Wine Talk

Snooth User: dmcker

Good pinot noir in the $30 range or less

Posted by dmcker, Nov 10, 2017.

Decided to spin this out from another thread to keep things clear and more easily accessible.

Please post your recommendations here. Will add my own when I have a spare moment....

1 2 3 4 5 next


Reply by rckr1951, Nov 13, 2017.

DM - I'll be ready to do this this weekend.  Do you want pics...I may have to google for some.  Paul


Reply by dmcker, Nov 14, 2017.

Photos always good, if handy.

Reply by vin0vin0, Nov 14, 2017.

Been enjoying this Hahn SLH pinot for around $20.

Reply by Really Big Al, Nov 15, 2017.

How would you rate the SLH on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best ever?


Reply by rckr1951, Nov 15, 2017.

VV - The Hahn is one of my favorites also, been buying it for a few years now, have the 14/15 & 16 in the cellar.

Al - IMHO it's not ever going to be the best pinot ever wine, wasn't made that, that said it is about as good as gets for about $20.  Very satisfying and lengthy.  For it's level, everyday drinking - I think it's very, very good and well above it's price point.


Reply by vin0vin0, Nov 15, 2017.

Paul, well said.  Al, for $20, you're not going to get 1er Cru Burgundy but the Hahn SLH is a solid 6.

Reply by Ivesreeves, Nov 16, 2017.

In preparation for our family gathering next week, I attended a Thanksgiving wine tasting on Monday night. Lots of Pinot, Syrah and jammy Zins were on the stage.  Perhaps I'm too predictable, but I always associate this holiday with bottles of tasty Pinot Noir. It's all I ever serve on the fourth Thursday of November. Smitten by this wine's approachability and cherry-cranberry handshake, I purchased 3 bottles at 26 dollars each with confidence all my guests will enjoy it. (the only exception being my niece's new husband.  I swear, if he shows up wearing a red MAGA hat again this year, I'll be asking him to remove it before dinner is served. I think I bit a hole through my tongue last year.) Would love to see what the others who frequent this site will be serving on Turkey Day!  Happy Thanksgiving, all! 

Reply by dmcker, Nov 16, 2017.

This offer from Ian Cauble looks worth trying:




It’s not news to Pinot Noir lovers that New Zealand has a few appellations capable of producing world-class Pinot Noir. Central Otago, on the south island and home to the most southerly (as in, close to Antarctica southern) vineyards in the world, is the best known. But there’s also Wairarapa, on the north island, and its sub-zone of Martinborough—whose microclimate is compared to Burgundy’s and whose place on the international wine stage owes a lot to Clive Paton of the world-renowned Ata Rangi, producer of today’s exceptional Pinot Noir value.

With one of the larger diurnal shifts (day-to-night temperature swings) on the island; a dry climate; and cool, sweeping maritime winds, Martinborough is a certifiable utopia for low-yielding, concentrated Pinot Noir. Yet whereas Central Otago Pinots have more worldwide recognition (and, often, more prohibitive prices as a result), Martinborough is relatively unsung and, in the case of this 2016 “Crimson” Pinot Noir, undervalued. I’ve said repeatedly that Oregon’s Willamette Valley delivers the best value-for-dollar Pinots on the planet, and while I’m not ready to amend that just yet, Ata Rangi and a few other top producers have put Martinborough very much on my radar. Hinting at both Burgundy and Oregon while maintaining its own unique voice, this is one of the more exciting Pinot Noir values I’ve come across in a long while.

