Paul Giamatti, as Miles, in the movie “SIDEWAYS”, described Pinot Noir, thusly “it’s a hard grape to grow, it’s thin-skinned, tempermental, ripens early. It’s not a survivor like Cabernet that can grow anywhere, and thrive even when neglected. Pinot needs constant care and attention and, in fact, can grow only in specific tucked away little corners of the world. And only the most patient and nurturing growers can do it really,can tap into Pinot’s most fragile and delicate qualities. Only when someone has taken the time to truly understand its potential can Pinot be coaxed into its fullest expression. And when that happens its flavors are the most haunting and brilliant and subtle and thrilling and ancient on the planet.”
There is no way I am going to attempt to top “Miles” definition of Pinot Noir. His synopsis also points out why Pinot Noir tends to be one of the more consistently higher priced varietals. All of the care and dedication required to bring this grape to the bottle contributes to the cost. For this reason, many Pinot-lovers agree that it is virtually impossible to make a good Pinot Noir that can sell for $20.00. Most that make this attempt lack the subtle nuances that make this such a wonderful wine. I have drank a lot of Pinot Noir and unlike Cabernets or Syrahs, Zinfandels or Merlots, where you can find good stuff in the lower price ranges, the field for decent Pinot Noir under $20.00 is sparse. Sparse but not TOTALLY barren. I have found two gems, both from Oregon, that can be found for under $20.00. These excellent bargain wines are: A to Z Pinot Noir and O’Reillys Pinot Noir.Both of these wines offer nice examples of what can be done with Pinot Noir at bargain prices. The A to Z can be found in South Jersey for anywhere from 16 – 19 dollars while the O’Reilly is usually about $18.99. It actually pains me to even be telling others about these great bargains as both these wines often sell out quickly.
If you are a regular Pinot Noir drinker you will not confuse these wines with the many awesome “above $40.00” wines but they still get the job done where so many others fail.