prize “delicious approachable wines”. I have to hand it to them; they’ve achieved their goal. 


Sean Minor started making their value-priced wines back in 2005 at a time when I don’t think anyone really thought there would be the demand there is now for such wines. Back then everyone and their mother wanted to make the next Screaming Eagle. But Sean Minor, a wine industry veteran with a growing family, found it difficult to find affordable, high-quality Californian wines for every day enjoyment. Now why didn’t I think of that? With the help of his friend and colleague, Will Bucklin (who happens to make some of California’s best Zinfandel!!!), Sean Minor embarked on filling this void. Jump forward five years, now Sean Minor wines are poised to meet the demand of a growing segment of the wine-drinking population who do not want to give up quality, but are looking to spend less. Last night’s dinner of herb-roasted leg of lamb, Marin Farmer’s Market broccoli and mashed veg a la Jamie Oliver was enriched by a glass of this cheerful, pretty Pinot Noir. I have been obsessed with this interview I heard with the editors ofSmith Magazine who published “It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure”. How would I sum up this wine in six words? Ripe cherry fruit, delightful Pinot Noir. Or how about: pure honest affordable Pinot, happy customers! – Anya Balistreri

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