Gregory Dal Piaz

Location: New York, NY

Value Pinots 11/2012

Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Dobbes Family Estate Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Griffin's Cuvée (2010)
Comments: This smells stemmy and minty. High toned with chalk, crushed raspberry, rhubarb and floral aromas all topped with a touch of bacon and a little allspice. This is really fresh and has a fine combination of richness and precision in the mouth. The fruit is transparent with light red cherries and raspberries all wrapped in fine herb and spice notes with a hint of carob on the back end. The texture here is fantastic, so light and fresh, yet the fruit has a sweet edge of ripeness to it with zesty acidity and ripe, fine-grained tannins serving as support. This is not a complicated wine but it is delicious and a joy to drink with a moderately long finish that shows a hint of milk chocolate. 88pts
Average price: $15.99 from 1 store
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2 The Seeker Pinot Noir (2010)
Comments: Very sweet on the nose with lots of herb, tobacco and violet spice notes over complex and elegant wild blueberry and blackberry fruit. This is a touch sweet on entry as well but I think that will fade with a little bit of time in the bottle. On the mid-palate, this is tense and a bit firm with nice wild strawberry and cherry fruit that shows a faint edge of earthy animal. The finish is a touch short and mostly about the savory tannins at this point. If this can shift some of the fruit from the front of the palate to the back, the wine will move up a point or two, but it already offers a nice alternative to most Pinots at this price. 88pts
Previously available for $11.49
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3 Stoneleigh Pinot Noir Marlborough (2009)
Comments: Smokey and stemmy on the nose with a touch of raw beefiness layered over fresh red berry fruit that shows a hint of holiday spice. Very focused on entry, this spreads out on the palate to show off lovely ripe cherry fruit framed with light herbal notes over a base of earthy elements. There are some tannins here, enough to keep this tense in the mouth, but the fruit and acidity are really the stars here. Raspberry and cherry fruit pop on the finish, which shows more light herb notes and a really lovely stony base, though this does show a touch of heat. 88pts
Average price: $15.01 from 3 stores
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4 Hangtime Calif Pinot Noir 28-2 (2009)
Comments: Quite aromatic with spice and herb base notes under juniper edged wild blueberry and black cherry fruit. Smooth and ever so slightly chewy on entry, this packs in a fair amount of richness without feeling weighty in the mouth. There are some early nutty elements to the flavor profile here, then this turns into a bit of a fruit bomb with bold cherry and blueberry fruit flavors wrapped in creamy, butterscotch oak flavors that show some sweetness. The finish is more blueberry flavored and fairly long with the acidity riding the fruit to the very end. This is a little fruity for my palate but people are going to love this. 88pts
Previously available for $16.00
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5 Menage a Trois Pinot Noir (2011)
Comments: Subtle on the nose with perfumy blue fruit aromas and gentle suggestions of herb stems, cedary oak and a touch of violet candy. This enters the mouth with lightness and brightness, really almost seamlessly with faint tannins and that acid backbone that makes Pinot deceptively delicate. The fruit shows good clarity with raspberry and watermelon notes that are topped with a hint of smoke and very subtle oak elements that drive the finish and obscure some of the fruit on the finale. This is a touch sticky but is really quite attractive. 87pts
Average price: $11.99 from 113 stores
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6 Main Street Pinot Noir (2010)
Comments: Spicy blackberry fruit with gentle vanilla greets the nose. This is kind of fruity with a light, meaty base note and a hint of peppery spice yet there is this wild cherry, red fruit twang in the background that keeps on reasserting itself. A touch soft on entry but showing nice breadth on the palate. There's good intensity to the sweet cherry fruit here, wrapped in gentle wood spice and nice accents of smoldering dried herbs. The finish is clean and almost bracing as the tannins and decent acidity pop out along with a nice stemmy old wood tone. Just a touch matte, this offers up nice fruit and an attractive texture. 87pts
Average price: $15.99 from 2 stores
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7 Newman's Own Pinot Noir (2010)
Comments: A bit earthy on the nose with bright, sharp candied fruit and almost licorice tones that are quite attractive and lively. There's also some light oak here but nothing obtrusive. This is a little soft on entry but is broad in the mouth with gently autumnal dried herb notes and light spicy accents embedded in fairly rich and slightly earthy cherry and blackberry fruit. The tannins are firm but well managed, adding some tension to the moderately long finish. This is a touch simple but is really quite attractive. 87pts
Previously available for $10.99
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8 William Cole Vineyards Albamar Pinot Noir (2011)
