Wine Talk

Snooth User: prc19

What types of wine are similar to Pinot Noir?

Posted by prc19, Feb 27, 2013.

I am a big fan of white wines-particularly sauvignon blanc from NZ but the more I read the more I find that red wine is actually a healthy part of a good diet (unless you drink too much). So I started trying various red wines but they seemed so heavy to me that I longed for something lighter with less tannins and less density (?). I tried some pinot noir from Oregon and it is great and it makes me wonder what else might be out there that is similar. I could drink it all winter and be happy but maybe there are a number of reds that are in the same ballpark as pinot noir.Any suggestions?


Reply by EMark, Feb 28, 2013.

You might want to try Gamay-based wines.  Here is a Wikipedia Link for you to learn a bit about Gamay.  The most famous examples of Gamay are Crus Beaujolais.  OK, Beaujolais Nouveau is also somewhat famous, but I might call it infamous.  There are domestic versions, but they are pretty hard to find.

Another idea might be some of the lighter bodied Italian wines like Chianti (from Sangiovese) or Barbera.  I don't see them as being similar to Pinot Noir other than the fact that the are not the big, tannic monsters that you do not seem to like.  They are somewhat higher in acid, which, to my point of view, make them excellent accompaniments to a meal.  Both Sangivese and Barbera are grown in California (I don't know about other states), and it is not to hard to find examples made from them.

I am sure that others will jump in here with their ideas.

Please keep us up to date on your discoveries.

Reply by JonDerry, Feb 28, 2013.

There really is no substitute for Pinot Noir, though you might try its sister Chardonnay. Liquid Farm makes some great ones with fruit from Santa Barbara.

Reply by Tom Wandeloski, Feb 28, 2013.


You also might want to try the Pinotage wines from South Africa.  This cousin maybe what you are looking for.  One Pinotage, I would recommend is the 2010 Pinotage from Southern Right vineyards of Walker Bay, South Africa.  Cheers! and enjoy.  :-)

Reply by duncan 906, Feb 28, 2013.

If you like Pinot Noir from Oregon then you will certainly like Burgundy

Reply by JonDerry, Feb 28, 2013.

Good call on Pinotage actually, probably as close as you can get.

And of course, red Burgundy is made from Pinot Noir so that should be on your short list.

Reply by Natashaz, Feb 28, 2013.

Wrath make some incredible Pinot Noirs.

Reply by JonDerry, Feb 28, 2013.

Drinking an 09' Calluna Merlot from the Chalk Hill AVA tonight. 

Could definitely pass for being in the Pinot family, the CA chapter of course.

Reply by EMark, Feb 28, 2013.

I'm finishing off a 2010 Mazzei Badiola, tonight--an 80% Sangiovese/20% Merlot blend from Tuscany.  Cherry/berry flavors, not terribly big and no detectable tannin.  Peggy is testing some kind of sauteed chicken in tomatoes recipe, tonight, and I think this will match well.  Here's the best part--$9.99 at Costco.

Reply by Tom Wandeloski, Mar 1, 2013.


Thanks for the kudos on the Pinotage.  I've always been a fan of Pinot Noir and my first time trying Pinotage was in early 2004 after taking some R&R leave from my military duties in Iraq to Cape Town, South Africa and tasting the Pinotage at the Spier Winery.  The location, view, vineyards, food and Pinotage were outstanding!

Reply by penguinoid, Mar 5, 2013.

Gamay is a good suggestion. I haven't tried it, but I know Brick House Vineyards in Oregon make a Gamay. . I've only ever tried their Pinot Noir, though. In France, there are lots of good Gamay to choose from from Beaujolais, and quite a few from the Loire. I think their are even one or two NZ producers, too...

From Italy, Dolcetto and Barbera would be worth trying too. You might also like Valpolicella.

If you don't mind the wine being a bit more tannic, Cabernet Francs from the Loire (Chinon, Bourgueil, Saumur) are worth checking out. They also grow some Pinot Noir in the Loire too, but that might be harder to find.

Reply by zufrieden, Mar 6, 2013.

Actually, there is nothing quite like Pinot Noir - and I am not trying to be logical in a silly way.  However, the beast varies depending on site and clone.  If you are a Burgundy fan, you may be surprised by the variety of (Pinor Noir) PN styles the world over.

