Retailer Wine Selections

For this issue, we asked members of the Beverage Dynamics 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

(95) Walter Hansel South Slope Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2009 (California). Steven Hansel knocks it out of the ballpark; great vineyard equals great wine; big, luscious and everything we like about California Pinot Noir. ($40)

(95) Sokol Blosser Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2008 (Oregon). From one of Oregon’€™s true pinot noir pioneers; reminiscent of a good Beaune, it’€™s full-bodied and earthy with rich, ripe fruit flavors balanced with firm tannins and a toastiness from 16 months in French oak. ($40)

(94) Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir 2011 (Oregon). For the price, there are few other examples of Pinot Noir at this quality level; juicy Bing cherry and strawberry with nice acidity and tannin balance; lip-smacking good. ($22)

(94) EnRoute Les Pommiers Russian River Pinot Noir 2009 (California). Aromas of raspberry, anise, mineral and wildflowers pop from the glass and focused in this medium- to full-bodied red, which is well-structured, ending with a mix of blackberry and black licorice. ($44)

(94) Edna Valley Vineyard Paragon San Luis Obispo Pinot Noir 2009 (California). Burgundian in style; a lovely ruby color with floral and red fruit aromas; flavors of cherry and cassis harmonize with hints of spicy, lightly toasted oak and a nuance of minerality; medium bodied. ($25)

(94) Faively Mercurey Clos Myglands 2009 (France). Great value in a red Burgundy; an exceptional vintage; light color, but big, bold, berry taste; an exceptional value. ($35)

(94) MacMurray Ranch Russian River Pinot Noir 2008 (California). Ripe, big notes of black cherry and cola with lots of spicy tones; brilliant acidity that allows the fruit to really show on the palate. ($25)

(94) Artesa Carneros Pinot Noir 2009 (California). An intense ruby in the glass, with a nose of cherries, berries and hints of spice; the spicy fruit is evident on the palate, with good balance and weight; a bargain at this price, it is ready to enjoy now and over the next few years. ($25)

(94) Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Pinot Noir 2009 (California). From one of California’€™s best known Pinot Noir producers, using fruit from one of California’€™s best known Pinot Noir growing regions; the color is an intense ruby red; the nose has an attractive bouquet of black cherry, dark plum and berries that are complemented by notes of spice; in the mouth, the wine shows great energy, depth of fruit and structure. ($42)

(94) Bench Pinot Noir 2010 (California). Big time cherry cola flavors on the nose and palate with lots of spicy clove and cooking spice; full bodied, luscious and complex. ($20)

(93) Domaine Serene Everstad Reserve Pinot Noir 2008 (Oregon). Raspberry and black fruit aromas; flavors of raspberry, cherry and hints of spice; medium tannins and medium body; nice moderately long finish; extremely food friendly. ($55)

(93) Marimar Estate Mas Cavalls Pinot Noir 2007 (California). A wine of great elegance, finesse and balance; this is a Pinot Noir lover’€™s Pinot Noir. ($40)

(93) Argyle Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2010 (Oregon). Silky perfection best describes this wine; a depth of plum and Bing cherry fruit which rolls from the front to the back of the palate; the mouthfeel is savory and the finish leaves you longing for more. ($24)

(93) Domaine Brazilier Tradition B Coteaux du Vendomois 2010 (France). The AOC is in Loire Valley and is a tiny 142 hectares; the wine is a blend of Pineau D’€™Aunis, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir; medium bodied with a floral bouquet and soft, ripe flavors of blackberry, cassis, and plum; a hint of terroir on the finish adds to the charm of this unique, lovely wine. ($13)

(93) Dutton Estate Karmen Isabella Russian River Pinot Noir 2010 (California). A nose full of floral scents with an abundance of flavors, cherries, raspberries and black berries; soft and elegant on the finish. ($40)

(93) Saintsbury Carneros Vin Gris of Pinot Noir 2011 (California). This is no lightweight ‘€œblush’€ wine; it’€™s a rich, lively, full-flavored rose that abounds with ripe, fresh aromas and flavors of cherry, strawberry and raspberry with racy, crisp acidity on the finish; simply delish. ($17)

(93) Rex Hill Pinot Noir 2010 (Oregon). Intense fruit and flavor; aromas of violets, blueberries and black raspberries with a touch of smoke and spice; balanced acidity makes this a keeper for a year or two ($31)

(92) Benessere Napa Carneros Pinot Nero 2008 (California). This is a St. Helena winery doing mainly Italian varietals; they have done this pinot noir in the Italian pinot nero style; a little drier, but with subdued tannins; wonderful. ($40)

