Little Penguin 2010 Pinot Noir Wine Review

Little Penguin Pinot Noir

We already covered this wine briefly in Part 1 of our Christmas Wine posts last month, but I wanted to revisit the Little Penguin Pinot Noir as its own review. I purchased another bottle recently since I wanted to take a closer, more non-holiday look at it, and was rather surprised at what I found, thus this full review.

The first thing I need to mention is: Ignore what I wrote previously. Perhaps they accidentally bottled the wrong wine in the bottle I had purchased before, perhaps it was corked and I was far too innebriated to notice, or perhaps I never in fact drank the Little Penguin Pinot. The holidays do weird things to you, folks. Just accept it.

Second, I want to focus for a moment on the fact that’s this is a 2010 red wine. That is wacky to me. It’s January of 2011 and we’re already drinking a 2010 Pinot Noir? I mean, this wine is from South Eastern Australia, but their seasons can’t be so different than ours in the U.S. that they’re releasing 2010 Pinots by January 2011 can they? What kind of oak are they using? Krypton oak?

I guess I’m not really here to complain, but it just seems odd for a 2010 Pinot to be released in 2010. Granted it’s a cheap wine, but still. I don’t know. I’ve done enough rambling now, so let me get to the damn review.


I can’t see my hand through it so there’s something a little fishy here. Pinot, even cheap Pinot, is meant to be so light and filtered in color that you can practically read through it. This stuff is as dark as Zinfandel. Perhaps we’re looking at a new potential phenomenon here: Depending on the varietal, the cheaper it is, the more it’s color will reflect opposite of traditional varietal characteristics. Cheap Syrah is light in color, cheap Pinot is dark.


Delicious. Smoke and those strawberry candies that they wrap in plastic paper that looks like strawberries. You know the ones. Grandma always had them in a bowl. The best thing about them was that the wrapper was large enough for you to spit the candy back into it so you could toss it when she wasn’t looking. Anyway, fantastic nose.


Rich, thick, pronounced. This is not a Pinot Noir. I don’t care what the label says. I refuse to believe it. I know the Aussies make some real bruisers when it comes to wines, but this is getting out of hand. Not to say that it isn’t delicious. It is lip-smacking and tasty. Great fruit, rich cherry and strawberry fruit rollups. Some nice smokey bacon elements start aerating through your mouth. The finish is quick, but it’s quick in the sense that a jab is quick: Powerful and gone before you know it, leaving you with nothing but pain. I’m rambling again.

With Food

Well we can’t pair it based on the label. Think of Syrah or Zinfandel. Nothing light with this one. For instance, Pinot can sometimes go with fish depending on how it’s cooked. Not this one. Aim for BBQ sauces, rich ragús or slow roasted game. Ostrich or lamb would be quite good with this. I feel like I should take a Sharpie to every wine shop I can find, scribble out “Pinot Noir” on the bottle and write “Syrah.” So, if you see this, try not to accept what it says on the bottle. Obviously you can see how much this has traumatized me.

Final Rating


Points for great BBQ pairing, but treat this thing like a Syrah.

$7.49 @

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8 Responses to “Little Penguin 2010 Pinot Noir Wine Review”

  1. “I mean, this wine is from South Eastern Australia, but their seasons can’t be so different than ours in the U.S. that they’re releasing 2010 Pinots by January 2011 can they?”

    Do you mean besides the fact that their seasons are exactly opposite ours, so the 2010 harvest was in what we consider spring? That still only gives 6 months or so in oak. Still young, but doable.

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  3. Wine Welfare Says:
    January 11, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the comment!

    Agreed that it is doable. And I suppose this being an under $6 wine I pretty much answered my own question up there, but I still feel that it’s just a little wacky. You figure that crush is always Feb. to April down there. Let’ say they crush and get it in the barrel by March. This was released in October, I believe. That seems incredibly fast. Most Australian whites are released around that time, even the cheap ones. And reds almost always early the following year, just before the next crush.

    Thanks again for your comment. Hope you keep reading!


  4. David Nicholl Says:
    March 27, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    This wine won our annual building blind tasting among 20 other <$15 bottles… two years in a row! Stunned, I came to the conclusion that Little Penguin Pinot Noir is the just-right party wine for a crowd. It's simple, sweet and not offensive in any way. It's unlikely to knock anyone's socks off, but most will find that it's 'pretty good'.

  5. So, am curious, when the responses seem positive for this not overly expensive wine—would it be appropriate (ie good enough) to serve at a wedding? Our budget is not huge, thus we are offering wine and beer to our guests. My brother in law recommended Pinot Noir as a good all-purpose red choice. I was going to see what they have at Costco and Sam’s, but believe I saw this Little Penguin at our local liquor/grocery store yesterday–reg $8.99, but I could get for $6.30 by buying at least six bottles. What thinks you? Thanks.

    (BTW, serving Chicken Parmesan and flat iron steak, offering sangria and probably a chardonnay, keg local beer and Coors Light in bottles.)

  6. Me, again. Also–we were thinking of Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante for the toast. It is a little more expensive than some of the other “cheap” champagnes or sparklings–but has sentimental value. Haven’t had it in a while, but had remembered it being tasty back in the day. What do you think of it?

    Thank you again!

  7. Wine Welfare Says:
    June 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Hi Cindy!

    First of all, Congrats! I’m assuming you’re referring to your own wedding, but even if not, well, congrats anyway!

    To be honest, I’d hit Costco and Sam’s Club to see what California Pinots they have for under $10 first before buying the Little Penguin in bulk. While it was good, it wasn’t the best for the price. I’ve seen better Pinots from CA at the same price point. Here’s one of the best, and it’s usually cheaper. Plus, better-looking bottle:

    Hope that helps! It would be delicious with the flat-iron steak.

    Congrats, again!


  8. Wine Welfare Says:
    June 25, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Sentimental value trumps price (whether it’s high or low). I don’t dig the sweet bubbles too often, but the Martini & Rossi is a good one for the price. You also just made me decide that I need to write a review of that one since it’s such a steal. If you’re looking for regular bubbles for under like $6, try Spanish Cava or Cristalino:

    Cristalino in particular is awesome since it’s dry enough and $5.95 in most places.

    Let me know if you try it!


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