Cheap Pinot Noir is hard to find. Many popular brands such as Mark West, Meiomi and Barefoot don’t have the classic characteristics of traditional Pinot Noir. I recently purchased the 2017 McManis Family Pinot Noir and was shocked at how sweet and untraditional this wine was. Here is my note:
2017 McManis Family Vineyards Pinot Noir – USA, California, Central Valley, Lodi (10/27/2018)
Day 1: The under $20 Pinot challenge. Nose of smoke and fruits. On the palate this has subtle smoke, mild oak, bright fruits and spices. Tastes more like a Syrah than Pinot. Not bad and drinkable but very little Pinot Noir character. Will see how this evolves.
Day 2: Little less of the smoke character. Fruit is subtle and finishes with an underbrush quality. Not bad but certainly not a wine I would want to drink again. 83 points
Day 3: Not as good. Lost the fruit and any character this had. 75 points
Recommendation: Don’t buy this wine. It tastes nothing like Pinot Noir. (83 points)
I am here to help. Here are some under $20 Pinot Noir wines that fit the under $20 budget.
2014 Sea Slopes Fort Ross Winery Pinot Noir – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast (10/5/2018)
Day 1: This is an excellent value. Under $20 for Pinot Noir at this level is rare. Meat, strawberries, floral and celery. While this is a shorter finish good acidity is present. Drinking well now but could age some. 91 points
Day 2: Drinking well with nice acidity. Sauvage, floral notes, strawberries, raspberries and minerals. Very balanced effort and as commented to someone today the best Pinot Noir under $20 I have ever tasted. 92 points
Day 3: Not as good but still solid. This is an amazing value for under $20.
Recommendation: This is drinking great right now so I would consume in the next couple years. This is the best Pinot I have purchased under $21 ever. (92 points)
Only one shop has this under $20 and I found it!
2015 A to Z Wineworks Pinot Noir Essence of Oregon – USA, Oregon (9/21/2018)
Day 1: Is this a transformation from the last time. Beautiful wine with violets, strawberries, bramble, spices and wood. Very much classic Oregon and will see what this does on day 2 and 3. 91 points
Day 2: Perfumed with less intensity than day 1. Still has the nice violets, spices and subtle wood but offers more mellow tones. Nice acidity and medium finish. While a bit different equally enjoyable. 91 points
Day 3: lost some its luster. Still some nice fruit. 87 points
Recommendation: I would decant a few hours on day one and enjoy. (91 points)
This wine is not suppose to be under $20 but I know deals in town. $9 only!
2016 La Crema Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast (10/6/2018)
Good Pinot for under $20. One of the few in this price point with real Pinot Noir character and not some super syrup sweet stuff. Strawberry, floral, soy and subtle spices. Short to medium finish and decant acidity. Drink now to 2020. Good overall value. (88 points)