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Henry Estate's Well-Priced Pinot

This Oregon pinot noir is the perfect red to drink slightly chilled this steamy summer season

One of the more rewarding aspects of being a judge in a wine competition is the opportunity to discover new wines unburdened by the inevitable prejudice of knowing their identity. It compensates, in part, for having to wade through dozens of what are, at best, mediocre wines. One such pleasurable revelation at the recent Critics Challenge competition was this week's wine of the week, the Henry Estate Pinot Noir 2008 ($18). It hails from, not surprisingly, Oregon, home to many of America's finest pinots. A cooler, more Burgundian climate and a stubborn determination to be "not California" lead many of its winemakers to produce fresher, more food-friendly wines. This perfectly describes the Henry pinot noir. It's a beautiful pale-scarlet color, fresh, fruity and vibrant on the palate, and is the perfect red to drink slightly chilled this steamy season. It's not a serious wine, not a wine to be pondered and discussed, but a pretty, fresh quaffer packed with the essence of strawberries and rose petals. It even manages a hint of gravelly minerality, a surprising bonus in a wine at this price. To find this wine near you, try When to Drink: Now Breathing/Decanting: Half an hour helps it open Food Pairing: Pork, pasta, BBQ, and even pizza Grapes: 100 percent pinot noir Appellation: Oregon Region: Oregon Country: USA Price: $18 Availability: Limited Web Site: Related Links California Chardonnay With a French Accent Arcadian's Exquisite Fiddlestix Pinot Noir Clean Slate Riesling: A Perfect 10

Nick Passmore is an independent wine writer and consultant based in New York. For five years he contributed a widely read monthly wine column to, in addition to which his work has appeared in such publications as Forbes, Discover, Town Country, the Robb Report, the Wine Enthusiast, Saveur, Sky, and Golf Connoisseur. He is currently Artisanal Editor for Four Seasons magazine and contributes the Nick Passmore: Wine of the Week column to He is also a judge at the widely respected annual Critics' Challenge wine competition.

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