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Pinot Noir (or other reds) Recs

For the last few months, my wife and I have been working to develop a palet and an appreciation for wines. being the good engineer I am, I am logging all teh wince we dring into a spreadsheet so I can remember what I like and what I didn't and why.

One wine that really stands out for us is the 2006 David Bruce Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. We have had a couple of bottles, and liked it so much I have two cases coming from the winery. Since Man doesn't live on David Bruce alone, I need some help finding other Pinot Noirs that have similar characteristics. The David Bruce has a smooth supple mouthfeel and is very balanced which we like. A close second is a 2007 Valpolicella from Zenato which is equally awesome.

My price point is $20 - $40 although for the right wine I would go higher. Thank you for your help and your great advice.


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  1. Check out Siduri Sonoma wines. About $20 from the winery.
    Also Walter Hansel, which is Sonoma County and not the Sonoma Coast, has some of the better value wines. Most are less than $40. Not to be confused with Hanzell.
    I'd also suggest trying Cru Beaujolais. Most are $25 or less. Gamay, not pinot noir, but nice.

    1. If you enjoy wines from the Santa Rita Hills, some of my favorite pinot in that are Alma Rosa, Fiddlehead, Fess Parker, Foxen, Sanford, and Hitching Post. From Sonoma, check out Holdredge and Rivers-Marie (Sonoma Coast a steal at $25). Steve's rec on Siduri is a great one! -mJ

      2 Replies
      1. re: njfoodies

        Thank you for the replies. I'll start looking for these in my area (MSP).

        1. re: njfoodies

          Hitching Post has some great Pinot Noirs in the $20-$40 range. The Highliner is especially good. Their Generations Red meritage is great too.

        2. I am a Valpolicella fan too. If you have not already done so, I suggest you try a Valpolicella Ripasso. It is a little bit bigger wine than a straight Valpolicella but not as big and fruity as an Amarone, nor as expensive. I just returned from the Veneto, where I read that the grapes used in Valpolicella were some of the few (or only ones?) to improve in price last year in Italy due the new popularity of Ripasso. I've yet to have one I din't enjoy.

          1 Reply
          1. re: BN1

            Thank you for the Ripassa reccomendation It was awesome. We bought a 2006 Zenato Ripassa and I am just finishing it. I'll be buying more. All I can say is wow. I bought another Ripassa as well that we will be trying.

            I also bought a bunch of Pinot Nior: Fess Parker, Siduri, Adelsheim and Domian Serene from Oregon. I'll get into thos in the coming weeks.

          2. Edna Valley (Central Coast, CA) has some very solid Pinots and other quality reds at decent price points. Try Claiborne & Churchill or Bailyana & Tangent. Alapay is another great producer there, but that's getting closer to the $40 range. Bocage Merlot from Monterey is fantastic and only around $13

            I'd also be remiss to mention two great producers in two disparate locations: Hahn Vineyards in Monterey and Au Bon Climat in Santa Barbara. The latter is absolutely killer value for the Pinots and other reds he has.

            1. Gajon - you're in luck -- there are hundreds of wonderful pinot and Valpolicella wines in the $20-40 price point to choose from. And if you're just getting started, I would focus on the $15-20 range just to save some money. There are so many great wines under 20, contrary to other's beliefs.

              I highly recommend you go to the K&L Wines web site (disclosure, I'm a customer, no financial interest) and sign up for the Concierge service if you don't live in the Bay Area and if you do, start showing up to the shop on Saturday afternoons. They always have tastings, and a dozen highly talented folks to help you navigate new wine categories.

              Some specific recommendations: if you like Sonoma Coast pinots, try Alexander Valley, Russian River, Carneros, Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Barbera, Santa Maria, Santa Ynez, Mendocino, Oregon, New Zealand. Not French Burgundy.

              If Valpolicella, then lean on retailer that specializes in it. K&L is great. Look for Ripasso styles under $20 to start just to see if you like it.

              Other reds: Nero d'Avola (Italy), sangiovese from Chianti and Rosso di Montalcino (2007s are great), monastrel from Spain, shiraz from small producers in Australia (get a knowledgeable retailer), syrah from Northern Rhone of France. And Gigondas from Southern Rhone.

              Oh,,, the fun you are going to have!

              12 Replies
              1. re: kaysyrahsyrah

                Mirassou is widely available and tastes good, to me. It's very inexpensive.

                1. re: tzakiel

                  That's the second rec. for Mirassou PN, that I have seen this week. I have had some of their Chards, but must go pick up a bottle of this, just to try.


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    The reviews on cellartracker aren't so great for Mirassou...but the Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noirs have received some very positive comments...maybe I'll try the Mirassou too sometime soon.

                    1. re: Val

                      I've had some of their Chards, and they were OK quaffers for the price-point. However, what struck me as odd was the number of recs. and from some non-wine, non-food fora.

                      Some years back, I had a few of the Pepperwood Grove wines, but never got a rush from any of them. Have not tried any in some years now.

                      Interesting and thanks for the mention.


