I taste a fair number of inexpensive pinot noirs, but not many of them actually taste like pinot. In some cases, the grapes are simply grown in the wrong places; in others, the wines contain other grapes to beef them up. (In a lot of cases, both are true.)
So I was struck by how good this $20 Hess Select Pinot Noir is. It has a Central Coast appellation, but the winery says that Sarmento Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands is “featured” in the blend. And the wine is purported to be 100 percent pinot noir, aged in neutral French oak.
“Savory” is not a descriptor I generally associate with most Central Coast pinots, but this one is downright woodsy. It has plenty of red berry fruit, but there’s also a significant forest floor character. The texture is velvety and supple. An easy-to-drink wine that’s great with food.