The 12 Best Pinot Noir Wines in 2022

By Dirk Smits

What is the flavor of Pinot Noir?

The name Pinot Noir comes from the French words for pine (pin) and black (noir). The word pine refers to the grape having tightly clustered pine cone shaped bunches of grapes.

Growing Pinot Noir is a daunting task for grape growers. Because the grapes grow close together within the bunch, the air cannot circulate between them and get rid of the moisture build-up, rot and mold (mildew) can quickly develop. The grapes are also only protected against this with very little skin. Pinot Noir does best in a cool climate because it has to be harvested early. It does not do well in hot climates because the grape would ripen too early and there would be no time to develop interesting flavors. A demanding grape!

Its home port in France is Burgundy, Champagne, Sancerre and Alsace. Other countries where this grape is grown are cool climate areas in the United States (mainly parts of California, Oregon and Washington), Moldavia, Italy, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, South Africa, Chile and Argentina.

The taste of Pinot Noir is very diverse. But generally speaking, Pinot Noir gives a light to medium body with cherry, raspberry and strawberry and often some earthy, sometimes spicy scents and flavors. A Pinot Noir is not a powerhouse but more of a subtle and pleasant wine. It matters a lot to the taste where the grape comes from because it carries many of the characteristics of its terroir. Roughly speaking, the European Pinot Noir wines are subtle and light, while the wines from the U.S., South America and Australia have more pronounced fruit (more blackberries and cherries). Often the wine from the New World also contains a bit more alcohol.

The advantage of the thin skin of the Pinot Noir is that not much tannin ends up in the wine, which keeps it nice and smooth. As the wine ages, the earthy scents and flavors (forest, stable) become a nice complement to its fruity character. When the wine has been aged in wood, there is also some vanilla and some pencil shavings.

Pinot Noir has the best drinking temperature if you cool it down slightly, about 57 to 61 degrees. A somewhat fuller variant can be a degree or two warmer. As you have read above, Pinot Noir is quite a subtle wine and it is really a shame if you drink it too warm. A lot of its subtlety is then lost because of the predominance of alcohol. Pinot Noir wine is also great to drink in the summer. Cool the wine for a while before opening it.

Some top wines from several countries in the world can be stored for a very long time, some for decades. But these are exceptions to the general rule that Pinot Noir is not made to keep very long. In general, it is better to drink this wine within 5 to 10 years and not to store it for longer. Again, this is because Pinot Noir does not have a thick skin and therefore does not have a large amount of tannin. With Pinot Noir, it is mainly the acids that ensure that the wine can be preserved.

1. Anton Bauer, 2019 Pinot Noir | Wagram, Austria

Origin: Wagram, Austria
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Price: $25.00
ABV: 14%

Anton Bauer, born in 1971, is the fourth generation to manage the 96-acre winery. After graduating from the Krems School of Viticulture and completing an internship in Burgundy, he worked for more than four years as an enologist in a renowned Austrian winery. In 1992 he took over his parents’ winery, which at that time was 8 acres, and since then he has uncompromisingly pursued his quest for ​​quality. The winery is located in the Wagram viticultural region, a 25-mile long and 100-foot high ridge between the towns of Krems and Tulln in Austria. It consists of thousands of years old gravel sediments from the ancient Danube River.

This Pinot Noir shows a lighter ruby color. Aromas of strawberries, cherry and violet emerge on the nose. The palate offers lots of ripe berries, light, elegant tannins and juicy acidity. The wine is light bodied with a balanced, elegant finish.

> For more information, visit Anton Bauer official website.

2. Bouchaine, 2019 Carneros | Napa Valley, California, USA

Origin: Carneros, Napa Valley, California
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Price: $40.00
ABV: 14.3%

Bouchaine is the oldest continuously operating winery in Carneros, a region located on the southern tip of Napa Valley. In the late 1880s, a Missouri-born settler named Boon Fly planted grapes and fruit trees on the property. An Italian winemaker named Johnny Garetto bought the land in 1927 and farmed it until 1961, when he sold to Beringer. Twenty years later, the dilapidated winery was purchased by Gerret and Tatiana Copeland who made it into a state-of-the-art winery.

The wine shows a bright ruby color. The bouquet flashes ripe strawberries, cherries, rose petals and spices. The palate is smooth, filled with lush red fruit, vibrant acidity and smooth tannins resulting in an easy-drinking Pinot Noir ready to drink now.

