9 Under-$20 Pinot Noirs for Father’s Day
For dads who love wine.
I’m often asked if I have a favorite wine, and more and more I find myself saying Pinot Noir. Unsurprisingly perhaps, Pinot hits the top of the lists of many of my friends — but one subset — dad friends—are particularly taken by this fickle, fantastic grape. Ask most winemakers, and they’ll tell you it’s the most difficult grape to cultivate, but potentially the most rewarding wine in the bottle.
My own daughter just turned one, and selfishly, I’ve found myself daydreaming about future Father’s Day gifts—so, consider this a conspiratorial list for fellow dads who also love Pinot Noir (particularly the under-$20 kind). From ripe, juicy offerings of California and Oregon to one fantastic bottle from a New York winery, across the ocean to France and across the world to New Zealand, here is a range of delicious, textured, nuanced and affordable Pinot Noirs that will impress dad this Father’s Day.
Union Wine Company Underwood Cellars Pinot Noir, Oregon (can) ($6)
If there’s another canned wine out there as tasty as this, I’d love to hear about it. Most supermarkets and big retail stores will sell Underwood by the individual can or in 4-packs. I like to pick one up to sip on during dinner prep (be warned: one can is the equivalent of a half bottle of wine). Pop it in the fridge for 20 minutes and then pop the top on this delicious, creamy Pinot, that offers up red raspberry and black cherry fruit, hints of earth and dark chocolate notes.
2015 Laroche Mas La Chevaliere Pinot Noir, IGP Pays d'Oc, France ($13)
From France’s Languedoc region, far south of Burgundy, Pinot grapes from cooler, elevated vineyard sites in the foothills of the Central Massif provide impeccably sturdy, mouth-drying tannins and fresh acidity. Slightly warmer, Maritime-influenced grapes grown in the western Languedoc contribute a creamy mouthfeel, candied cherry flavors and subtle wild herbs and dried red florals.
2015 Millbrook Vineyards and Winery Pinot Noir, New York ($15)
This Upstate New York winery is situated amidst stunning hills in the Hudson Valley and was once the site of a dairy farm. Owner John Dyson has built a small portfolio of wineries, which includes the famous cult-status Pinots of Williams Selyem. In 2015, Millbrook’s longtime winemaker, John Graziano crafted a remarkably juicy Pinot brimming with black fruit preserves, dried red florals, bright earthy notes, and cola-spice. Well-worth the hunt.
2014 Kenwood Vineyards Pinot Noir, Russian River, Sonoma County ($16)
If you’ve never read Jack London’s “Call of the Wild” pick up a copy along with a bottle of this Pinot. Kenwood owns the Jack London Ranch, which was farmed by the author himself and their new labels give a visual nod to the lone wolf. This Pinot was sourced from select blocks in the Russian River Valley and is richly layered with ripe boysenberry, black raspberry and black cherry notes, framed by cedar, tobacco spice and hints of cinnamon and clove.
2015 Fossil Point Pinot Noir, Edna Valley, California ($16)
Pinot grapes for this wine hail from vineyard in California’s Edna Valley, teased by a constant stream of cool, salty breezes off the Pacific Ocean. The result is seriously brooding, dark Pinot of incredible bang for the buck—red fruit and earth on the nose gives way to black raspberries and black cherries, tea tannins bolstered by a saline minerality and long finish with hints of sweet oak spice and clove.
2014 Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand ($17)
Look for just about any vintage of this knockout Pinot from Marlborough, New Zealand. Winemaker David Edmunds takes full advantage of warm days, which helps fully ripen grapes, giving the wine a rich, dark-berry flavor and fleshy plum fruit loaded with spice and hints of orange peel and cocoa.
2014 Talley Vineyards Bishop's Peak Pinot Noir, Central Coast, California ($18)
The Talley Family has been farming vineyards in California’s coastal San Luis Obispo region for three generations. Their 2014 Bishop’s Peak offers up a smooth and silky mouthfeel, packed with generous red berry fruit, a nice mix of sweet and savory spices perfectly integrated with cedar and finishing with just a hint of dried red rose petals.
2014 La Follette Pinot Noir, North Coast, California ($19)
Consulting winemaker Ehren Jordan (formerly of Turley Wine Cellars, and making Failla, his own label) along with associate winemaker Simone Sequeira (who worked at Clos du Vougeot, one of the great producers of red Burgundy) sourced grapes from extremely cool Northern California vineyards in Sonoma and Mendocino. Their efforts show off a terrifically complex juicy wine, which boasts dark berry aromas and subtle smoky and toasty notes, while rich black cherry fruit washes over the palate and tart acidity gives way to crushed pine needles and flamed orange peel notes on the finish.
2014 Three Otters Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon ($19)
Winemkaer Alex Fullerton learned all he could about world class Pinot Noir from mentors Lynn Penner-Ash and Josh Bergström, two of Oregon’s highly lauded Pinot producers. Sweet, tart candied cherries, hints of mushrooms, earth and tingly acidity with a spicy finish. Right at $20 from the winery, this drinks like a wine double the price.