Cheap Pinot Noir

10 Top Wines - $16 or Less

 


Cheap Pinot Noir. It’s an oxymoron, right? Well, not exactly. In response to the explosion in demand for Pinot generated by the movie Sideways (incredible, right? A movie fundamentally changing the wine preferences of the world!), thousands of acres of Pinot Noir were planted.

Over the past several years, much of that acreage has begun to come on line, greatly increasing the quantity of Pinot Noir on the market -- just as demand began to waver. So, that means there’s lots of affordable Pinot Noir in the market. The question remains: is it any good?

I tasted a nice line-up of value-priced Pinot Noir and the answer to that question surprised me. Yes, there is pretty good Pinot at affordable prices! Read on to see some of my favorites.

2008 Toad Hollow Pinot Noir Goldie's Vineyard, Russian River Valley 14.5%

Gentle nose with smoky, grapevine notes, dried bay leaves, mint, and some soil tones. Bright and fresh in the mouth yet quite fruity, with lots of fresh raspberry fruit and modest suggestions of vanilla, herbs, and woodsy spice. This is really nice little glass of Pinot, balanced and complex with all the sweet fruit a Pinot should have, backed up by a slightly stiff structure. The finish shows really nice length and subtle complexity, with a hint of sweetness on the finale, but more than enough acidity to keep this balanced. 88pts

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2008 Valley of the Moon Carneros Pinot Noir 13.5%

A bit bittersweet on the nose with a really earthy underlay, some burnt toast, and dried strawberry fruit with some lemony, herbal top notes. This is a big Pinot. It’s got significant weight and power behind the core of black raspberry/black cherry  fruit in the mouth. The acid helps lighten the load a bit on the back end, but this is surprisingly intense. The fruit is dark and fairly spicy with some well-concealed vanilla and fine forest floor tones vying for attention. The finish is a bit coarse and chunky, but pretty long. This wine makes no pretense of refinement and elegance, but if you’re looking for a fun, no-holds-barred kind of Pinot this might be for you. 88pts

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2008 Feudo Arancio Pinot Noir, Sicily, Italy 13.5%

Gentle notes of tobacco, rose, mineral and peppery spice help frame the subtle fruit aromas here. On entry this is rather full and really bright, with a significant acid spine. The fruit really pops in the mouth with clove; rich, earthy wild cherries; and hints of darker, black currant fruits. There’s a touch of chocolate across the mid-palate that adds complexity to the lightly spicy cherry finish. Mouthwatering and bright, yet rich and round, this knits together many components of more expensive Pinots in a nice approachable package that has much more backbone than one typically finds in Pinot at this price. Yes, it’s probably a bit extracted, but it’s also pretty good. 88pts

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2008 Mezzacorona Pinot Noir Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Italy 13%

A bit of rose petal and crushed rock greets the nose, joined by mint herbs, a touch of pepper bacon, and nice raspberry candy and perfumed pomegranate fruit. This is a bit of a lean style, certainly acid-driven, but with lovely depth of flavor. There are nice nuanced notes of mineral, herb and earth framing the raspberry fruit and a light vanilla top note adding some detail. Really shows some nice tension in the mouth and on the moderately long, refreshing finish, where the small-scaled tannins make themselves apparent. A very nice, pure expression of Pinot Noir. 87pts

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2008 Montinore Estate Pinot Noir, Oregon 13.9%

This smells a bit woody at first, though it gains more earthy depth with air and a dark cherry fruitiness adds complexity and sweetness to the nose. In the mouth this is a touch blocky up front, though the overall weight is nice in the light to medium-bodied range. Herb-framed flavors of cherry and plum skin on the palate lead to a moderately long finish with wood spice tones and slightly under-ripe fruit note battling for the upper hand. The tannins have a bit of an edge to them on the finale, adding a nice touch of mouthgrab. A solid offering. 87pts

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Comments

  • Snooth User: ssigaud
    299760 23

    Hi Gregory - how do you define cheap? What price range? Also, which point system are you using? Thx.

    Oct 21, 2010 at 11:45 AM


  • My favorite cheap pinot noir is Bouchard Aîné & Fils, Vin de Pays, 13% abv. It costs $9-$10 on the east coast but, would still be a good value at $14. I don't think you can get much cheaper than that.

    Oct 21, 2010 at 11:51 AM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 213,714

    Well, i this case under $16 a bottle. For other wines that might be more or less. I'm using a visceral 100 point system that has many influences, the peer group for example.

