Pinot Without the Pain 

While I don't share his disdain for Merlot, I am in sync with Sideways protagonist Miles and his love for Pinot Noir. Sadly, good Pinot isn't cheap, and with those holiday bills starting to pour in... Not to worry. Here are three delicious choices priced at 20 bucks or less:

2015 Evesham Wood Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $20

Founded in 1985 by Russ and Mary Raney, this winery's intro level Pinot delivers way beyond its price point. Burgundian in style, the aromas are filled with ripe cherry, backed by soft plum, crushed stone and leather. Beautifully balanced with a silky texture, this fruit forward red is marked by creamy cherry and berry fruit flavors that linger nicely.

2014 François Confuron-Gindre Bourgogne, $19

The Pinot Noir vines for this impressive Burgundy range between 45 and 80 years of age. Definitely a more serious wine than you would expect at this price point. Touches of earth and mushroom color the red fruit aromas, while raspberry and ripe cherry fruit flavors mark the palate. Smooth tannins come through on the finish and, while it's a bit reserved at first, it opens up beautifully.

2011 Mouvance Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $20

The winery is located in Boise's Linen District but the vineyards are in Oregon. This Pinot is a bit bolder than the Evesham or Confuron, with a big toasty oak component that comes through mostly on the nose. That oak is present but well integrated on the palate. The dark cherry, earthy plum and strawberry fruit flavors are balanced by a food friendly hit of acidity on the creamy finish.

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