Our high opinion of pinot noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley was kicked up another notch when we tasted the 2012 Argyle Pinot Noir, which can be found at local big box stores in the $23 range. This is a superb and pure example of what this medium-bodied red can be: complex, lush and elegant.
Fruit is very much to the fore, as it should be. Ripe cherry, a nice brambly edge and a hint of cassis on the nose segue into full frontal cherry and red raspberry on the tongue, accented by fainter notes of plum, mocha and white pepper. The result is a dark and harmonious flavor profile. A medium-long silky finish is capped by just a hint of anise at sign-off.
The bottom line: if you are a pinot noir drinker, this is one not to be missed.
This pinot will pair well with a wide range of foods, but earthy examples that come immediately to mind are beef stroganoff and wood-fired wild mushroom pizza.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.