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        I had some of the Pepperwood Grove at a friend's and was surprised...I mean, I didn't jump up out of my chair or anything but it was pleasant...then I checked cellartracker and saw the favorable reviews for an under $10 pn! Who knew? I think the 2008 pn is selling for $6.99 at Publix!

                    2. re: Bill Hunt

                      It seems I can get Mirassou in MSP for 9 bucks a bottle. I'll have to add it to the list.

                      1. re: qajohn

                        the 2006 Cambria Julia's vineyard is available at LA wine company for about $10 now.
                        to my palate, it's a better wine.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          It's available here in FL at Total Wine but for $19...might check it out though! Garners very nice reviews on cellartracker, that's for sure!

                    3. re: tzakiel

                      Not a big Mirassou fan here. To me it really lacks fruit, and definitely has no complexity. Between Mirassou and Pepperwood Grove, I'd go with the Pepperwood Grove. But for my tastes for a wine in this price range, spend a few ore bucks and get some Iris. Much better QPR than either of these in my opinion. -mJ

                      1. re: njfoodies

                        NJ, have never seen Iris Hill pn....but might try it this weekend if I can find it at Total Wine...I tend to like old world, mostly French pinots much better than domestic pinots but will check that out. Thanks!

                        1. re: Val

                          For what it costs, I think it is a heck of a great QPR. We pick this up locally for around $15 a bottle. I have some tastings notes posted at http://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp... so feel free to check them out. Hope that helps! -mJ

                          1. re: njfoodies

                            Alas, no Iris Hill here at all that I can find...oh well...it might turn up somewhere in the near future, though.

                  2. If you can find it (try the winery) I'd recommend Pali. For about $20 you get a PN that is equal to many at twice the price.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: dinwiddie

                      + 1. Couldn't agree more with dinwiddie here. Loring is also offering a sampler pack right now with 3 bottles at $20 each. Heck of a great deal for great jiuce that is usually arond $40 a bottle! -mJ

                    2. Well I found a couple of Pinot's to try. I just purchased a 2007 Adelsheim and 2006 Fess Parker Santa Rita Hills. I was just looking through a local wine store and these jumped out at me. Found a bargain while I was there also, they were discontinuing my favorite Cab (2006 Boomtown) at a very good price. I bought them out.

                      Now that my David Bruce Sonoma coast and Russian River Valley is here, I better get drinking. I'm not sure what part I enjoy more, the hunt or the capture.....

                      I need some wine for a dinner party this weekend, so I will try to get my hands on a bottle of Siduri also which I know I can get locally as well as some different Valpocella.

                      1. Here are some others, that might fill the bill. Not sure of availability, but you can search for them.

                        Sea Smoke

                        There are more, but that would be a start. As mentioned up-thread, I am also a fan of most of the Suduri PN's.



                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          Whitcraft is a producer that flies well below the radar. I absolutely love Chris's wines, and wish that they were more readily available here on the East Coast, or wish that he's start shipping to NJ. Good quality wines for the price in my opinion!

                          Love Sea Smoke as well as many have read as I rave about them. I wish these too would be more readily available, but I am getting large allocations from them now. I think however if I could find them locally at retail, I might be popping more of them early. -mJ

                          1. re: njfoodies

                            Even here in AZ, we see almost nothing! I have to either order many of these wines in, or have to drive to CA and buy them on-site. Found out that the Landcruiser can hold 19 styro-shippers. Even so close, we are so very far away. Not unlike our brothers on the East Coast.


                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              A year later, but your Landcruiser can hold 19 yr old strippers? I'm impressed Hunty.

                              1. re: Robin Joy

                                Yes, but only if my wife has a meeting in SF and jumps out, with her luggage, and flies back to PHX. Otherwise, I am stuck with about 16 styro-shippers, depending on the luggage. Not sure about "19 yr. old shippers." Maybe those too?

                                So far, INS has not stopped me, as they would likely call ATF, and then I'd be in trouble.


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  Errrr.....I didn't mention shippers. Just a little joke for my own amusement!

                            2. re: njfoodies

                              Ditto, I love Sea Smoke. I live in Canada so not easy to find it here, but when I travel to the U.S., I load up on both Sea Smoke's pinot noirs (Southing and the TEN) when I find them. Also from the same region is Longoria pinot noir which is also excellent and in your price point.

                              1. re: Jasper1

                                Along the way, if you can score Whitcraft, try those, as well. While a few US $ below the Southing, they do great CC PN's. Brewer-Clifton is another worthwhile producer, and from several vineyards.



                          2. Here's a few others I haven't seen mentioned yet and are both favorites of mine and in your price point:

                            Lucia - Gary's Vineyard and Santa Lucia Highlands
                            Calera - Central Coast
                            Barnett - Sonoma
                            Rochioli - Sonoma

                            and a few I would second:
                            Rivers Marie
                            Merry Edwards
                            Domaine Serene

                            Good luck and have fun!

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Cookiefiend

                              Had most of those, and agree completely. Only Barnett and Rivers Marie are untasted by me, but I yield to your recs. on those too!



