Martin Ray 2003 "Angeline" Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir ($9.99)
This is a clear reddish-purple wine, rather dark by Pinot standards. The first sniff is a bit offputting as a whiff of high-toned volatile acidity blows off, but it soon gives way to more appealing wild-cherry fruit. Ripe and juicy fruit continues in the flavor, cherries and berries and a light lemon-squirt of acidity to provide balance to a touch of fresh-fruit sweetness. Typical of modest Santa Barbara Pinot, it's made in a dark, fruit-forward, somewhat one-dimensional "Shiraz" style, but there's Pinot Noir character in there, unusual for an under-$10 wine, and it makes for pleasant sipping. US Importer: (Feb 11, 2005)

FOOD MATCH: Smooth and fruity enough to make a nice red-wine aperitif; food-friendly as you'd expect of Pinot, it was a fine match with a roast free-range chicken.

WEB LINK: http://www.martinray-winery.com/

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