Gut Check loves us some wine. We want a bottle with bang and a bang for our buck, so every week we will visit a local wine shop, where an expert will recommend a good-value wine priced under $15. We'll drink some and tell you whether we want to continue -- because the only time Gut Check has our nose in the air is while we're draining our glass.
The recent shift from boiling hot temperatures to cool, breezy days had Gut Check in a mellow mood when we waltzed through the sun-drenched doorway of Starrs (1135 South Big Bend Boulevard, Richmond Heights; 314-781-2345). Owner Bud Starr kept our pleasant mood going with a rare find - a pinot noir under $15.
When Starr asked his staff members their favorite low-cost pinot, they chorused "Parker Station." This 2009 pinot pick is sourced from Santa Barbara, California and is a "go-to" low-cost pinot, according to Starr. For only $10.99, Parker Station is as clear and light as the weather outside and shines a soft scarlet color. Starr said the light color of the wine indicates that no syrah snuck its way in, which can sometimes be the case with cheap pinot noirs. He also pointed out that the Parker Station actually smells like a pinot noir, a scent many low-cost pinot noir wines lack.
Though the price is a fraction of what most pinots cost, Starr said the Parker Station is a classic, ready-to-drink pinot noir in a lot of ways. "It's perfect when you want consistency and quality in a daily wine," he said. The label on the wine agrees, touting Parker Station as "the best pinot noir you can afford to drink daily." The wine stands well on its own but if you're hungry, Starr recommends pairing a pinot with anything that features a high salt or grease content. As proof, Starr commented that this pinot can fit in just as well with a pizza or a burger as with finer foods.
The Parker Station may be easy on the wallet, but how does it hold up to the wine-lover's palate? According to the label, this pinot features cherry, plum and strawberry flavors with "nuances" of spice, clove, herbs and a hint of "toasty oak." The description is a little over-blown for a simple, light wine but considering that pinot noir is one of the hardest grapes to grow, we'll take a well-balanced pinot for only 10 bucks.
Gut Check's Take?
The Parker Station pinot noir is a great daily-drinking pick because its smooth, subtle flavors are easy to pair with food. Its nose is very light and fragrant and its crisp flavor is evident from the first sip. The initial sips are well-balanced, but the flavors don't linger or get more complex as the sips go on. Parker Station's pinot may lack a bit of structure, but this is one of the better pinots at a low price. The wine is pretty to look at and easy to drink, and for its price, you can drink it as often as you'd like. As the label says - "enjoy a glass tonight!" That's one piece of advice Gut Check will make sure to follow.