Trying to identify my favorite under $25 Pinots has been an interesting exercise for me. Not because I've tried so many new Pinots from all over the world, and certainly not because I've discovered that there are loads of wonderful under $25 Pinots out there. Interesting because it has helped me to step back and examine things a bit, to clarify for me the way I want to spend my money when I buy wine.
I've been on a serious Burgundy kick for almost 6 months now, since before BrooklynLady and visited the region. According to my records in Cellar Tracker, Burgundy accounts for upwards of 25% of my wine consumption in 2007 (I'm not getting into actual numbers, because I don't want you to think that I'm some sort of booze-soaked sot, or something). I read more about Burgundy and Pinot Noir than about anything else that is wine-related.
So why, when I decided to research and report on Pinots that cost less than $25, did I all of the sudden take a little break from Pinot, and re-discover my passion for the reds (and whites) of the Loire Valley? I've been pondering this question for about a week now, and here is what I think:
43% of my cellar is Pinot Noir - 14% Burgundy and 29% Oregon. And of all of those bottles, only one wine retails for $25 and under. So I would have to purchase a lot of wine in order to do this project, and I think I realized that it is wine I might not really want. Why not? I have tried my share of Pinot at this pricepoint and I'm just not so impressed. I get less pleasure from them than I do from a $15 Loire red, for example. There are exceptions of course, and I hope to identify them here for us to share.
My point is, I try to get the biggest bang for my buck whenever I buy wine, and if I'm going to spend $25 on a bottle of red wine, I can get a top of the line beautiful Loire red, a ridiculous Beaujolais, or a bevy of Rhone or Languedoc Roussillon wines that I have yet to explore. Or I could buy Pinot Noir, but there are only a few examples I know of $25 Pinot that provide sufficient bang.
But here they are, the wines that we should be able to find right now on retail shelves (and I will indicate where I bought mine), my absolute favorite under $25 Pinots:
2005 Paul Pernot Beaune Clos du Dessus des Marconnets, $22 (Garnet, Chambers Street says they will carry it soon). This is simply a wonderful village wine, perfect for drinking now, and it will develop some complexity with maturity. It has the depth of aroma and flavor, the elegance, the richness, and the power of Burgundy wines that command far higher prices. I liked it enough to buy a whole case, and I very rarely do that.
2004 Domaine Joseph Voillot Bourgogne Vieilee Vignes, $21 (Chambers Street, but they're sold out now, but Burgundy Wine Company and Crush both have stock, but at a higher price). A flat-out delicious regional wine with bright red and dark fruit, good balancing acidity, and some complex earthy flavors with time in the glass. This wine is yummy, but to my tastes, it is not of the same quality as the Pernot wine.
These wines are not new to you if you read this blog, as I have written about both of them before. "So that's it?" You ask, "only those two wines? I read 7 paragraphs for two wines recommendations, that he already wrote about?!?" Well, there are others, but you can't buy them now - they are older vintages, and sold out. Like the wonderful $14 2002 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir. I snapped up six bottles of that lovely little wine, but it's long gone now.
You can buy wine on the secondary market, and like Deetrane, you'll get some good deals that way. I'm only talking about retail here. In order for this to be worthwhile, you would have to be able to buy the wine also, right?
2004 Domaine Jacky Truchot Bourgogne, $24 (Chambers Street).
Light rose petal color, with nice high toned smells of red fruit, a bit of leather. The palate does not measure up to the nose, and the wine did not develop well in the glass over a few hours. Overnight - washout. Almost undrinkable the next day.
2004 Domaine Ghislaine Barthod Bourgogne Les Bons Batons, $26 (Chambers Street - okay, it's a buck more than I'm allowed...so what). One of the strangest experiences with wine I have had in recent times - this wine pulled a Jeckyll and Hyde act...twice! Dark ruby, initially smelled of cedar, tasted primarily of unripe tannins. But 15 minutes later, red fruit, some barnyard, and earthy smells came through - nice. Smooth texture, nice balance of fruit and earth. But wait, there's more - another half hour, dinner's ready, and the wine is again a big bag of cedar chips. We left half the bottle in the fridge, so I'll check later and see what's up.