Everyone loves a glass of great Pinot Noir, but the grape’s fickle nature and elusive character can make it difficult to find quality, well-priced bottles. After tasting more than 2,700 bottles in 2019, our global team of reviewers have sifted through the masses to discover the best Pinot Noirs of the year.
With selections from our Top 100 Best Buys list, Top 100 Cellar Selections and Enthusiast 100 list, these Pinots are among the best of the year. Pop one open right now or cellar it to enjoy in the years to come.
Pinot Noirs to Drink Now
Williams Selyem 2017 Pinot Noir (Sonoma County); $39, 98 points. This is a perfumed and seductive wine made from a range of sites across the county. Fresh acidity is seamlessly integrated between textured layers of black cherry, forest floor and cardamom. The overall experience is balanced and undeniably beautiful. Editors’ Choice. –Virginie Boone
Roar 2017 Sierra Mar Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands); $58, 97 points. Rich and ripe in aromas of red cherry, caramel and oak, this bottling is made elegant and complex from the crushed slate and stony qualities that thrive throughout. A concentrated Bing cherry flavor rings on the bone-dry palate, lifted by mint and more chiseled stone. This is amazingly ripe and delicious, yet hewn with impressive minerality. Editors’ Choice. –Matt Kettmann
Escarpment 2017 Kiwa Single Vineyard Pinot Noir (Martinborough); $60, 95 points. From 30-year-old vines in deep alluvial gravels, this is a spicy and pristine wine that’s approachable now but is also very cellar worthy. A heady perfume of blueberries, pomegranates, tobacco leaves, scrubby Mediterranean herbs, florals and crushed stones kicks it all off. Then the palate takes it all to another level, bursting with crunchy, juicy fruit, crystalline-like minerality and savory spices, all threaded together with structured ultrafine tannins. Drink now–2029. Empson USA Ltd. –Christina Pickard
Storm 2015 Vrede Pinot Noir (Hemel-en-Aarde Valley); $50, 95 points. There’s an herbal edge right upfront on the nose of this wine, with some earthy foliage, raw cocoa nib and fresh-tilled dirt aromas that are amply supported by a fruity core of red cherry flesh, plum, wild strawberry and raspberry. The bright palate offers beautiful minerality, as pristine, pure red-fruit flavors are coupled with a saline burst on the midpalate and through the close. Fine tannins lend a subtle structure. It’s well balanced, focused and precise, a gorgeous wine that is hard to resist now and should evolve well through 2028. Broadbent Selections, Inc. Editors’ Choice. –Lauren Buzzeo
Hyland 2017 Old Vine Single Vineyard Pinot Noir (McMinnville); $45, 94 points. Hyland has blended multiple clones for this Old Vine cuvée, and to good effect. A lush, tightly woven fabric of mixed berries, spicy plum and stewed cherries brings accents of bramble and underbrush. There’s a seam of graphite, and the tannins carry a hint of dark chocolate. Lovely already, or drink over the next decade. Editors’ Choice. –Paul Gregutt
Domaine Jessiaume 2017 Les Cents Vignes Premier Cru (Beaune); $47, 93 points. One of the larger premier crus at the northern end of the Beaune vineyard, Les Cents Vignes is also one of the best known. This wine’s ripe, juicy and generous fruit is a good reason why. With spice from wood aging and inspiring acidity, the wine is immediately attractive while also likely to age. MS Walker. Editors’ Choice. –Roger Voss
Beringer 2017 Founder’s Estate Pinot Noir (California); $10, 91 points. This medium- to full-bodied wine is one of the best values in Pinot today. It shows classic black and red-cherry aromas, a broad palate of dark fruits and light oak spices. Lifted acidity and moderate tannins complete the nicely composed picture. Best Buy. –Jim Gordon
Castle Rock 2017 Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley); $14, 89 points. Right on the heels of the 2016 comes this early release from 2017. It’s almost a twin—smooth, ripe and remarkable for the price. Flavorful berry and plum fruit with well-massaged notes of vanilla, tobacco and Bourbon combine to make this a most enjoyable everyday wine. That it’s true Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is even better. Best Buy. –P.G.
Pinot Noirs to Cellar
Freeman 2016 Gloria Estate Pinot Noir (Green Valley); $68, 96 points. This gorgeous wine shows an expressive wild-cherry aroma, a vibrant and pure black-cherry flavor and a firm, fine-grained texture for an enticing mouthfeel. Touches of mineral and iron in the aroma, and hints of rhubarb and forest floor in the flavor give it exciting breadth and complexity. Best after 2023. Cellar Selection. –J.G.
Styring 2015 Wit Reserve Estate Pinot Noir (Ribbon Ridge); $65, 96 points. This barrel selection reserve is truly exceptional. Showing focus and precision, it pushes firm black cherry, caramel, praline and toasted cashew flavors into full display. The ripeness, richness and overall deliciousness pin the pleasure meter. Drink through 2030. Cellar Selection. –P.G.
Johanneshof Reinisch 2016 Holzspur Pinot Noir (Thermenregion); $90, 95 points. A rather subtle nose reveals crisp red-cherry fruit. The palate has a similar but promising reluctance. Everything here is crisp, tart and reminiscent of red currant and cranberry. There is aromatic depth and a translucent purity. Only later does the smokiness of oak envelope that lovely fruit, while fine tannins effect a gentle grip. This needs bottle age but will blossom into an elegant, light-footed Pinot Noir. Drink 2022–2030. Circo Vino. Cellar Selection. –Anne Krebiehl, MW
Vincent Girardin 2016 Corton; $130, 95 points. This is a blend across various Pinot Noir parcels of Corton Grand Cru vineyards. It is a powerful wine, but the intensity is tempered by the elegant texture and open red fruits. Its concentration is undeniable and very present, showing the way to long-term aging. Drink from 2025. Vineyard Brands. Cellar Selection. –R.V.
Albert Morot 2016 Les Teurons Premier Cru (Beaune); $56, 94 points. This firm and structured wine is rich in tannins and juicy black fruits. It shows plenty of fruit concentration which pushes through its dense structure. Drink from 2024. Multiple U.S. importers. Cellar Selection. –R.V.
Niner 2017 Pinot Noir (Edna Valley); $35, 93 points. Plush aromas of strawberry and cherry meet with subtle accents of clove, gingerbread, cinnamon and flowers on the nose of this bottling from Jespersen Ranch. A strawberry flavor dominates the palate, with touches of pepper and tobacco leaf, all framed by full tannins that hold firm into the finish. Drink through 2032. Cellar Selection. –M.K.
Salwey 2015 Oberrotweiler Henkenberg GG Pinot Noir (Baden); $50, 93 points. Prominent notes of smoke, char and bramble mingle into zesty, invigorating bites of crisp black plum and cherry. Full bodied and velvety on the palate, it’s equal parts savory earth tones and pristine fruit, but needs a bit more time to meld. Open from 2021. It should improve through 2030 and hold further still. Rudi Wiest Selection. Cellar Selection. –Anna Lee C. Iijima
Ata Rangi 2016 Pinot Noir (Martinborough); $80, 92 points. Like many of this renowned producer’s wines, this is a bottle to take your time with. It changes with every pour, from bright cranberry and raspberry fruit to licorice; from dried roses and violets to sandalwood and savory spice. The palate is medium bodied and silky textured, with tightly wound, leathery tannins and fruit that feels like you could take a bite out of it. Through it all is Ata Rangi’s signature mineral streak. For all its appeal, however, this wine is still a baby, elegant and complex but austere. Drink through 2028. Verity Wine Partners. Cellar Selection. –C.P.
Published: December 16, 2019