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5 Delicious sub-$20 Pinot Noir Alternatives

by Jacob Brower, Wine & Spirits Professional


If you’re a fan of Pinot Noir, you probably value its fresh, juicy, light-to-medium bodied style—and ability to pair with a wide variety of foods and occasions! We enjoy Pinot Noir all year long, but it’s especially enticing during the summer months, when a heavy, grippy, jammy red isn’t all that appealing. Instead, you want something fresh and maybe even chillable.

If you’ve yet to branch out into the wider world of wine—or maybe you’re comfortable asking for Pinot Noir, but not sure what else you’d enjoy—I highly recommend trying one of these five delicious, light-bodied, spring & summer reds. All are restrained, well-balanced, delicious, and perfect for the wine lover looking to explore!


1. ’17 Domaine de la Charmoise, Gamay, Loire Valley, France - $18.99
Like Pinot Noir, Gamay grows well in cool climates, resulting in bright, fresh wines with loads of juicy red fruit, refreshing minerality, and low tannins. The Marionnets have made ‘natural’ wine—biodynamically farmed, little-to-no added sulfur—since before it became trendy, and this delicious Loire Valley Gamay is a perfect example of how that attention to detail results in a well-balanced wine with a distinct sense of place.


2. ’15 Anselmo Mendes ‘Pardusco’, Vinhão blend, Vinho Verde, Portugal - $13.99
When you say ‘Vinho Verde,’ most people think of fizzy whites. But it’s actually the name of a region, rather than a style of wine, and a wide variety of styles are produced there. This organic red is light and chillable, with very restrained alcohol and a fruit profile reminiscent of good Beaujolais. Perfect for picnics or sipping on the porch!


3. ’17 4Kilos ‘Motor América’, Callet, Balears, Spain - $19.99
When this came in, I said “What on earth is Callet?” Whatever it is, this über-light Spanish natural wine was right up my alley! Fans not only of Pinot, but also of wines from Jura and Savoie, will find a lot to love here—incredibly light and soft, with bright acidity, pleasantly tart red fruit, and only 11% alchohol by volume! Try this one with a slight chill.


4. ’17 Gianni Doglia, Grignolino, Piedmont, Italy - $18.99
Most people know Piedmont for the famous wines made from Nebbiolo, such as Barolo and Barbaresco. But these powerfully-structured, tannic wines usually require a great deal of time to age properly, and in the interim, the Piemontese enjoy lighter, brighter, more accessible wines made from indigenous varieties such as Barbera, Dolcetto, Freisa, and Grignolino. This particular bottle is a staff favorite, easy to pop, pour, and enjoy thanks to its light body, juicy fruit profile, and very soft tannins. Join us and enjoy a bottle yourself!


5. ’17 Moulin de Gassac ‘Guilhem’, Syrah blend, Languedoc-Roussillon, France - $10.99
Tasty reds don’t have to be expensive! This Rhône-style red blend comes from Languedoc-Roussillon, and is vinified similarly to the wines of Beaujolais, lending it a bright, fresh, restrained style that should please most fans of Old-World Pinot. Great value!


Personally, these are the kinds of wine I drink all year—but even if you prefer big, powerful reds during the colder months, I’m willing to bet you’ll find these refreshing and gulp-able through spring and summer. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

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