> For more information, visit Bouchaine official website.

3. Domaine de Bellene, 2019 Nuits-Saint-Georges, Vieilles Vignes | Burgundy, France

Origin: Burgundy, France
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Price: $69.00
ABV: 13.5%

The small town of Nuits-Saint-Georges lies at the epicenter of the Côte-de- Nuits, just south of Vosne-Romanée. There are no grands crus, but a number of excellent premier crus. This wine is from four organically farmed parcels located on the northern side of Nuits-Saint-Georges, near Vosne-Romanée, where a more fruit-driven, silky style of wine is produced.

This Burgundy shows a crimson red color with aromas of strawberry, raspberry, cherry, spices and blossom. The palate shows the Nuits-Saint-Georges terroir: firm with black fruit, present but refined tannins and a finely measured touch of Asian spices.

> For more information, visit Domaine de Bellene official website.

4. En Route, Les Pommiers 2019 | Russian River Valley, California, USA

Origin: Sonoma, California
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Price: $60.00
ABV: 14.5%

En Route is located in the Russian River Valley in Sonoma where the dense fog, the gravelly soil, the microclimates and the proximity to the cool Pacific Ocean create vineyards and conditions that work in concert to create some of the most textured, graceful and stylish Pinot Noirs.

Les Pommiers has a bright red ruby color and offers aromas of cherry, strawberry, raspberry, forest floor and baking spice. The mouth unfolds lots of lingering fruit flavors accentuated by some spice, elegant tannins and evolving in a long, savory finish.

> For more information, visit En Route Winery official website.

5. J. Christopher, Medici Vineyard, Chehalem Mountains 2018 | Oregon, USA

Origin: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Price: $70.00
ABV: 13.5%

Located in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the J. Christopher winery specializes in Pinot Noir made using the traditional methods of the Old World. Owned by renowned Mosel winegrower, Ernst Loosen (of the Dr. Loosen estate), the wines emphasize focus, length and balance. Medici is one of the original vineyards on Chehalem Mountain, planted in 1976 by Hal and Dotty Medici, making it one of the oldest vineyards in the Willamette Valley.

The wine shows a lighter ruby red color with aromas of spice, volcanic earth, cherry, blueberries and pepper. The palate unfolds flavors of red fruit, orange zest and black tea. The wine ends with a complex finish with present acidity, soft tannins and a touch of mineral.

> For more information, visit J. Christopher official website.

6. Jules Taylor, Marlborough 2020 | Marlborough, New Zealand

Origin: Marlborough, New Zealand
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Price: $22.00
ABV: 13.5%

In 2001, Jules Taylor Wines emerged as a little moonlighting project with a mere 200 cases. Five years, two children and many, many late nights later, Jules and her husband, George, made the nail-biting decision to put everything on the line, give up their day jobs and give their dream a shot. Jules left her corporate winemaking career to give her the freedom to make wines the way she thinks they should be made.

The wine shows a deep purple color. The nose exhibits intense aromas of plum, cherry, violets with earthy notes and sage underneath. The palate is intense with ripe red fruit flavors balanced by savory, chocolate and spicy notes.

> For more information, visit Jules Taylor official website.

7. King Estate, 2020 Willamette Valley | Oregon, USA

Origin: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Price: $26.00
ABV: 13.5%

King Estate was founded in 1991 by the King family with a deep commitment to sustainable farming. Their uniquely integrated ecosystem of vineyard and woodland, grasslands and wetlands, orchards and culinary gardens located in Oregon’s prestigious Willamette Valley, led them to first obtain certified organic status followed by the biodynamic standard in 2016. Today, King Estate is the largest certified biodynamic vineyard in North America.

The wine has a deep ruby color with aromas of cherry, berries, rose petals and spices. The palate offers berries, cherry and a touch of earthiness, all wrapped up in ripe tannins and juicy acidity.

> For more information, visit King Estate official website

8. Mascota, Unánime, 2018 Pinot Noir | Mendoza, Argentina

Origin: Mendoza, Argentina
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Price: $25.00
ABV: 13.5%

The Mascota winery and its vineyards lie at the foot of the Andes Mountains, barely 3,000 feet away from the Mendoza River. The vines profit from the fresh breezes descending from the mountains and blowing along the river, all of which contributes to the generation of wide temperature ranges. The soil is predominantly alluvial, with a clay-loam surface and rock that is found at a depth of 24 inches.