Ata Rangi directly translates to “morning sky” and the small family team likens their philosophy to a new beginning, which is essentially what Clive Paton had in 1980. Martinborough was completely devoid of vines at the time and, backed by his now-wife, his sister, and a handful of locals, Paton was able to plant vines and launch his dream. After many years of weathering both climatic and financial woes (he initially sold cover crops to stay afloat), Ata Rangi became a successful reality. Today, they create wine on a much larger scale, but they haven’t strayed an inch from the original philosophy and passion it took to get them there. Clive is also a proactive environmentalist and he donates a portion of each “Crimson” bottle to Project Crimson, a charitable conservation trust formed over 25 years ago in order to preserve the dwindling population of Rata and Pohutukawa trees.
For their “Crimson” bottling they source younger vines of different Pinot Noir clones like Dijon, Pommard, and Abel (aka Gumboot). I’m sure most of you recognize the first two, but Abel may come as unfamiliar...Word is that, in the 1970s, a vine cutting from Burgundy’s Domaine de la Romanée-Conti was smuggled inside a gumboot (rubber boot) and confiscated at Auckland customs. A man named Malcolm Abel immediately took the precious cargo to a viticulture facility and was granted a few cuttings later on. After befriending Malcolm soon after, Clive Paton was gifted an offspring of the cutting and, as they say, the rest is history. 
Ata Rangi is 100% certified organic. Instead of insecticides, predatory wasps are used, and, to promote healthy soils, large batches of compost are perpetually made. Since the vineyards are clustered together, the majority of them are rooted in a mixture of loam and loose alluvial soils. Nearly half of Ata Rangi’s vines are estate-owned and all are within walking distance of their winery. Due to the cooler climate, yields are considerably (and naturally) lower than the Pinot Noir average, roughly half as much. After hand harvesting, barrel-fermentation is triggered by indigenous yeasts and the wine ages in French oak (20% new) for nine months. 
The 2016 “Crimson” shows a very dark ruby shade that leads out to brilliant crimson and pink hues. The perfumed nose rushes forward with black cherry, wild strawberry, red plum, wild raspberry, fresh violet, tobacco leaf, wet rock, wild shrub, and slight spice. On the palate, the entry is supple and smooth with incredibly soft tannins, and the wine finishes medium-plus bodied with a subtle herbaceousness. The growing season of 2016 was mild with a cool, dry month leading up to harvest, resulting in freshness and a slight structured edge that strengthens Pinot Noir’s thin-skinned profile. That, along with a rich core of ripe, youthful fruit, leads me to believe this wine will impress over the next 5-7 years. Drinking now, however, is delicious after a 30-minute decant. Use large Burgundy stems and serve around 60 degrees alongside this gamy dish with a unique sweet sauce twist.

COUNTRYNew Zealand
VARIETALPinot Noir 100%
OAK20% New French
SOILGravelly Loam
FARMINGCertified Organic
GLASSWAREBurgundy Stems

Buy 4 and we‘ll include shipping.*


“New Zealand has established itself as a Pinot Noir terroir to be reckoned with, although that quality often comes at a premium. This bright and balanced wine rivals many of our Willamette Valley favorites in terms of value-for-dollar.”


Reply by dmcker, Nov 16, 2017.

Also looking good was this earlier circular from Chambers Street. Oregon this time. Keep scanning down the list, Cameron makes good juice at several levels. 




Linus the dog, barrels aging in the cellar, and Tom Sivilli and John Paul bottling the 2016 Rosé. Linus the dog is a ruffian purple heeler (cross of a blue and red heeler), and the protogé of the elder Cameron dog, Jackson (not pictured, but a very charming and endearing old pup). 
Cameron Wines and a Special Dinner with John Paul Cameron

A couple months ago, during a vacation in the Pacific Northwest, I stopped to visit John Paul Cameron and his family in Oregon. It wasn't a typical wine visit - I arrived as the sun was setting over the Clos Electrique vineyard, pulled in at the top of the hill next to the beautiful house that serves as tasting room and production facility, and prepared to set up a tent in between the vines, overlooking the rolling Oregon hills. Up until that evening, I had been an admirer of Cameron winery, but I had never spent time with John Paul and his family. Within moments of arriving, I met his son Julian, wife and partner Teri Wadsworth, and the assistant winemaker Tom Sivilli, and was welcomed as a friend by all of them. Food followed, and wine (of course!), a fire, and lively conversation - it was truly a night to remember! 

The following day, I didn't have a chance to visit the other vineyard sites - the lunar eclipse was the preferred outing of the day - but I did spend many hours getting to know everyone at Cameron, and I was thoroughly impressed by their humility, warmth, generosity, and their connection to the land. I spend time in France every year visiting winemakers who take great pride in their land and this felt no different. If you ask John Paul how he approaches farming and winemaking, he'll tell you the same. Since he started Cameron winery in 1984, he has been committed to doing things the old-fashioned way - dry farming, working without pesticides and herbicides, and cultivating healthy ecosystems teeming with microbial and animal life. When it's about time to harvest, John Paul tastes grapes from different vineyard blocks to determine when to start picking. As he says, "I kind of drive some of the more hyper growers crazy with my laissez-faire approach to this but I am a big believer in the Burgundian wisdom that it takes pretty close to 100 days from full bloom for the clusters to ripen sufficiently." It may seem a bit antiquated, but it's this kind of intuition and experience that have helped him produce some of the most honest Oregon wines I've ever tasted. In a nutshell, the belief at Cameron is that healthy vineyards will mean healthy grapes, and wines with purity, balance, and terroir. It's a simple idea, and the wines are living proof!

