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Mueller Winery: Quintessential RRV Middle Reach

Owner Bob Mueller has had a distinguished winemaking career. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of California at Santa Cruz, he worked at Paul Masson Champagne Cellars in Saratoga as a chemist where he made the decision to become a winemaker. After earning his masters degree in food science and enology at University of California at Davis, he became the winemaker at both Foppiano Winery and Charles Krug Winery, and was later hired as senior winemaker at Pirelli-Minetti Winery in Delano, California where he directed three winemakers in the crushing of more than 25 million gallons of table wine, sparkling wine and brandy annually. After a stint as winemaker at Souverain Winery in Geyserville, Bob (pictured below) left to start his own consulting business and designed and established a large custom crush facility in Geyserville.



In 1991, he established Robert Mueller Cellars in Healdsburg. His first Pinot Noir, “Emily’s Cuvée,” debuted in 1994. Ten years later, he built a winery on Starr Road in Windsor and gradually ramped up production to its current 4,000 to 5,000 case level. The winery is largely a one-man operation, with Bob handling all the cellar and production duties, while his wife, Lori, handles sales, accounting and compliance work.

Mueller is best known for Pinot Noir, but also produces Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Old Vine Zinfandel and Syrah, all sourced from the Russian River Valley. The 2008 vintage of Mueller Pinot Noir has been highly lauded and all six of the wines received high scores from the Wine Spectator. Several of the wines reviewed below have already sold out.

Pinot Noir is sourced from Vino Farms vineyards located near the banks of the Russian River Valley off of Eastside Road.

Tasting is available in the Mueller winery cellar Friday through Sunday from 11:00 to 4:00 at 6301 Starr Road. The wines are also sold through the website store ( www.muellerwine.com). The Russian River Valley and Emily’s Cuvée Pinot Noirs are in limited retail distribution.

The Mueller Pinot Noirs are flashy, lush, extravagantly fruity wines showing the bright cherry and cola flavors and moderately high alcohols that are the hallmarks of warmer Russian River Valley vineyard sites. That said, the fruit is never over ripe or jammy and there is enough acidity in the wines to keep them juicy. Grapes are picked at about 25.0 Brix at harvest, 100% de-stemmed, fermented in 2-ton custom fermenting tanks using both indigenous and inoculated yeast, and subjected to punch downs by hand several times a day. The wines are racked to barrel and aged in 30% to 40% new French oak.


2013 Gresser Vineyard Select Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Chardonnay

13.5% alc., 100 cases, $18. Aged 9 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Light yellow color and clear in the glass. Welcoming aromas of lemon curd, apple, buttery brioche and nuts, and bright lemon, pineapple and green apple flavors driven by bright acidity. Slightly viscous in texture, with a refreshing burst of acidity on the finish. A very enjoyable wine for the dinner table. Score: 91

2013 Broadley Vineyards Palmer Creek Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 50 cases, $30. A 10-acre vineyard owned by Janet and Larry Richards who meticulously farm the vines. Pommard clone. 30% whole cluster. Aged in 100% French oak barrels, 50% of which were new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very tight on the nose with demure aromas of black cherry and oak. Mid weight plus flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and pomegranate with a touch of spice and savory herbs and a generous oak overlay. A luscious, friendly wine which should be more giving with another year in bottle. Soft and smooth on the palate with classy fruit and balanced, refined tannins. Tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the nose was still reticent and the oak still evident. Score: 89-90

2013 Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards Winemaker’s Reserve Umpqua Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.68, 600 cases, $39. Warmest vintage since 2004. From estate Prayer Rock and Romancing Rock vineyards. 100% de-stemmed, inoculated yeast ferments in 1-ton fermenters, aged 10 months in 100% French oak barrels, 85% of which were new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Demure wild berry aromas with hints of floral bouquet and oak. Very smooth and polished on the palate with mid weight flavors of ripe, sweet cherry, black raspberry and cola. Nicely integrated tannins and oak. More sap and structure than the 2011 bottling tasted here, offering more overall pleasure. Score: 90

2013 Broadley Vineyards Shea Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 250 cases, $50. Clone 777 and Wädenswil. 100% de-stemmed, wild yeast primary fermentation for 14-21 days, pump overs in early stage and 3 punch downs a day subsequently. Aged 12 months in 100% French oak barrels, 30% new Francois Frères and 70% neutral. · Medium reddish purple color in the glass. Rather shy aromas of black cherry, dark red berries and a touch of oak. Enjoyable core of cherry and raspberry fruit, but the wine is not giving its whole energy. Plenty of soul in this wine, but very shy with a prominent oak overlay. Tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the aromas had still not arrived. Cellar this wine for another year or two. Score: 91-92

