Pinot Noir gained its name and reputation as one of the trickiest grapes to grow from its dark, thin skin. In some winemaking circles, it’s known as the heartbreak grape. Native to Burgundy, the variety is susceptible to infection and disease and thrives in cool-climate regions. At its best, the variety produces lithe, easy-drinking reds that can rank among the most complex and ethereal wines in the world.
Pinot Noir’s profile typically leans into tart and fruity or earthy and savory, with hints of umami. In high-quality examples, the light-bodied red serves both. After a tasting of more than 250 bottles at the VinePair HQ, the following 25 wines highlight everything that should be celebrated about Pinot Noir.
With origins ranging from the Yarra Valley and Anderson Valley to the Finger Lakes in New York State, here are the 25 best Pinot Noirs to drink in 2023.
Hirsch Vineyards Block 8 Pinot Noir
This winery shows us year after year how elegant and balanced Sonoma Pinot Noir can be. The alcohol content is a little higher, but that element adds to the layers of aroma and subtle fruit. Make no mistake, there is power in this bottle — it just doesn’t announce it. It unravels as you sip.
Average price: $105
Merry Edwards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
The palate of this wine is what will draw you in. It is supple and elegant yet structured. The subtle weight of the mouthfeel provides a wonderful balance of fruit concentration and acidity. It’s a classic Russian River Pinot that sets a standard.
Average price: $70
Papapietro Perry Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Smooth is the name of the game here. This fruit-forward Pinot is so juicy and heady, with significant chewy fruit that is countered by very active acidity. Just when you are enjoying the deep core of the wine, that high tone comes in and cleanses the palate.
Average price: $61
Billsboro Pinot Noir
This is on the leaner side of things. Being a cool- — nay cold- — climate wine, the natural acidity here is high. But its earthy fruit has good depth that comes through to fatten up the palate. A great cheese plate wine.
Average price: $26
Mac Forbes Pinot Noir
We don’t see many Aussie Pinots on our market, so it was awesome being able to taste this bottle from the Yarra Valley (known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay). It has a deceiving nose that is all round fruit and minerality. The mouthfeel says “hold my stemware” and adds a welcome fat, juicy vibe that cuts through the lean.
Average price: $36
Iterum Clone 114 Orchard House Vineyard Pinot Noir
This is one of those rare moments when clones are a thing. Both this wine and its counterpart, made with the 115 clone, are stunning, focused, and just amazing examples of American Pinot Noir. This, the 114 clone, is so balanced you just need to experience it for yourself. With deep fruit and balanced acidity, it’s luscious and thirst-quenching.
Average price: $75
Iterum Clone 115 Orchard House Vineyard Pinot Noir
We just had to list these two wines together as wonderful examples of single-vineyard clonal bottlings. Where the 114 is heady and deep this one is more savory. It has a soft rhubarb aroma that breaks up the cherry fruit and even has a quaint tannic frame.
Average price: $75
Smith Story Wine Cellars Helluva Vineyard Pinot Noir
Oh man, this is a fun Pinot. It offers juicy and expressive fruit complemented by a great earthiness. The mouthfeel is exciting with a chewy center balanced by a big dose of acidity, so it is quenching and ready for a slight chill and a grill.
Average price: $51
Johan Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir
New AVA alert! The Van Duzer Corridor AVA was established in 2019 and this wine shows they are off to an amazing start! It’s an elegant and savory Pinot with some nice herby vibes. The fruit more than compensates for this along with the excellent natural acidity, filling out the wine with great structure. This one will make you thirsty — for more.
Average price: $36
Buttonwood Grove Winery Pinot Noir
Don’t sleep on Finger Lakes Pinot Noir! This wine has a lean fruit nose that fills out on the palate and gives cherry and spice feels. The mouthfeel is buoyant and bright while showing a nice balanced depth.
Average price: $26
Six Eighty Cellars Pinot Noir
Finger Lakes Pinot Noir is lean. That’s how they roll up there. The key is to achieve that fruit core that will stand up to the high tone. This winery is a study in Cayuga Lake soils and they are very in tune with their dirt. The palate here is deep and chewy while the natural acidity brightens up everything around it. A great light-bodied wine.
Average price: $42
Adelsheim Vineyard Breaking Ground Pinot Noir
This is mountain fruit. It offers intense and chewy fruit with a good dose of minerality. The high tone of the wine has a nice contrast with its core, keeping it perfectly refreshing.
