For instance, the cool climate vineyards of Alsace, Austria and Germany show off Pinot’s crisp acidity and elegant austerity. Whereas bottles from Italy are known for exemplifying the grape’s more robust side.
Pinot Noir is notoriously finicky in the vineyard. But its global domination shows it’s adaptable and exciting wherever it lands. Here are 10 of our favorite European Pinot Noirs.
Fontodi 2017 Case Via Pinot Nero (Colli della Toscana Centrale); $69, 93 points. Aromas of scorched soil, leather, rusty iron and dried botanical herb form the nose. Made with organically farmed Pinot Nero, the velvety, enveloping palate offers red berry, rhubarb, white pepper and rusty nail alongside fine-grained tannins. Drink 2022–2027. Vinifera Imports. —Kerin O’Keefe
August Kesseler 2018 The Daily August Pinot Noir (Rheingau); $27, 92 points. It’s increasingly difficult to find standout Pinot Noir under $30, and this bristling, intensely black-fruited Pinot delivers year after year. Notes of granite and smoke weave into crisp black cherry and plum on the palate. It’s succulent in mouthfeel but braced by tingling cassis acidity and a finish framed by crushed stone and fine, velveteen tannins. It’s delicious now, but should hold well through 2028. Vineyard Brands. Editors’ Choice. —Anna Lee C. Iijima
Alpine Roots 2019 Symphonie Pinot Noir (Valais); $36, 92 points. Light cherry red in color, this wine has aromas of cherry pie, cinnamon and cloves. It is soft on entry and nicely balanced. Flavors of tart cherry, red raspberry, and nutmeg lead to a silky-smooth finish. Laine Boswell Selections. —Jeff Jenssen
Jermann 2017 Red Angel on the Moonlight Pinot Nero (Venezia Giulia); $35, 92 points. All about finesse, this linear, balanced red opens with alluring aromas of red forest berry, graphite, smoke and underbrush. The elegant palate boasts surprising freshness for the scorching vintage, featuring juicy strawberry, pomegranate, white pepper and star anise. Silky tannins lend a smooth texture. Drink through 2023. LUX Wines. —K.O.
Rudolf Fürst 2017 Tradition Spätburgunder (Franken); $38, 91 points. The Tradition is this benchmark producer’s most approachable, freshly fruited bottling of Pinot Noir offering crisp black-cherry and plum flavors shaded by dried herb, smoke and roasted beetroot. Vibrant acidity gives it firm structure but tannins are ripe and integrated already. This easy but elegant bottling should improve through 2027. Rudi Wiest Selections. —A.I.
Bulgariana 2018 Pinot Noir (Danube River Plains); $14, 90 points. Cherry-red in the glass, this Bulgarian Pinot Noir has aromas of black cherry, red raspberry, mocha and cocoa powder. In the mouth, there are flavors of fresh cherry, vanilla and tobacco, with a soft tannic structure. There’s a touch of brown baking spices on the finish. G&B Importers. Best Buy. —J.J.
Christian Fischer 2017 Classic Pinot Noir (Thermenregion); $25, 90 points. Both the garnet tinge on the color as well as the slight minty lift on the nose suggest some evolution. The palate holds more youth and freshness on a taut, slender and translucent body. The finest tannins still execute a firm grip. The finish is fresh and taut. Vignaioli Selection. —Anne Krebiehl MW
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Cuvée Fernand Pinot Noir (Alsace); $38, 90 points. Fragrant red and black cherry notes make for a very inviting nose on this wine. The palate fleshes out the fruit with juicy ripeness countered with ample freshness. Aromatic cherry notions linger on the long finish. Grape Expectations (CA). —A.K.
Domaine Jean Guiton 2018 Pinot Noir (Bourgogne Côte d’Or); $28, 90 points. This new appellation, a step up from Bourgogne Rouge, can deliver some well-structured wines, as this release shows. Combined with the fresh red-berry fruits and good acidity, the wine bursts with structured energy. Drink from 2022. Pascal Schildt Selections. —Roger Voss
Louis Jadot 2018 Bourgogne Côte d’Or; $25, 90 points. This appellation covers some of the vineyards that used to be classified as just Bourgogne. The result is some fine wines, like this one, that have extra oomph, structure and concentration. With rich berry fruits, this wine will be ready from late 2021. Kobrand. —R.V.