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90+ point rated wines under $20

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2008 RedTree Winery Pinot Noir**
redtreePN08.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
California $7 K&L Wines 5/27/09
A medium, ruby-colored wine with bright red berry aromas with hints of earth, minerals and sweet spice. The palate is lighth-bodied, soft and round right out of the gate filled mostly with ripe strawberry & cherry flavors with notes of vanilla, smoke and earth on the fruity, surprisingly lingering finish. This is a fairly simple wine, but it does deliver enough varietal flavor and acidity despite its plushness to make it fairly enjoyable. True Pinot lovers will probably be horrified by this version, but it's better than most bottles in this price range. Gave it 2 stars because it held up all night, staying bright and fruity for hours. Not overtly memorable, but more pleasant than it has a right to be.

2007 Anglim Winery Bien Nacido Pinot Noir***
AnglimBNPinot.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Santa Barbara, CA $34 @ the Winery 7/16/10
A medium, ruby-colored wine with vibrant aromas of ripe cherry, cranberry and earth with hints of herbs, sweet spice and leather. The palate is medium-bodied with bright acidity and lovely integration of the fruit and savory aspects found on the nose with a lingering finish filled with sweet spice and a hint of smoke. There was initially a bit of heat on the finish, but it blew off once the wine opened up. It's a more masculine wine than their Fiddlestix Pinot and it needs at least another 6 months to a year in the bottle to really shine. Aged for 17 months on its lees in 100% single-use French oak barrels. This is their first vintage using fruit from the famed Bien Nacido Vineyard and they delivered a wine with great depth flavor and finesse. (135 cases/14.8% abv)

2007 Daedalus Cellars Jezebel Pinot Noir*
07jezebel.jpg Region Price Tasted Date
Willamette Valley, OR $12 Topline Wine 2/11/10
A pale, garnet/ruby colored wine with faint aromas of cherry, strawberry, sweet spice and earth. The palate was light-bodied and fairly acidic, reflecting the flavors and notes found on the nose with a rather short finish. This wine is as basic as Pinot gets and though it was varietally correct it was just too simple and acidic to be more than drinkable. Was a bit better with food, but not by much. Had somewhat high hopes for this bottle considering the winery makes some very high-end and well-respected Pinots. The problem is the 07 vintage was not great for Oregon and that shows in this bottle. This retails for $20, so I'm glad I found it for much less. I guess my search for that great under $20 bottle of Pinot continues.

2007 Queen of Hearts Pinot Noir**
queenhearts.jpg Region Price Tasted Date
Santa Barbara, CA $14 Colorado Wine Co. 10/7/10
A pale, ruby-colored wine with an aromatic nose of red fruit, earth, smoke, herbs and hints of sweet spice. The palate is light-bodied with fairly high acidity that took some time in the glass to smooth out. The flavors were of cherry liquor, plum, pepper and herbs with notes of wet leaves and tar on the medium-length finish. This is intense and complex for the price. A great everyday wine that was really good with food. Still has plenty of life left in the bottle and would recommend decanting it for a bit to allow the tightness to dissipate. (13.1% abv)

2007 Sherwood Estate Pinot Noir**
sherwoodPN.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Marlborough, New Zealand $14 K&L Wines 12/12/08
A pale, ruby-colored wine with bright red fruit aromas with hints of earth and sweet spice. The palate is fairly acidic right out of the bottle, but rounded out and united with some air. The flavors are ripe strawberry, raspberry, earth, smoke and spice with some minerality on the moderate finish. Well-crafted with good fruit, but this wine definitely needs some more time in the bottle to integrate and soften.

2006 Cambria Winery Pinot Noir, Julia's Vineyard**
cambria.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Santa Barbara, CA $21 Wine.com 3/28/09
A pale ruby-colored wine with a bright nose that offers ripe red fruits, earth and spice notes. The palate is light-bodied and filled with cherry, raspberry, strawberry and earthiness with smoke, vanilla and cinnamon notes on the moderate finish. A wine with elegance and power that's still a bit too acidic for pure enjoyment, which was alleviated with food. Would give it another 6 months to settle in or some extra time in the glass. A consistent Best Buy. Will be getting more. (WE: 93)

2006 Catalina Sounds Pinot Noir**
catalinaPN.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Nelson, New Zealand $19 The Wine House 4/30/09
A pale ruby-colored wine with a nose of sweet berry fruits and white pepper, with earth and mineral notes. The palate is light-bodied with a ripe attack of strawberry and cherry that mingles with more earth and spice notes on the rather short finish. A bit too tart for my taste though I did enjoy the more savory aspects of the wine. It rounded out with time and food, but is still a bit one-dimensional. It smells and tastes just like Pinot should and is a well-crafted wine for the price albeit nothing special.

