The hunt for sub-$20 wines that deliver complexity and transparency on par with our more fine and rare selections is always a challenge. Very few in this range bring out the enthusiasm we're continually chasing. The McKinlay Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is not only part of this select group, it's our reference point.

Matt Kinne works with vineyards in the Chehalem Mountain range in the Willamette Valley. He's meticulous in farming, allowing only one grape cluster per shoot, and relying on dry-farming to push roots deep into the rocky volcanic soil below. These minuscule yields are the most significant aspect as to why his entry-level punches well above its humble price point.

Pinot Noir is famous as a finicky variety, one that needs ultimate attention in the vineyard and a winemaker who knows when to take a step back in the cellar. Kinne defines this approach as well as anyone in the Valley. The process is simple: native yeast ferments, 25% maximum new oak, no fining or filtering, gentle extraction.

Ultimately, the proof is in the bottle, and each time I taste his wines I'm left shaking my head a bit. The term Burgundian gets tossed around a lot, but this is simply the first place I turn when Francophile's want introduction to American Pinot Noir. The versatility of McKinlay on the dining table in unmatched. There's only one sub-$20 red wine I keep at home year round, and I highly suggest you follow my lead.

2015 McKinlay Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
$19 per bottle.

Also available:

2014 McKinlay Ladd Hill Pinot Noir
$39 per botttle.
1976-planted vines in a tiny vineyard farmed by Kinne. Only made is particular vintages. A wine for now or for the cellar.

2013 McKinlay Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
$19 per bottle.