American Pinot Noirs We Love to Open on Special Occasions

For long, Burgundy has been the standard for the best Pinot Noir. While the top vineyards in this storied region remain at or close to the top of the pyramid of wine quality, The top Pinot Noirs in the United States are every bit as deserving of admiration and attention. The 45 below, which range between 2021 and 2018, represent the top wines of the American crop. These wines come from renowned and well-loved appellations such as Oregon’s Willamette Valley, California’s well-known ones like the Russian River Valley, or relatively new AVAs such as West Sonoma Coast. These wine-loving wines that can be cellared, starting at about $175, stand out as superstars.

2019 Alma Rosa Radian Vineyard Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills

The deep, rich aromas of coffee beans and carob provide velvety-textured flavors that roll with spicy oak, the smack of crushed blueberries, spearmint that has been roasted, and orange oil.

2021 Atelier Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

This is a flavorful rendition that comes from Russian River Valley Pinot Noir that features star anise, wild oregano, and toasty oak, combined with root beer spice tamarind paste and liqueur made of black cherries to produce a wine that is full of intensity and depth.

2019 Authentique Wine Cellars Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills

This particular bottle is a donation to the C Children’s Cancer Therapy Development Institute; any opportunity you find an ounce of Nicholas Keeler’s wines is an opportunity to grab. The wine is packed with energy and has a nice crunch. Delicately textured tannins and acidity and a natural harmony between the savory notes that remind of demi-glace and chanterelles, as well as the autumn orchard fruit, boysenberries, and rose hips. Additionally, it is worth noting that Keeler is doing some exciting things in the space of wine-NFT under the name Bored Grapes. Bored Grapes combines virtual experiences with real alcohol counterparts, which can then be accessed and consumed IRL.

2018 Bailey Family Wines Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

Amazingly Burgundian in aroma, this wine is a showcase of the sun-kissed soil, dried porcinis with cranberry raisins, and cinnamon-baked apples before a mouth of licorice, cardamom, and sumac, which smokily add spiciness to wild cherries and strawberries as well as cigar tobacco, sandalwood, and leather.

2018 Balletto Vineyards Sexton Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir

A savory and brambly style, this Pinot Noir shows notes of cigar tobacco and leather. The addition of the black raspberry and boysenberry preserves enhances these. A light smear of toasty walnut gives it more depth, and a zing of acidity keeps it lively with an overpowering dusting of nutmeg.

2019 Benovia Winery Martaella Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

The vineyard being located is named after the owners’ mothers, and it’s an apt tribute. It’s a beautiful wine with sweet and toasty spice notes that enhance the flavors of grilling apricots, ripe plums, Oolong tea, kirsch-infused dark chocolates, and espresso. A hint of bacon cured in brown sugar completes the wine on the savory, ripe note.

2020 Cakebread Cellars Apple Barn Vineyard Pinot Noir Anderson Valley

The fruit is grown in estates and is alive and energy. This blends brambly cherries, rhubarb, rhubarb fresh stones, cherries, and carob with more decadent umami flavors from seashells and sun-warmed rocks, which give the vanilla-spiced end with a delightfully savory taste.

2019 Calera Ryan Vineyard Pinot Noir Mt. Harlan

Affluent and packed with energy, This wine also features the savory and anchoring quality of earthiness. The contrasts of mixed cherries, red plums, wild scrubby plants, and peppercorn spice create an outstanding single-vineyard expression from Pinot Noir.

2021 Cattleya Cuvee Number One Pinot Noir

It is a product of the Russian River Valley, bursting from the glass with red raspberries and apricots, Earl Grey tea, wild fruit, bing cherries, nutmeg, and a subtle sprinkle of cocoa on the elegant end.

2020 Domaine de la Cote La Cote Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills

It’s very ethereal and enchanting on the nose, reminiscent of Grand Cru Burgundy’s sophistication, elegance, and fineness. It’s packed with vitality, lifted from the glass by the aroma of violets and roses as well as some lavender and then layered with coriander, purple and red cherries, pomegranate seeds, and forest floor, rooibos blood oranges, and Sarsaparilla. A dense minerality flows through the entire wine as it lingers throughout the long finish, which promises to evolve for decades.

2019 Donnachadh Estate Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills

The fresh fruit and the smoky aromas of spice are a perfect match in this well-structured, organically-farmed Pinot Noir. The smooth tannins provide the ripe black and red cherry notes along with the scent of porcini powder and rose petals, and it all is highlighted by a fresh acidity that is sure to last the prospect of a decade-long age should you be patient this long.

2020 DuMOL Wester Reach Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

A beef bouillon-like backs the savory and curly texture-umami sensation. However, the brandied cherry flavors are powerful enough to serve as a balanced complement. The whole thing is finished with the black tea and mineral end, accompanied by a final glimmer of violets and lavender.

2018 Dutton-Goldfield Van Der Kamp Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Mountain

Dan Goldfield produces a fantastic variety of Pinot Noirs at each vintage, and looking at the wines in a pair is always a satisfying exercise. This single vineyard offering from 2018 showcases many things he can produce each year: It’s sweet and luscious but also full of mouthwatering acidity. It’s a vibrant bottle that balances black cherries, blackberries, and pomegranate seeds with crushed peppercorns and a deeply steeped tea. The spice notes resurface into a long-lasting finish.

2018 Emeritus Vineyards Pinot Hill Elite Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

Emeritus makes a delicious and terroir-specific selection of Pinots, with a few exploring the differences between one hillside and the next. This is vibrant and particularly memorable, extraordinarily balanced, and concentrated. Framed by long, spicy-sweet tannins and filled with lemon-lime, mandarin oranges, fresh cranberries, Chinese five-spice powder, and carob.

2019 Et Fille Kalita Vineyard Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

Acidity and concentration are in perfect harmony in this well-structured wine, a cellar-worthy one that strikes the perfect balance between earthy savoriness and an intriguing speck of speck in the final symphony–and perfectly fresh mountain fruits. The subtle frame of scrubby herb and grilled orange slices are interspersed with dry flowers and white cardamom.

2019 Joseph Phelps Vineyards Freestone Vineyards Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

Brambly and mountain-berry berries are mixed with a soaring herbal flavor – oregano tomatoes, thyme, oregano. This gives this absolute freshness to the nose that has a very Burgundian style. The mouth is intense and nitty-gritty with a silky texture that carries the flavors of plums, cherries pencil-led, plums, candied violets, and some citrus notes through the tea-flecked and mineral final.

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