It’s a Saturday night and I had a taste for some Pinot.

Pinot Noir is probably my favorite wine. The problem is I’ve tasted enough now that I really LOVE the big ones. The great Pinot Noir. I traveled to Oregon in July 2008 and was fortunate to spend a couple of days in the Willamette Valley. The Pinots there are amazing – but not cheap.

I brought back 8-9 bottles of great Oregon Pinot. And if you see one buy it. If you see an Oregon Pinot and it says “Dundee Hills” – definitely buy it.

But I digress. This evening I opened a good value Pinot Noir – Mark West 2007 Pinot. First, there is no Mark West. Second, I’ve had this wine several times at home. It’s frequently on bar and restaurant menus.

West Pinot is a pretty good value Pinot Noir. The thing I do like about it is that you get a true Pinot flavor and full characteristics though it is a bit thin. But, I paid 9.95 for this bottle at World Market in Indianapolis. How can you beat that? Normally this wine is $12-13-14 in many places.

It does have a pretty strong nose for a light-tasting wine and that’s always a big plus with Pinot. There is nothing in the world like the beautiful “stink” of a great Pinot Noir.

The remarkable thing is that this is a well balanced wine at such an affordable price. It’s widely available. If you want to try some Pinot and wonder why regular wine drinkers sing its praises, you could do worse than Mark West.

I had about a glass before pairng it with two small roasted chicken breasts. One was just just salt and pepper and the other had a spice rub. It was okay with the food. I also had it with a small piece of 60 percent chocolate after the chicken. It didn’t hold up to the chocolate at all. (By the way, my next wine column will be on wine and chocolate!)

I’d recomment Mark West as a great intro Pinot, a great Pinot at a bar, a great value Pinot all by itself. It’s not a $55 Domaine Serene from they Dundee Hills by any measure. But it’s drinkable value wine that’s easy to find at most wine shops.

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