Native to Burgundy, France, Pinot Noir is now grown far and wide, from Oregon’s Willamette Valley to winegrowing regions in New Zealand and Chile. A cool-climate grape named for its dark, thin skin and known for its light, easy-drinking flavors, Pinot Noir is among the most popular red wines in the world, raking in over $1 billion in annual sales in the United States alone in 2018 and with sales rising by 18.5 percent in 2020, despite the global pandemic .
With surprise hits from Germany and the American southeast, this year’s selection of Pinot Noir impressed VinePair’s tasting panel with the earthy softness and dark, fruity aromas we seek in the style. And with fall in full swing, there’s no better time to sip this crowd-pleasing varietal with gusto — pairing beautifully with everything from soft cheeses to Thanksgiving dinner.
Read on for the 25 best Pinot Noirs to drink in 2021, with reviews and ratings from VinePair tastings director Keith Beavers.
Long Meadow Ranch Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2016 ($39)
This American Pinot Noir smells like cola, cinnamon, and a forest in autumn. The palate is so soft, you’ll want to chew on it. The mouthfeel is silky and delicate, and would pair nicely with some nibbles and good friends (if you even want to share).
Ankida Ridge Vineyards Pinot Noir 2017 ($48)
After you’ve sipped this wine; that’s when it hits you. The nose is soft, tight, and smells like cherries and soil. On the palate, it’s the definition of silky, with an incredibly balanced mouthfeel. Hailing from Virginia, this wine lingers on your palate as well as in your mind — nay, your soul. The aromas and the texture are in such harmony that you’ll understand what balance in a wine inherently means.
Hirsch Vineyards East Ridge Pinot Noir 2018 ($92)
What a wonderful expression of Pinot Noir. It is on the lighter side, but don’t let that fool you. The acidity is bright but does not compromise the fleshy fruit that smells like a whisper of baking spices and earth. Chill this wine down a bit, and your mind will be blown.
Domaine Michel Noellat et Fils Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2016 ($213)
Smell this wine, and give in to grapes grown in one of the most revered vineyards for Pinot Noir on the planet. Aromas of savory jerk sauce with a little grilled meat char breathe into earthy balsamic. The palate is the definition of delicate, with acidity lifting the fruit core like one would a baby — carefully and confidently, as you enjoy the playful elegance of this wine.
Dogwood & Thistle Oppenlander Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 ($38)
Pinot has so much to offer when the alcohol and oak are in check. The acidity is just right, balancing the wine from its core. It smells like cherries and mocha with a whiff of soil, but this wine is all about texture.
Domaine Anderson Pinot Noir 2012 ($48)
This wine will draw you in. It has such a commanding aromatic profile and smells like mushrooms, raspberries, and cinnamon, along with a slight whiff of mocha. The acidity is great, and on the palate, you just want to chew on it. This would be awesome with lean meats like a roasted duck breast, but just chilling with this bottle and some high-quality fromage is also a win-win.
Chalone Vineyard Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2019 ($30)
This is a big, bold, and balanced Pinot. The alcohol is high for this grape, so there is a sharpness on the nose. That sharpness weaves into the body of the wine, aiding the natural acidity in keeping the wine refreshing. There is some natural viscosity on the palate, keeping you thinking about the next sip. This is a food Pinot for sure.
Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Pinot Noir 2018 ($38)
Soft, supple, rich and balanced just like a Pinot from this region should be. The acidity is just right, allowing the mouthfeel to be a bit chewy. This is a very satisfying wine.
Teutonic Wine Company Bergspitze Whole Cluster Pinot Noir 2018 ($34)
Big, juicy, and tart, this wine has a nice tannic structure running through to keep the extreme fruit core tame. The acidity is wild and makes for a very refreshing wine. This bottle is so worth the e-commerce.
Bravium Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2019 ($31)
Earthy mushroom vibes calm the senses before you take a sip. The palate is soft and supple, with a quiet edge and a hint of tannins. This would be a great wine to bring to events like wine clubs or wine and cheese nights. It will raise a few eyebrows for sure.
Cakebread Cellars Two Creeks Vineyards Pinot Noir 2019 ($51)
If you’ve ever smelled the sweet tang of rhubarb, you can’t miss it here. The palate is a study in balance; it has depth while retaining some elegance. This wine will stick with you on the palate and in your mind.