(92) Anam Cara Nicholas Estate Pinot Noir 2009 (Oregon). This is a seamless, elegant wine, ideal with fish, ham and roast chicken; plum, raspberries and dusty rose petals on the nose blend with pomegranate, tea and toasty spices on the palate. ($30)

(92) Maison Louis Jadot Pommard Clos de la Commaraine 2010 (France). Wonderfully ripe fruit; very good balance; red fruit flavors ‘€“ dark cherry and raspberry ‘€“ are very pure; a 2010 Pommard that is not yet very complex, but is accessible and drinking well now. ($66)

(92) Champ de Reves Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2010 (California). Blueberry, red earth, and nutmeg spice with hints of violet, toffee and black tea. ($39)

(92) Joseph Drouhin Nuits-Saint Georges Pinot Noir 2009 (France). A bouquet of red and black cherries, light licorice, and yellow prunes; the palate shows brightness with medium tannins and black cherry-like tartness; balanced with a mineral finish. ($55)

(92) Quintay Casablanca Valley Pinot Noir 2010 (Chile). On the nose, mountain wild strawberries, cassis and currants with cedar and clove; elegant, with medium high acidity that evokes the generous strawberries, blackberries and black cherries; medium tannins and well balanced. ($19)

(92) Irony Monterey Pinot Noir 2010 (California). This Monterey Pinot Noir offers rich flavors of strawberry, cherry and raspberry jam that blend together nicely with the integrated tannins; polished and harmonious with great structure that finishes smooth and long with a hint of spice and vanilla; luscious. ($18)

(92) Labet Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2010 (France). Made in an international style with fruit forward flavors of berry, juicy cherry, and delicate chocolate and nutmeg spice notes; medium body with balanced tannins and acidity, this wine’€™s complex palate proves France’€™s ability to produce outstanding values. ($12)

(92) Wente Vineyards Reliz Creek Pinot Noir 2009 (California). The concentrated ruby color in the glass is the introduction to spiced cherry and red fruits, with a hint of vanilla in the background; the fruit and acid are well balanced, and the long, elegant finish demonstrates the care in the vineyard and winery that went to produce this appealing, attractive wine. ($22)

(92) Buena Vista Winery Carneros Pinot Noir 2009 (California). Buena Vista is the state’€™s oldest premium winery, and they have focused on using high-quality fruit from the region during their century-and-a-half-plus existence; an elegant ruby color; the nose is dominated by black cherry, red berry notes and spice; the palate has plenty of rich fruit; a refreshing, balanced and long finish. ($25)

(92) Bonterra Mendocino County Pinot Noir 2010 (California). Bonterra is one of the pioneers of using organically grown grapes for their wines; ruby red, with just the slightest hint of purple, it is bright and clear; the clarity continues on the nose and palate, with red berry fruit tones and a subtle note of brown spice; the finish is generous and balanced, making this a wonderful value as well as a wonderful wine. ($16)

(92) Bridlewood Monterey County Pinot Noir 2010 (California). Monterey has all of the essential conditions to grow world class grapes; the right soils and a long cool growing season; plenty of ruby color, with a nose packing plenty of dark fruit aromas and hints of spice; the palate reflects the nose, with elegant fruit and spice. The finish is long and lingering. ($20)

(92) Talbott Logan Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 (California). This beautiful Pinot Noir wakes to bring rich texture, sweet fruits and a velvet finish; subtle tannins; a pleasure to drink with grilled salmon. ($23)

(92) Chateau Chamirey Mercurey Rouge 2009 (France). Aromas of Bing cherry, strawberry with soft earthy notes are well-balanced with the elegant profile and bright acidity in this medium-bodied red with a wonderful lingering finish; a true expression of Burgundy. ($20)

(92) Sonoma Loeb Russian River Pinot Noir 2011 (California). This Russian River Pinot Noir from Philip Titus is full of red cherry and ripe berry flavors that are complemented with warm spice notes that lead to a smooth, elegant finish. ($35)

FOUR STARS

(91) Walt Gap’€™s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2010(California). Cherry cola, blueberries and ripe cherries on the nose; it is round and coating in the mouth with vanillin and cedar notes; medium acidity; a round and persistent finish. ($60)

(91) Deloach Central Coast Pinot Noir 2010 (California). Smooth and concentrated with a magnificent core of raspberry, wild berry, blackberry and pomegranate flavors that all come together perfectly on a spicy, lengthy finish; great value. ($14)

(91) Oyster Bay Marlborough Pinot Noir 2011 (New Zealand). A sophisticated light-bodied red with aromas of ripe red fruit; the palate is gentle with notes of plum and cherry and a touch of smokiness on the back of the palate; the finish is lingers a bit with subtle and pleasant tannins; perfect match for ham and roast poultry. ($18)

