A lot of wine critics seem to want to get drunk on pinot noir, said John Mariani in Bloomberg.com. How else to explain the fact that the highest-scoring California pinots are high-alcohol “brutes,” and praised as such? Next time you buy a California pinot noir, look for the ones that keep alcohol content below 15 percent. They’re subtler and “a heck of a lot less pricey” than their beefier cousins.
2009 Vampire ($13). “The silly name tends to put off wine snobs,” but this simple pinot has a “good strawberry nose and a hint of that ‘barnyard’ taste pinot noir devotees love.”
2009 Ramspeck Napa Valley ($17). This wine has a “wonderful bouquet,” and its “tight tannins” can stand up to a grilled steak.
2009 Francis Coppola Silver Label Monterey County ($18). This “bold and complex” pinot noir has a “sweet undertone” rarely found in rivals at any price point.