In our second post from the Series, BEST VALUED WINES UNDER $50, we look at the most expensive varietal in the world… Pinot Noir. Although not generally the most expensive, certain bottles of Burgundy wine (which are generally Pinots) are indeed the most expensive. They can cost more than fifteen-thousand-dollars (see below)!
The lightness, along with the striking and distinct aromas of cherries, raspberries and cranberries, make Pinot Noir a truly amazing wine. The varietal balances sweet fruit, light tannins and acidity, to create a perfect POP of flavor. If you’re a cook, you can truly appreciate this.
To re-summarizes our methodology in finding the best valued wine:
- We use two popular rating agents and a few criteria. Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast are the rating agents because they are reputable, do blind wine tastings, and are rigorous and methodical in their rating process. We make sure that both agents rate the wine (which is not easy for newer issues), to ensure that the rating is less biased than using one methodology or agent.
- We include wine that has consistently rated high (ratings above 90) over many vintages (years). This can be difficult to find because of the changing weather conditions–year after year. The reason for this criteria, however, is because a great wine at a low price in one particular vintage, will likely not be found for that price for very long. [When inventory dissipates, less supply creates greater demand for what is left, and the price of the wine consequently goes up.]
- Another criterion used, is determining whether the wine is actually buy-able at prices advertised. So many highly rated wines are advertised on many websites for one price but when you try to buy it, you cannot find it at that price, which is really annoying. What good is a list of top wines if you cannot easily buy them for that bargain price, right?
- Lastly, how good is a recommendation if the inventory for that wine disappears quickly? So we looked for wines that have plenty of inventory.
Criteria three and four are the hardest criteria to meet because when Wine Spectator or Wine Enthusiast highly rate a wine, and it is selling at a reasonable price, demand for that product goes way up. If the winery consistently shows high ratings and high value, then the winery raises their prices. During the course of our research, we often found wineries that raised their prices beyond that which was initially advertised by our sources.
Although we are the Napa Wine Club, we know that Napa is not the only place to find great wine. The location of our top-three Pinot Noirs BEST VALUED WINES UNDER $50 were not from Napa Valley, but it probably will not surprise most of you. It’s Willamette Valley.
This wine region, pronounced, Will-am-it, is in Oregon’s Pacific Northwest. Part of the reason why Willamette has great wine is its soil. Jory, the name of the region’s soil, is highly acclaimed for its basalt-based volcanic ash-soil. Used for filtering water, Jory is usually found in the Dundee Hills (the most prominent sub-appellation in the Willamette Valley).
Jory has a reddish hue and is nutrient-rich. When tasting wine made from Jory, a unique “dusty earthiness” can be identified the soil’s richness can usually be recognized for its unique “dusty earthiness”.
Willamette has over 500 wineries but started its journey of making Pinot Noir in 1965 by a man named David Lett. Now it is one of the most recognized AVAs for Pinots in the world.
THE TOP VALUED PINOT NOIRS
1. The highest rated wine by Wine Spectator (WS) that can be both bought easily and has their Pinot consistently rated high, is 2013 BIG TABLE FARM Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Sunnyside Vineyard at an impressive 94 out of 100. Wine Enthusiast (WE) rates that wine a 93.
Big Farm’s Pinot Noir are rated high by both WS and WE consistently for all vintages and can easily be purchased. The current vintage (2014) can be bought for $42 and it too is rated high at 91 by Wine Spectator.
Description of the wine: Subtle but full of character that includes the layered taste of orange zest, savory herbs including green peppercorn, and typical Pinot Noir cherry flavors. The wine is structured, has a detailed, lingering but nice finish.
2. Our third place finisher (close with a combined score close to that of our second place finisher) is the 2012 Ghost Hill (Bayliss Bower Vineyard) Pinot Noir. Wine Spectator (WS) has this wine rated at a 94, while Wine Enthusiast (WE) has it rated at a 93.
Like the other two rated Pinots, the Ghost Hill Pinot consistently rates high by both WE and WS.
The Ghost Hill Pinot consistently rates in the 90s by both WS and WE and the current vintage is priced at a reasonable $42.
Description of the wine: This aromatic Pinot has a bouquet of fruity notes: cranberries, blueberries, boysenberries, black raspberries and cherries. The mouth feel is both intense/dense across the palate with typical Pinot flavors: ripe raspberries, red currant, and strawberry jam, followed by spicy tones that are soft and slightly lifted.
3. The Third highest rated wine, with an average rating below that of Big Farm is the 2013 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Æolian, which was rated a 95 out of 100 by Wine Spectator (WS) and 91 by Wine Enthusiast (WE). A very respectable and impressive combined score.
The Bethel Height’s Æolian Pinot consistently rates in the 90s by both WS and WE and the current vintage is priced at a reasonable $42.
Description of the wine: Aromas and tastes of black cherry, blueberry, black currant, pepper, plum, lemon with a hint of salt—to enhance the flavors. The acidity frames the fruit and spice flavors, giving the pop one looks for in Pinots. The structure of the wine is fantastic and should lead the wine to age nicely for the next ten years.