(91) Ken Wright Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2010 (Oregon). A blend made from several of vineyards, showing delicious purity and class; the bouquet is forward and fruity, tempered but not shy, with blueberry, red cherry and subtle spice notes; the palate is smooth and silky and quite complex, with supple, savory spice undertones and mild oak tinting juicy and ripe blueberry and red berry flavors; long finish. ($25)

(91) Hartford Court Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2010 (California). Nose is elegant and complex with cherry up-front and underlying notes of violet, spices, and a hint of earth; flavors in the mouth are berry, cherry, sweet dried cranberries, clove and allspice; texturally, the wine is silky with nice acidity and good minerality. ($36)

(91) W.H. Smith Sonoma Coast, Umino Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008 (California). Pale ruby in color, the bouquet displays medium weight but possesses a nice mix of fresh red berry aromas mingling with subtle spice notes and a touch of earth; initially mild and easygoing, it sneaks up on you with depth and body, displaying a lovely mix of moderately ripe black fruit flavors along with cola and tea leaf; some ripe cassis appears in the finish as velvety but firm tannin offers structure. ($25)

(91) Courtney Benham Sangiacomo Vineyard Sonoma Pinot Noir 2010 (California). A bold Pinot Noir with rich dark fruit and hints of smoke and spice leading to an elegant finish. ($25)

(91) Jim Ball Signature Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2009 (California). Rich and elegant with strawberry, cherry, white pepper and cedar notes leading to a smooth finish with some lingering spice. ($35)

(91) Domaine Faiveley Mercurey Côte Chalonnaise 2010 (France). The grapes for this wine were sourced from five different parcels within the Mercurey appellation, with some of them 50 years old; bright ruby in the glass, showing a youthful appearance; the nose and palate both reflect the influence of the region’€™s terroir, with a profusion of red cherry, raspberry, spice and a subtle smokiness; long, elegant and balanced finish. ($22)

(91) 90+ Lot 56 Pinot Noir 2008 (California). Rich and robust, this Russian River Pinot competes with wines twice the price. ($18)

(91) Bishop Creek Barrel Select Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2009 (Oregon). Raspberry and cranberry notes lead into earthiness creating a fruit forward, savory and nicely balanced wine. ($25)

(90) Laetitia Estate Arroyo Grande Pinot Noir 2010 (California). Red/Purple color with flowery cherry scent; lightly sweet on the palate with Bing cherry and medium weight; a simple crowd-pleaser. ($22)

(90) Block Nine Caiden’€™s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011 (California). Layers of cherry and plum followed by a hint of cedar; an overall elegant experience; great value. ($14)

(90) The Pinot Project 2011 (California). Fruit from Sonoma, Carneros and the Russian River makes this wine a consistent value each year; yummy black cherries with a touch of spice and oak; easy to quaff and easy to enjoy with everyday meals. ($13)

(90) Flying Goat Rancho Santa Rosa Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2007 (California). Dark brick in color, it has a floral yet herbaceous nose; tastes of macerated dark cherry and spice; very restrained for Santa Rita Hills, which is a nice change of pace from the Syrah-esque bombs the area is known for. ($45)

(90) Adelsheim Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2010 (Oregon). Red fruit aroma with raspberry and cherry flavors; firm tannins and a long finish; excellent with salmon or tuna. ($30)

(90) Nobilo Marlborough Icon Pinot Noir 2010 (New Zealand). Mildly earthy in the nose, this wine possesses subtle spice notes followed by aromas of cassis and blueberry; medium bodied, well developed and round on the palate, it has juicy and ripe red berry flavors with blueberry really perking up in the aftertaste; more evidence of how New Zealand Pinot Noirs are coming into their own. ($19)

(90) Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Pinot Noir 2009 (California). The bouquet is nicely earthy at first, followed by ripe red fruit aromas with lovely spice accents; very similar on the palate as the fruit takes center stage, but those earth and spice notes linger on the edges; medium bodied and put together nicely. ($27)

(90) Borthwick Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2009 (New Zealand). Flavors of tobacco and spice with some actual oak; subdued tannins simply beautiful. ($30)

(90) Row Eleven Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 2007 (California). Big, bold, full of flavor from winemaker Richard de Las Reyas; lots of fruit with lots of backbone; a real crowd-pleaser. ($35)

(90) Meiomi Pinot Noir 2010 (California). A big, rich California red from the Wagner family of Caymus fame, with black cherry and vanilla aromas and flavors. ($22)

