I've been fighting the good fight to bring you Pinot Noirs under $20, but it's not getting any easier. If you like this delicate, silky grape you are not alone. And if you are struggling to find a wine you like for under $20, well, you're not alone there, either.
Here are my favorites among the new fall Pinot Noirs I've tasted thus far. And--miracles do happen--one is actually under $20. And I'm seeing a wide variety of prices for these wines--sometimes they are on sale for far less than the suggested retail. What's going on? Has the Pinot Noir market softened? Even if the suggested retail seems out of your price league, check your local merchants because you might find one of these bottles for far less than I quote here.
Special kudos go to Sean Minor Wines for delivering a Pinot Noir under $20 that can hold its own with more expensive bottlings. Their 2007 Sean Minor Wines Four Bears Pinot Noir ($17; available for $12-$20) is made with grapes from Napa Valley's Carneros AVA. This is a very good, affordable example of a Carneros Pinot Noir. The aromas are full of berry and sour cherry. The flavors are earthy and chalky, with lovely cherry notes held together by the wine's silky texture. The wine has a pleasant, juicy aftertaste with good acidity. Excellent QPR.
2006 Whitehaven Pinot Noir Marlborough ($25; available for $19-$26) I liked the bright cherry and char aromas that were layered with a touch of bacon fact as the wine opened up. The wine's satiny texture enveloped sour cherry, allspice, and meaty flavors. The aftertaste was juicy and peppery, with some roughness to the tannins that should resolve in time. Very good QPR.
2007 Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery Pinot Noir Carneros ($27) Another nice Carneros Pinot Noir for under $30, this one has aromas of brown sugar and cherry. The flavors of cherry, earth, and spicy clove are arranged on a light-bodied, lacy frame. There is a spicy, toasted toasted oak aftertaste that comes as a bit of a surprise, but it somehow works. Good QPR.
2007 MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast ($28; available for $12-$22--and if you get it for $12 you will think it is stupendous in the value department) I admit it. I'm a Sonoma Coast Pinot fan. This is a classic bottling for that region, and affordable, too. The aromas of raspberries, earth, and rocks are what I've come to expect from a good Sonoma Coast Pinot. The flavors were far meatier than the aromas suggested, with berry and cherry fruit, and there was lots of earth and spicy clove in the aftertaste. It tastes just a bit clumsy at present, but I think it will resolve beautifully over the next 6 mos to 3 years, and reward some time and space in your cellar if you can spare it. Very good QPR (unless you get it for under $20, at which point it's excellent QPR).
Full disclosure: I received these wines as samples.
We would add the Firesteed Pinot Noir to your list of excellent under $20 Pinot Noirs. From Oregon, this versatile Pinot Noir pairs nicely with Atlantic salmon and was a fall wine pick from our Nova Scotia luxury property DesBarres Manor Inn in 2007. You can read more about our tasting notes and pairing ideas for the Firesteed Pinot Noir here:
Fall Wine Picks from DesBarres Manor Inn
Macmurray Ranch Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast The Fred Macmurray ranch in the Russian River produces the finest inexpensive Pinot made in America. Delicious soft, spicy red fruits with fresh acidity and a charming, mouth coating warmth on the finish. Perfect with Turkey!
Have you tried or have any opinion of the 2007 MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir Russian River Valley?
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