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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.

Schug Pinot Noir '12

Schug Pinot Noir

Schug is well-known as one of California's premier wine makers. Schug Pinot Noir is our favorite Pinot that's sold by major retailers for less than $20. It's relatively moderate in alcohol content, at only 13.5 percent, which allows the delicate flavors of the Pinot grape to shine through. This wine is fermented in stainless steel and then aged in aged French oak that doesn't lend the wine too many earthy, oaky notes. Instead, the wine has flavors of red cherry, raspberry, and spice, and aromas of strawberry and cherry. The finish is a bit on the acidic side, which perfectly complements this fruit forward, well balanced wine.

Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir.jpg

Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir

An incredibly juicy wine, Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir is one of our favorite wines. Though this wine is fruit forward, it's also well balanced by earthy undertones. On the nose, violet, anise, and clean earth back up the pronounced red fruit aromas. On the palate, vanilla and spice perfectly complement fruity flavors of strawberry, cherry, and cranberry. The tannins are soft and acidic, cutting through any sweetness that the fruit flavors lend this Pinot. With a wine this good, you may be tempted to put a few bottles away for a few years but this wine has been designed to be enjoyed right away.

SeaGlass Pinot Noir.jpg

SeaGlass Pinot Noir

Fans of the movie Sideways may remember the Santa Barbara appellation as one of best places to grow delicate Pinot Noir grapes, and indeed, there are some exceptional wines that come out of this area. The hills around this seaside community enjoy cool weather, lots of fog to protect grapes from hot summer sunshine, and a terroir that helps keep the grapes light in flavor. SeaGlass Pinot Noir is one of our Pinots. It's bright and light, with lots of acidity and plenty of cherry and strawberry flavors. The nose is fruity and floral, with a sweetness that provides an excellent counterpoint to the acidity in the wine.

Domaine de la Pousse d'Or Volnay Clos de la Bousse d'Or Premier Cru.jpg

Domaine de la Pousse d'Or Volnay Clos de la Bousse d'Or

Pinot Noir is native to Burgundy and this appellation still makes some of the world's best Pinots. Domaine de la Pousse d'Or Volnay Clos de la Bousse d'Or isn't just our favorite French Pinot, it's also our favorite high-end Pinot overall. The majority of this wine comes from vines that are 40 or more years old, leading to a richly complex flavor that only mature vines can produce. This is a dark ruby-colored wine, with aromas of plum, violet, and black fruit. The flavor shows off notes of black cherry and the tannins are soft yet supportive. Though you can drink it right away, you could also put it away for a while, as this wine is expected to reach its full potential between 2023 and 2038.

Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir '10

Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir

Made by Oregonian winemaker with a French name, Domaine Drouhin is a beautiful Pinot Noir crafted in the classic Burgundy style. This wine is fruit forward, with notes of both red and black cherry, as well as other soft red fruits. The finish is long and well-structured, though a little on the acidic side, which should help this wine age well over the next 10 years. Once the wine has fermented, it's put up for 12 months in French oak taken from the woods around Burgundy. This gives it some earthy notes that perfectly mimic wines coming out of this French Provence. Since only the barrels with the best wine make it into the bottles, you can be assured that any bottle of Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir is going to be excellent.

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Greywacke Pinot Noir

Marlborough is one of the best places in the world to grow Pinot Noir. Greywacke Pinot Noir is a great wine that consistently scores in the 90s with professional wine critics. The nose is slightly sweet, with a big punch of strawberry jam and just a hint of smoke. In fact, this is one of the most aromatic wines on our list. The palate is likewise complex, with plum and cherry flavors and smokey, woody undertones. The tannins are nice and soft, though they still offer plenty of structure. This is a wine that can be enjoyed right away, or put away for a few years.

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