The World's Best Value Pinot Noirs

The source of our best-value Pinot Noir might come as a surprise.
© South American Wine Guide | The source of our best-value Pinot Noir might come as a surprise.
If you want great Pinot you don't have to pay Burgundy prices – not if you know where to look.
By Don Kavanagh | Posted Tuesday, 14-Sep-2021

Looking for great value in Pinot Noir used to be something of a fool's errand, but these days it's a lot easier – as long as you go west.

Pinot Noir is, of course, the great grape of Burgundy, where it can reach heights that send wine critics for the superlatives and buyers for a second mortgage, and none of its great wines need trouble us while putting this list together. Value, at least in terms of Pinot Noir, is found far from the C?te d'Or.

Related stories:
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Pinot Noir's Next Big Thing

That's not to say Pinot from elsewhere is cheap. Wherever growers have planted this famously finicky grape, they have looked to achieve the best possible return on their hard work, as we shall see from the list of wines we have compiled below.

Back in 2019, when we last ran this list, it was all about one country – New Zealand. Those wines haven't gone backwards in quality in the interim, they've just gone up in price. Even so, there is a 95-point wine from Escarpment available for $61, giving it a value ratio of 1.55, which isn't far off the bottom end of this list.

Whereas last time out was a 9-1 canter for New Zealand, it's a little more spread out this year – although there is a pleasing symmetry with the 2019 list. This time out, nine of the 10 wines are from the Western Hemisphere. It seems that if it's a bargain you want, you'll find it among the snowy heights of the Andes – or the gentler gradients of America's West Coast.

First, the ground rules. For this series of "best value" stories, we work with a more direct point-to-dollar ratio for a simplified "bang for buck" scale than our standard algorithm for suggesting the best value wines. Simply dividing the score by the price gives a value factor and the higher the factor the better the value – a kind of points-per-dollar scale. The higher the value factor, the more points per dollar. And every wine has a minimum aggregated critic score of 91.

Usually, when we run our superlative lists, we don't take vintage into account, but since vintage variation affects the score so much, we concentrate on individual vintages of wines for our best-value lists.

Best Value Pinot Noirs on Wine-Searcher:

Tabali's two entries on this list are quite an achievement and should probably make more people sit up and take notice of this Chilean producer. Following on from four entries on this year's best-value Chardonnay list, it suggests that Tabali has quite a few different tricks up its sleeve and it will be interesting to see how many times the name crops up during our trawl for the world's best value wines. Plaudits too for Domaine Nico Soeur et Freres for getting three wines on this list.

Another interesting point is that this year's list represents better value than two years ago, at least in raw bang-for-buck terms. In 2019, the average value factor was 2.34 across the 10 wines, from 4.33 at the top to 1.42 at the bottom. This year, both ends are higher and the average across all 10 wines sits at 3.48. That's an appreciable lift in quality, even in such a short space of time.

It's also important to note that these wines aren't scraping in at the 91-point criterion, either. Only one wine on this list has an aggregated critic score of 91 (the top wine, incidentally; its relatively "low" score is made for by its $15 global average price), and only one has a score of 92 (the 2017 Nico Soeur Grand Pere). Three have scores of 94 (the Errazuriz, the Nico Soeur La Savante and the Anthill), while the White Rose has an aggregated score of 95.

Incidentally, the White Rose has the same aggregated critic score as Domaine Dujac Chambertin. The big difference, however, is that for the price of one bottle of the Burgundian heavyweight, you could pick up 94 bottles of the White Rose and still have change. 

Go west, indeed.

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