I have been increasingly impressed with the quality of Oregon and California pinot noir in recent years. My recent tastings were so prolific, I decided to write two columns. The only downside is that prices have risen rather aggressively.
Because pinot noir is especially transparent of the site in which it is grown, many wineries’ most expensive wines are single vineyard expressions. My last column focused on those wines, all over $50. The wines in this column, while not inexpensive by any means (priced under $50), are less costly as they are blends of various sites.
They may not display the uniqueness of single vineyard bottlings. They are likely to be made from younger vines whose grapes my yield slightly less complexity (though, not always). But, while their more expensive siblings are expressive of a single site, these wines are more an representation of the broader appellation.
As such, I have organized my recommendations by appellation and listed the wines in order of my preference within each appellation. Collectively, they are a cornucopia of inviting, reasonably affordable wines.
2019 Cristom Mt. Jefferson Cuvée ($31), organic, biodynamic, dark fruit, fine tannins.
2019 Dobbes Grand Assemblage ($32), juicy red fruit, baking spice, earthy, elegant.
2020 FEL ($42), red fruit, spicy herbs, firm.
2019 Migration Sonoma Coast ($44), bright red fruit, cinnamon, anise.
2019 Landmark Grand Detour ($35), bold red fruit, earthy, black licorice, velvety.
Russian River Valley
2019 Gary Farrell Russian River Selection ($45), lively red fruit, pure, forest, spice rich.
2020 Raeburn ($25), red fruit, baking spice, toasty vanilla.
2019 Bouchaine Estate ($40), dark fruit, toasted oak, sweet spice.
Santa Lucia Highlands
2019 Hahn ($30), dark fruit, earth, toasted oak.
2019 J. Lohr Fog’s Reach ($35), red fruit, Asian spice, rich.
2019 Hahn Appellation Series ($25), spicy red fruit, creamy, sleek.
Sta. Rita Hills
2015 Fiddlehead Cellars Seven Twenty Eight ($46), extra aging yields nuanced complexity and integrated qualities but also enough red fruit and structure to develop.
2019 The Hilt Estate ($50), deep red fruit, aromatic, spicy, fresh.
2019 Calera Central Coast ($32), vibrant red fruit, juicy, anise, firm.
2020 One Hope Monterey County ($40), red fruit, anise, earthy, lush.
2019 Landmark Overlook ($27), vibrant red berry, vanilla, cinnamon, toast.
2020 Chamisal San Louis Obispo County ($24), tart red fruit, earthy mushroom.
2019 Erath Oregon ($20), red fruit, savory, earthy.
2019 Banshee Sonoma County ($28), red fruit, tangy, forest, light oak, herbal.
2019 Charles Woodson’s Intercept Monterey County ($20), tart red fruit, spicy finish.