Notes has chronicled more than a single bottle of Mark West over the years; our favorite wine store in New Jersey often stocked it and gave us ample opportunity to sample with all manner of foodstuffs. A quick glance back at our archives says more than five vintages have been covered herein. Never before, however, had I seen this “Dark” variation and was intrigued as to its potential.
I had sort of drifted away from the West Pinot in recent months. I find winemaker Jason Becker’s “signature” Pinot to be slightly lacking in muscle, a light red that skipped some of the subtleties of good California grapes–almost like “diet” Pinot Noir. That being said, even the hint of a darker red in the Black label was promising and raised my eyebrow. Immediately I knew I had to give it a go much like I did the Apothic Dark when stumbling onto it in Chicago last year.
I uncorked it first on Friday after a travel week but am polishing it off tonight–mostly with a London broil and a peas and carrots medley. The vegetables are not the highlight of the meal, to be sure. I’m happy to share it’s the Black that holds the spotlight this evening.
It’s got much better legs than the ‘original’ Mark West, and packs in blackberry smells in abundance. This wine is a far cry from a Cab or deeper red, but also more saturated than a traditional Pinot. You get a whiff of vanilla too–faint but definitely present. Good swirl in your glass and mouthfeel for an affordable red. Becker, who uses the Saignée method of winemaking here, describes the flavor as “ripe black plums and blackberries along with mocha notes…” and ages this line extension in French and Hungarian oak barrels.
I’m glad I gave this Pinot Noir a try and definitely prefer it to the classic Mark West. Give it a go and taste for yourself.