If interested in a wine that might sometimes approach a PN in terms of silky, voluptuous charm, try a Beaujolais Cru; in particular, Moulin-a-Vent or Morgon.  In a good vintage (say 2009), you will find that these wines (if consumed today) have  many of the qualities of a decent AC Nuits PN.  These qualities include more elegance, less acidity, greater depth and a move away from simple Beaujolais floral notes.

Ordinary Beaujolais won't work, so choose a meaty Cru.  This comment seconds the Gamay suggestion of Penguinoid.

Reply by penguinoid, Mar 7, 2013.

zufrieden - yes, no other wine other than, as you suggest, maybe aged cru Beaujolais is exactly like pinot.

I interpreted the query as looking for red wines that are light to medium bodied and without much in the way of tannins -- this gives a wider range of wines to chose from.

Most of them won't be exactly like pinot noir, some will be nothing like it whatsoever, except for those criteria mentioned.

Reply by baseball1485, Jan 25, 2016.

Pinotage despite the name and heritage  is NOTHING like Pinot Noir.

Reply by dmcker, Jan 25, 2016.

A good question, that brings out various perspectives on knowledge and taste that don't always get addressed. Have a few questions to further things along, if we care to continue the discussion:

  1. What kind of pinot have you had? From where and what labels and vintages?
  2. If CA pinot then that leads in certain directions. Does the drinker also like grenache, for example? I've had certain Priorat garnachas that I and other experienced drinkers have identified as having pinot-like character.
  3. If Burgundy reds, then that leads to further drilling down on which styles? Some Pommards taste almost like a Bordeaux--known because I've been in blind tastings with supposedly experienced tasters who have identified it as such.
  4. If you think pinotage tastes likes pinot noir, then the assumption is that your taste database was populated by non-Burgundian, New World pinots. If you grew up on Chilean pinots, what else might you identify as similar?
  5. Have you had pinot noir blended with other grapes (see our syrah-doping discussion in another thread)? If so, then the likely suspect pool expands...
  6. Have you had Swiss Dole (a type not a brand name) reds, which I've discussed on these boards several times over the years? If so you already know how well pinot noir and gamay meld together, though different winemakers also include Gamaret, Garanoir, Carminoir, Ancellotta, Diolinoir, Merlot and Syrah in their bottlings. In cooler regions like Valais in Switzerland, pinot noir doesn't have the chance to mature as easily and reliably as it does in California or Australia. The winemakers are looking through those other additions to enhance color, structure (esp tannic) and aromatic complexity (looking forward to some obvious digs from GregT here).
  7. Now if you're one of the few (mostly Swiss) folks who cut their teeth on pinot noir bottled in the Oeil de Perdrix style, then all bets are off. Several vins rosés out there that might seem similar.
  8. Hey, and we haven't even begun to talk about blanc de noirs Champagne, or blauburgunder, or pinot styles in other European countries, or...

I'll stop here, and see if anyone else is interested in continuing.

Reply by GregT, Jan 25, 2016.

"Pinotage despite the name and heritage  is NOTHING like Pinot Noir."

This is cool! After three years dig up an old thread and post a rant! Perfect random move.

I do agree though.

And the OP is never coming back. But musing on the original question, I would assume something like Emark and Penguinoid (another dearly departed) did - i.e. something lighter in texture and weight than big reds.

So the suggestions were good in case anyone reads this thread. And D's comments about the source of the grapes is important too - some Sonoma PN is way heavier than even Syrah from elsewhere. Anyone ever had unoaked Cab Sauv at 12% abv from a cool region? It's a not like Scarecrow.

Anyway, moving off the distasteful subject of Pinot Noir and thinking about what to open tonight, Mencia was my first thought but this thread reminded me of some Barbera that needs to be disposed of, so that's what I'm off to.


Reply by dvogler, Jan 26, 2016.

I had a good ol' darn Ruffino reeserva ducale Chianti 2011.  I always forget how much I like it.  Cheap, reliable and a beautiful nose.  Definitely leaner than what I usually like, but a nice change.  I'm glad you're staying true to yourself Greg ;)

Reply by JonDerry, Jan 26, 2016.

Interesting to see my comments from a few years ago. Definitely would have responded a little differently today, and I haven't had a Pinotage since that time in 2012 or 2013! But it was fresh in my mind at the time, and made as good of sense as anything at the time. 

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