Pinot Noir Challenge Results
The Pinot Noir results are in! At the bottom of this post, you’ll find the final rankings and links to the individual reviews.
The top few bottles from this month were very nicely made and definitely deserving of your $10 investment! They have good structure, are smooth drinking, and offer up pleasant flavors and aromas. I’m personally going to pick up a few of the McManis and Acacia to keep around the house for everyday drinking. And I wouldn’t blame you at all if you were to pick up the Cartlidge & Browne, Bogle, or Rex Goliath. (That’s right…. even the Rex Goliath.)
But, in general, my conclusion is that it must be pretty hard to make and sell a good Pinot Noir for $10. Certainly the top bottles this month are all enjoyable little tipples, but you’re just not going to find anything truly delicious at this price. You really need to get up over $25 before you can start to find some bottles that more-or-less give you the Pinot Noir experience and enjoyment.
The Pinot Noir grape is just too finicky to be cranked out with high quality AND high volume. As a result, the overarching theme with $10 Pinots seems to be “dilute”. We all know Pinot Noir is a more subtle and elegant variety, but “subtle and elegant” is different than “diluted and flavorless”. Unfortunately, about half of this month’s bottles fell into that category. On a positive note, they all seem fairly well made (no crazy out-of-whack acidity or metallic tastes or excess sweetness). But, what’s the point of “well made” if they don’t taste like anything?! I can get a well made bottle of water for much less. 🙂
With that said, I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute to pick up the best of these $10 Pinots and serve them at my next dinner party. They may not be Burgundy greatness, but they are great for what they are. Approach them as a generic light bodied, mild-flavored red and you’ll enjoy them!
Links to individual reviews
(Click on the title of each to link to the full review.)
#1 – McManis Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2015
Much more flavor than an average $10 Pinot Noir. Smoke, raspberry, and cola are noticeable.
#2 – A by Acacia Pinot Noir 2015
Smooth, well balanced, and showing off some cola and spice.
#3 – Cartlidge & Browne Pinot Noir 2014
A little more expensive ($12) but nicely made and a fun “origin story” involving a cement truck driver.
#4 – Bogle Vineyards Pinot Noir 2014
An earthy version with oregano and sage mixing in with the cherry and strawberry.
The cheapest bottle lands solidly in the top half of the rankings with a nice structure and slightly more complex flavors than the lower ranked bottles.
#6 – Underwood Oregon Pinot Noir
Some good flavors but a little too subtle and dilute. (Available in a can!)
#7 – d’Autrefois Pinot Noir 2015
Well built with good structure, but just too muted on the flavors. Not enough to enjoy.
#8 – Beringer Vineyards Founders Estate Pinot Noir 2015
Smells nice, but drinks thin and flabby. Just doesn’t hold together.
#9 – Forever Vineyards Pinot Noir Lodi 2013
Smooth and easy drinking, but boring and forgettable with little meaningful flavor or aroma profile.
#10 – Cloud Break Pinot Noir 2014
Muted generic flavors with a wobbly body.
#11 – Five Branches Pinot Noir
Very weak aromas and flavors. Strange notes of white grape juice.
(Click here to see the results of all of our other Value Tasting Challenges!)
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