30 Second Wine Advisor: Good Pinot under the radar

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Good Pinot under the radar

About a month ago, you'll recall, I celebrated a small but growing body of evidence suggesting that decent, affordable Pinot Noir is coming back after a few years in AWOL status.

This week it's my delight to report another such sighting, a $12 Pinot that's delicious and a very good value, but on the marketing side, more than a bit mysterious. Simply labeled "The Seeker," with a fun graphic that looks like a 19th century engraving of a lighter-than-air flying machine, it's a 2008 Pinot Noir with the regional designation "Vin de Pays Vignobles de France."

Okay, let's back up a little and take a closer look at that. This appellation is so new that, chances are, you've never seen it before. It's also a little controversial within France, where some wine makers weaned on theories of real estate and terroir aren't excited about the authorities' decision to approve a vin de pays (wine of the country) that may be made from vineyards anywhere in France that vines are grown.

This new label - and similar but smaller new vins de pays for de l'Atlantique (Bordeaux) and de Gaules (Beaujolais) - were actually approved three or four years ago, but they've apparently been slow gaining traction. I got a peek of The Seeker - seemingly a U.S. negociant that also offers a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc under a similar label - at a local wine shop the other day. I took it home on a whim, and after opening it with dinner was mighty glad I did.

Apparently produced in France by Loron et Fils and bottled for U.S. sale under The Seeker label, it's made from Pinot fruit grown in "two distinct grape-growing areas in France," according to the back label, which provides no more detailed information. "Paper, printing process and lightweight glass used for this wine result in a smaller carbon footprint," it added, greenly.

I wasn't able to dig up much more information on line. It's distributed in the U.S. by Kobrand Corp, but Kobrand's website is silent on The Seeker. The Seeker's own website, listed on the label, contains pretty photos and graphics, but links reveal only "Coming Soon."

There's not much else to do but drink it, but I'm up to that. Pop the metal screwcap and pour. I think you'll be satisfied, and maybe more than satisfied. I hope this wine is flying under the radar and coming up gradually, and not the dying gasp of a marketing notion that didn't pan out. Ask your local retailer about The Seeker. If we can spring it loose among us, we'll all be ahead.

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Today's Tasting Report

The Seeker 2008 Pinot Noir Vin de Pays Vignobles de France ($11.99)

The Seeker

Dark ruby with bright crimson glints. Ripe cherry aromas and a subtle touch of clove, with an interesting mineral overtone reminiscent of fresh rainwater rippling over rocks. Tart cherry flavor follows the nose, well structured with firm, food-friendly acidity, moderate 12.5% alcohol, and soft tannins. One heck of a Pinot Noir and a versatile food wine, a memorable bargain for not much over $10. U.S. importer: Kobrand Corp., NYC. (Sept. 21, 2011)

FOOD MATCH: This classic-styled Pinot will go versatilely with a wide range of dishes, from beef and pork to poultry to mushrooms. It was fine with a quick, fresh garden take on ratatouille, with Italian eggplant, onions, green peppers and garlic and plenty of juicy ripe red tomatoes.

VALUE: Any time I can get Pinot Noir of this quality for this close to $10, I will go back for more.

WEB LINK: Here's a link to the wines in The Seeker program, but the Website appears not quite ready to launch. Keep tuning in!

WHEN TO DRINK: Ready to go now, it needs no cellaring, but Pinot this balanced and delicious at this price, and under a sturdy modern screw cap, too, would certainly justify an experiment in cellaring for up to five years just to see what it does.

Wine-Searcher.com has little on this item. Try getting in touch with Kobrand Corp., the importer.

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