Best Pinot Noir
One of the most popular red varietals around the world, Pinot Noir is a delicate grape that's difficult to grow. Native to Burgundy, France, there are only a handful of other appellations that are known for producing excellent Pinot Noir. Cooler regions of Northern California, the Willamette Valley in Oregon, the Yarra Valley in Australia, and a few cool regions of New Zealand rival Burgundy for making the world's best Pinot Noirs.
This grape gets its name from the French word for "pinecone," because Pinot Noir grapes grow in tightly-packed clusters. The grapes are light-colored, producing wines that are medium-bodied and often strawberry or cherry red. Though there aren't a lot of tannins in these wines, they can be aged successfully, though it's often difficult to predict how an older Pinot will taste, or whether a particular wine will hold up to a few years in the cellar. Young Pinots are fruit forward, medium bodied wines with extremely soft tannins and bright fruit aromas.
Best Pinot Noir Overall:
Since it's relatively difficult to grow Pinot Noir, there aren't many appellations, or many wineries, that can make a world-class Pinot Noir wine. This tends to drive the price up, leading to many top-end Pinots in the $200 to $300 range. Though very high prices are the norm, there are also many excellent Pinots in the $20 to $100 range. The wines on this list all fall into this moderate price range, making it easy to pick a great wine at a price that makes sense for your budget. Aside from price, we also considered critical reception, performance at wine competitions, and popularity with casual and serious wine drinkers alike. Finally, we chose wines that will continue to evolve for the next 5, 15, or even 30 years in the wine cellar.
A deep ruby color and a silky smooth mouthfeel have helped to make Dom. Pousse Volnay Clos de la Bousse d'Or '08 our favorite Pinot Noir. This wine is rich and complex, with lots of berry flavor and a nose that includes exotic flowers. It's an incredible wine now but won't reach it's true potential until sometime between 2023 and 2038. Read Full Review
Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir '10 is one of our Best Picks when it comes to Pinot Noir. From the cool appellation of the Willamette Valley, this wine hits all the same notes that a French Pinot would. It's soft, smooth, and full of lots of berry flavors. Though excellent right now, this wine will continue to evolve over the next 10 years. Read Full Review
With a big nose of strawberry jam cut by a hint of smoked meat, Greywacke Pinot Noir '10 is an incredibly aromatic wine. Not to be overshadowed by the bold nose, the palate of this wine also has complex notes of bright fruit and dark, smokey wood. Though it packs more of a punch than many Pinots, this is still a soft, luxurious wine, and one that can be enjoyed right away or cellared. Read Full Review
With lots of fresh fruit flavors that are well-balanced by a prominent acidity, Guarachi Family Wines Caps Crown Single Vineyard Pinot Noir '11 is one of our favorite wines. It's big and juicy, with a nice bite of acidity. This wine is big enough to hold up to a number of years in the wine cellar. Read Full Review
A complex bouquet that includes plenty of fresh fruit, flowers, and smokey undertones has helped to make Flowers Sea View Ridge Estate Pinot Noir '11 one of our favorite Pinot Wines. Overall, this wine is big a fruit forward, with a long acidic finish that will mellow out as the wine ages over the next 5 to 10 years. Read Full Review
Best Pinot Noir under $20:
Pinot Noir tends to run on the expensive side, but it's still possible to find a great bottle of wine for less than $20. The wines on this list embody all the best elements of Pinot Noir, with lots of soft fruit flavors and relatively floral bouquets. They're ready to drink right now and selected from among the best recent vintages, years that were particularly good for the grapes. These are also all favorites with wine critics and wine lovers, and come with dependable recommendations from some of the world's best palates.
2012 was an excellent year in Northern California, and Schug Pinot Noir '12 is our favorite Pinot to come out of this corner of the world. This wine is fruity and light, with notes of red berries and spice, and an well-balanced acidic finish. Light enough to pair with fish, this wine will also hold up to a richer dinner of grilled meat. Read Full Review
An incredibly complex wine for one so young, Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir '11 is one of our favorite Australian wines. It's light and fruity, with lots of red berries on both the nose and the palate, and as well as notes of herbs, anise, barnyard, and tar. If you're looking for a complex yet incredibly light red wine, this is the one. Read Full Review
For a Pinot Noir that packs a punch, Clifford Bay Pinot Noir '11 is one of our Best Picks. This wine has lots of big, sweet fruit flavors, with pronounced notes of ripe cherry, and relatively big tannins that lend flavors of earthy tobacco and spice. This is a great wine that will hold its own when paired with a flavorful meal. Read Full Review
Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir '12 is a complex, fruit forward wine that's made to be enjoyed young. It features notes of bright red berries on the nose and the palate, as well as subtle notes of spice, herbs, and clean earth. This is one of the most complex, approachable Pinot Noirs currently available. Read Full Review
A bright, fruity wine from the rolling hills of Santa Barbara, Sea Glass Pinot Noir '12 is one of our Best Picks. The nose has lots of bright red fruit and perfume, and the palate shows off flavors of strawberry, cherry, and a little oak. The finish is long and acidic, cutting through the sweet fruit flavors beautifully. Read Full Review