    I use this system primarily because people want this level of specificity in wine reviews. I don't believe that there is a particularly compelling consistency associated with reviewing wines this way. All of the wines listed above are good values and represent a range of successful styles of Pinot.

    Some I would buy, others I wouldn't, but that's just my personal response to these wines. I try and provide enough information in the written review for each wine so that people can look past the scores and begin to understand the nature and character of each wine.

    Oct 21, 2010 at 11:55 AM


  • Snooth User: ssigaud
    299760 23

    Perfect, thanks Gregory - I understand the approach. Have you tried the Mark West PN from California? Under 10 bucks so maybe it would go in the "really cheap" category!

    Oct 21, 2010 at 12:02 PM


  • Snooth User: meaton
    384101 1

    Parducci makes an very nice pinot noir for under $12. It is the "house pinot noir" for Ruth's Chris Steakhouses.

    Oct 21, 2010 at 12:07 PM


  • Snooth User: atonalprime
    Hand of Snooth
    157790 1,412

    Great timing, I've been wondering about this very topic recently. Thanks, Greg, for putting this together.

    Oct 21, 2010 at 1:39 PM


  • I agree with ssigaud. Mark West PN is good. I Love A to Z PN too!

    Oct 21, 2010 at 1:58 PM


  • Snooth User: xuxu
    602321 2

    Where are the New York and Canadian Pinot Noirs?

    Oct 21, 2010 at 2:00 PM


  • It's at the upper end of the price scale (about $14 "club price" at Safeway, but I'd add Rodney Strong RRV. Never relly liked the Mirassou

    Oct 21, 2010 at 3:46 PM


  • Snooth User: Seabrooker
    167088 54

    I've tasted several of these, and they certainly belong in the "value-priced" category. But there are two more continents that make both excellent and "value-priced" Pinots - South America (esp Chile) and Australasia (think New Zealand). How about a second 10 from these countries?

    Oct 21, 2010 at 4:02 PM


  • Hard to beat 'La Crema' for $15.89 at Costco...more at other locations.

    Oct 21, 2010 at 4:41 PM


  • Snooth User: Kaalvoet
    211224 1

    PS-try hybrid Pinot Noir, by Peltierstation $7 a bottle... "pound to pound" one of the best wines in the market :)

    Oct 21, 2010 at 4:52 PM


  • Snooth User: TRRiley
    553260 7

    Would have been great to see prices. I know the range is under $16, but a little more definition would makes this more interesting. Thanks.

    Oct 21, 2010 at 6:25 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 213,714

    I hear about the prices, but they range so wildly that when I listed them in the past I got more comments about the wine being either significantly more or less expensive than the price that I listed. I can go with MSRP, but the fact of the matter is that many MSRPs of these wines are well over $16.

    It's a catcha 22. Great title for en email that there.

    Oct 21, 2010 at 6:46 PM


  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 7,435

    Greg, lots of useful info, as usual.

    Not to flog a dead horse, but I honestly think this info would be more easily accessible, handy and easier-to-get-through-all-of-it if it was in the old article format rather than slideshow. Some subjects are optimal in slide show format, but others not. Just too much of a p-i-t-as_ to wade all the way through the slides....

    Oct 21, 2010 at 6:57 PM


  • Snooth User: jennym
    183722 9

    I had a great PN while in Christchurch, NZ this summer (the week before the big earthquake)--Mt. Difficulty Roaring Meg Pinot Noir. So good we went back to the same restaraunt the next night and had it again. Not cheap, but oh so good.

    Oct 21, 2010 at 7:56 PM


  • Had a Tamar Ridge PN from Tasmania ,Australia recently. Great value at
    $A 19.

    Oct 21, 2010 at 10:53 PM


  • Indian Creek PN from Idaho. Pulling some tastey wines from that little vinyard...the PN is one of them. About $12

    Oct 21, 2010 at 11:07 PM


  • Snooth User: napagirl68
    Hand of Snooth
    87843 2,684

    Eveyone I know likes Mark West... I do NOT. I don't know why, I just DON'T. I have a very specific palate for pinot, and there are only a handful that fit so far. I need to taste more.... I tend to like Sonoma coast pinot, and I like, what CA wineries call, a "barnyard" nose.. almost like manure... sounds nasty, but the wines are usually great. I like an almost clear, true red, no purple, but a symphony of flavors, not watery. Guess I am finicky, just like that tiny little grape is :-)

    Oct 21, 2010 at 11:07 PM


  • Snooth User: EddieL
    618177 16

    Can this article (or others from this website) be printed without going page after page?

