Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir 2006

I was in New York City a couple of months ago and stumbled across a wine shop on the Upper West Side.  I posed the shop guy a challenge.  I wanted to take just one bottle back to the UK.  What would he recommend?  Something American, good value, underrated, and not available in the UK.

He suggested that I see through the marketing gimmicks of Cycles Gladiator and try the Cabernet Sauvignon at about 11 bucks.  I’ve not tasted it yet.

At a California Wines event in London last month, I stumbled across the same brand.  A number of thoughts raged.  It’s available in the UK!  And they do a Pinot Noir!  And it’s the same cheesy label!  And it tastes annoyingly good…

On yer bike, lass!

In fact the cheesy label is considered so naughty by the State of Alabama that it is banned from sale in this jurisdiction that, whilst not completely dry, is hardly going to be competing for the wine industry award for most bottles sold per capita.

This has lead many conspiracy theorists to conclude that the label is a Hahn Estates publicity stunt.  The cost of half a case of lost sales per week in Alabama is outweighed by the worldwide pent up demand

I agree with the shop guy in NYC, though.  See through the packaging and sample the wine.  It is apparently available at £6.99 in the UK (possibly at Waitrose or Co-op, although I couldn’t find info online) which is stonking value for a half decent Pinot Noir.  The flavours are soft strawberry, tart raspberry and yummy spice.  I recommend drinking it fairly well chilled.

5 Responses to “Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir 2006”

  1. Peter May Says:

    There’s nothing worse than bringinghome a wine you think is unavailable back home only to find it on theshelves on your return.

    But Cycles Gladiator brand has been available in the UK for a couple of years at least. They’re in Waitrose and TWC and even my local independent — who also has the ‘serious’ Hahn labelled wines .

  2. Alastair Bathgate Says:

    Yup – good job I only brought one bottle so no excess baggage to pay 😉

  3. Philip Woodrow Says:

    Good day Alastair,

    We’re glad to hear that a certain wine purveyor on the Upper West Side chose our Cycles Gladiator when it came time to recommend a good value American wine. It’s unfortunate that he did not know it would be available in UK, but certainly was not his fault. The fact is Cycles Gladiator is widely distributed in Europe, which is a testament to the reasons he recommended it to you.

    And thank you for commenting that the Pinot Noir tastes “annoyingly” good. We’d venture to say you’ll find the Cabernet Sauvignon equally “annoying”!

    We would like to set the record straight on the conclusions of some conspiracy theorists that this was a publicity stunt by the winery however. The Cycles Gladiator label bears a replica of an antique French poster created in 1895 to advertise bicycles.(Originals of this poster are valued at fantastical amounts.) When our president first saw the poster many years ago he realized this would be a great wine label, and thus the Cycles Gladiator wine brand was born.

    We’d been selling the wine in Alabama for three years before being notified by the Alabama ABC that the wine had been banned there after one complaint from a consumer regarding the “pornographic” nature of the label. We immediately complied and distributors around the state pulled the wine from the shelves.

    This ban sparked a nationwide debate about artistic freedom and consumer rights. Two things that our winery strongly supports. And yes, we did see a spike interest in the product as a result of the controversy, but it would have been impossible to have instigated such a plan. No one could possible dream up such a far fetched ploy.

    In any case, we’re glad that you enjoyed the wine and hope that you’ll continue to look out for it on a store shelf near you.

    For further reading on the era of the Cycles Gladiator poster (and why they depicted women in this way) we’d suggest:



    Philip Woodrow
    Hahn Family Wines

  4. Cycles Gladiator strikes again | Wine Miles Says:

    […] February I sampled the 2006 Pinot Noir from this brand and gave it a good account.  A 2008 appeared recently, I figured it was worth another go.  But Pinot Noir is notoriously […]

  5. david peabody Says:

    Hi all

    Just to join in, I have just bought a bottle of Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir 2006 in my
    local CO-OP store in Burnham -on-Crouch, in the far backwards of Essex, UK.

    Hence looking up its pedigree, I must say that it is first class, my store, it would seem of late are going for a Pinot Noir! I paid £ 6.99 for a bottle, great value.


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