2006 Louis Jadot Bourgogne Pinot Noir**
jadotPN.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Burgundy, France $20 Wine.com 3/28/09
A light-bodied, garnet-colored wine with aromas of earth, smoke and red fruits. The palate was well-integrated, savory and soft with cherry, raspberry, herbs and earth all coming together on the moderate finish. Not as acidic as I thought it might be. Went quite well with out TJ's Mushroom & Truffle Flatbread. Not a wine you'll remember in the morning, but one that shows a hint of what Burgundy Pinot is all about and a good wine for the money.

2006 Rochford Latitude Pinot Noir**
rochfordPN.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Victoria, Australia $15 Wine Discount Center 8/14/08
From one of the coolest regions in South Australia, this pale, ruby-colored wine is delicate, but intense with aromas of red berries, smoke and spice that carry through onto the well-balanced palate. The lack of complexity is countered by a pleasant unity of spice, earth, cherry and strawberry flavors that linger nicely on the finish. A quality offering that delivers great flavor for an affordable price. A region to watch.

2006 Queen of Hearts Pinot Noir**
queenhearts.jpg Region Price Tasted Date
Santa Barbara, CA $12 Gift 1/19/08
Intense spice notes of pepper precede smoke and cherry aromas. The palate consists of intense cherry and strawberry flavors and notes of oak and hints of mint. Light bodied with a delicate mouthfeel, this wine offers nice acidity and finish. There's a lot going on inside this $12 bottle. You won't find many better Pinots in this price range.

2006 Summerland Winery Pinot Noir**
summerlandPN06.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $24 @ the winery 2/5/09
A pale, ruby/garnet colored wine with a nose of cherry, raspberry, sweet spice and hints of smoke. The palate is well-balanced with bright acidity and ripe, red fruit flavors and a lingering finish of vanilla and earth. This isn't an overly complex wine, but it delivers elegant and true Pinot flavors and is well-crafted for the price. Not exactly memorable, but a sure crowd pleaser from year to year.

2005 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills***
PN05SRH.jpg Region Price Tasted Date
Santa Barbara, CA $36 @ the Winery 11/24/07
Bright and bursting with fruitiness on the nose that comes through on the palate with strawberry-rhubarb-raspberry tones under laid with classic Pinot Noir spiciness. A soft and easy acid-tannin texture and a pleasing minerality on the palate gives way to a flavorful, lingering finish. Everything a Santa Rita Pinot should be. Just had to take one home to enjoy it again. Re-tasted 9/16/08: Still fruity and earthy. A bit more acid than I remembered, but still a lovely pinot. This won't be getting any better, so drink up.

OTHER RATINGS: Wine Spectator: 90

2005 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard***
PN05SRH.jpg Region Price Tasted Date
Santa Barbara, CA $49 @ the Winery 11/24/07
Everything their Santa Rita Hills wine has with additional characteristics of cherry-berry fruit, brown spice, a little forest-floor earthiness. Thought provoking, deep, dark and complex, this is seriously good wine worth every penny.

OTHER RATINGS: Wine Enthusiast: 92

2005 Cambria Winery Pinot Noir, Julia's Vineyard***
cambria.jpg Region Price Tasted Date
Santa Barbara, CA $20 Wine.com 1/19/08
The nose offers dark, ripe cherry, earth and spice notes that follow through on the palate along with bright raspberry and strawberry flavors. A round mid-palate leads to vanilla and cinnamon spice on the lingering and silky finish. Well-integrated, flavorful and elegant. A wine that really delivers for the price. What Santa Barbara Pinot is all about.

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**** Outstanding | *** Delicious | ** Enjoyable | * Drinkable
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