Wine review: Estancia 2009 Pinot Noir Monterey Pinnacles Ranch

Even generic, corporate-owned wineries like Estancia can make good wine if they have great fruit from Monterey, specifically their Pinnacles Ranch vineyard. And another thing corporate wineries have to offer is lower prices. Like under $15 for a pretty decent Pinot.

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Wine reviews: La Crema 2009 Monterey Pinot Noir and 09 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast

Melissa Stackhouse, a fantastically talented Pinot and Chardonnay winemaker, was recently promoted at Kendall Jackson (who owns La Crema Winery) to Pinot Noir Winemaster for all of Jackson Family Wines. I’m not surprised since her gorgeous creations continue to overdeliver for the price. I’ll be watching to see if they remain as good without her daily oversight. This Pinot is divine.

Read more: Wine reviews: La Crema 2009 Monterey Pinot Noir and 09 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast

Wine review: Darcie Kent 2007 Pinot Noir Monterey

My first time tasting this brand, a super small production winery that focuses on single-vineyard production wines from around California. Austere and food-friendly, you can’t call this “fruit forward” since it doesn’t bowl you over with its berryness.

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Affordable wine review: Trapiche 2009 Pinot Noir Mendoza

Huh? A Pinot Noir from Argentina? Not exactly what they’re known for… Malbec, yes. Pinot, not so much. But I apparently was impressed with Trapiche Pinot with their 2004 vintage as well, so they’re consistently tasty.

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Wine review: Heron 2009 Pinot Noir California

Heron Winery out of San Francisco might be what you’d call an “alternative” winery. They don’t own vineyards, don’t have a tasting room and make wines from grapes sourced from all over the world. Really tasty wines like this $15 Pinot Noir.

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Wine reviews: A to Z 2007 Riesling Oregon and A to Z 2008 Pinot Noir Oregon

A to Z, a winery whose clever slogan is “aristocratic wines at democratic prices”, is a partnership of some of the best talent in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. If you’ve tried (and enjoyed) wines from Penner Ash, Rex Hill or Chehelem, you’ll love what’s in bottles of A to Z.

Read more: Wine reviews: A to Z 2007 Riesling Oregon and A to Z 2008 Pinot Noir Oregon

Wine review: Wallace Brook 2008 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

This second label, brought to us by the famed Adelsheim Vineyard in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, couldn’t be better. Most of the time, a second label is where a winery tucks in their lesser grapes — those that didn’t make the cut for the flagship bottling, especially during years when they can’t seem to sell them (and legally tie up the buyer in non-disclosure agreements). But that’s not how David Adelsheim does things, at least not for this wine.

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Wine and cheese pairing: Elegant pinot noir and Nettle Meadow Kunik

Soft, elegant wines like pinot noir pair well with blended goat and cow’s milk cheese like Kunik from New York’s Nettle Meadow Dairy.

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Wine review: Sea Smoke 2007 "Ten" Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills

It’s rare that I review expensive wines. But occasionally one runs across my tongue that sends tingles through my nervous system that channel through my fingers. Happened recently when I popped open a Sea Smoke, a cult winery from the Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County in southern California.

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Wine review: Erath 2008 Pinot Noir Oregon

This pinot pioneer winery was started by Dick Erath in the early 70’s. I visited Erath early in my wine career and had the fortune of staying at their winery guesthouse while in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. On the Saturday we stayed there, the toilet backed up and Dick Erath himself (a true rock star legend at this point) showed up to fix it. Jaws dropped, swooning ensued and a pride overcame me. You have GOT to respect that.

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