There isn’t much of a bigger contrast than a soft and very nice Oregon Pinot Noir and a well-rounded, but acidic Italian Sangiovese-based wine.

These are widely available wines, easy to find, at the $23 to mid $30 price range.

La Maialina 2007 Chianti Classico – This is classic Chianti that is really drinkable Italian wine. I find a lot of Chianti, usually at a lower price point, unbalanced and too acidic. This wine may not have huge fruit but has nice balance.

The laMaialina needs some decanting but opens up very quickly and nicely. It had the typical cherry flavors with some earthy or woodsy hints. The acid was in balance. The wine was certainly smoother than most Chianti wines. I liked it a lot.

Top critics like the wine as well. James Sucking gave it 90 points and said the wine, “Makes you want to eat.” Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate went even further bestowing 92 points.

I have to thank one of my favorite wine retailers, Bethann Kendall at Vine & Table in Carmel, In. I’ve written many times in five years that wine newbies need to find a good wine shop, a retailer they trust, and then take their advice. Bethann hit this one out of the park.

La Maialina 2007 Chianti Classico, $22.99, Highly Recommended

Soter Vineyards North Valley 2010 Pinot Noir – Soter Vineyards is certainly a big name in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Some how through three visits and plenty of consumption, I’ve managed to never taste their wines until recently.

Soter makes some great Pinot. Let’s start there.

I think there is a real sweet spot for great wine in Oregon at the $30-$40 price point. This is a bit of a price structure you quickly pick up on if you visit the Willamette Valley. Everyone seems to have an entry level wine around $20-$30, then a mid price point at $30-$45, and top end of $45-$70.

I think you can buy some really great wines at the mid price point. These are Pinot Noir wines tasting far above their price point.

This wine was an example of better than the $30 retail price. The wine was beautifully aromatic with hints or red berries and spice. I liked the wonderful balance from tip of the palate fruit to a silky and lasting finish. Geeky words, indeed, but the best description I can give it.

Wine Advocate and Steven Tanzer each awarded this wine 90 points. I’d agree, if not maybe a single point higher.

Soter Vineyards North Valley 2010 Pinot Noir, SRP $30, (Trade Sample) Very Highly Recommended

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