Rosella's, Garys & Pisoni Comparative Tasting
Wineries which source fruit from these vineyards specify individual farming preferences and the timing of
picking, so each winery’s fruit from the same vineyard is not identical. In addition, age of vines, clonal mix,
soils and microclimate will vary. Throw in the wide range of winemaking practices, and there is a range of
character and styles shown by the Pinot Noirs produced from any one of these vineyards. That said, our group
found a clear difference in the wines from each vineyard in 2009 regardless of the producer, and valuable
generalities can be made. I believe that the reader will gain enough knowledge to understand differences in
bottles of Pinot Noir from each of these three Santa Lucia Highlands vineyards and thereby make appropriate
buying decisions. The emphasis in this tasting was not on judging the wines as to comparative preferences
and quality, but on finding differences in wine characteristics such as color, fruit type, aromas and flavors (other
than oak), acidity, tannins, and finish. In other words, discovering terroir-based features.
The wines were all tasted single blind except a couple of wines I tasted at home after the event and these
tasting notes are so designated. All wines were properly stored after winery or retail purchase and tasted in
appropriate Burgundy stemware over the course of a few hours in the late morning, initially without, and later
with, appropriate food. All wines were opened and poured about an hour before the tasting to permit the wines
adequate exposure to air.
As a side note, it was impressive, but not unexpected, that both Jeffs were able identify their own Pinot Noirs at
the conclusion of the blind tasting.
2009 ROAR Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir Moderately light in color. Demure red
fruits and dried herbs on the nose. Lighter weight red and blue fruits on the palate with mild, fine tannins, good
acidity, and a touch of heat on the finish.
2009 Miner Family Winery Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir Lightest and reddest
color in the lineup. Aromas of slightly confected cherries and oak spice. Delicate in weight, with discrete
flavors of red cherries and berries, and oak-driven herbs and spice including cinnamon. Soft tannins, bright
2009 August West Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
Moderately light reddish-purple color. Shy aromas of purple fruits with a touch
of oak and cut flowers. Medium weight flavors of dark red and purple fruits
offering an appealing lusciousness on the palate augmented by soft, fine-grain
tannins and good acidity.
2009 A.P. Vin Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
Moderately light in color. More savory and woodsy on the nose with bright red
cherry and red berry fruit aromas. The most extracted wine with substantial
plush red fruits wrapped in soft tannins and accented by oak spice.
2009 Loring Wine Co. Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir Darkest color in the lineup.
Very ripe fruited, almost pruney on the nose. Dark, ripe stone fruits with a healthy tannic backbone. Difficult to
discover terroir-based features in this wine.
2009 Kosta Browne Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
Slightly confected dark red cherries and berries with a floral note. Moderately
rich with layers of red fruits, picking up interest and intensity over time in the
glass, offering a lengthy finish highlighted by oak spice.
2009 ROAR Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir Moderate
reddish-purple color. Aromatic with scents of fresh cherries and dried herbs.
Middleweight flavors of juicy black cherries with a hint of savory herbs.
Delicious and beautifully balanced with supple tannins and good acidity.
2009 Tantara Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir Moderate
reddish-purple color. Aromas of black cherries, dried rose petals and crusty
brioche. Delicious black raspberry and black cherry core wrapped in silky
tannins, and displaying bright acidity on the long finish. Also exceptional.
2009 Testarossa Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
Moderate reddish-purple color. Very fragrant with aromas of dark red cherries
and currants. Well-endowed with the essence of black cherries and good
integration of oak. Nicely crafted, with mild tannins and lively acidity on the
2009 Lucia Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir Darkest in
color of the lineup. Layers of darker red and purple fruits on the nose with a
subtle note of oak. Delicious, slightly sweet, with a healthy tannic backbone.
More extraction and structure than the other wines in the lineup, but not in a
negative way. Exceptional.
2009 Capiaux Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir Moderate reddish-purple color. The nose
offers black fruits with prominent oak and coffee notes. Luscious black plum core with balanced tannins, a
velvety texture and long fruit-driven finish.