Comments: This is very reduced out of the bottle, smelling stinky and rubbery. With air, this turns quite stemmy, slightly vegetal and earthy. Bright and light in the mouth with brisk acidity that shows off the wild cherry fruit that's topped with stemmy, herbal notes and carries with it a light, savory edge. This is lightly spicy with white pepper notes and some stony notes on the back end leading to a clean, mineral-laden, bitter cherry finish that has solid persistence. Nice Old World style wine but many will want more fruit. 87pts
Previously available for $12.69
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9 Yering Station Pinot Noir-Yarra Yalley (2008)
Comments: This is fruity and stemmy on the nose with a delightful aromatic profile that blends sour cherry and raspberry jam with a hint of cinnamon and a handful of sage and bay leaves. Crisp on entry with nice, juicy acidity and stiff little tannins, this shows off early cherry pit, dried herb and old wood flavors before laying on some gentle cranberry and rhubarb elements. There's a touch of dry spice here, almost white peppery but not baking spices, and they extend on the moderately long finish, which shows good focus and a lovely hint of dried herb. This is understated yet remains lively and interesting. 87pts
Average price: $29.87 from 1 store
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10 Garnet Pinot Noir Monterey (2010)
Comments: A bit heavy, smoky and dark on the nose with some beefy aromas, a nice core of roasted herbs, a little aromatic root vegetable and blackberry jam top notes. Light on entry, this shows a nice snappy acidity early on with featherweight tannins adding support. The fruit is less ripe than the nose promises, revealing nice fresh raspberry and blackberry flavors on the palate with hints of black olive tapenade and earthy spice emerging on the back end. The finish is a touch spicy with some old wood notes emerging but it is pretty long with a flourish of herbs on the finale. This shows attractive complexity and a nice, firm texture to the finish with late arriving tannins. This could grow on you. 87pts
Previously available for $12.99
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11 Seaglass Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County (2011)
Comments: Smokey and cola-laden aromas of dark candied cherries greet the nose topped with spicy sandalwood notes. This is rather vibrant on entry with soft tannins and pure red cherry and cranberry fruit that's topped with gentle green spice notes and a loose gauze of oak spice. Uncomplicated and fresh, this is attractive for its vibrant cherry and cranberry fruit and juicy texture. Eminently drinkable! 86pts
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12 Lai Lai Pinot Noir Chile Red (2009)
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13 Mcmanis Family Vineyards Pinot Noir San Joaquin County (2011)
Comments: Lightly aromatic with some stewed cherry and strawberry notes dusted with light wood spice and a hint of white pepper. This turns a bit meaty with age showing decent aromatic complexity. Smooth on entry, this is on the light side of medium bodied with a pretty attractive texture. There's a bit of wood tannin to lose but this should develop more of a silky feel to it and it does deliver herb wrapped wild blueberry and strawberry fruit on the palate with well measured oak notes. The finish is a bit short but bright, juicy and red fruited. A fair amount of Pinosity here. 86pts
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14 Bogle Pinot Noir Anderson 06 Pinot Noir Us-California (2009)
Comments: A bit spicy and leathery on the nose with hints of anise seed and black pepper along with a meaty edge to the blackberry and damson plum fruit. A nice blend of depth and lightness on the palate gives this an attractive mouthfeel with balanced flavors of oak, toast, some dried herb and nut tones all wrapped up in transparent dried cherry and raspberry fruit. This is fairly spicy with oak but the fruit does manage to keep the upper hand right through the moderately long, spicy and lightly peppery finish. Shows a bit of heat on the finish. 86pts
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15 Thierry and Guy Pinot Noir Fat Bastard (2009)
Comments: This is a touch shy on the nose but comes off as rather earthy and herb stemmy with dried cherry fruit and a hint of allspice. Round and supple on entry, this quickly shows some firmness from the acidity. Gentle but present fruit tannins lend this a bit of a plum skin after a while, showing light mineral and toast flavors that drift off onto the modest finish along with some dried cherry fruit flavor in the mouth. Notes of blackberry and cherry pop on the mid-palate, which also turns just a touch drying and extends over the rather long finish. Nicely done, perhaps not the most varietal but it drinks well and is nicely firm at this price. 85pts
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16 Trinity Oaks Pinot Noir California (2010)
Comments: This shows some nice nutty, cocoa-dusted oak along with creamy cola over lightly spiced cherry fruit. Nicely structured in the mouth, this shows pretty good acidity and some fine supporting tannins all wrapped up in spicy, oak-influenced flavors of blackberry and blueberry. The wood is a bit too aggressive on the finish, which also shows a touch of heat and some interesting grapefruit notes, but this still delivers a lot of bang for the buck. 85pts
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17 Gérard Bertrand Pinot Noir Vin de Pays d'Oc Réserve Spéciale (2010)
