Gregory Dal Piaz

Location: New York, NY

The Best of Pinot Noir

Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Pinot Noir Floodgate Vineyard West Block (2008)
Comments: This is a lightly smoky but with plenty of cola, soil and gently leafy floral almost eucalyptus character to add nice detail to the soft black currant fruit. Fairly rich in the mouth but not weighty with great intensity supported by succulent acidity. The tannins here are round and ripe adding volume to the mouth. This is gorgeous, just packed with berry flavor, spiced nuance, cola that’s not sweet, and lovely citrussy acid that lends this some cranberry notes. There’s some oak spice and a hint of heat on the finish, which is long and redolent of ripe red fruits dusted with coca and a hint of allspice. Has the power of the best with real finesse and freshness. 94pts
Previously available for $55.00
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2 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir Willamette Valley (2009)
Comments: Nice clear cherry fruit accented by a bit of licorice and a base of baking spice, earth and a little hint of salmui cellar and a big floral top note. There’s really nice richness up front here, not sweet or heavy, just rich with excellent depth of black cherry flavor that quickly turns rather aromatic in the mouth. The tannins are a touch youthful in the mouth, adding some texture and the acid well integrated lending this further density that drives a succulent, sour berry fruit finish, which pushes a nice edge of wood spice ahead of it. 92pts
Average price: $27.99 from 3 stores
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3 Patz and Hall Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (2009)
Comments: Intense and clean on the nose with wonderful fresh mixed berry notes dusted with some middle eastern spices and topped with fine sage notes. Really deceptive in the mouth. This enters with almost no mass but it’s actually quire rich. The fruit is subdued but deep with layers of dark berry fruit, a hint of plum skin, and integrated oak notes driving toward the finish. This strikes me as just a bit young but it has an inner intensity that makes this already appealing. Great persistence to the black berry, black cherry fruit on the long finish where the tannins threaten to become obvious yet never rise above their fruit driven cover. 93pts
Average price: $37.95 from 1 store
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4 Cantina Terlano Pinot Nero (2009)
Comments: Nice intensity on the nose with very attractive dried herb, wild cherry, spice and mineral aromas with a mineral top note. This really opens up on the palate with intense, juicy wild cherry/wild strawberry fruit framed with herbal, floral and chamomile notes. The texture is so supple yet firm with nice mineral and leather tones emerging on the backend. Clear and unmistakably Pinot Noir. The finish is lean and elegant with pure, slightly creamy strawberry flavors, and a finale of strawberry seeds. 91pts
Previously available for $25.00
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5 Dutton-Goldfield Pinot Noir Marin County Devil's Gulch (2009)
Comments: Surprisingly darkly colored. This is intensely perfumed and distinctly varietal with wonderful sweet oak, briar, stem, herb and floral aromas accenting the core of black cherry fruit. Silky and broad in the mouth on entry this immediately reveals a supple core of bold cherry/black cherry/boysenberry fruit. There are some dusty tannins that still show youthfully but this is very well balanced and delightfully easy to drink. The back end and finish reveal a touch of minerality that is refreshing along with some sweetened and spice from oak. This lacks a little bit of complexity and is a tiny bit chunky but is deliciously drinkable. 91pts
Previously available for $38.00
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6 Raptor Ridge Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Reserve (2008)
Comments: This needs lots of air to clean up on the nose, though when it does it reveals a musky, earthy core of bright, parchment and boiled peanut tinged salted plum fruit. A touch soft on entry, this is rather tight with the tannins being a bit dominant early one. There’s nice fruit here that remains fresh, it’s just very wrapped up on itself at this point. With time the fruit starts to open and like the nose it’s very much in the plummy end of the spectrum with some pomegranate accents and spicy, red berry notes on the moderately long finish. A very serious wine, tense, subtle, well structured and well balanced with a lovely black fruit and spice finale. Very stylish 92pts
Average price: $34.50 from 1 store
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7 Castelfeder Glener Pinot Nero Alto Adige (2008)
Previously available for $14.00
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8 Dobbes Family Estate Pinot Noir Oregon Grande Assemblage Cuvée (2009)
