Bring Pinot to the table this Thanksgiving!
With my big family, chances are I’ll be sitting at the “kid’s table” for yet another year; however, I’m definitely swapping my Martinelli’s sparking cider for Pinot Noir.
If you haven’t already noticed from my blog’s title and this post, I’m a Pinot Noir fanatic. Not only is it one of the toughest grapes to grow, making the good Pinots that much more magical, it’s a gorgeous, gemstone-colored wine (think rubies and garnets in liquid form) that can be paired with pretty much everything. I can guarantee you it’ll be a crowd-pleaser at your Thanksgiving dinner with its lush, fruit-forward flavors and seductive, woodsy aromas.
I’ve selected a few of my favorites that can all easily be found at your local grocery story or wine merchant. At a range of price points, I hope you find a label that intrigues you!
2014 Line 39 Pinot Noir (Clarksburg & Monterey) $8
I’ll be completely honest: I steer clear of cheap wines. Despite my college friends’ efforts to make me a bottom-shelf believer, I’ve always found through trial and error that the $15-$20 range is a solid place to start. Yet rave reviews of this affordable Pinot followed me each time I went to the grocery store and I finally gave in, dropping to one knee to retrieve Line 39 from the lowest shelf. While this isn’t the most amazing pinot I’ve ever had (I’m missing those woodsy and feral aromas), it is a smart buy if you’re not looking to spend too much or buy in bulk.
On the nose: A delicate nose of strawberry, cranberry, and cherry.
On the palate: Tart cherry, berry compote, oak, and spice.
Additional notes: The finish is short but the tannins are supple.
2015 Meiomi Pinot Noir (Sonoma County) $15
Meiomi is the child of Joseph Wagner (son of Caymus’ respected Chuck Wagner) and was born when Joe proposed the idea to make a quality, lower-priced Pinot Noir. The label, which means “coastal” in Wappo (a local Native American tribe), has received numerous accolades and was recently bought by Constellation, the corporate drinks giant representing brands like Robert Mondavi and Corona. If you love an oaky quality to your reds, this wine really incorporates that beautifully.
On the nose: Strawberry jam, vanilla, mocha, and toasty oak.
On the palate: Black cherry, blackberry, and mocha.
Additional notes: There’s a notable silkiness with this pinot and the tannins are supple yet balanced.
2013 La Crema Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) $20
I fell in love with La Crema’s Chardonnay, which I served at my first Ladies Wine Night in college, and I soon began exploring more wines within the Sonoma County label. Their Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is a lively go-to that is easy to find in most grocery stores.
On the nose: Earth-driven. Forest floor (moss) and oak with lots of fruit – strawberry, blackberry, cherry, and cranberry.
On the palate: Tart cherry, strawberry, raspberry, spice, and plum. Short finish.
Additional notes: The tannins are well-balanced, so it’s a very drinkable red.
2012 Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley) $38
Oregon’s Willamette Valley is known for producing great Pinot Noir, much like California’s Anderson Valley and cooler climate regions. This particular bottle is in between their “Tavola” and reserve-level Pinots, so you’re getting a high-quality wine at a decent price. I absolutely adore this Pinot and you can scoop it up at Costco for a much cheaper price than the above!
On the nose: Cedar and graphite (pencil shavings), cigar box, violet, and dried rose petals.
On the palate: Tart cherry, plum, raspberry, cinnamon, and a hint of black pepper.
Additional notes: This Pinot is like drinking pure silk – smooth, seductive, and luxurious.
2013 Goldeneye Pinot Noir (Anderson Valley) $55
What is most intriguing about this particular Pinot is that it’s the opposite of the delicate, ethereally-light ones. It’s texture is thick and velvety, and its aromas are reminiscent of a cozy kitchen in the wintertime with the presence of rich baking spices.
On the nose: Tart cherry, blueberry, pomegranate, leather, and dusty earth.
On the palate: Tart cherry, pomegranate, cocoa, truffle, and redwood.
Additional notes: There’s a definite weight to this wine, but it’s not heavy. Expect assertive, rich flavors and a long finish.
2012 Calera “Mills” Mt. Harlan Pinot Noir (San Benito County) $62
I almost always research wines before I go out and buy them and this one’s Wine Enthusiast review really intrigued me. It described aromas of raw meat, earth, and animal hair: “the scene of a freshly hunted wild boar.” I don’t know that I detect a smell of raw meat, but there is a meatiness present in the dark fruit aromas. As for the earthiness, it’s definitely present and quite gorgeous.
On the nose: Dusty earth, black cherry, raspberry, redwood bark, and wild herbs.
On the palate: Black cherry, cranberry, white pepper, and bay leaves.
Additional notes: Decant to soften the gripping tannins of this wine and expect a long finish.