                              1. re: Cookiefiend

                                Nice list. Rochioli is quite a bit above the given price point, no?

                                Bergström makes some delicious wines out of Oregon as well. They tend to fly under the radar when it comes to Oregon producers when mentioning the best, but their wines have always delivered for me.

                                I'd add Robert Sinskey in Carneros.

                                1. re: mengathon

                                  You're right - I just checked what we paid for our '07's - and it is above the give price point. I got carried away... easy to do with wine!

                                  Bergström is excellent - I just found out that they are going to be at the IPNC in Oregon this year. I may camp out in front of their tasting table and be a danger to our cellar - which is already overflowing.

                                  1. re: Cookiefiend

                                    Good list, but are any of these in the $20-$40 range?

                                    That's the real challenge -- good Pinot is not cheap.

                                    The best buy I've found is the Estancia Pinot Noir for $12 at Trader Joe's. Tasty. Extra tasty for that price.

                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                      Hi maria lorraine -

                                      Calera Central Coast, Barnett Tina Marie, Siduri SLH are in the range in my market (IN). I got the Merry Edwards for just under $40 in Ohio.

                                      I made a mistake on the Rochioli, and the other wines (Rivers Marie, Domaine Serene and Seasmoke) I was seconding other posters recs - but how I wish they were in that range!

                                      You are so correct in that good Pinot is not cheap!

                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                        Yes, the Estancia PN is pretty good. Even DW (only an occasional imbiber) likes it. A few dollars more than $12 at our local wine store.

                                2. You might have a tough time with some of these wines if you are in the MSP area (I trust you mean Minneapolis-St. Paul). I just got back from Central Coast (Santa Rita Hills and Santa Ynez) and loved a lot of their Pinot Noir (and Syrah) and highly recommend those wines.

                                  NapaCabs will ship to Minnesota, K&L doesn't. You can find a lot of the wines mentioned here through the NapaCabs site (even Hitching Post), and it is actually cheaper to buy on line even after shipping than buying at some of the better wine shops in Minneapolis. Just a thought.

                                  My favorites from Central Coast were Beckman, Tensley, Stolpman, Zaca Mesa, Rideau but you probably won't find many of these online or in MN.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: smkit

                                    I have been pretty lucky so far, mostly at France 44. I have been able to get samples of many of the above recomendations, and I am drinking my way through them and others. So far, I'll admit its been hit and miss. We really liked two of the three Ripassa's we've tried. We really didn't like the Siduri. I have two different Fess Parker PN to try soon.

                                    I agree about the pricing. We bought two cases of David Bruce from the winery at $24/btl + shipping vs $47/btl locally. I've signed up for a couple of mailing lists, but we really bought a bunch of wine and I need to slow down a while until we go though it.

                                    My three favorite stores locally are France 44, Surdycks and the Cellars. Haskells is ok, but it doesn't feel as comfy, and I have not found anything interesting there.

                                    Again, thank you all for your recomendations. Once I get through the wine I have, I'll be on the hunt again.

                                    1. re: qajohn

                                      I like France 44 and Surdyks too. The Italian selection at France 44 is really good too, but it is very spendy.

                                  2. Pinot Noirs -- 3 I have found in the $20 range that I have liked a lot are Benton Lane (Willamette), Cambria St. Julia's Vineyard (south coast CA), and A to Z (also Willamette). I have also had both of the Firesteeds, their Willamette and their non-vineyard specific Oregon. The former was good and still well under $20; the latter was ok but not worth the $13 it cost.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: tim irvine

                                      I really enjoy the A to Z. If you have a BJ's nearby, they have it there for around $14. For Pinot's under $20 (which I know is not your price point), I have also enjoyed Erath, Irony & Angeline.

                                    2. Our favorite Cali Pinots are made by Mac mcDonald at Vision Cellars. www.visioncellars.com Best accessed directly from the winery.

                                      Oregon-wise, our favorites are Eyrie, Chehalem and Brick House.

                                      I suspect that as you explore you will discover the many styles of Pinot Noir in the US, and will determine y our own favorite flavor profile. There are many. And if you really love Pinot Noir, I suspect your exploration will lead you to Burgundy, where the best stuff is from... ;)

                                      1. Althought I think it's below your price point anyway, Borgo Magredo Pinot Noir from Friuli, Italy is one of my newest favorites.

                                        1. If the OP is willing to go to $50, I highly recommend the 2008 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir West Block, from Oregon, which can be purchased directly from the winery. http://www.bethelheights.com/pages/wi... . Shipping was very reasonable when I checked.

                                          I've been drinking a lot of pinots lately at tastings and with the exception of some very high-priced Burgundies, the Bethel Heights West Block was the best.

                                          1. +1 on the David Bruce--an excellent value, IMHO. I'm also enjoying plebian Montepulciano D'Abruzzos.

                                            1. Am currently into my second glass of Hitching Post Cork Dancer 7.2, 2007. Nice for about $26.