Retailer Wine Selections

For this issue, we asked members of the National Retailer Wine Panel to recommend their favorite pinot noirs. As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’€™s retail price (which varies from store to store and market to market). If you’€™re a retail beverage professional who would like to learn about participating in our panel, call Richard Brandes at 212-353-3832, or email him at rbrandes@m2media360.com.

FIVE STARS

(96) Fulcrum Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2008 (California). World class pinot noir; strawberries and cherries on the nose; full bodied and a long-lasting finish. ($70)

(96) Bouchard Père & Fils Vigne de l’€™Enfant Jésus Côte de Beaune (France). Brilliant ruby red in the glass; the nose is very elegant with focused cherry, other red fruit, and a touch of anise; in the mouth a finesse and power; solid red fruit and good tannins; long finish; quality, elegance, and restrained power; decant an hour before drinking. ($109)

(95) Tudor Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2006 (California). Beautiful deep ruby satin color; opens up with a balance of fruit and earthiness; smooth as silk on the palate; soft, yet rich black cherry flavors segue into lush barnyard, reminiscent of brambleberry pie. ($40)

(95) Frei Brothers Reserve Russian River Valley 2006 (California). Bold aromas and flavors of black fruit, spice and mocha galore; flavorful, full-bodied with supple tannins and great length. ($25)

(95) Messmer Spätburgunder Trocken Pfalz (Germany). Not a traditional German pinot noir, more like a good burgundy; rich aromas of lilac and mineral lead to bold flavors of cherry, blueberry and spice; a unique style. ($17)

(94) Expression 44 Eola-Amity Hills 2006 (Oregon). Lots of flavors on the palate from the start; black cherry, raspberry and plum offered upfront followed by a weighty middle and a long spicy finish. ($35)

(93) Ken Wright Cellars Yamhill-Carlton District Savoya Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007 (Oregon). A brilliant, jewel-like ruby red color; a ripe and fresh bouquet of crushed red and black berries; outstanding balance and finesse on the palate; delicious fruit flavors perfectly mirror the bouquet; supple, fine grained tannins and mild acidity; almost no oak or spice; very restrained earthy terroir notes; a flawless expression of fruit, start to finish. ($15)

(93) Fulcrum Santa Lucia Highlands On Point Pinot Noir 2008 (California). Aromas of blueberry and eucalyptus lead to ripe berries and toasty oak; soft and luxurious. ($30)

(93) Montoya Arroyo Seco Pinot Noir 2009 (California). Ripe bing cherries and a touch of spice; a smooth, velvety texture; a long, lingering finish lightly echoing cinnamon and vanilla-tinged oak. ($15)

(93) Rodney Strong Russian River Reserve Pinot Noir 2007 (California). Deeply colored, full-bodied pinot with concentrated dark berry fruit and a complex finish featuring hints of Asian spice and vanilla notes. ($50)

(92) Cooralook Strathbogie Ranges Pinot Noir 2009 (Australia). Elegant exhibiting aromas of fresh dark berry fruit and hints of mint and undergrowth; aromas are complimented on the palate; a lush structure with a fine dry finish. ($18)

(92) Ken Wright Cellars Canary Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008 (Oregon). Lovely black cherry and sweet spice aromas; medium-bodied with elegant black cherry and black raspberry flavors balanced by soft tannins; wonderfully complex; should age nicely. ($57)

(92) Yamhill Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir 2007 (Oregon). Moderate acidity and firm tannins; deep garnet red in color; a nose of black cherries, raspberries, vanilla, earth, and smoke; medium in body with old flavors of cherries, raspberries, vanilla, oak, tar, and spice. ($17)

(92) Cubica Central Coast Pinot Noir 2007 (California). A great lightweight summer red; the dry, lean, earthy style, reminiscent of Oregon; well-balanced acidity and alcohol. ($15)

(92) Fire Road Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 (New Zealand). A light ruby-red color; a great every day pinot; light and well-balanced; soft fruitiness kept in check by a slight minerality and a touch of acidity; versatile for food pairing. ($14)

(92) Archery Summit Pinot Noir Cuvee 2006 (Oregon). Black cherry rose petal, vanilla and a hint of savory spice mingle on the palate with mulling spices and juicy plum overtones. ($48)

(92) Angela Clawson Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007 (Oregon). Medium ruby color; bouquet initially a bit restrained but soon opens up with a forward note of terroir and minerals over ripe black raspberry and blueberry aromas, and a subtle hit of oak spice; plush and forward, a surprising richness on the palate entry, but regains its balance deftly; soft and rich dark berry flavors are tinted with cola and tea notes; a bolder style of pinot; a long, lush finish. ($50)

FOUR STARS

(91) Sanctuary Bien Nacido Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 2007 (California). Brilliant medium ruby color with a lighter edge; black cherry fruit is accented by a spiciness of dried herbs, toast and a baked fruit aspect; a subtle sweetness and spicy edge the length of the finish. ($30)

(91) Fat Barrel Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2007 (Oregon). Dark cherry, cranberry and blueberry with hints of vanilla on the nose; flavors of bright cherries and cranberry with a creamy finish; a terrific Oregon pinot noir. ($18)

(91) Luc Pirlet Les Barriques Pinot Noir 2008 (France). Barrel-aging adds flavor and complexity; lovely notes of ripe cherry, cranberry and plum are graceful and soft, and linger on the lengthy finish. ($10)

(91) Talley Arroyo Pinot Noir 2007 (California). Dark, ripe, rich and floral showing a remarkable amount of ripe cherry, berry and currant flavors with a long, jammy finish. ($32)

