2012 Golden Eye Gowan Creek Pinot Noir
Overall score: 17 (9 for quality, 8 for value)
Our tasters: Gave it a unanimous recommendation with four scores of 9 or higher. "A big, round and concentrated wine but one that's well-balanced."
Critical acclaim: Earned a score of 92 from Wine Spectator: "Generous, offering ripe plum, black cherry and wild berry flavors, with touches of anise and black licorice. Ends with hints of dusty dried herb and cedar that fold into the finish."
Buy it: $73.99
2012 Frei Brothers Reserve Pinot Noir
Overall score: 18.9 (8.9 for quality, 10 for value)
Our tasters: Gave it a unanimous recommendation with a high score of 9.2 and two scores of 9. "Cherry and tobacco notes. Well-structured but also yummy."
Critical acclaim: Earned a 90 from Wine Enthusiast: "Beguiling streaks of red cherry surround a light, spicy, food-friendly core that's well balanced and integrated, the oak and tannin elegantly respectful of the red fruit. It offers medium weight amid the smoothness."
Buy it: $21.84
2013 J Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Overall score: 17.9 (8.9 for quality, 9 for value)
Our tasters: It didn't work for one, but another awarded a 9.3, and two others scored it 9 or higher. "Pronounced dried red fruit. Finishes long."
Critical acclaim: Earned a score of 90 from the Wine Enthusiast: "Made in a full-bodied style, this estate wine is generous in blackberry, black licorice and dark cherry, with classic cola spice dancing around its edges. Smooth and memorable, it is made from a handful of vineyards, including Nicole's, Bow Tie and Robert Thomas, all vineyard-designates of their own for the producer."
Buy it: $32.89