Many know Cameron for Pinot Noir, from their Clos Electrique plot (planted by John Paul in 1984), Abbey Ridge (originally planted in 1976 and one of Oregon's oldest vineyards), and Arley's Leap (planted above Abbey Ridge in 1990). Perhaps lesser known are the unique wines that are inspired by John Paul's love of Italy (in particular Friuli and Piedmont), or the Saignée of Pinot Noir, inspired by local demand, and his wife Teri's newfound taste for rosés. Like the Pinot Noirs, all the wines are limited in quantity, so we encourage you to try them while you can!

We are especially pleased to announce a wine dinner with John Paul Cameron himself on Wednesday, November 8th, at 7:00pm at North End Grill (104 North End Ave, New York, NY 10282). Chef Eric Korsh, Wine Director Jeff Taylor, and the fantastic, hospitable team at North End Grill are preparing a menu designed to pair perfectly with Cameron's phenomenal wines. $160 ticket includes dinner, wines, tax, and gratuity. Scintillating company and conversation is guaranteed, alongside a truly stellar lineup of wines. We hope that you can join us for this rare opportunity to break bread in an intimate setting with a true American winemaking legend! 15 seats are available.

(P.S. sorry, no Nebbiolo this time, but we should be receiving a small amount later this year, and we'll have some at the dinner!)

