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Great Pinot Noir under $20 -- Is there such a thing?

My palate says pinot noir is b a a c k in style. My pocketbook says fine, but only under $20.

I put a shout out to my pinot friends who are hooked on Russian River, Sta Lucia Highlands, Cote d Or, Cote du Bueane -- and they tell me don't bother with pinots under $35.

To this I say: B.S.

While I haven't spent a lot of time looking at pinot noir over the past few years, I am certain that there are great values to be found in the $14-20 range.

To prove the point, I recently found:
-Willowbrook (Mendo and Sonoma Coast)
-Alcina (Sonoma Coast)
-A to Z (Oregon)

So I'd like to pose the question to y'all on Chowhound to hear what you have to say...yes or no, pinot under $20 is worth exploring. And bonus points for sharing some names you really like in that price range.

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  1. Maybe not "great", but damn drinkable and food friendly...

    Acacia
    Paraiso
    Row 11

    agree about the A to Z from OR

    1 Reply
    1. re: PolarBear

      Should have included Au Bon Climat, just slighty over your mark might be able to find Witness Tree.

      Edit to add: Found Tolossa on sale the other day for @ $16.

    2. Lots of great 08 Oregon Pinot Noir's for under $20, you might want to source some at places like Avalon or Oregon Pinot Noir Club

      08 Broadley is great
      NV Acme Winery (2nd label Thomas), I bought for $16.25
      A to Z 08, I didn't care for the 07 as much
      Sharecroppers 08

      08 was a better Vintage than 07, lots of 07 juice out there though, hold out for the 08's though.

      1 Reply
      1. re: duck833

        thanks for the tips on the Oregon 08. I have not tried any of them but hear from the 'pinot ho's' that it is the better one.

      2. Pali 'Alphabets' Willamette Valley $19

        I've also found the A to Z to be a good PN as well.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Midlife

          the best one i have tasted was the 06 stangeland Willamette.

          I would agree the 08s from Oregon will be good

        2. Mark West pinot generally doesn't taste like pinot but the 2007 is nice, especially for $12.

          5 Replies
          1. re: SteveTimko

            I feel the same way -- Mark West Pinot is just a mild, unintense wine. Will never buy it again because it has no personality.

            That said, it's a perfect wine to serve at a large party for the red fans who think zin and cab are too intense.

            1. re: SteveTimko

              I like Mark West and it's $8.97 at Total Wine....but I LOVE D'Autrefois (France) Pinot Noir that's $9.99.

              1. re: Val

                Recently tasted 2007 Latour Valmoissine Pinot Noir...DEFINITELY lovely! Around $11.00.

                1. re: Val

                  +1 D'Autrefois. It's our house red. The 1.75's are even a better value.

                  1. re: Jimonthebeach

                    Minor point of order, Your Honor. 1.75L is the size that replaced the 1/2-gallon bottle of spirits, and that size is *only* used for spirits. Indeed, it's illegal to use that size for wine.

                    Magnums of wine are equivalent to two "regular" sized bottles. A regular bottle equals 750ml (75cl), and so a magnum is 1.5L, 250ml (25cl) less than you indicated. Any size larger than a magnum *must* be in whole liters (3.0L, 4.0L, 5.0L, 6.0L, etc.)

              2. 07 Mark West Pinot (I forget which bottling) is...decent. Easy to enjoy now and straight forward. It falls apart quickly after a couple of hours though, which is usually a non-issue for at-home dinner quaffing. There might be some batch variation though.

                Some of Siduri's appellation bottles are good at $20 (2008 Sonoma County).

                2 Replies
                1. re: Cary

                  Mark West seems to be one of those tougher calls in that it is a great value (just saw a deal here at $12.98 for their '06 Russian River) but tends to disappoint people with a more educated palate. I think you hit the issue.......... it can be rather 'thin' and short. Certainly worth a try at anything close to that price though. Then again, 'educated palate' is a very relative thing. If someone finds it to their taste it is certainly a keeper.

                  1. re: Midlife

                    Mark West generally surprises me on the upside. I've only had a few of the various varietal bottlings but it's generally worth at least the $8-10 purchase price. Finding a drinkable pinot at $10 is pretty tough...