Northwest Wine: Finding affordable Pinot Noir

There’s no other way to put this: Pinot Noir is expensive. It’s expensive to grow, especially in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where there’s always a threat of poor weather.

Pinot Noir is expensive to make, with expensive French oak barrels a big part of the costs.

So just opening a bottle of Pinot Noir becomes an event.

We recently asked wineries to send us red wines that retail for $30 or less, and that included a number of Pinot Noirs. For this column, we put together a list of nine Pinot Noirs that are affordable enough for everyday enjoyment.

Ask for these wines at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.

Firesteed 2014 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $18: Howard Rossbach has been in the wine game for 40 years and created Firesteed more than 20 years ago. Since then, it has consistently delivered great quality at fair prices. His winemaker, Bryan Croft, crafted this delicious Pinot Noir with aromas of cherry, spice and licorice, followed by racy flavors of tart cherry, strawberry and red currant. (13.4% alc.)

Pike Road Wines 2014 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $20: Pike Road is the new project by Adam Campbell of vaunted Elk Cove Vineyards. It’s a nicely priced brand with its own tasting room in Carlton, Oregon. This inaugural effort emphasizes aromas of cherry, cocoa powder and oak. On the palate, bright acidity pushes flavors of strawberry, raspberry and pomegranate to the forefront. (13.5% alc.)

Rainstorm Winery 2013 Pinot Noir, Oregon, $17: This approachable and refreshingly delicious Pinot Noir is the work of Nicolas Quillè, head winemaker for Pacific Rim in Washington. Aromas of cherry, pomegranate and fresh herbs lead to flavors of Bing cherry, cranberry and a touch of spiciness. (13% alc.)

Kirkland Signature 2014 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $15: Willamette Valley winemaker Sarah Cabot produced this delicious Pinot Noir for Costco on behalf of Seattle-based Precept Wine. Aromas of plum, cherry and vanilla transition to flavors of raspberry and red cherry, which are backed by firm tannins through the solid finish. (13.7% alc.)

A to Z Wineworks 2014 Pinot Noir, Oregon, $19: From one of Oregon’s biggest wineries is certainly one of the largest-production Pinot Noirs in the Northwest. This reveals aromas of pomegranate and cherry pie filling, followed by flavors of blueberry and black cherry. This bright, fresh example will pair well with turkey, salmon or pork. (13.5% alc.)

Larkspur Winery 2014 Pinot Noir, Oregon, $17: Seattle’s Precept Wine is a big player in Oregon Pinot Noir, thanks to its substantial vineyard holdings. Once again, Cabot handles the winemaking in Dundee for this bottling, which carries an engaging theme of cherry, dark chocolate and oak spice. (13.7% alc.)

Indian Creek Winery 2014 Pinot Noir, Snake River Valley, $18: This second-generation winery in tiny Kuna, Idaho, produces Pinot Noirs most years, and the wines are often fascinating. This example opens with aromas of red currant and dried blueberry, followed by flavors of raspberry and cranberry. It is highlighted by mouthfilling juiciness and midpalate viscosity through the impressive finish. (12.6% alc.)

Primarius 2014 Pinot Noir, Oregon, $15: Here’s another deliciously affordable Pinot Noir from Precept and Cabot. This offers aromas of black truffle, forest floor and Bing cherry, followed by flavors of molasses, raspberry and cherry. Firm tannins back up the ample fruit and lead to a lengthy finish. (13.4% alc.)

Battle Creek Winery 2014 Unconditional Pinot Noir, Oregon, $15: Here’s another Precept brand that is priced in the $15 sweet spot. Aromas of red cherry and pomegranate lead to flavors of cherry and sweet herbs. It’s all backed by bright acidity and late-arriving tannins on the lengthy finish. (13.4% alc.)

Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, an award-winning media company. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.

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