(90) Matetic Vineyard Corralillo Pinot Noir 2009 (Chile). A fine example of Chile’€™s growth as a top Pinot Noir producer; black fruit and fig notes followed by a long, complex finish. ($27)

(90) Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir 2010 (Oregon). Classic Oregon Pinot Noir; medium bodied with tart cherry notes and a long finish. ($27)

(90) Decoy Sonoma County Pinot Noir 2010 (California). Strawberries and plums on the nose with flavors of cherry and plums with hints of raspberry; slight tannins and well balanced on the finish. ($25)

(90) Leyda Classic Pinot Noir 2010 (Chile). Raspberry and cherry show up nicely on the nose with a mixed berry combo on the palate. Long finish that is complex and spicy. ($12)

(90) Estancia Pinot Noir 2010 (California). Pinnacles Ranches on the cool Monterey coast produces this Pinot Noir with rich berry flavors and a soft finish. ($18)

(90) The Crossings Pinot Noir 2009 (New Zealand). Aromas of plums and violets with ripe berry fruit flavors and an elegant finish. ($15)

(90) Bliss Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2009 (California). Has a mild bouquet of cola nut and tea leaf, and then some nicely developed fruit aromas; well balanced and even-keeled, it shows off its aging in 35% new oak nicely, but the fruit remains at the fore; excellent finish. ($16)

(90) Primarius Pinot Noir 2010 (Oregon). Aromas of cherry followed by flavors of vanilla and spice; well balanced and elegant finish; great value. ($18)

(90) Rock Point Pinot Noir 2010 (Oregon). Burgundian in style, this ‘€œsleeper’€ has an appealing alcohol level with friendly oak and spice balance; pretty gutsy for the money; decanting makes it even better. ($17)

(90) OFV Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Oregon). A great expression of a classic Willamette Valley Pinot Noir; this medium-bodied offering is full of cherry, vanilla and a hint of spice. ($18)

(90) Le Renard Bourgogne Rouge Pinot Noir 2009 (France). This vibrant Pinot Noir exhibits bright raspberry and strawberry aromas followed by lively layers of fruit balanced with soft tannins as well as a vibrant finish. ($25)

(90) Framingham Marlborough Pinot Noir 2011 (New Zealand). Vibrant and fruit-driven, this elegant Pinot Noir features supple tannins and savory complexity; characteristic flavors of dark cherry and ripe plum with earthy nuances are accompanied by toasty oak notes, which lead to a long, juicy finish. ($25)

(90) Cottesbrook Marlborough Pinot Noir 2010 (New Zealand). Intense aromas of raspberry and black cherry linger on the nose and are enhanced by complex earthy notes; soft tannins give way to ripe red fruit flavors followed by savory oak components; a balanced and structured wine with a smooth, lingering finish. ($18)

(90) Jenner Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2010 (California). A balanced Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir full of ripe cherry, plum and earth notes leading into bright acidity and smooth tannins. ($25)

(90) Sarapo Natalia Pinot Noir 2009 (California). Lovely cocktail wine; full of vibrant, fresh fruit, and easy, silky tannins. ($20)

(89) Knightsdale Mendicino County Pinot Noir 2010 (California). Dark, ripe cherries on the nose lead to full flavors of blackberries and chocolate; soft balanced finish; good food wine. ($15)

(89) Angeline Vineyards Russian River Pinot Noir 2010 (California). Intense red, dark brick color with intense aromas of black cherry highlighted by earthy clay and sweet spice; fresh, ripe flavors of cranberry and dried red cherries with a soft berry mouth and a light finish. ($15)

(89) Seaglass Pinot Noir 2010 (California). Aromas of raspberries and carmelized blueberries; earthy; dry, medium bodied, well balanced with a peppery finish. ($11)

(89) New Harbor Marlborough 2008 (New Zealand). Bright red cherry and raspberry bouquet; light vanilla notes and violets; soft and round tannins; medium acidity with candied orange rind and an almost salty finish; pleasantly mineral. ($10)

(88) Cupcake Vineyards Pinot Noir 2010 (California). This budget pinot has the aroma of cherries that carries through the palate with a touch of red currants and a hint of spice; excellent value. ($8)

(88) Pleasures California Pinot Noir 2010 (California). Forward and juicy, this even shows a little sweetness in the nose, with ripe red cherry and raspberry aromas followed by a touch of spice, but no oak whatsoever; firm tannin on the palate provides some initial tartness which then slowly subsides to allow more ripe cherry to move forward; medium bodied and evenly balanced’€”perhaps not as complex as some pinot noirs, but at this price there should be no complaints. ($11)

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