May 10, 2021

12 Affordable U.S. Pinot Noirs Up to 90 Points

Wine Spectator logoby Tim Fish

“New reviews of impressive Pinot Noirs from California, Oregon and New York, all priced $35 or less

Buying and collecting Pinot Noir can sometimes be frustratingly expensive. But this week’s selection shows that this doesn’t have to be the case. All of these wines are priced under $36, and many are made in sizable volumes, which means they’re easier to find. These reds offer plenty of diversity as well, coming from noteworthy appellations throughout California, Oregon and New York.

This week’s top-scoring Pinot Noirs from Fort Ross and King Estate display similar styles despite being made 500 miles apart. Located on steep ridges near California’s coast, Fort Ross’ estate vineyard is the primary source for its Sea Slopes bottling. It’s a juicy wine with well-framed cherry tart, red currant and dried raspberry flavors, all backed by crisp acidity. In Oregon, King Estate also harvests Pinot from estate vines, in this case at the southern tip of Willamette Valley. These grapes form the backbone for the winery’s fresh and vibrant red with lively cherry, cinnamon and violet notes.

While California and Oregon are renowned for their Pinot Noirs, New York’s Finger Lakes region has also made a name for itself with the grape. And that’s in a region dominated by white varieties. Forge is a winery well-known for its Riesling lineup, but also delivers a charming Pinot with silky-textured blood orange and red tea notes. And in the Hudson Valley, Millbrook makes a range of wines from different grapes. It’s particularly successful with its light-framed Pinot, which shows red and black cherry fruit with wood spice and black tea notes”

2018 Argyle Willamette Valley Pinot Noir – 89 Points: Very good; a wine with special qualities
“A bright and perky red, with crisp cherry and cranberry flavors that draw in delicate cinnamon and spicy tea notes. Drink now through 2027. 54,000 cases made. From Oregon.”

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