Download &
print (pdf)

“Good Cheap Pinot Noir”

As the wine drinking public has felt the sting of the economic recession, there has been more interest focused on trading down and buying value-priced wines. If you are a Pinot Noir lover, however, this is a daunting challenge. As writer Jordan MacKay remarked in Wine & Spirits (April 2009), “There are certain phrases that you rarely, if ever, hear in wine circles. One example is “good cheap Pinot Noir.”

One producer that stands out in the value-priced Pinot Noir category is Verve, the wines of Aubin Cellars. Some of the Pinot Noirs have not only been good, but very good, and relatively cheap too. In the 2007 vintage, I reviewed three Verve Pinot Noirs from California and Oregon that were rated Very Good or Very Good (+), and priced from $24 to $33 ( Three more releases from the 2008 vintage can be recommended.

Jerome Aubin is a wine barrel broker based in the Bay Area of California who imports barrels from Rousseau in Burgundy, Saint-Martin in Bordeaux, and Balazs in Hungary. In 2001 he started his own label with the assistance of noted winemaker Fred Scherrer who made the wines from 2001 until 2004. Subsequent vintages were crafted by winemaker Loren Tayerle. The word, “Verve,” refers to the energy or vitality in the expression of artistic ideas. Each label features a different work of a special artist. The wines are easily drinkable upon release.

The wines are usually crafted in lots of less than 200 cases and the sources vary from vintage to vintage depending on Aubin’s resourcefulness in obtaining quality grapes. The wines are offered on the website at along with some retail distribution.

2007 Verve Carneros Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 410 cases, $24. · Very complex aromatic profile featuring scents of wild berries, leather, wildflowers, herbs and even cream soda. Impressively smooth on the palate with a discreet arsenal of darker stone fruits and berries with a touch of hi-tone pomegranate. The oak is nicely integrated and the finish is well-endowed with fruit. Very good.

2007 Verve Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 100 cases, $28. Released October 25, 2009.Clones 777 and Cruz. 100% de-stemmed, aged an average of 20 months in 25% new French oak barrels from Tonnellerie Rousseau. Bottled unfined and unfiltered and bottle aged 5 months. · An easygoing wine with pleasing aromas of cherries with hints of Herbs de Provence and seasoned oak. Highly enjoyable array of fruits including raspberries, strawberries and cherries with an earthy underpinning. Juicy with soft sinewy tannins and a vibrant finish. Nothing out of place. Very good.

2007 Verve Russian River Valley Emeritus Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 214 cases, $33. Released October 25, 2009. From vines that average 8 years in age planted in sandy Goldridge soils. Clones 777 and Cruz. 100% destemmed, fermented in one Rousseau 2 ton French oak open top fermentor and T-Bins. Aged on average 20 months in 33% new French oak barrels from Tonnellerie Rousseau. Bottled unfined and unfiltered and bottle aged 5 months. · Darkly colored in the glass. Bright and clean scents of black cherries initially, showing a slightly roasted, raisiny quality over time. Moderately rich and very ripe Bing cherry fruit with hints of spice and savory herbs cruising to a crisp finish with a fine grip of acidity. Good.

Print entire newsletter

Wineries in this Article