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Mar 17, 2010 07:10 PM

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 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 might turn up somewhere in the near future, though.