The Best Pinot Noir Wines for under $20
No, this headline is not a typo with the above-mentioned price. There are many $20 Pinot Noir wines available on the market, but we were hoping to find the Best Pinot Noir for $20. We were searching for wines you’d be okay serving to friends at dinner.
My wife and I had been discussing how you really can’t find a good Pinot Noir for less than $40. Then, she purchased an inexpensive one while out shopping so we tried it. We were shocked that it was better than expected and quite delicious.
We were talking with our friends Heather and David about this great find. They completely concurred about how hard it is to find a reasonably price Pinot. So, they organized a $20 (or less) Best Pinot Noir for $20 Challenge with a small group of friends. We all had low expectations, but I’m glad to report, we were mainly wrong. Out of the eight wines we all tasted, five ended up being good to very good.
One bottle was the clear loser. All of us hated this wine and I thought it tasted like smelly feet. Our friend Ken joked I was just experiencing terroir. Right. Locker room terroir.
All eight bottles of Pinot Noir wines were blind tasted. The top five wines of the night are listed below along with my tasting notes and comments. These wines received the most total votes for first, second or third place from the eight of us. Of the group, all but two people were serious wine drinkers. Here are five surprisingly good Pinot Noir wines priced at less than $20.
1. Pali 2011 Bluffs Pinot Noir Russian River Valley $19 – Dark in the glass; Great; Very fruit forward so I believe it’s a California Pinot; It doesn’t taste as though this wine is a Pinot Noir at all; It tastes a bit “green” which I believe will improve with aging.
a. This wine received the most “like” votes; although I didn’t cast a vote for it in my top three.
2. Kirkland (Costco) 2012 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley $17 – Nice aroma of cherry fruit. Good legs. Classic Pinot flavor profile with raspberry and sour cherry. It was a rich tasting wine with .
a. This wine was my overall favorite of the night. With in the group, it placed
b. Everyone was shocked that the Costco wine, which was the one Stephanie had picked up for her and I to try the prior week. At $17, it is amazingly good wine and perfect for a weeknight dinner.
3. Francis Coppola 2011 Pinot Noir Director’s Sonoma Coast $20 – Light red in color; Delicious; Vibrant; This tastes like a Burgundian style Pinot Noir; Very classic Pinot flavor of strawberry, raspberry; light viscosity.
a. This was the first wine tasted and everyone liked it immediately. I reserved a portion of my original glass and was able to go back and re-sip from it while tasting the other candidates. I never change my mind about it’s goodness; although the Kirkland wine, which was the fourth tasting, ended up supplanting it as my favorite.
b. This was my second favorite. When it was revealed to be from cool-climate Sonoma Coast, I understood why it tasted like a Burgundian.
4. Sequana 2011 Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands $20 – Good nose of cherry; This tastes like it is from a warm climate because it is a bit earthy; Good terroir; Solid; Taste a bit of chalkiness.
a. Well I was wrong about the climate but the cherry and earth were spot on. We purchased this wine at Costco on the advice of a wine rep named Dave who was working that afternoon. I told him what I was looking for and he steered me clear of several other Pinot Noirs that had similar price points. It ended up being a good call on his part.
5. La Crema 2011 Pinot Noir Monterey $18 – This wine is a light, bright red. The fruit presents as cherry and was very floral like cheery blossoms. It tastes as though it has a good whack of alcohol.
a. This wine placing so highly was the biggest surprise of the evening. What a strong showing for such an inexpensive wine brand. It was my third favorite and very good.
The wines receiving the least votes were as follows:
Becker Family 2010 Pinot Noir
Vine Hill 2009 Pinot Noir Los Carneros
Ortman Family Vineyard 2008 Salisbury Vineyard Pinot Noir San Luis Obispo
So if you are looking for a decent Pinot Noir wine to have with dinner or just for casual drinking, these five will be easy on your wallet and satisfy your palette. Although yo umay find that these wines retail for slightly more than $20. we were able to find all of them for $20 or less at various our local stores.
You can also use this Best $20 Pinot Noir Wines as a theme to host a wine and cheese pairing party.