    Oct 22, 2010 at 9:51 AM


  • Snooth User: EddieL
    618177 16

    I found three of these wines at LCBO in Toronto. I am going to give them a try. Greg, how would you say they fare against the great Pinots of France and Russian River Valley?

    Oct 22, 2010 at 10:24 AM


  • Snooth User: bechap81
    499176 7

    Mark West Pinot

    Oct 22, 2010 at 1:57 PM


  • Recently had Block Nine was great .Cono sur is always consistently good.Sebastiani vineyard Pinot noir was a favorite that I loved for its rich dense flavors. Havent had it recently though.

    Oct 22, 2010 at 7:41 PM


  • Snooth User: mneilson
    603247 21

    First time blogger!. Please try some Mornington Peninsula Pinots from Victoria, Australia......Very much on the rise.

    Oct 22, 2010 at 8:26 PM


  • Snooth User: BGvino
    400136 4

    How about the $9.99 VINI Pinot Noir 2009 from the Danube River Plains region in Bulgaria?

    Oct 24, 2010 at 10:48 PM


  • Snooth User: luca chevalier
    Hand of Snooth
    533661 2,535

    ...does somebody really think that there are a lot of pinot noir vineyard in Sicily....(Feudo Arancio Winery belogs To Mezzocorona Group)

    Oct 25, 2010 at 2:36 AM


  • Snooth User: denig0705
    145463 1

    Concannon PN is a great buy and the bottle is bulletproof.

    Oct 25, 2010 at 3:40 PM


  • Snooth User: Masaryk
    71775 16

    I would like to submit the word 'cheap' in the annoying wine words post. Classic misuse: The title of this post. The correct word should be inexpensive.

    Oct 26, 2010 at 2:51 PM


  • Snooth User: kurtsf
    72514 7

    For us Californians, Mark West is swill. Try the Costco Kirkland Russian River Pinot for $13.00...try it in a blind taste test. I did and it blew the others away!

    Oct 26, 2010 at 5:43 PM


  • Snooth User: bobragg
    150373 4

    does Mark West add grape juice to their pinot noir??

    Oct 26, 2010 at 5:56 PM


  • Snooth User: bpkrug1
    585913 6

    I hate to blow-up the bubble, that there exists a good Pinot Noir under a price point of say, $20.00. If so, I for one, haven't found it. There does seem to be a following for Cameron Hughes Wines, various Pinot Noir, but they start at $18.00. I can't comment on them, as I have yet to taste one, but I'm in the process of having three examples from 2007, 2008 and 2009 vintages delivered shortly. I'll be sure to post a comment then. However, at $19.99/bottle, I really enjoy the 2007 and 2008 Pellegrini, Olivet Lane Vineyard, Estate Bottled, Russian River Valley, Pinot Noir. Purchased at Costco. Oh, by the way Greg, the Pellegrini is 'Estate Grown, Produced and Bottled.

    Oct 27, 2010 at 2:51 AM


  • Snooth User: mrod
    434699 1

    Just tasted Pinot Noir at Twomey in Sonoma County. I thought the 2008 Russian River Pinot was exceptional!

    Oct 30, 2010 at 1:17 AM


  • Snooth User: Samluvwine
    624183 16

    I had a Pinot Noir called The Naked Grape. Very good and only $9.00!!

    Nov 17, 2010 at 1:21 PM


  • Snooth User: bbodmer
    568649 11

    Have you tried Meiomi by Bel Glos? Wonderful with chicken or turkey.
    Price range: $19-23.

    Nov 17, 2010 at 5:05 PM


  • Cheap is $4.99 $10.00 is inexpensive. Anyone try Crane Lake Pinot Noir 2009 ?

    Nov 17, 2010 at 5:06 PM


  • Back in the 70's, their was a winery called "Sonoma Winery" They had the richest deepest Pinot I have ever had. Does any one remember and know who the winemaker was? This was around 1972, to 1976. Yah, I know, but I thought I would ask.

    Nov 17, 2010 at 5:35 PM


  • If you are looking for a good Pinot Noir at a reasonable price you should look for New Zealand brands. Excellent Pinots at reasonable prices.

    Nov 17, 2010 at 10:58 PM


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