Underwood Oregon Grown Pinot Noir NV
Happy New Year! Sorry for the big break in programming; I’ve had a big change at the day job and we traveled a lot during December, but we’ve been holding it down on Instagram – check it out if you don’t already follow us there! @hella_wine
We are reliving the 90’s-2000’s tonight with the Oontz (best name for a bluetooth speaker ever… just say it a bunch of times and you’re already inside your own party: oontz oontz oontz oontz), jamming out to some sweet nostalgia and investigating the charms of a canned wine. Yes, the Underwood Oregon Grown (and according to the packaging, also Oregon made) pinot noir comes in a can, looks like a beer, and has the slogan #pinkiesdown. I’ve really been missing out on drinking wine with my pinkies UP, evidently. Someone remind me next time!
After crackin open the can, we were at first impressed with the stillness of the wine as it went into the glass. You really start to expect fizzy stuff to come out of a can, so it’s sort of surprising when you get something different. In the glass, though, there are some signs of gas – a few bubbles popping up and gathering at the meniscus, some tiny bubbles islands floating across the surface that aaaaalmost make it look like there’s some flocculation… but I’m pretty sure it’s just a hint of gas. And I can appreciate something “manly” that presents with only a hint of gas. Usually when there’s gas in the wine, you can taste the CO2, but with this one, there’s no taste to it, it’s just visible. And that’s pretty unusual for wine. But Clifford reminds me that this is a highly stabilized wine… it’s shelf stable and, I believe, meant to be drunk straight from the can. If you are drinking it out of a glass, we’d suggest letting it rest for about 15 minutes after pouring so all the little bubbles will fall out, leaving your wine still and clear.
Underwood keeps its tasting notes simple: “Raspberry, Cherry, Chocolate”, which makes it sound like a box of See’s or something. The wine itself is way better than a lot of low-priced wines that we’ve tried. It has the fresh cherry and earthiness that you expect from an Oregon pinot, although I’ve become a bit suspicious of things that check all the boxes because that often means the flavors are bought, especially if they’re strong. This one’s flavors don’t strike me as fake, though.
The color is a light garnet, no opacity, he thinks it’s more of a “rouge burgundy” color, just like the sound dampening foam on the walls of our home office/recording studio. The center is very faceted, and the wine is pretty viscous in the glass but I would call it medium minus body. Cherries present first, very luscious and soft mouthfeel when not too cold. Not too much non-fruit flavor for Clifford, he gets bouquet of roses, and a little bit of chalky minerality on the finish, while I get some forest floor that he doesn’t seem to taste.
It’s about $16/bottle, we figure, because it’s $8 per 12-oz can (a normal glass of wine is somewhere around 6 ounces). We’re actually a little surprised that they put something this complex in a can. We don’t taste any of the sawdust or yeast that is so common in “cheap” wine. Admittedly, the process of canning has definitely come a long way in the last few decades – we’ve got non-reactive linings, cans that change color based on temperature… the can isn’t an automatic symbol of “wrong for wine”-ness. This wine compares favorably with other pinots in the same price range, and is way better than anything we’ve been able to find here in a box or bag. Non-glass options are not so popular here in Northern California, it seems.
This would be great for a venue where you can’t bring glass – party at the beach, hotel pool, hiking, boating, substitute teaching at an elementary school… the options are endless. Why, for god’s sake, is this stuff not being sold in vending machines?! That would blow my mind.90/100 – Because I would buy a six-pack of this stuff.
The Hella 5 Star System
We have adopted the opinion that fine art, music, wine, cigars, and other comestibles are governed by a unifying principle, which is that the intention of the artist matters. Art can be judged by the patron only as it pertains to the emotive and inductive properties of that art. We think Winemakers and Torcedors are artists.
Here at Hella Wine, we cut our wine-rating teeth on the wildly popular wine app Vivino. Vivino has an integrated five-star system for rating wine, but no standardized rubric to go with it, so we had to define what the star ratings actually mean, and we did so in a very personal way. This system takes into account: price, aesthetics, situational variables, relationships, and any other completely biased information we can come up with. This makes our system predictably emotional, and ratings change from glass to glass, even possibly from the same bottle.
Without further ado, our 5 star rating system revealed
I wont drink/smoke this even if you buy it!
I would drink a glass of this or smoke 1 if you bought it, but I would not order this for myself.
I would buy a glass/one cigar and enjoy it.
I would buy a bottle/5pack of this and really enjoy it.
I'd buy a case/box of this because I just love it.
The Hella 50 to 100 System
We also will usually apply the commonly used 50-100 point scale to our ratings. This tasting format, familiar from the annals of the indelible Robert Parker and Wine Spectator Magazine, does not take price or my ability to afford the wine in question into account. The situation that the drink or cigar was tasted in does not matter. This scale only reflects the quality of the wine/cigar in relation to other wines/cigars we have tasted.
You may loosely infer from this rating:
96-100: A hella amazing wine/cigar of super bold complex character displaying the attributes we hella want to find in the best wines in the world. Wines like this are hella awesome.
90 - 95: An amazing wine/cigar with hella character. Wonderful stuff, we feel lucky to try these.
80 - 89: A hella good wine/cigar, no noticeable flaws but it's just good/okay.
70 - 79: Hella basic, not so memorable wine/cigar. It's good, but just missing that something that makes it hella good, or even special.
60 - 69: Something bad happened in this wine/cigars life. Maybe it got left in a car and cooked, or maybe it sucked to begin with. All we know is we hella don't really want to finish it. Sometimes you gotta take one for the team.
50 - 59: This wine/cigar hella sucks.