We’d drink a lot more California Pinot Noir in our house if we could afford it, but the best wines cost $40 to $60 a bottle and, with a daughter in college and a son soon to follow, we shop carefully.
One of the most dependable values is the Garnet line from Saintsbury, which sells for $20 or less. The 2009 is crisp and lively with fresh black cherry and spicy mineral flavors. It’s a good quaff to sip before dinner, and I often drink it with grilled pork chops or tenderloin. I rated it 89 points, non-blind.
Saintsbury recently sold the Garnet label to one of its longtime grape suppliers, giving the winery an opportunity to focus exclusively on its high-end Pinots and Chardonnays. Value-oriented consumers will have to wait until the 2011 Garnet comes out to judge the full impact, but my wallet is crossing its fingers.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the blind-tasting review for Saintsbury Pinot Noir Carneros Garnet 2009 (88, $20).
• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Top Values among California Pinot Noir.