VinCrush Pinot Noir Value Challenge Results! Finding the best Pinots for around $10 at Total Wine & More!

Pinot Noir Value Challenge Results

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.

McManis Pinot Rating

#2 – A by Acacia Pinot Noir 2015

Smooth, well balanced, and showing off some cola and spice.

Acacia Pinot Rating

#3 – Cartlidge & Browne Pinot Noir 2014

A little more expensive ($12) but nicely made and a fun “origin story” involving a cement truck driver.

Cartlidge Pinot Noir Rating

#4 – Bogle Vineyards Pinot Noir 2014

An earthy version with oregano and sage mixing in with the cherry and strawberry.

Bogle Pinot Rating

#5 – Rex Goliath Pinot Noir

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.

Rex Goliath Pinot Noir Rating

#6 – Underwood Oregon Pinot Noir 

Some good flavors but a little too subtle and dilute. (Available in a can!)

Underwood Pinot Noir Rating

#7 – d’Autrefois Pinot Noir 2015

Well built with good structure, but just too muted on the flavors. Not enough to enjoy.

Autrefois Pinot Review

#8 – Beringer Vineyards Founders Estate Pinot Noir 2015

Smells nice, but drinks thin and flabby.  Just doesn’t hold together.

Beringer Pinot Noir Rating

#9 – Forever Vineyards Pinot Noir Lodi 2013

Smooth and easy drinking, but boring and forgettable with little meaningful flavor or aroma profile.

Forever Pinot Noir Rating

#10 – Cloud Break Pinot Noir 2014

Muted generic flavors with a wobbly body.

CloudBreak Pinot Noir Rating


#11 – Five Branches Pinot Noir

Very weak aromas and flavors. Strange notes of white grape juice.

Five Branches Pinot Rating

(Click here to see the results of all of our other Value Tasting Challenges!)

2 thoughts on “VinCrush Pinot Noir Value Challenge Results! Finding the best Pinots for around $10 at Total Wine & More!

  1. Pingback: VinCrush Merlot Value Challenge Results! Finding the Best Merlots for Around $10 at Total Wine & More!

  2. Pingback: VinCrush Cabernet Sauvignon Value Challenge Results! Finding the Best Cabs for Around $10 at Total Wine & More!

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