Average price: $49
Child’s Play Pinot Noir
This is a Pinot with some fat around the edges. You can tell from the heady nose it’s going to be deep. It’s a Pinot with classic cherry aromas but also that awesome dollop of cinnamon. It’s also toothsome with a tannic grip. Big, balanced, and chewy.
Average price: $32
Tendril Wine Cellars ‘Extrovert’ Pinot Noir
This is a boozy Pinot in the best sense of the word. The wine is so rich and welcoming with brandy-soaked cherry aromas.The high-ish alcohol offers good weight on the palate, adding a slight sweet kiss along with the oak. All this is balanced by great acidity.
Average price: $52
Heart & Hands Mo Chuisle
I can’t pronounce the name of this single vineyard wine and I don’t care because the wine is so good. This is an expressive yet focused Cayuga Lake Pinot Noir. It has that upstate minerality but is balanced with a delightful cherry mocha aroma on the nose and palate. It’s fleshy, slightly tannic, and would definitely benefit from a slightly below cellar-temp chill.
Average price: $66
St. Innocent Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir
Prepare yourself. This wine is absolutely out of this world. It defines the best of this wine region (sub-AVAs included). I feel like this is what winemakers saw in the ‘60s when they were planting this grape even though others said don’t even try. It’s soft depth of fruit will make you swoon. The fleshiness will coat your palate as the slight tannic grip releases. It’s a tough one to write about, you just need to try it.
Average price: $63
Ram’s Gate Winery Carneros Pinot Noir
If you’re going to make Pinot Noir in Napa, Carneros is the move. There is a lot of oak on this wine but that only adds to the complexity of the nose where cherry aromas are tinged with subtle citrus. The palate is full, but that San Pablo Bay acidity comes in to balance it all out.
Average price: $92
Division ‘Deux’ Pinot Noir
Some of the grapes in this wine come from ancient vines (50 years old is ancient in the New World of wine), and it comes through. There is a softness to this wine with light fruit and a slight hint of herbs. Lithe but present tannins and natural acidity give this wine great structure that frames the concentrated fruit.
Average price: $44
Williams-Selyem Savoy Vineyard Pinot Noir
The Anderson Valley region produces wines that are bright and vibrant as well as deep and elegant. This wine is right down the middle. It has juicy fruit with classic Pinot cherry aromas and a palate that is like a calm lake. The weight is light but concentrated and almost on-level with acidity. This bottle offers so much balance that the wine is almost seamless.
Average price: $140
Waits-Mast Family Cellars Wentzel Vineyard Pinot Noir
Wait a second. Have you guys not had Pinot Noir from cool-climate Anderson Valley? Well, you’re in for a real treat. This is a stunning wine that has such undeniable balance you get it on the nose. It has a density of soulful cherry fruit and the slightest kiss of oak. The palate may give you pause because it’s so balanced. What a wonderful harmony between soft chewy fruit, subtle tannins, and absolutely amazing acidity.
Average price: $47
Archery Summit Dundee Hills Pinot Noir
This wine is so solid. It’s got a prominent oak, harkening back to a time when oak was everything, but backs off just enough to give a nice taught mouthfeel and some added cherry notes on the palate. It’s refreshing and tart and very balanced.
Average price: $60
Wentworth ‘Wentworth Vineyard’ Pinot Noir
Yeah, this wine transcends time and space. Or at least that’s what I experienced when I first sipped it. Even just smelling it in the glass will make your mouth water. It soaks into your senses and invigorates your entire palate. I could talk about fruit and stuff but this wine is more than descriptions. It’s an epic American Pinot Noir.
Average price: $125
Joyce Vineyards ‘Submarine Canyon’ Pinot Noir
Monterey Pinot Noir has a unique quality to it. There is an airiness to these wines as though acidity is a cloud and fruit is the moisture it holds. They offer a nice waft of cinnamon among the classic cherry aromas. This wine has all of these qualities in spades. It’s light, vibrant, fat, and juicy all at the same time.
Average price: $26
Weis Vineyards Pinot Noir
Give me Finger Lakes Pinot Noir but make it deep and dark. Then balance that coziness with lively acidity to lift the core of the wine on the palate. That’s what this wine is. The warmth of this wine makes me want to enjoy it with some fatty pork and marinated mushroom crostini by the fireplace.
Average price: $30
Big Table Farm Pelos Sandberg Vineyard Pinot Noir
Juicy! Punchy! This wine is so balanced and focused but also so playful. The nose has a nice push and pull between cherry and oak aromas that carry to the palate and jive with the fleshed-out yet vibrant fruit.
Average price: $75