pinot noir under $20 per bottle home tasting

by Stevie on June 20, 2009

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I’m not really a big fan of Pinot Noir.  It always tastes too light, flabby and weak to me.  Though I have to admit that I haven’t tried a whole lot of them and once in a while I have had ones that are marvelous.  People do really like these wines though.  Why else could the French sell red Burgundies for hundreds if not thousands of dollars a bottle?

three of our under-$20 pinot noirs

three of our under-$20 pinot noirs

In the spirit of discovery, I’ve decided to embark on a series of home tastings of regional pinot noir.  I’m still on a wine budget so I’m trying my best to limit my cost-per-bottle to less than $20.  That’s a problem for this kind of wine as it tends to be expensive.  I was able to locate a few wines in this price range that the professional tasters rate highly.  Hegui and I tried all of these and actually enjoyed most of them.  John also tried two of them with us.

I’ll list the wine, the region, price that I paid, and our tasting notes.  These wines are interesting if not always dramatic.  In future posts I plan to describe other pinots, perhaps at higher prices once I’ve gotten my credit cards under better control!

2006 Cambria Pinot Noir “Julia’s Vineyard” Santa Maria: This is one of the highest rated of the four. Wine Enthusiast gave it a score of 93. Cambria is the vineyard that we passed over to go to Rancho Sisquoc recently. After tasting this wine, I regret that decision more than I did already! I paid $17.99.

The wine had a pale red color with medium body and a medium finish. Hegui thought that “It smells good!” instead of like a barnyard. The taste was “smoky” with some “sour cherry notes.” “The flavors don’t linger but it’s good.” We’d both have this one again.

2006 Brandborg “Bench Lands” Umpqua Valley, Oregon: Wine Spectator gave this one a 90. I paid $17.99.

The wine was a pale cherry brown color with a bit of the barnyard smell that I always associate with pinot noir. Hegui said “I can only smell alcohol in this wine.” “I don’t like it. It has no body and it’s sour.” John thought that it was “a little flat.” Stevie loved this wine! How uncharacteristic. He thought that it had more depth than the De Loach (the next one on this list) with a long finish.

2006 Cambria pinot oir was our favorite

2006 Cambria pinot oir was our favorite

2007 De Loach Russian River Pinot Noir: Wine and Spirit rated this 92. It cost me $19.99.

Hegui smelled camphor. It was “almost a little sour to me.” “I don’t dislike it. It’s good wine to drink with pizza.” That was lucky because I made that Basilicata focaccia we tried first on an Italian feast. This time I left out the corn meal. I liked the dinner a lot. Hegui thought the focaccia didn’t rise enough. I’m going to find a new recipe somewhere! Stevie thought that the wine looked “burgundy red” with medium body and a caramel flavor to the longish finish.

2007 Waipara Springs “Primo” Pinot Noir, Waipara, New Zealand: Wine Spectator gave this one a 93. It cost $19.99.

John thought the wine was “sharp and bright.” I think that he’s reading a lot of wine magazines for that description to come to mind so easily. Stevie thought that it had a peculiar “fizzy taste” at the back of the mouth. It was a dark cherry color; probably the darkest of the four tried here. It had aromas of barnyard, coffee and mocha. Hegui smelled dried tea and thought that the taste was “toasty” like “wood chips.” It was just “alright.”

my homemade focaccia Basilicata looked good but was too dense

my homemade focaccia Basilicata looked good but was too dense

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