The 15 Best Pinot Noir Wines in 2023

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.


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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.

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. Domaine Carneros 2020 Estate Pinot Noir | Napa Valley, CA

Origin: Napa Valley, CA
Varietals: 100% Pinot Noir
Price: $46.00
ABV: 14.2%

If Domaine Carneros is well-known for its sparkling wines, it also produces Pinot Noirs, heralding the distinctive bright berry qualities of the Carneros Region. The wines are produced from fruits coming from its vineyards. Domaine Carneros was founded in 1987 by the prestigious Champagne Taittinger family.

The ten-month aging in barrels brings a sweetness that balances the tannin. The 2020 edition of the Estate Pinot Noir is full of fruit and savory flavors. On the nose, you will encounter black cherry, leather, tree bark, and cherry cola. On the palate will come red fruits including cranberry and raspberry, with silky creamy texture. On the finish, there is an additional touch of spice and forest floor notes.

> For more information, visit Domaine Carneros official website.

5. 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.

6. FEL, Pinot Noir 2020 | Anderson Valley, California, USA

Origin: Anderson Valley, California
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Price: $42.00
ABV: 13.9%

FEL wines are produced by Lede Family Wines based in Napa Valley. The letters in FEL represent Florence Elsie Lede, founder Cliff Lede’s mother, a home winemaker who provided the early inspiration for Cliff’s love of wine. Growing up in Alberta, Canada, Cliff remembers the tulip as signifying the end of winter, bringing with it a freshness and excitement of warmer days ahead. The FEL wines labels, featuring an illustration of an opening tulip, is a tribute to Florence’s passion for gardening.

A deep ruby color reflects in the glass with aromas of cherry, raspberry, baking spice, cedar and cinnamon. The palate features juicy cherry and red-currant flavors with accents of black tea, vanilla and cinnamon. The bright acid and silky tannins give the wine a fresh vibrancy.

> For more information, visit FEL official website.

7. Frank Family Vineyards, Carneros, Pinot Noir 2021 | Napa Valley, California

Origin: Carneros, Napa Valley, California
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Price: $40.00
ABV: 14.5%

Frank Family’s estate Lewis Vineyard provides the basis for this wine, with fruit from neighboring Beckstoffer Vineyards in Napa-Carneros and Sangiacomo Vineyards located in Sonoma-Carneros to round out the blend. In these vineyards, the predominant maritime influence of the Pacific Ocean and San Pablo Bay creates the cool temperature, fog and wind that make these vineyard sites ideally suited for growing cool climate varietals.

The wine shows a bright red color. The nose reveals flashy aromas of strawberry, raspberry and a pinch of orange zest. The elegant mouthfeel is marked by ripe red berry flavors, racy tannins and an elegant, juicy finish.

> For more information, visit Frank Family Vineyards official website.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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

11. 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.

12. Sandhi, Sta. Rita Hills, Pinot Noir 2021 | Sta. Rita Hills, California

Origin: Sta. Rita Hills, California
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Price: $40.00
ABV: 13.2%

Sandhi is a small production California winery focusing on select vineyards from the Sta. Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County. Sandhi was founded in 2010 by Rajat Parr, the wine director for Michael Mina Restaurants, and winemaker Sashi Moorman.

Sandhi represents a union essential to the production of wine: the collaboration between man, earth and vine. The willing participation of all three elements is necessary to make great wine, and the winegrower must make this collaboration rich and nourishing for all involved. An understanding of these joint efforts informs Sandhi’s exploration of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines throughout the Santa Barbara County terroir.

This bright red wine offers alluring aromas of dark red berries, underbrush and spices. The flavor profile is marked by ripe red fruit, blood orange and dried herbs. The lengthy finish is elegant and laced with fine tannins and fresh acidity.

> For more information, visit Sandhi official website.

Watch our exclusive video interview of Alison Laslett, CEO of Santa Barbara Vintners Association.

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. 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.