Monday, March 08, 2010

Looking for Affordable Pinot Noir?

The idea of affordable Pinot Noir is a guaranteed attention-grabber. Blame it on the movies, the delicacy of the grape, or its status as a fashionable tipple. No matter what you blame it on, there's one thing for sure: Pinot Noir is pricey.

And, in my opinion, deservedly so. When Pinot Noir is well made, it is a joy to drink. It's juicy, fresh, and silky. It pairs beautifully with a wide variety of foods. And there is something elegant about the grapes that are made with this wine that always leaves me wanting more: more of it on my dinner table, more in my glass, more in my cellar.

Many of the things I love best about Pinot Noir, however, can be hard to find in less expensive bottlings. Which is why these two selections are such finds--and both cost $20 or less.

2008 Hayman & Hill Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands Reserve Selection (suggested retail, $18; a new release so ask your local merchant about whether they will be stocking it). Very characteristic of the Central Coast appellation where the grapes were grown, this wine had juicy black raspberry and elegant floral aromas with hints of chalk and limestone around the edges. Its fruit-forward core reminded me of homemade raspberry jam and fresh blackberries. It had the hallmark smoothness in the mouth, and left behind a satiny feeling that is hard to find in inexpensive Pinot Noir. Excellent QPR.

2008 Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards Pinot Noir (suggested retail, $20; available $14-23). The grapes in this Pinot come from the Russian River Valley which makes for a spicier, earthier wine. Expect notes of raspberry and earth in the aromas, which are echoed in the flavors. There is lots of allspice and clove in the aftertaste. At this early stage of its life, the wine's initial impression is disjointed and awkward but as it gets air (give it a vigorous swirl!) the flavors start to deepen and knit together. This wine is suitable for short-term aging, and will continue to improve until around 2012. Perhaps buy a few bottles if you find it, and set some aside in a cool, dark place for your 2010 Thanksgiving dinner. Excellent QPR.

Full Disclosure: I received these wines as samples.


Mike Duffy said...

I second your vote on the Hayman & Hill Pinot. It's an excellent inexpensive wine.

Kimberly said...

I've had a Hayman & Hill Zinfandel that I loved, but never the Pinot. I'll give it a try -- I've seen it in my local grocery store.

Another really nice under $20 Pinot is the Sean Minor 2008 Pinot Noir from California. We recently began carrying it where I work, and I took a bottle home one night and was smitten! It's really challenging to find an under-$20 Cali Pinot you want to drink, but this one fits the bill for me.

todd merkel said...

You're missing out on quite a few great Oregon Pinot Noirs that are under $20.

Now I realize that most Oregon Pinots are priced at an average $40-$50 per bottle, but look around and you'll find a few winners.

Try Boedeckers, Willamette Valley, and Patty Green Cellars, just to name a few.

All The best.. love your blog.


todd merkel said...

FYI.. if you're interested in learning about the small wineries of Oregon, I highly recommend you subscribe to the blog

This is the quest of a lovely young lady to visit all of Oregon's wineries in one year, and she's been blogging about some great "hidden gems"


Dominique Henderson said...

This is an excellent value and such rich flavor. Never guess it was under $15. Fooled everyone on a blind.

David said...

Thanks, yes, affordable pinot a tough find. I've had an earlier Hayman Hill and agree it's a good one, will keep an eye out for the Rodney Strong. Often bring Pinot for Easter so I have a short-term interest in the subject!

Free Credit Score said...

Thanks for posting. I vote for Hayman & Hill Pinot too. Price is not too bad as well. said...

Agree, inexpensive yet quality Pinot Noir is hard to come by... what about South African Pino's they're pretty fabulous if I don't say so myself:)

Warm Regards

gih said...

Hmmm, this one maybe really strong. I never taste it yet.