I'm a demographic. That demographic can best be described as People who were lead into wine in no small part because of the movie Sideways. I'm sure the wine industry appreciates it and anything that lead me to wine should be lauded (depending on who you ask), but it's a little humbling and almost shameful.
I suspect there are a lot of us, though. Enough of us, anyway, to make the name marketable and justify the release of a Sideways-branded Pinot Noir. And I'm enough of an impulse shopper to have placed the bottle in my shopping basket.
Industry leaders say modern winemaking advances means there's no bad wine. I've yet to taste a bad bottle of wine, true, but I would argue that bad is a relative term, and when stacked against other Pinot Noirs of similar price, the Sideways falls flat.
Name: Sideways Pinot Noir, 2003
Color: A flat ruby color in the center glass that faded to under-ripe cranberry at the edge.
Nose: Definite fruit aromas, including cherry and blackberry; I also detected a hint of vanilla, a dash of allspice and a slight earthiness.
Taste: Not surprisingly, this Pinot bottled in France was definitely old-world in style--but poorly executed. Nearly green cherry flavor was further undone by an imbalanced minerality and astringent quality. The wine tasted unfinished and under-ripe overall.
Finish: Nothing complex. The wine's acidity scoured my palate and left little flavor behind--probably because the wine came with little flavor to begin with.
So what to pair with this disappointment? Since I'd started barbequing ribs at one in the afternoon, it would have to be ribs.
(I went with a combination approach to the ribs:
- Take 1 slab of pork ribs
- Coat liberally with oil, salt and pepper
- Place in glass casserole and add water until the ribs are just covered
- Put the ribs in a 210-degree oven for at least an hour. 1.5 would be best
- Fire up the grill
- Once the coals are ready, place hardwood chips in aluminum foil, wrap up, and poke holes in the aluminum foil--this will provide the smoke
- Shove the coals over to one side of the grill, and place the ribs on the other side--we're going for smoking here, not direct cooking.
- Let the ribs go at least an hour, slathering them with sauce every 20 minutes
Somewhat surprisingly, the Sideways Pinot Noir did well with the ribs, mostly because it's acidity was able to strip away the fat and sauce and left my mouth ready for the next delicious bite. Also, the wine's slight tartness provided a nice contrast to the sweet undercurrents of the sauce.
Stacked against the side dishes, however, the wine was disappointing. Neither beans, nor coleslaw nor garlic bread were uplifted by the wine's taste or mouth feel.
Overall, the Sideways Pinot Noir was a disappointment. Not a bad wine, per se, but not the best, either. And certainly not my first choice at its pricepoint. For raw value in the Pinot Noir world, I'd recommend going with the Rex Goliath Pinot Noir (non-vintage). It's got excellent fruit flavors, a wonderful mouth feel, and couples well with all kinds of food.