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More Sips of California Pinot Noir

2009 Anthill Farms Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., $39. · Moderately light reddish-orange color in the glass. Faint aromas of red berries with a floral and minty oak overtone. Light in weight with flavors of red cherries and blood oranges, sporting mild slightly grainy tannins, bright acidity and some tartness on the finish. Disappointing at this price level. Decent.

2009 Anthill Farms Tina Marie Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $50. From a site in the Green Valley farmed by Ron Black and Stephen Bessone. · Moderately deep reddish-purple color in the glass. Opens with appealing raspberry on jam aromas, fading in the glass. The flavors are more promising, with a tasty core of Morello cherry and black raspberry, an herbal note and a good tug of citrus on the hi-wire finish. Good.

2008 Calicaro Split Rock Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.63, 12 cases, $47. Picked at 27.9º Brix. Aged 11 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Opens with appealing aroma of plum reduction sauce, fading into a muddled aroma of leaf and green garden with absent fruit. Moderately rich and creamy with a very ripe and sweet dark fruit profile with notes of raisin and green oak in the background. Has the bones to support the generous fruit flavors, but turns boozy on the finish. Decent (-).

2007 Dierberg Estate Grown Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 2,700 cases, $42. Released January 2011. The Dierberg Vineyard is located at the southern end of the Santa Maria Valley AVA just 14 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. · Dark purple in color in the glass. Shy fruit aromas with prominent smoky oak. A husky, full-bodied wine with generous earth-kissed black fruits underscored with flavors of tar, earth and anise holding on to the finish. Muscular with thick, rugged tannins. Should benefit from more time in the bottle, but will always be a bruiser. Good.

2009 Hahn SLH Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.62, $35. Aged in 35% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark purple-red color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, boysenberry, kirsch, toasted bread and oak char. Moderately rich core of juicy dark red fruits with thick oak flavors. Decent.

I have been impressed by the La Crema appellation series wines in the past, especially at the under $25 price point. Recently there seems to be a trend to upgrade the image of these wines. Very heavy bottles are being used and the prices now are closer to $50 than $20. The two 2009 Pinot Noirs reviewed here were not up to past standards, despite the apparent upscale trend.

2009 La Crema Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.52, 2,700 cases, $50. Sourced primarily from the Maggy Hawk Vineyard (close to Navarro) in the deep end of the Anderson Valley. Clones 667, 777, 115, 2A, 23, Pommard and 828. Aged 9 months in 36% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Intensely fruity nose initially displaying aromas of fruit bin and mixed berries including strawberries with a hint of vanilla fading over time in the glass. An array of tasty ripe berries is accented by a note of dark chocolate with a grip of citrus peel on the finish. Welcoming fruit intensity coats the palate and persists on the finish, but offers no nuance or intrigue. Smooth and harmonious. Over time, the wine becomes less interesting in the glass. The flavors trump the nose at this point. Worth revisiting in 6 months. Good.

2009 La Crema Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.72, TA 0.54, 5,800 cases, $40. Clones 667, 777, 115, Martini, 114, 23, 828 and Pommard. Aged 10 months in 51% new French oak barrels. · Moderately intense reddish-purple color in the glass. Shy nose with demure aromas of black cherries, forest floor, and oak. Moderately rich and weighty black cherry, raspberry, licorice and cola flavors with unbridled tannins. Slightly hot on the finish. Unchanged the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Plenty of fruit, but no finesse or nuance. Decent.

2007 LIOCO Michaud Vineyard Chalone Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.77, TA 0.61, 343 cases, $48. The vineyard is located on a remote hilltop 1600 feet elevation with huge daily temperature swings. Granite and limestone soils. 10- day cold soak, native fermentation, aged 12 months in 1, 2 and 3-year-old French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish-purple color with slight haze in the glass. Very ripe dark berry fruit aromas augmented by scents of shoe box, oak, and brier. Very flavorful cherry and red berry fruit under a thick blanket of tannin, persisting on the lengthy finish. A cola and spice note add interest. Still drank nicely two days after opening from a re-corked bottle. A wine with soul and vivid expression of site. Very good.

2009 LIOCO Hirsch Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.76, TA 0.61, $60. 40% whole cluster, wild yeast 18 day fermentation, aged 12 months in 1, 2 and 3-year-old French oak barrels. · Moderate purple-red color in the glass. This wine shows some acetaldehyde (rotten apple core) aromas and flavors after initially displaying aromas of dark strawberries, Asian Five Spice, and black raspberries. The flavors echoed the aromas initially but a spiced, oxidized apple flavor developed over time. A flawed bottle. Unsatisfactory.

2009 Sonoma-Loeb Russian River Valley Loeb Family Selection Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $40. · Darkly colored in the glass. Shy and muted fruit aromas which emerge slowly with swirling. Full-bodied essence of black cherries and boysenberries with a hint of oak spice. Soft in the mouth with dry, youthful tannins. A little more expressive the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Big bottle, big fruit, big tannin but doesn’t deliver much interesting flavor or nuance. Decent.

2009 VML Virginia Marie Lambrix Boudreaux Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

15.3% alc., 235 cases, $45. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Initially the nose is quite fruity displaying aromas of black cherries, dark plums, and black raspberries. Over time in the glass, the fruit recedes to the background and oak takes over. Full-bodied flavors of blueberries and black cherries which are on the ripe side. Underpinnings of oak spice and oak char are a bit intrusive. The fruity finish is noticeably dry and tannic leaving some heat in its wake. Decent.

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