Weekend wines: Enjoy this unbeatable $12 pinot noir from Chile

Feb. 22, 2013 at 7:22 PM ET

Getty Image /
Apaltagua's 2012 Reserva Pinot Noir, which has bright fruit tastes accented by earth and spice notes, is a great value at just $12.

If you love pinot noir, as I do, and are frustrated by how tough it is to find really good pinots at bargain prices, have I got a wine for you.

With the growing popularity of pinot noir, Chile has been trying to become a bigger player in the under-$20 market, which is easier said than done. Making outstanding pinot at any price is a challenge, but especially at the value end. In tasting a number of relatively inexpensive wines from Chile in the last couple of years I hadn’t found one that I really wanted to drink.

The wines lacked balance and too often seemed encumbered by oak rather than enhanced by it. As a result, I had pretty much written off the prospect of balanced, inexpensive pinot from Chile — until I recently opened Apaltagua’s 2012 Reserva Pinot Noir from the central Curicó Valley. Notable for its complexity and finesse, the wine is almost ridiculously priced at $12. I can’t recall tasting a pinot noir this good at this price.

It’s altogether delicious, with bright, pretty fruit tastes that bring to mind pomegranate and raspberry with some blueberry as well. The fruit layer is accented by a good deal of earth and some spice notes, especially cinnamon. It all comes together in a long finish, adding up to a charming wine that, to my palate, is more interesting than most inexpensive California pinot noirs and many that are two or three times more expensive. It has a medium-bodied feel with alcohol at 14 percent.

This one will provide a refreshing lift to chicken, pork and grilled salmon and is just lovely to sip on its own. Try it just slightly chilled. Imported by Global Vineyard Importers, Berkeley, California. Received as a press sample.

Edward Deitch is a James Beard Award-winning wine critic. Find many more of his wine reviews and commentary on his blog, Vint-ed.com, and follow him on Twitter.

Could this odd IPA glass make your beer taste better?
California knows how to party! Wine picks under $15
Weekend wines: Riesling and scallops are a perfect match