Dutton-Goldfield Docker Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 ($68)
Smelling like mushrooms in a forest with a waft of ripe cherries, this is a soulful Pinot. The balance on the palate is so ideal, with a slight viscosity and rounded mild acidity all in the right places. This wine has harmony and is well worth the time it takes to order it online.
Cristom Mt. Jefferson Cuvee Pinot Noir 2018 ($36)
This is a great American Pinot Noir. It has density and lift, with great acidity and a rich core. It’s young and can age for another couple of years, but it is drinking well now. This wine deserves to be paired with that honey roasted duck recipe you’ve been eyeing.
Lafond SRH Series Pinot Noir 2017 ($26)
This wine is nice, rich, and savory, with a tart twist. It smells like sweet soil with a dollop of balsamic. The palate is so smooth, you’ll do a double take. Pair it with a juicy chicken breast.
EnRoute Les Pommiers Pinot Noir 2018 ($53)
A classic Pinot from California’s Russian River Valley, this wine smells like blackberries with a whiff of cinnamon and soil. It’s a rich red, and would be more at home with a cheese plate with some nibbles than with a big dinner.
Talbott Vineyards Kali Hart Pinot Noir 2016 ($20)
This is what Monterey Pinot Noir is all about. It smells like red fruit, cinnamon, and a distant campfire. The mouthfeel is soft, round, and voluptuous. It grips the palate with a gentle release. At this price, I would buy a case and have this bottle on hand for any occasion. It’s under screw cap and will please all the palates.
Oceano Spanish Springs Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 ($45)
This wine is delicious. It’s a bit pricey and only available online, but is worth the investment. It has that Central Coast style with juicy fruit and a hint of spice. On the palate, its fleshy, viscous mouthfeel pairs wonderfully with light meats such as herb roasted chicken.
Vinum Cellars Pinot Noir 2017 ($15)
It’s not easy finding a good, affordable Pinot Noir for a weeknight, so this is a nice go-to. It’s juicy, grippy, and smells like the fresh soil from your garden. It’s buoyant on the palate with a tart core. This is a great bottle to share with friends, or have a few glasses with just yourself and Netflix.
Peter Yealands Pinot Noir 2018 ($25)
This delicious Kiwi Pinot is lush, with a plush mouthfeel you just wanna chew on. There is a grip to the palate with quiet tannins keeping the wine’s framework in check. It’s $25 and under a screw cap, but don’t let that freak you out. If you see this bottle, it’s worth a try.
Sokol Blosser Goosepen Block Pinot Noir 2017 ($85)
Pinot Noir can age, and this is a bottle that proves it. Behind ornery tannin and some shy fruit, you can smell the future. If you pop it now, it will breathe and be just fine. But if you want to know how this grape evolves, wait a year or two, and this bottle will show you.
Calmere Estate Winery Pinot Noir 2016 ($30)
This is such a balanced and powerful Pinot Noir. The nose is earthy and bright, with aromas of red berries and a forest in October. It grips your palate without being overwhelming. If there’s a Pinot Noir out there for a big old steak, this is it.
J. Vineyards Russian River Valley Canfield Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 ($95)
This is a very good example of the elegance and power of Pinot Noir from Sonoma. Being a single-vineyard wine, you get great focus and balance. The fruit core is supple and soft, and the wine smells like ripe cherries, balsamic, and a hint of soy. Tannins are almost non-existent. I’m sure this wine, with a seared duck breast and maybe a blueberry sauce, would just sing — but this wine is so nice, I may just want to pair it with a nice hunk of local cheese, crusty bread, and some good friends.
Yamhill Valley Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir 2017 ($21)
On the leaner side of Pinot, this wine smells like cedar. The acidity is high, piercing the core of the fruit. The wine has a little depth, but with a tannic grip. It would be elevated with a slight chill.
LoveLee Pinot Noir 2019 ($47)
This wine smells like a bright pop of cherry with a hint of raspberry and a dash of pepper. The palate is also bright, with great natural acidity keeping the core of fruit present but balanced. It is a wonderful, breezy Northern California Pinot.
Albert Bichot Bourgogne Vieilles Vignes de Pinot Noir 2019 ($21)
This wine is balanced and bright while at the same time deep and woodsy. It smells like rich fruit and a forest with a welcoming campfire a mile or so away. The palate is so well balanced and comfy. I want to cozy up to this wine on a fall night with some grilled game meat.