The 13 Highest Scoring Pinot Noirs We Rated in 2018

As we look forward to tasting in 2019, it’s the perfect time of year to take in the best wines we scored in 2018. Here’s your Pinot Noir wish list.
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While there are a number of amazing bottlings to be found across all styles, regions, ranges and price points, there’s something to be said for celebrating the absolute best of the best in wine. We’ve combed through our extensive Buying Guide of the over 24,000 wines reviewed last year to find the 13 most top-rated Pinot Noirs from our 2018 tastings.

Selections include a range of offerings from Sonoma to Burgundy, but also include California’s Central Coast, North Coast, Mendocino and, as one of only 15 wines to score 100 points last year, a Willamette Valley standout.

Ready to see what made the cut? Read on to see our best Pinot Noirs of 2018.

Top Rated Pinot Noirs in 2018

Patricia Green Cellars 2016 Estate Vineyard Bonshaw Block Pinot Noir (Ribbon Ridge); $60, 100 points. This 100% Pommard clone wine from a 1990 planting is immensely deep, dark and textural, with complex aromas that instantly draw one in. Its compact berry, plum jam and baking spice scents come with underlying mineral and earth notes. It hits the palate with a powerfully woven matrix of lush flavors: blueberry, plum, cherry, chocolate, butterscotch and toasted coconut. It’s thick, supple and lingering—an ethereal and extraordinary wine. Editors’ Choice. –Paul Gregutt

Wayfarer 2015 Wayfarer Vineyard Estate Grown Pinot Noir (Fort Ross-Seaview); $90, 99 points. Even in its youth this wine packs a punch and delivers unbelievable beauty, opening in aromas of perfume and game. Seductive, supple and spicy, it is undoubtedly full figured and hauntingly complex, with layers of dark cherry, charcuterie, sea breeze and forest floor. The tannins are firm yet polished, intense yet behaved. The salty, briny, beguiling minerality is what lingers longest on the finish. Editors’ Choice. –Virginie Boone

Hartford Court 2015 Seascape Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast); $70, 98 points. From a ridge-top, western-facing site greatly influenced by the Pacific Ocean, this is exotic and distinct in character, with tones of white pepper, tart cherry, rhubarb and strawberry. Gorgeously layered, delicate and structured, it has length and richness to the tannin profile, as well as a notion of peat that adds to the dramatic complexity of the wine. –V.B.

Three Sticks 2015 Walala Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast); $70, 98 points. This wine is bewilderingly savory in tones of clove and sage, but then turns juicy and balanced from flavors of strawberry and blackberry. Grainy in complex texture and tannin, it offers a powerful full-bodied richness and wild quality that’s undeniably memorable. –V.B.

The Wines We Scored 100 Points in 2018

Louis Jadot 2015 Clos de la Roche; $330, 98 points. This grand vineyard is one of the jewels of Morey Saint-Denis. The structure and density behind this vintage of the wine is generously impressive, with a dark, dry core and fine tannins. To balance this, the wine has weight, opulent fruit and acidity. The result, as it matures, will be a major wine that will age for many years. Drink from 2025. Kobrand. Cellar Selection. –Roger Voss

Roar 2016 Soberanes Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands); $54, 97 points. The Franscioni family is making some of the best wines on the Central Coast, as evidenced in this bottling, which shows tremendous concentration without being overripe or overextracted. Aromas of purple and red flowers meet with minty tarragon and pine needle on the nose, while the palate’s black cherry and boysenberry flavors are lifted by touches of eucalyptus and pine needle. –Matt Kettmann

Drew 2015 Estate Field Selections Pinot Noir (Mendocino Ridge); $60, 97 points. It’s hard to imagine a wine with more personality and complexity than this absolutely intriguing mountain-grown Pinot. It continues to surprise and delight in layers of exotic mint, violet, ripe cherry and berry tones that carry through to the vibrant finish. Superb balance comes from firm tannins and ample acidity, with vivid fruit and savory flavors on top of a medium body. Best after 2022. Cellar Selection. –Jim Gordon

Melville 2016 Block M Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills); $60, 97 points. Extremely fresh and pungent aromas of smashed strawberries are enhanced by white pepper dust, whole green peppercorns, wet tobacco leaf and the smell of a dewy morning amidst pine trees and chaparral scrub on this wine by Chad Melville. The palate is simply stunning with juniper and pine-needle elements that slip into rich yet tart cherry and baked raspberry, proving extremely dynamic and lovely all around. Editors’ Choice. –M.K.

Patz & Hall 2015 Chenoweth Ranch Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley); $60, 97 points. A bright wave of spicy sarsaparilla rides alongside crunchy, vibrant tones of crisp red cherry, pomegranate and dried herbs in this impressive, well-balanced wine from a tremendous site. Medium bodied, it shows grace and strength in equal measure for superb overall balance. –V.B.

FEL 2015 Savoy Vineyard Pinot Noir (Anderson Valley); $70, 97 points. Sleek, vivid and sophisticated, this wine wows with fresh, concentrated tones. There’s a sense of taut balance between acidity and ripeness, with a laser focus of raspberry, cherry and strawberry flavors that extend the finish for minutes. This great wine from a celebrated vineyard is an excellent choice for the cellar, best enjoyed after 2023. Cellar Selection. –J.G.

Dutton-Goldfield 2015 Devil’s Gulch Vineyard Pinot Noir (Marin County); $72, 97 points. This is a distinctive, nervy wine that combines generous exotic flavors with a rigid backbone of acidity and tannins. It exudes aromas of forest floor, rhubarb and bay leaf on the nose, with crisp flavors of black cherry, pomegranate and tobacco. It is medium to full in body, shows little obvious oak influence but tremendous complexity and nuance. Best through 2025. Cellar Selection. –J.G.

Louis Jadot 2015 Chapelle-Chambertin; $240, 97 points. Produced from vines owned by Louis Jadot, this wine, like all the grand crus in Gevry-Chambertin comes from a vineyard halfway up the slope behind the village. It has the proper structure, but such is the richness of this vintage, the fruit is already sumptuous, full of ripe cherry and berry flavors. At the same time, it is elegant and with such as stylish, smart aftertaste. Drink from 2025. Kobrand. Cellar Selection. –R.V.

Maison Roche de Bellene 2015 Charmes-Chambertin; $314, 97 points. From one of the series of grand vineyards that line the slope of Gevrey-Chambertin, this powerful and dense wine is packed with tannins as well as beautiful fruit. Its red fruit flavors are supported by a solid structured and concentrated tannins. Despite this power, the wine is stylish, striking a fine balance between structure and fruit. Drink from 2025. Loosen Bros. USA. –R.V.

Published on January 11, 2019
Topics: Best of Year


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