Comments: Rather stemmy on the nose with blooming aromas of wild black cherry jam, licorice and violet candies, slight root vegetable notes and a deep medicinal vein. This enters the mouth with a light touch, though there are noticeable tannins here offering early mouthgrab. The flavors are fairly intense, lightly fruity and dominated by stony mineral notes and sweet root vegetable flavors with a finish that is moderately long and brisk with plenty of dusty tannins and flavors of charcoal and old wood accenting the fading red berry fruit. 85pts
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18 Trinchero Family Estates Jargon Pinot Noir Case Of (2010)
Comments: Wow, this is fruity on the nose, full of blackberries and black cherry with hints of pink peppercorn, flowers and lemon drop candies. Juicy yet fairly big on entry with big black cherry and blackberry fruit underlain with hints of almond, herbs and a little leather. This has plenty of acidity and a nice touch of tannin, along with a hint of sweetness to keep everything covered. There's a big pop of fruit on the palate but not much follow through. Really fruit-forward, this is an easy drinker for parties. 85pts
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19 Parducci Small Lot Blend Pinot Noir (2009)
Comments: This has a rather assertively woody nose of sapwood and cedar with an underlay of rhubarb and spicy red cranberry fruit. This is surprisingly light in the mouth and quite fresh with clear, transparent raspberry and cranberry fruit framed with lightly spicy wood accents. The wood builds a bit on the back end but remains unobtrusive right through the slightly austere finish. Shows a savory note from the wood and a hint of vanilla. The nose here is much more oaky than the palate and while simple, this is a pleasantly fresh and brisk wine. 85pts
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20 J. Lohr Estates Falcon's Perch Pinot Noir (2010)
Comments: Smoky on the nose with nice cherry and cola aromas that have grilled beef, green herb and toasty oak highlights. Nicely tart and acid-driven on entry, this quickly shows some meaty flavors along with notes of black cherry pie and plenty of wood spice. The texture is fairly smooth if a little chunky with peppery accents on the mid-palate that lead to a very spiced cherry pie note on the moderately long finish, which is both a bit hot and a bit bitter with wood tannins. There's nice fruit here, you just have to love oak to enjoy it. 85pts
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21 Mark West Pinot Noir California (2010)
Comments: Smoky and earthy on the nose with burnished cherry fruit over lightly floral herbs, black tea and a base note of green anise seed. Very balanced and open knit on entry, this delivers a nice wash of earthy, lightly autumnal cranberry and strawberry fruit to the palate. The tannins arrive late and are generally soft. The acidity is well integrated if a touch low. The fruit on the palate has a sweet tinge to it, but this turns a bit drying on the modest, rhubarb-laced finish. A nice package that doesn't really scream out but offers an appealing, middle-of-the-road Pinot experience. 84pt
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22 Langetwins Pinot Noir Clarksburg (2010)
Comments: Earthy on the nose with some Play Dough notes and matte black cherry and blackberry jam with some cinnamon and astringent herbal notes. This is rather fresh and brisk in the mouth with a faint sweet edge to the black cherry and black raspberry fruit of the palate. There's a nice touch of astringency across the mid-palate with a hint of something vaguely herbal and bitter, like apple cores popping on the back end adding contrast to the fruit. The finish is a touch short and a little dull but this makes for an understated, easy drinking bottle. 84pts
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23 The Crusher Pinot Noir Wilson Vineyard (2009)
Comments: Lightly aromatic on the nose with a lovely flush of herbal, cola and lightly floral aromas over light red cherry fruit that shows nice old wood and mineral nuances. This is a touch sticky in the mouth with gentle acidity and a nice base of fine tannins helping to add some tension. The flavors are softly wiry, clear with sour cherry and herb nuances all sweetened up with light vanilla and burnt sugar notes from the oak. The finish is rather dry and woody, but there is a lingering note of that attractively pale red berry fruit wrapped in the sweetness. Turns spicier with air. 84pts
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24 Redwood Creek Pinot Noir United States California Red (2009)
Comments: Jammy and stewy on the nose with heavy vanilla and dried fruit aromas topped with cedar chips. Bright if fairly innocuous on entry, this shows good acidity and noticeable dry wood tannins on the palate along with some dried red fruit and leathery, savory notes that lead to blueberry, raspberry jam and sandalwood on the back end. The finish is short and consists mostly of wood tannin and alcohol. 78pts
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  • 1042430BrugmanRose Gregory, you did a very nice job on locating and tasting these Pinot Noirs. I see many of them in my local stores and just can not conclude from the labels what I am suppose to expect from each individual wine. Your analysis has been helpful in guiding me to what I would like.

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