Comments: Wintergreen, quinine and eucalyptus top the red fruit of the nose. This is rather broad in the mouth, though clear and bright with a slightly flannelly feel to the fine, fresh fruit tones. There’s something slightly exotic about the fruit here, a little papaya/guava action going on and adding depth the raspberry fruit that offers up a super sweet/mineral tension. This is still youthful but is a very complete wine. The herbal notes of the nose come out on the back end adding more depth and freshness to the earthy wild cherry finish. Damn this is good. 91pts
Average price: $26.95 from 1 store
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9 Thomas Fogarty Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains (2009)
Comments: A little dark and musky, with great liquory black cherry fruit, a hint of cola and some well-integrated wood spice are presented with surprising freshness on the nose. This is taut and sinewy, almost muscular in the mouth. The tension here is very attractive. While this is a big wine, its bright, clear black raspberry and cherry fruit is well restrained by the fine tannins and supporting acids. There’s some wood spice on the back end that adds a really nice sweetening top note to the fruit, which takes a medicinal turn. That might be off putting to some, but the fruit comes back with excellent clarity and length on the long, slightly chewy yet fresh finish. This can stand some age. There is a little heat here, but there’s so much going on, including some lovely developing inner mouth perfumes, that I can handle the heat. 92pts
Previously available for $27.99
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10 Peter Zemmer Pinot Nero Trentino Alto Adige (2008)
Previously available for $13.79
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11 Plantagenet Pinot Noir Mount Barker Omrah (2009)
Comments: Fairly intense if smoky with stemmy and soil driven aromatics that add nice fresh spice tones to a lean yet focused core of raspberry fruit. This comes on strong on entry, lots of richness yet on a very lean frame. There’s nicely framed light cherry/cranberry fruit here, a hint of astringency from the tannins that helps add some cut to the very ripe fruit and well integrated acids. This is elegant and has a nice sense of delicacy that can’t be confused with weakness. The red fruit with a nice lifted blood orange character extends over the moderately long and nicely pure finish. 90pts
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12 Amity Vineyards Pinot Noir Willamette Valley (2008)
Comments: Laid back earthy, floral, and slightly evergreen aromas grace the nose with a building core of cran/raspberry fruit. Rich and ripe on entry with acids that seem a touch soft at first. This delivers fairly intense orange cream framed red cherry and raspberry fruit in a clean, lightly aromatic style that fresh and unencumbered. Really lovely depth of flavor here and it comes with faint oak notes and a really nice soil base note. The fruit takes on a slight medicinal note towards the back which echoes with a licorice tones on the modest finish. Should gain some length with time. Very delicious. 89pts
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13 Alta Luna Cavit Pinot Noir (2009)
Comments: Minor smoke notes and firm minerality greet the nose backed up with strawberry and cherry fruit and a suggestion of dry wood. Rather medium bodied this offers up a nice blend of cranberry/strawberry/raspberry fruit in a modestly rich, bright style that shows off a hint of wood spice on the palate then gains a modestly richer impression of tobacco leaf and an insinuation of mocha on the moderately long raspberry/strawberry finish. Fairly reminiscent of a nice Bourgogne. 87pts
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14 De Bortoli Vat 10 Warra Valley Pinot Noir (2008)
Comments: A bit beefy on the nose with cola, tea, tar and smoldering underbrush notes accenting sweet cranberry fruit. Rather round and lush on entry then turning nicely taut through the mid-palate with soft tannins supporting nicely round, though lightweight cherry and slightly peachy fruit flavors that roll onto a fairly long, somewhat rusty and lightly stemmy finish. This shows a nice level of complexity with an edge of maturity adding sweetness and softness to the palate. 89pts
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15 Wyndham Estate Pinot Noir Bin 333 (2009)
Comments: This smells lovely with a jammy sort of astringent red fruit/ red currant note on the nose layered over vanilla, some light pickappepper marinade tamarindness, some preserved lime and a nice spice note but it’s all fresh and lively. A touch soft on entry with tannins that are lightly peppery and just a hint of austere, though that adds some nice mouthgrab here. The fruit is bright and zesty with cedary top notes to the core of burnished cherry fruit. This is very clean and clear and refreshing with good length. It’s fairly complex but at the same time rather subtle. Back up the Truck! 88pts
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