This densely colored crimson red wine shows aromas of cherry, strawberry and citrus. The medium body reveals flavors of red berries, violets and a touch of oak. The finish is well balanced with fine tannins and lively acidity.

> For more information, visit Mascota Vineyards official website.

9. Melville, Sta. Rita Hills 2019 | California, USA

Origin: Santa Rita Hills, California
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Price: $37.00
ABV: 14.25%

Founded in 1989, Melville is a family-owned and operated estate winery with its roots in Sonoma Valley’s Knights Valley, where Ron Melville grew high-quality and greatly sought-after grapes. In 1996, Ron’s desire to grow cold-climate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah brought Melville Vineyards to the Sta. Rita Hills, located in the Western Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County. Today, Ron and his son, Chad, uphold Melville’s tradition as one of the most highly-regarded estates in California.

This Pinot Noir has a light ruby color and lively aromas of cherry, strawberry, plum and violets in the nose. The palate reveals lots of red fruit, spices, soft tannins and a wonderful, silky finish.

> For more information, visit Melville Winery official website.

10. Pascal Jolivet, Attitude, 2019 Pinot Noir | Val de Loire, France

Origin: Loire, France
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Price: $25.00
ABV: 12.5%

The house of Pascal Jolivet was founded in 1987 and is one of the most dynamic domaines in France’s Loire Valley. Pascal Jolivet is a firm believer in natural winemaking and practices environmentally friendly techniques in both the vineyard and the cellar. The philosophy of the estate is to let nature take its course as much as possible.

Attitude Pinot Noir comes from vines planted in the Touraine and Sancerre areas in the Loire Valley. The juices are fermented with wild yeasts in stainless steel tanks with thermoregulation.

The wine has a brilliant ruby color with aromas of cherries, blackcurrant and raspberries. The palate reveals lots of red fruit with spicy notes that lead to an elegant, balanced finish.

> For more information, visit Pascal Jolivet official website.

11. Ram’s Gate Estate, 2020 Carneros | California, USA

Origin: Carneros, California
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Price: $85.00
ABV: 14%

With its cool climate, Carneros produces wines of great depth and distinction. Situated upon a rolling hillside, where the San Francisco Bay meets the edges of Napa and Sonoma counties, Ram’s Gate Winery patiently awaits. Blended from different lots on their estate vineyard, the core of the wine is built around a small subsection of their older vines that find footing in gravel soils—a unique soil for the area. There, the vine roots reach nearly four feet down, the clusters are miniature, and the resulting wines are the most concentrated.

The wine shows a deep garnet color. The nose is driven by raspberry, cranberry, cherry and spices. The palate is red berry fruit driven enveloped in ripe tannins and present acidity, all evolving in a complex, long finish.

> For more information, visit Ram’s Gate official website.

12. Roco, Private Stash no.17, 2019 Pinot Noir | Oregon, USA

Origin: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Price: $95.00
ABV: 14%

When Rollin Soles and Corby Stonebraker-Soles came to Oregon in the 1980s, they arrived at the leading edge of a movement. But in those early years, the movement we know today hadn’t yet picked up full momentum. The idea of Oregon wine was actively in the making, emerging in real time through the daring efforts of people like Rollin and Corby and a diverse group of entrepreneurs who wanted nothing more than to produce world-class wines in an unproven but promising winegrowing region. They built wineries, developed foundational industry organizations, and worked to establish Oregon as the premier place to make Pinot Noir and Chardonnay outside of Europe.

ROCO’s premier Pinot Noir, Private Stash is a numbered series of small production Pinot Noir sourced from a 2-acre plot on the Soles’ private 21-acre vineyard. Derived from Rollin’s special clonal propagation, 3A, otherwise called “the ROCO selection,” these vines produce smaller than normal clusters of tightly packed berries. The 2019 Stash is No. 17 in the production series that began in 2003.

This beautiful Pinot Noir shows a brilliant ruby color with aromas of cherries, raspberries and violets. On the palate, concentrated flavors of plum, raspberry jam and spices are wrapped together with velvety tannins and well-matched acidity all culminating in a long and well-balanced finish.

> For more information, visit Roco Winery official website.