So when I looked more into this wine, which ranks among the worst I've had in this around $10/bottle project, I was shocked to see that Barton & Guestier, the producer picked Corsica for Pinot Noir.
I know these cheapie brands are trying to satisfy demand, but this is nothing short of grape abuse. They've been growing vines in Corsica since Phoenician times, but Mediterranean climate loving grapes -- like Sangiovese (called Nielluccio here) or the crisp Vermentino, both which dig the warmer sub-tropical island climate -- are appropriate. Not Pinot Noir. The Burgundians would cry to see these poor grapes.
I bought Bistro at the recommendation of my wine guy at my favorite store, when I told him I was doing this $10 project. He said this was a solid wine with good character, if a little light. That would make for a fine bistro wine even if the label was so unappealing and cheesy, that I had a hard time adding it to my cart. Should have gone with the gut.
Corsica's largest wine region is a Vins de Pays/Indication Geographique Protegée, called Vin de Pays de I'lle de Beauté, which is the island of beauty (it looks pretty beautiful, so that makes sense). When I told M.C. Ice where the wine was from, my French pronunciation was so bad that it sounded like I said I'lle de boot-ay. M.C. noted that the name was fitting since it tasted like it boot-ay as well. Ignorant American joke, yes. True? Also yes.
This wine reinforces my stance that there's no such thing as a good, inexpensive Pinot Noir. It's a hard grape to grow, it thrives in weird, hard to farm places and that's expensive. They've got to pass that cost on. If they don't spend the money, well, you get this.
Wine: 2011 Barton & Guestier Bistro Pinot Noir
Where?: Vin de Pays de I'lle de Beauté (the French Island of Corsica)
Grape: Pinot Noir
Color: A nice, light color -- a transparent, brownish, bricky color. By the looks of it, very promising. Even though it's from a hot climate, it wasn't thick and inky.
Smell: This smelled great. Licorice, tea, dried potpourri, and lots of damp earth. If wine was for smelling and not for drinking, Bistro would be perfect. But, alas, you have to taste it, and that's a damn shame for this wine.
Taste: Imagine you had a black tea bag, dipped it in water for about 2 seconds and then added red food coloring. There is NO flavor, a fleeting second of tannin, and no acid. The wine is like drinking vitamin water -- a little flavor but lacking character. It is a nothing wine. Not even worth the sip.
Drink or Sink?: SINK. A mockery of wine and of the Pinot Noir grape. What a shame that B&G thinks they can meet legal requirements for including Pinot Noir grapes, slap "Product of France" on the label, and include a cliche picture and people will buy it. I guess someone DOES buy it, but why I have no idea.