Matt Walker

Location: Northridge, CA

I am a Certified Specialist of Wine and uncertified Wine Geek! As a Snoother, I hope to raise awareness for smaller, lesser-known but quality driver producers. Major regions I specialize in include Washington, California, Tuscany, Bordeaux, and the Douro

Wines Less Traveled: Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is likely the most difficult grape to make into great wine at any price point, in any place.  Even the best producers fall short a fair amount of time.  That being said, well made/well placed Pinot may also offer up the some of the greatest high points of the wine world.  Few grapes offer such diverse flavors running the gamut of nearly all berry fruits to spices to earth to chemicals to cherry cola.  Once again this list will focus on lesser known producers offering up great price-to-value wines from some of the best locations for this most frusrating and exciting of grapes.

Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Argot the Fence Pinot Noir Sonoma County (2009)
Comments: Argot Wines never fail to impress and borderline heretical methods always produce wines that can wake you up from a wine-rut. Fences has an astonishing amount of layers that start with red fruits like cherries and black raspberries and move to blueberries then on to cassis. Between floors we can spot cigar box, dry pine needles, and tarragon. A powerhouse that doesn't lose its elegant charm.
Previously available for $58.00
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2 Testarossa Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands Garys' Vineyard (2008)
Comments: A Rich, full bodied Pinot. From the famous Garys' Vineyard. This wine bursts with boysenberry, vanilla, and clove plus cherry cola and white pepper. Acid brings a nice freshness to balance out the rich black cherry, spice box, and vanilla bean flavors finishing very long.
Previously available for $59.00
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3 Winderlea Pinot Noir Dundee Hills Ana Vineyard (2007)
Comments: Holy Pinot Noir Batman! This is an Oregon Pinot not to miss! Very complex and a richer style than most from Oregon. Black cherry and black raspberry with cedar, forest floor and clove on the nose. The palette is filled with more dark red fruit and spice with lovely earthiness. The finish is long with lingering fruit and spice.
Previously available for $45.00
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4 Athair Pinot Noir Russian River Valley (2008)
Comments: Overdelivers is an understatement for this wine! At just over $20 this wine outclassed a bunch of $40 bottles at a Pinot tasting. This is unabashedly California style Pinot, dense fruit, full body, and lots of baking spices. However it still retains enough acidity keep it very lithe and lively. Black cherry, fresh blueberry, cherry cola and cinnamon dominate.
Previously available for $36.00
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5 Cobblestone Pinot Noir Martinborough Te Muna (2009)
Comments: This wine is intriguing because of its seeming tendency to blend the lines of New World and Burgundy, Delicacy and Boldness, Elegance and Power. This wine has a big core of red plum and cherries but it also shows delicate forest floor and flowers. Its full bodied yet never felt heavy, in fact just the opposite. The wine's balance seems so precarious that anything different in winery or vintage would've thrown it all out of whack. Thankfully, though, it seems everything was done right and the wine came out harmonious!
Previously available for $60.00
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6 A.P. Vin Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Kanzler Vineyard (2010)
Comments: Bright and bold. The wine has the refinement of Oregon but the depth and richness of California. Still young but already showing lovely red cherry, raspberry, and forest floor. Acidity is high making this a perfect wine for your next big dinner.
Previously available for $49.00
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