2012 LUMOS Five Blocks Wren & Temperance Hill Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $N/A. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Enticing but shy aromas of dark berries, rose petals and spice. Attention-grabbing attack of mid to fullbodied blueberry, boysenberry and black cherry fruits with an earthy undertone. This wine is still young, sporting defined tannins and toasty oak which show up on the huge, generously fruited finish. Still a bit tight the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle but the potential is obvious. No rush to drink this one. Score: 92

2012 LUMOS Temperance Hill Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $N/A. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very shy nose offering a whiff of black cherry and ashen oak. Fullbodied, luscious core of black cherry, black raspberry and pomegranate fruits backed by firm, but not obtrusive tannins. Very vivid and classy, soft and smooth in the mouth, with a lengthy finish of uncommon generosity. The oak overlay is a bit much now, but should mitigate some over time. A man’s Pinot. Score: 90

2012 Gresser Vineyard Select Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 500 cases, $32. Clones 29, Dijon 113, 115. Aged 16 months in 30% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light crimson color in the glass. Very inviting in the glass with aromas of fresh cherry and spice that hold up over time in the glass. Deep red cherry and raspberry flavors with toasty oak in the background. Sheik and silky, with many nuances that show themselves over time including savory herbs, cola, and black walnuts. Nicely balanced with dry tannins and welcome acidity. Still very solid the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle indicating age ability. Score: 91

2012 DION Winemaker’s Reserve Limited Release Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 97 cases, $35. Harvest Brix 24.3º-25.0º. Clones 115, 114, 777 and Pommard. A barrel selection including for the first time a Pommard block. Aged 13 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderate red cherry color in the glass. Lovely aromas of cherry, rose petal and sandalwood. Mid weight pleasing flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and fig with well integrated oak. Beautifully balanced, with fine-grain tannins, supportive acidity and a sexy, soft and silky texture. Riper in this vintage, but not too ripe. Highly enjoyable now, but will age long term. Score: 91

2011 Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards “Pichon Bloc” Prayer Rock Vineyard Umpqua Valley Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., pH 3.90, TA 0.63, 625 cases, $34. Sourced from Pichon Block in Prayer Rock Vineyard, named for river that flowed out of the Garden of Eden as noted in Genesis 2:11. High elevation at 660’. Dijon clones. 100% de-stemmed, inoculated yeast ferments, aged 10 months in 100% French oak barrels, 84% of which was new. · Light red cherry color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of dusty cherry and raspberry with an oak compliment. Elegantly crafted, with light to mid weight flavors of red cherry and red berry with a hint of spice. Supple tannins and easy drink ability. A nice reflection of the vintage. Score: 88

2011 DION Winemaker’s Reserve Limited Release Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., 97 cases, $35. This 60-acre vineyard is located in the northern Willamette Valley on Laurelwood soils at 300’ to 500’ elevation. Proprietors are Kevin Dion Johnson and Beth Klingner. Clones 114, 115, 667 and 777. Harvest Brix 20.4º-22.7º. Latest harvest start ever. A barrel selection. 50% new oak. · Moderately light black cherry color in the glass. Rather closed with demure aromas of ripe black cherries and wintergreen. Admirable harmony and finesse with modest flavors of black cherry and plum backed by oak, finishing with slightly astringent tannins. Score: 89

2011 DION Old Vines Limited Release Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 48 cases, $40. Own-rooted, dry-farmed Pommard vines planted in 1977. This block was one of the last picked in a late harvest. · Moderately light dark cherry color in the glass. Scents of black cherry, dark chocolate and seasoned oak lead to a very inviting core of black cherry fruit accented with notes of spice, tobacco, mocha and iron minerality. Rich and mouth filling, with a good structural backbone, and a very long, eye-opening finish. Score: 92

2010 DION Winemaker’s Reserve Limited Release Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.3% alc.. · Medium cherry color in the glass. Very aromatic with waves of red cherry, rose petal, spice and herbal oak aromas. More savory than fruity on the palate with a core of cherry fruit enhanced with dried herbs and oak flavors. The tannins are silky and the texture very suave, making for easy drinking. Score: 89

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