Top Pinot Noir Picks

Be ready for the holidays with these fantastic Pinot Noir suggestions





2009 Stoller Pinot Noir SV Dundee Hills 14.5% $45    

Tight and mineral on the nose with an overlay of sweet, toasty oak and a base of red fruit framed with rose petals. This enters the mouth with terrific energy. The acidity really holds this up like a tent pole, allowing the transparent red fruit to cascade around the palate with nuanced notes of lightly nutty oak and a hint of caramel sweetness adding detail. The back end shows off more strawberry-toned fruit with the light earthy astringency of strawberry seeds and a hint of tar before the wine trails off on the clean, fresh finish. The tannins here are lovely, super fine grained and supportive, but you really don't even notice them. Suave stuff. 92pts

2009 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Yamhill Cuvee Willamette Valley 14.3% $45

Tight on the nose with almond shell top notes and slow to emerge raspberry, sour cherry and cranberry fruit topped with hints of candied orange. Very elegant if a touch tight on entry, this quickly shows a bit of nutty oak along with a focused core of small, sour red fruits framed with dried spice notes. The wood tannins arrive on the mid-palate to tighten things up and accentuate a bit of wood spice that flows onto the finish, which is almost peppery and long with wild red berry fruits. The oak is a bit prominent here both texturally and in terms of flavor, but the underlying wine should emerge intact after a year or two in the cellar. 91pts

2008 Youngberg Hill Vineyards Pinot Noir Jordan McMinnville OR 14% $40

Sweet candied herbs, vanilla, bay leaf, chinato, wild cherry, sage and a little caramel all come together on this complex and pungent nose. That intensity carries over to the palate, which displays all sorts of bitter and ripe herb, accenting bright sour cherry and cranberry fruit. There's noticeable tannin here and vanilla with modest spice notes from the oak. The palate shows some nuances of funky, almost gamy dried herbs and some nuttiness which adds detail to the fairly tannic, long and tart fruit finish. Unusual yes, but attractive, super complex and very interesting. Will be divisive. 91pts

2010 V Sattui Winery Pinot Noir Henry Ranch Los Carneros Napa Valley 13.5% $40

Cola and earth pop on the nose followed by hints of fresh herbs and smoky hickory nuts. This is tight on the nose with a vague sweetness and a low note of blueberry. Nicely balanced in the mouth with a blend of freshness and body that should find many fans. The flavors recall herbs and old wood on the front end followed by blueberry fruit and some not inconsequential tannins that somehow peter out on the modest finish. This is understated, subdued even, but it does show hints of cherry fruit and a rather sophisticated texture. 89pts

2010 Belle Glos Pinot Noir Clark & Telephone Santa Barbara County 14.3% $42

Carob, licorice and herbs greet the nose along with creamy black cherry cola notes and a touch of juniper spice. Nicely put together on entry. Slighty larger scaled but well balanced, this delivers intense tart black cherry fruit on the palate with spicy oak framing notes. Creamy vanilla and licorice accents lead to a slightly sweet/dry type of finish with spicy tannins clipping the finale. There's a hint of heat here as well. I can see the appeal here: nice mouthfeel, big fruit, well-measured oak and it's well done, but it still leaves me a little flat. 89pts

2009 Freeman Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 14.1% $48    

Really lovely. A rush of herbs, sweet/tart red berry fruits, gently creamy oak notes and a mist of cola throughout. This has a light spicy aspect to the aromas but they are just so complex and lively that it doesn't seem to be too obvious. The palate is a bit of a let down after the fantastic nose. Smooth and seductive, it's got a lovely texture. In truth, there's plenty of nice burnished cherry fruit with a hint of peachiness, but the complex notes of herbs and even the oak accents seem to stay deep in the background.There's a tactile sense of wood tannin on the palate but it's covered by a sweet yet somehow rather bland body. I have to assume this is just in a weird phase today. The finish shows more oak and spice with good length and fruit that does pop out on the back end with cherry/cranberry and rhubarb. Easy to drink but today about 89pts (mostly for the nose and balance).

2009 Belle Glos Pinot Noir Taylor Lane Vineyard Sonoma Coast 14.5% $40

Dark and earthy on the nose with caramel and vanilla notes wrapping up the minty and tarry black fruit. Smells fairly medicinal. A bit chunky and foursquare on the palate with tannins that are quite obvious and which slightly obscure the fruit here. There's a Tootsie Roll quality on the palate along with red cherry fruit and licorice notes on the back end. There's lots of spicy wood accent notes and a bit of drying wood on the back end along with leather and vanilla. The tannins remain assertive on the finish, which also shows a bit of heat. Lighter bodied but reminds me of Zinfandel. 87pts

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  • Snooth User: NorthwestWinestoYou
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    421082 68

    Your link for the $40-$50 range is going to the article on Top Value Pinots.

    Nov 21, 2012 at 1:14 PM


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