Thursday, October 07, 2010

Bargains In Pinot Noir

(No, you are not hallucinating.)

Recently I sat down to taste samples of Pinot Noir. This normally fills me with dread. As you all know, I focus on wines under $20. There's not much good Pinot Noir to be had in that price bracket. Still, Pinot Noir is one of my favorite grapes so I often taste my way through the bottles I receive and get thoroughly disheartened with each new bottle.

This time, I was astonished to discover not one, not two, but three bottles under $20 that I felt delivered in terms of taste and quality. One of them has a suggested retail under $10, and all three can be found in the market for $7-$12. Interested? Read on.

2008 Cupcake Vineyards Pinot Noir comes from the Central Coast AVA and is typical of Pinot Noir from that region. (suggested retail $14; available for $7-$12) It has abundant warm cherry aromas, and flavors of cherry, allspice, and a touch of earth lending depth to the aftertaste. Very good QPR.

2008 McWilliam's Pinot Noir Hanwood Estate contains grapes from Australia's South Eastern region. (suggested retail $11; available for $7-$10) The aromas were an interesting mix of cherry and talc, with allspice, nutmeg, red berry, and cherry flavors. More complex than some at this price point, with a spicy aftertaste. Excellent QPR.

2009 Turning Leaf Vineyards Pinot Noir California represents very good QPR with a suggested retail of $8 and wide distribution throughout the US (no listings yet on the wine search engines as this is a new vintage, but you should be able to find it soon). This is a simple, drinkable Pinot Noir dominated by raspberry fruit and a slightly chalky note in the aftertaste. As the wine opens, higher toned notes of cranberry and pomegranate emerge.

If you're looking for a drinkable, enjoyable Pinot Noir, it's worth giving one or more of these bottles a taste and seeing if they suit your palate.

Full Disclosure: I received these wines as samples.


Portland Charcuterie Project said...

I think you should take a deeper dive into Oregon Pinot Noir.

I can recommend at least 5-10 good, solid Pinot Noirs that are $20 and under ( some are 20/under individually, and some reach that price point when you purchase by the case )

2008 lange
2008 Le Nez from Lenne
2007 Eola Amity Hills
2008 cummins road
2008 Grochau Commuter Cuvee
2009 Vincent
2009 Helioterra

some are just good.. and others are great. I'd be happy to do some tasting with you and help you create a stronger list of "good to great" $20 and under Pinots.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you, Deb! However, I was pleasantly surprised by a Trader Joe's brand pinot from Monterey which, rumor has it, is made by Hahn. At about $9, it's quite good.

Unknown said...

I love pinot noir so will be trying some of your recommendations.

Dr. Debs said...

I know, I know!I don't drink enough Oregon Wine. Sad truth: there isn't much of it on the shelves in California that isn't way over my budget. But I promise I'm trying to rectify the situation. (thanks, Gwendolyn, for the TJ Pinot tip)