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Monterey County, California is a premier wine producing region in the state, but all too often, it seems to slip under the radar of wine lovers everywhere. So if you’ve never enjoyed a bottle from the area, it’s high time you did. Here are a handful of reds that pleased our tasting panel’s palates:

Carmel-Rd-Monterey-Pinot-Noir-2013

Carmel Road 2012 Monterey Pinot Noir

Grape(s): 100% Pinot Noir

Region: Monterey County, Ca

Price: 15-20

Tasting Notes:

A bouquet of black cherries, plums, vanilla, and minerals greets the senses. Flavors of cherry and strawberry emerge on the palate, along with nuances of creamy oak, cola, and spice. It’s a smooth, fruit driven Pinot that’s very approachable.

Rating: 89

667_full

Noble Vines “667” 2012 Pinot Noir

Grape(s): 100% Pinot Noir

Region: Monterey County, Ca

Price: 10-15

Tasting Notes:

Aromas of cherry, bramble fruit, and plum meld with hints of earth and cola on the nose. A sip delivers flavors cherries and plums that unfold into suggestions of spice, cola, and dark chocolate. A laid back Pinot with a mellow acidity, fans of easy-going reds will enjoy this bottle.

Rating: 87

Dawn's Dream Nicole Pinot

Dawn’s Dream 2011 Pinot Noir

Grape(s): 100% Pinot Noir

Region: Monterey County, Ca

Price: 25-30

Tasting Notes:

Aromatics of plums and raspberries mingle with accents of earth, fennel, and all-spice on the nose. Plum and pomegranate flavors unfold into suggestions of floral earth, white pepper, and sweet spice on the palate. Light and bright, with a friendly acidity, try a bottle with grilled salmon. 650 cases were made.

Rating: 87

Vent Pinot

 

Ventana 2012 Pinot Noir

Grape(s): 100% Pinot Noir

Region: Monterey County, Ca

Price: 30-35

Tasting Notes:

Strawberries, cherries, and pomegranates coalesce with traces of vanilla and dusty earth on the nose. On the palate, flavors of strawberry, black cherry, and pomegranate blend with notes of smoky oak, minerals, and vanilla. Smooth and supple, it’s a good match for a mushroom quiche. 8,500 cases produced.

Rating: 88

Galante '11 Rancho Galante FRONT

Galante Vineyards 2011 “Rancho Galante” Red

Grape(s): 51% Cabernet, 19% Malbec, 19%, Petite Sirah, and11%Merlot

Region: Monterey County

Price: 25-30

Tasting Notes:

Fragrances of black cherry, tart blueberry, and raspberry come together with notes of floral earth and toasty oak on the nose. A sip reveals flavors of cherries, plums, and raspberries that unfurl into nuances of all spice, coffee, and oak. A bright, dry red, it will wake up the inner cowboy (or cowgirl) in you.

Rating: 88

Manzoni-Noir

Manzini 2012 “Home Vineyard” Pinot Noir

Grape(s): 100% Pinot Noir

Region: Monterey County, Ca

Price: 30-35

Tasting Notes:

Aromatics of strawberries, plums, and cherries interweave with notes of clove, vanilla, and baking spice on the nose. A sip delivers flavors of raspberry, plum, and strawberry that open up into hints of vanilla, spice, and cedar. A light, bright Pinot with a friendly acidity, pair a bottle with grilled pork tenderloin. 797 cases produced.

Rating: 90