I've always loved Oregon Pinot Noir. It kind of bridges the old world style of Burgundy and the very fruity new world style of California with elements of both. In general, Oregon Pinots are fruitier than the former but sexier and more delicate than the latter and Pinot Noir fans should really experiment with these wines. If you're describing your everyday Pinot as "jammy", then it won't work for me. If your everyday Pinot is opaque, then it's probably too ripe and sweet for me. Pinot Noir should be light colored and translucent.
Which brings me to today's great find, Rascal Pinot Noir 2011 from the Great Oregon Wine Company. This may be the best entry level Pinot Noir I've tasted and at $8.99, it's a steal. Plus it's pure Willamette Valley fruit. Nowadays, the origin designation you get at this price point usually says something like "California", which means you get Central Valley fruit. Classic Pinot aromas of raspberry, cherry and cinnamon spice greet you. In the mouth, it's light bodied yet full flavored with wonderful red berry flavors, excellent acidity and a toasty note on the back end. It finishes a bit short, but all in all, this is a great example of what I think real Pinot Noir should be. This beauty paired perfectly with a simple roast chicken and it's delicate nature should also make it a great fit with grilled salmon. Cheers.
Update - I get a lot of hits on this post so I thought an update was in order. Once the 2011 of this wine sold out, the producers bottled a non-vintage version which probably consisted of 2010 and 2011 juice. Both '10 and '11 were small yield vintages. The bottling was okay but a lot of retailers passed on it as it is harder to sell non-vintage. It appears that the 2012 Oregon vintage is both better and higher yielding then '10 or '11 and hopefully the 2012 Rascal will be released soon.