As a retailer Mark West Pinot Noir seems to be a very polarizing wine, people either really like it or really dislike it with little middle ground of “I could take it or leave it”. After trying a bottle I can see how each camp feels. A nice little California Pinot Noir, the 2011 Mark West has neither the boldness of some nor the subtle layering of tastes found other Pinot Noir from the US or elsewhere.
That middle ground is apparent in the light, transparent ruby color, interesting to let the light show through it also a precursor to the relatively light weight in the mouth. The nose is a simple combination of black cherry and spice from some oak aging, with the flavor profile showing a little more depth than the aroma. Black Cherry continues to dominate, but it is followed with dark berry fruit and a noticeable brown cooking spice at the end. There is a sense of sweetness to this wine that some might not appreciate, but for others might just be the point of difference that offsets the surprising grip of tannin in a pleasant finish.
All in all the 2011 Mark West Pinot Noir is a smooth, light and easy going Pinot Noir that does nothing to stand out from the crowd, but also contains little to openly object to if offered a glass at a party. Seemingly available all over town you should be able to locate this wine for slightly over or under the $10 price point, not a bad buy when you consider the recent increase in wine prices. Bottom line try it, you might find a favorite to drink or a favorite to compare notes about at the dinner table.