It can be really hard to find a great, let alone a great, Pinot Noir that retails for around $10. For those of us in the trade it gets even more complicated as there has been a mis-direction of what Pinot Noir should actually taste like by the mass-producers that grow Pinot Noir in warmer climates than it really should be and extend cost for this finicky grape by adding other grapes to the blend. The effect of both of these practices has created a feeling among many consumers that Pinot Noir should be a fuller-bodied and darker wine than it really and traditionally has been.
Going back a few years to the explosion in popularity of Pinot Noir, and we can place this explosion at the point when Sideways came out and all of sudden people stopped drinking Merlot (which had been the favorite up to that point), there was need by producers (mainly in California) to produce a lot more wine. The problem is that Pinot Noir is really a grape that is challenging to grow and to produce to wine. It has thin skins and so is susceptible to a lot of vine diseases as well as weather issues, such as heat. Traditionally Pinot Noir is a delicate, finesse styled wine, grown in cooler climates where the growing season is extended and the flavors of the grape are allowed to develop over a longer period of time. Unfortunately, large producers that produce popular labels in "affordable" prices, grow much of their wine in hot regions in central California, a place not suitable for high quality Pinot Noir - thus it is challenging to find good Pinot Noir to sell at affordable prices and as such I am always on the hunt for a good Pinot.
I recently had the opportunity to try the Trapiche Estate Range Pinot Grigio, which I give a buy recommendation for those looking for good serviceable wine that has proper varietal character and a pleasant overall style. Along with that tasting I was able to taste through the Trapiche Oak Cask Range Pinot Noir, 2011. I was equally impressed with the overall style and quality of this wine as it shows proper Pinot Noir varietal flavors and a great smooth feel. It is delicate yet fruit forward enough for most wine drinkers looking for a great value in Pinot Noir. Interestingly enough this wine comes from Argentina, a place that is known for some quality Pinot Noir production, but equally for robust reds. The high elevation of the Mendoza growing region provides both the sunshine needed for achieving full ripeness, but also cool nights to maintain the acidity that good Pinot Noir is known for.
A definite buy recommendation with value on this wine as it is not only quite good from a drinking point of view, but as it only costs about $10-11 retail it gets the additional value wine designation. Wine buyers can look here for a possible by-the-glass selection when you need a less expensive selection.