(91) Tres Palacios Reserve Pinot Noir 2009 (Chile). Fresh, delicate, and elegant; ripe black raspberry and balanced tannin and acidity. ($9)

(90) Fog Head Pinot Noir 2008 (California). Beautiful aromas of strawberry and raspberries; medium-bodied; flavors of red berries, vanilla, and toasty oak. ($18)

(90) Chamarre Grand Reserve Pinot Noir 2007 (France). Well made and affordable; varietally correct; smooth and ripe with a long finish; a whisper of toasty oak adds a nice surprise. ($10)

(90) Bridgeview Blue Moon Pinot Noir 2007 (Oregon). Classic black cherry flavors; surprisingly lush considering the price; great value. ($17)

(90) Erath Pinot Noir 2007 (Oregon) Plum and bing cherry flavors complemented with slight cedar and tobacco for wonderful complexity; great salmon pairing; amazing value. ($18)

(90) Sanford Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills 2008 (California). Brilliant red in color; bursting with raspberry, cranberry, pepper and sage on the nose; silky berry flavors framed nicely by bright acidity and supple tannins on the palate. ($40)

(90) Cookoothama King Valley Pinot Noir 2008 (Australia). Ripe and rich reminiscent of Santa Barbara pinot, but the texture and finish remind more of Oregon; boasting plenty of raspberry and tart cherry flavors in a lithe, clean package; reasonably priced. ($13)

(90) Morgan Twelve Clones Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2006 (California). Lovely floral aromas lead to concentrated flavors of black cherry, plum, and currant on the finish; a touch of sweet oak balances with supple tannins. ($35)

(90) Albert Bichot Bourgogne Vieilles Vignes Pinot Noir 2007 (France). A very classic red burgundy from 50 plus year-old vines; subtle aromas of dried berry and terroir lead to understated flavors of cherry, mineral, and teas; cellar 2 years. ($18)

(89) Landmark Grand Detour Pinot Noir 2007 (California). A deep garnet color, replete with black raspberry and cherry fruit, complemented by chocolate and roast coffee aromas; generous on the palate but balanced by good acid and supple tannins; tapers into a long and complex finish. ($40)

(89) Santa Maria Pinot Noir 2008 (California). A dark, ruby color followed by a distinctive bouquet of earth, graphite, black cherries, and black currants; medium to full bodied, and tightly wound with good acidity and earthy, spicy character; loaded with potential, it will benefit from another year of bottle age, and should drink well for 8-10 years. ($36)

(89) Cono Sur Pinot Noir 2009 (Chile). Jam-packed with fruit and smooth easy finish; great screwcap selection for picnics. ($7)

(89) Domaine de Bachellery Vin de Pays d’€™Oc Pinot Noir 2008 (France). A very nice bouquet with a surprising amount of richness; a deft balance of earthy terroir with ripe red cherry, strawberry and blueberry aromas; bright red fruit flavors in a ripe and forward fashion on the palate; a nice lilt of spice tailing in toward the long finish. ($15)

(89) Fog Head Monterey Highland Series Pinot Noir 2006 (California). Medium ruby red; a light bouquet; nicely shows terroir aspect; with earth and garrigue aromas followed by tea leaf and cola nut; with time it gains richness and depth; medium bodied; firm acidity leading off; flavor profile turns toward ripe cherry and blueberry while exotic notes from the nose move to the background; long finish. ($15)

(89) Les Vins de Moulin Bourgogne Rouge 100% Pinot Noir 2008 (France). Deep, richly textured, full flavored; a complex beauty that compliments lamb, pork and fish. ($11)

(89) La Crema Monterey Pinot Noir 2008 (California) Bright cherry notes, with a hint of tobacco; sophisticated; not too heavy and not too light, just right. ($17)

(89) Mark West Pinot Noir 2008 (California). Ruby in color with black cherry and a spicy aroma; raspberry and black cherry fruit flavors with nice balancing acidity and light tannins. ($15)

(89) Underwood Pinot Noir 2009 (Oregon). Bright garnet with satiny red and black cherry flavors; a soft and juicy finish with subtle currant undertones. ($13)

(88) Coastal Vines Pinot Noir 2009 (California). Affordable introduction to pinot noir; good quality; light and easy; great for the buffet. ($4)

(88) Conte Priola Pinot Noir 2008 (Italy). Silky smooth; medium-bodied with well-defined fruit of red berries, cherries; soft, supple tannins. ($8)

(88) Sensi Collezione Pinot Noir (2008). Aromas of cherry and raspberry followed by ripe fruit flavors; an extremely soft mouthfeel; excellent value for a pinot noir. ($9)

(88) O’€™Rielly’€™s Pinot Noir 2009 (Oregon). To start, a lovely nose of dried lavender, candied red fruit, a hint of earth and pine; bright red cherries fuse with jammy raspberry notes carrying through to the finish. ($17)

(88) A to Z Pinot Noir 2008 (Oregon). Medium-bodied with bright red and black cherry fruit flavors. ($20)

(88) Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara Pinot Noir 2007 (California). An easy drinking, medium-bodied pinot with lovely floral aromas; light plum and strawberry flavors are delicious; an easy finish. ($23)

(87) Escarpment Over the Edge Pinot Noir 2008 (New Zealand). Full-bodied, featuring cherry and raspberry flavors; a touch of spice that lingers on a long finish; a nice change of pace; affordable. ($17)

(87) Mirassou Pinot Noir 2008 (California). Soft and luscious best; a value powerhouse; supple plum and light cherry notes to balance; controlled acidity and clean finish; excellent for a variety of food pairings. ($11)

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