-Eben Lillie

Click to view up-to-date inventory on our website →
Dinner with John Paul Cameron Wednesday 11/8 -- North End Grill 7:00pm 
Please join us for a special dinner with John Paul Cameron on Wednesday, November 8th, at 7:00pm at North End Grill (104 North End Ave, New York, NY 10282). Chef Eric Korsh, Wine Director Jeff Taylor, and the fantastic team at North End Grill will prepare a menu to pair with Cameron's phenomenal wines. $160 ticket includes dinner, wines, tax, and gratuity. We hope you can join us for this rare opportunity to break bread in an intimate setting with a true American winemaking legend!   |  15 in stock  |  $160.00
Cameron 2014 Dundee Hills Clos Electrique 
Clos Electrique is home base for Cameron winery, first planted in 1984 by John Paul and comprising 15 different clones of Pinot Noir, along with various clones of Chardonnay, and several Italian varieties. The vineyard is farmed organically, with only small amounts of elemental sulfur and copper used to prevent mildew and rot. Clover (for nitrogen), buckwheat (for phosphorus), and mustard (for drainage) are planted throughout. Geese, chickens, and goats roam the vineyards, and cover crops are used to nourish the soil and attract predatory insects to keep pests away. It’s truly a natural ecosystem at work, and is also the first certified Salmon-Safe vineyard in Oregon. Though situated on terroir of decomposing basalt (Jory soil) like Abbey Ridge, the Clos Electrique vineyard has a much higher iron and titanium content and it is of much younger origin, in terms of "when the lava flow occurred," says John Paul. The vineyard is also at only 300 feet elevation, and is one of the warmest spots in the Dundee Hills, so harvest is much earlier than at Abbey Ridge, and the fruit typically yields a more intense style of Pinot. It's hotter, but the soils give mineral depth, and the clonal variety provides level upon level of complexity, leading many to liken it's evolution in the glass to an "old world" wine.  The fruits of the labor of the entire extended family at Cameron, and a wine that feels like the beautiful place it comes from, and has the warmth of the great people who tend the land.   Eben Lillie   |  11 in stock  |  $75.99
Cameron 2014 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Abbey Ridge 
The Abbey Ridge vineyard was planted by Bill and Julia Wayne, who are partners at Cameron winery. It’s dry-farmed, with a rotating system of cover crops used to maintain moisture, and only organic treatments used in the vines. Originally planted by the Waynes in 1976, (with additional plots added in the 80s and 90s), Abbey Ridge is one of the oldest vineyards in Oregon. At around 600 feet elevation (up to 700 at its highest point), it’s also one of the highest vineyards in the Dundee Hills, which "makes a big difference on timing of bloom and when the fruit is harvested, " says John Paul. Grapes fully ripen here typically in October and are given the chance to develop high natural acidity, which in turn leads to wines with long aging potential. Everything is here! A beautiful Pinot Noir, perhaps with a Burgundian nod in the form of red fruit, rose petals, dry herbal notes, and bright acidity, but uniquely Oregonian in its own right. Though it would not be a shame to drink this in 1-3 years, it will definitely benefit from longer term aging. Eben Lillie   |  16 in stock  |  $69.99
Cameron 2015 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 
Always a blend from parcels planted in the 80s and 90s at Abbey Ridge, and fruit from the Clos Electrique parcel, this is a fantastic Pinot Noir that over-delivers for the price. Bright red fruit on the nose, with perfect acidity, and a touch of structure that lingers in the finish. There is definitely potential to age this wine, but it's very enjoyable in its youthful phase. There's no jamminess, or overextraction, just fresh vibrant fruit and well integrated tannins. I know it's been said many a time, but this really does remind me of great Burgundy.  Eben Lillie   |  8 in stock  |  $38.99
Cameron 2016 Dundee Giovanni Pinot Blanc 
In the words of John Paul Cameron: "This came about many years ago after developing a love for fresh Friulian white wines. I talked Bill Wayne [of Abbey Ridge vineyards] into planting a couple of acres of Pinot Blanc (bianco!) so that I could pursue that line of wine. It is always a blend of more than Pinot blanc - basically absorbing anything that I maybe don't have a place for (a bit of extra Chardonnay if I run out of barrel space, a bit of Pinot grigio if I have enough for Ramato), but the overall approach is still to make a fresh lively white wine that is best consumed in the first year or two after production."                      I consumed a good amount of this wine during my stay at Cameron winery, and can personally attest to its versatility with food, its fresh and lively acidity, and the subtle texture that adds complexity to the wine and rounds out the finish. Bravo to the Cameroni for this excellent Pinot Bianco!   Eben Lillie   |  16 in stock  |  $20.99
Cameron 2015 Dundee Ramato Pinot Grigio 
It’s common to find Ramatos in the Friuli region of Italy, where the term (from the Italian word for copper: Rame) is used for the local style of skin contact Pinot Grigio. It’s not so common to find a Ramato in Oregon, but when John Paul was offered access to Pinot Grigio grapes from the Abbey Ridge vineyard, he decided to try his hand at making one. Shortly after he started making his Ramato, about 5 years ago, John Paul met Sasha Radikon, and traveled to Collio to see how he and his father (the recently deceased Stanko Radikon) approached making their Ramato. He learned that the Radikons waited much longer before harvesting, yielding a darker hued and more intense wine. Though he has embraced the Radikon style and experiments now with late harvest Pinot Grigio (aged for 2 years in neutral oak like their Pinots), this is the original version that John Paul has always made. He picks the grapes at peak ripeness, (we should note this is already later than nearly everyone else in Willamette Valley), and ferments them on the skins, extracting just a touch of tannin, and giving the wine a pleasant structure. There’s tropical and stone fruit here, and also a fascinating herbal side. It’s a beautiful color in the glass and a perfect introduction to the world of skin contact wines. Drink with a slight chill.  Eben Lillie   |  6 in stock  |  $33.99
Cameron 2016 Dundee Hills Saignee of Pinot Noir 
To make a Saignée, a small percentage of juice is "bled" off during fermentation of red wines, to balance the ratio of skins to juice, and give more boldness to the resulting wine. The run off juice is fermented separately and yields a rosé that has a considerable amount of color, compared to rosés made by direct press, or with very short maceration times. In one of his "rants " from a few years back about pink wine, John Paul writes that "one should be drawn to the wine by its color, captivated by its elegant aromas, and finally conquered by its texture and lingering flavors." The 2016 Saignée Rose delivers on all counts. It has a lovely rich pink hue, pretty strawberry aromatics, and a fascinating fleshy texture and long finish. A perfect rosé for the fall/winter months! I get the sense from John Paul that he might be getting out of the rosé game soon, as the market that was demanding rosé 4 years ago now seems to him to be saturated with them… so this may be the last time we get a chance to drink the Cameron Saignée. I'd suggest getting a bottle or two and drinking sometime in the next 1-3 years.  Eben Lillie   |  22 in stock  |  $28.99
Cameron 2015 Dundee Hills Clos Electrique Blanc ARRIVES 11/1 
The Cameron estate Chardonnay, from 2 acres of vines planted in 1987.    |  24 in stock  |  $77.99
Cameron 2015 Dundee Hills Abbey Ridge Chardonnay ARRIVES 11/1   |  9 in stock  |  $75.99
Cameron 2016 Dundee Hills Giuliano Bianco ARRIVES 11/1 
"Giuliano," says John Paul, "is inspired by Vintage Tunina (which I am somewhat disappointed of late to see with screw was more serious wine than that!). So the main part of that wine is Friulano with inputs from several other components...Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc, Auxerrios and the true Jermann inspiration: une baci (a kiss) of Moscato." This has always been a beautifully textured wine and we're excited to have some of the 2016! ARRIVES 11/1       - Eben Lillie   |  33 in stock  |  $33.99


Reply by dmcker, Nov 16, 2017.

