Top Pinot Values

Don't break the bank with these budget-friendly Pinots


2010 Dobbes Family Estate Pinot Noir

Sandy soil and lightly loamy aromas greet the nose followed by hints of sage and cardamom over light yet fragrant wild berry fruit. This is deceptively lightweight in the mouth with terrific intensity of flavors that are supported by vibrant acids and soft, ripe tannins. The flavors are intense yet somehow a touch ephemeral, with layers of blueberry skins, wild raspberry, cranberry, licorice, violet extract, a touch of India ink and some lovely mineral and pollen notes on the moderately long, zesty finish. This is really lovely and would probably show even better with the right food. I love the structure here, firm but not intrusive in any way. 91pts

2009 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir Russian River Selection 14.3% $37

2009 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir

Intensely perfumed and a bit unusual on the nose with a fresh leather base and gently sweet floral perfumes over a core of slightly meaty black cherry/blackberry fruit. There's a hint of smoke here and some underlying oak nuances, but they are very well integrated. This has fantastic depth of flavor with flavors that mimic the nose: rich dark berry fruits, black cherry skins, a hint of herb and some slightly creamy, lightly toasted and nutty almond ice cream, nutty oak notes in a rather aromatic package. There's an exotic pomegranate edge to the fruit in the mouth and violet pastilles on the back end. The finish shows more wood and wood spice, and the fruit shades a bit redder, but this is long and deep. Already delicious, there is notable potential for this to improve. Elegant complex and complete. 93pts

2009 Lange Estate Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Reserve 13.6% $32

2009 Lange Estate Pinot Noir

A hint of nutty smokiness greets the nose followed by handful of dirty, freshly dug herbs. This smells powerful and savory with a slightly roasted base note of strawberries with a hint of pomegranate seed and orange pith. This enters the mouth with deceptive focus and then slowly unfurls across the palate with vibrant layers of mineral, wild blueberry, wild strawberry and slightly minty dried herb flavors. There's perfectly integrated acidity here along with a base of slightly angular tannins that work as the perfect counterpoint to the sweet impression of fruit this delivers on the palate. On the back end, the wine regains focus, bringing back the herbal elements, bay leaf and sage from the nose. The finish whipsaws back to a remarkably focused presentation with taut red berry fruit that shows a refreshing hint of astringency and austere, mineral-laden length. 92pts

2009 Claiborne & Churchill Pinot Noir Edna Valley 13.5% $30

2009 Claiborne & Churchill Pinot Noir

Very pretty on the nose with a fine blend of herbal notes, a veneer of coffee oak and fine, wild red berry fruit. Air brings out more of the oak, which gets a touch heavy handed. A fine balance of acidity and slightly wood tannins lends this a bit of tension in the mouth with very pretty, herb-inflected red cherry and raspberry fruit on the palate. The wood is a touch more obvious than I would prefer, obscuring some of the detail of the fruit, but this fruit is so lively, fresh and aromatic in the mouth that I don't mind it too much. This shows very precise and fresh herbal nuances in the mouth as the fruit gains more of a cranberry tone to it. A little chocolate and cream pop on the back end before the tangy, tart fruit returns on the moderately long finish, though you can sense the oak under the fruit. A very happy wine. 91pts

2009 Ghost Hill Cellars Pinot Noir Bayliss-Bower Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton OR 13.5% $42

2009 Ghost Hill Cellars Pinot Noir

Light and fresh on the nose with fresh wood base notes and gently sweet aromas of blackberry, huckleberry and candied wild cherry. With air, more perfumey oak emerges but it's still quite subtle. This enters the mouth with acidity to the fore that is decisive, bright and cutting, followed by a lovely and intense mouthful of dried herbs, orange rind, sour cherry and cranberry fruit. The tannins have a bit of a raw feel to them and need some food or a year or two in the cellar to help them resolve a bit, but this is so fresh and unfettered in the mouth that its already a pleasure to drink. The finish is dry, minerally and reminiscent of old wood spread with wild raspberry jam that pops on the finale. 93pts

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