A mixed listing from several regions:

  1. Domaine Joblot from Burgundy
  2. Bertheau’s Bourgogne rouge
  3. TWR from Kiwiland…
  4. Donkey & Goat’s Helluva Vineyard
  5. Vincent Wine Company in Willamette
  6. Cameron (as mentioned in the post above)
  7. Cristom Mt Jefferson
  8. Down towards Santa Cruz:



Reply by dmcker, Nov 16, 2017.

So Ives, does that ball-cap labeling mean:

  • "Someone constantly fainting, laughing, and/or crying in spontaneous and irrelevant events. People who are magas tend to keep deep and dark secrets which bottle up inside and cause them to be a maga."?
  • A Greek term used to describe someone who thinks they are tough/cool but they really aren't. "Yo, look at that guy over there, acting like he's the man..."  "I know right? ..... What a maga!"?

or, acronymically

  • Many A-holes Getting Arrested?
  • Morons Are Governing America?

Gentlemen don't wear hats in the house, anyway.  ;-)

Reply by dmcker, Nov 16, 2017.

Perhaps earlier cheap-and-good PN posts from that other thread can be migrated over here by their authors?

Reply by Ivesreeves, Nov 17, 2017.

DMECKER, thanks for the laugh regarding the MAGA hat.  It'll surely make it easier to stomach if he dons that ugly thing again this year. It's disheartening to have someone so explicitly wish to insert politics into a holiday celebration.  And though I'm no dyed-in-the-wool liberal, in fact with many intelligent friends and associates who could be characterized as Trump apologists, I've often thought MAGA stood for "Mensa Application Gone Awry".  Politics aside, this thread was intended for good Pinot suggestions and I've offered mine. I also offer my sincerest best wishes to all on this site for a safe and happy Thanksgiving. 

Reply by RandyFisher, Nov 18, 2017.

Perhaps earlier cheap-and-good PN posts from that other thread can be migrated over here by their authors?

      I posted these in the other thread and both just above $20, more modern in style and very easy to drink.Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara County                Ponzi Tavola


Reply by dmcker, Nov 23, 2017.

Paul, were you going to post or repost anything? Any PN for Thanksgiving?

Reply by rckr1951, Dec 1, 2017.

Dmcker - I was flat on my back for Thanksgiving with a miserable cold - no wine, just a little food and no body over for the first time in years.

However, to make up for it we are doing an under $30 PN tasting on the 2nd.  Don't know what others are bring, but I know what I'm drinking. :-)

Reply by dmcker, Dec 1, 2017.

Glad to hear that you're most likely feeling better.  :-)

Think I'm going to start a thread about 'pinot-like' wines after this one generates a little more traction.

Reply by Lucha Vino, Dec 2, 2017.

Hey D - I like your number 5 above.  I know Vincent and he makes some excellent wine.  And is a super nice guy to boot.

If you can find his wine, try it.  I think you will really enjoy it.  His approach to wine making is all about letting the grapes and vineyard character show in the wine.  He gets grapes from some excellent vineyards.  I especially like his Pinot Noir from Ribbon Ridge.


Reply by dmcker, Dec 2, 2017.

Thanks for confirming, Lucha. I knew it was good but  it's always comforting to hear learned confirmation. Problem for me is it's damned hard to get in Tokyo.  ;-(  But my brother and sister in Oakland should have better luck finding it and they are what started me on this particular quest....

Reply by rckr1951, Dec 3, 2017.

One problem occurred at the end of our pinot night tonight. A rather alcohol induced individual upset a table full of empty pinot bottles and there in lies the story.  So I'll post what I can with pics, but the rest is trust - and a pissed off attitude.

By the way - it was a blast and one was especially surprising.

1 2 3 4 5 next

Continue to the end of the thread to reply
Back to Categories

Popular Topics

  • posts

Top Contributors This Month

259386 Snooth User: zufrieden
3 posts
481309 Snooth User: chriscage
3 posts
472290 Snooth User: jackwerickson
2 posts


View All

Snooth Media Network