2009 Morgan Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir Medium reddish-purple color. Riper, deep
red fruit profile with a savory herbal underpinning on the nose and palate. Pushes the ripeness envelope.
Moderate tannins and soft in the mouth.
2009 Miner Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir Light reddish-purple
color in the glass. Aromas of strawberries, herb garden, sandalwood and
baking spice. A lighter-styled wine with a core of red cherries and strawberries,
accompanied by hints of red licorice and herbs. Very supple tannins, with
appealing finesse and charm. Exceptional, and very distinct in style from other
more fruit-driven wines in this flight. (Tasted separately)
2009 Kosta Browne Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir Medium reddish-purple color in the
glass. The nose and palate is flush with very ripe plum and blackberry fruit. Moderately full-bodied with ripe,
firm tannins and impressive length on the fruit-driven finish. The soft texture is appealing. Picks up interest
over time in the glass. (Tasted separately)
2009 Peter Michael Le Moulin Rouge Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
Dark reddish-purple color. Huge nose with penetrating aromas of black berries
with a hint of vanilla. Lip-smacking core of slightly sweet black and purple fruits.
Almost syrupy with velvety tannins and impressive persistence on the finish
which reveals a bit of heat. Very hedonistic and hard to ignore. The most
approachable Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir in the lineup. Exceptional.
2009 Tantara Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir Deep, dark reddish-purple color.
Brooding initially, opening up nicely over time in the glass. Copious aromas of dark red and black stone fruits
with a hint of green herbs. Relatively closed on the palate, but offering a glimpse of dense, perfectly ripe fruit
wrapped in soft tannins and augmented by oak.
2009 Siduri Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir Dark reddish-purple color. The fruit takes a
back seat to oak at this stage. Still earthy, raw and rugged, but showing enough gorgeous black fruit and lively
acidity to indicate huge upside potential. Needs a few years in bottle to shed its tannins.
2009 Capiaux Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir Deep, dark reddish-purple color. The
nose is marked by strong reduction which never fully resolves during the tasting. Rugged and tannic with shy
black fruit at this stage. Challenging to evaluate.
2009 Paul Lato “Lancelot” Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot
Noir Moderately dark reddish-purple color. Very appealing aromas of black
raspberry jam and Hoison sauce. Delicious core of well-ripened black fruits with
nicely proportioned tannins and enough acidity to bring the fruit to life.
Unbelievably long finish. Exceptional.
2009 Pisoni Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir Very dark
reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose is wild and savory, with hi-tone dark
red and black cherries and berries with notes of dried herbs and mushrooms.
The massive fruit core is buried in tannins and oak at this stage. The fruit
becomes more expressive very slowly over time in the glass. The wine is much
more accommodating with food.
Terroir-Based Features of the Three Vineyards
Color: lighter, more red tones.
Structure: lighter weight, more elegant, more feminine.
Texture: silky to velvety.
Tannins: mild to moderate.
Aromas: fruit, dried herbs, flowers, spice.
Flavors: redder fruits of relatively mild intensity, herbs, spice.
Comment: The wines showed more inconsistency and as a whole, were slightly less appealing and interesting than
the wines from the other two vineyards. There were no exceptional Rosella's Vineyard wines in this vintage among the
Color: medium reddish-purple; intermediate between Rosella’s and Garys’ vineyards.
Structure: middleweight to full-bodied.
Texture: juicy, silky.
Acidity: plenty of acidity but doesn’t stand out.
Tannins: moderate but refined.
Aromas: dark red to black fruits, more fruity than floral, most expressive aromatics.
Flavors: dark red to black fruits, moderately intense and layered, complex.
Comment: The Garys‘ Vineyard wines were more interesting, and practically every wine, regardless of
producer, was of high quality (consistency). The wines exhibit vibrancy and energy attributable to
acidity. The challenge at this vineyard is that as sugars climb, acidity stalls, but this can usually be dealt
with and probably is a “good thing.”
Color: deeper, darker reddish-purple to almost black.
Structure: dense, thick, big, rugged.
Texture: dense, grainy.
Tannins: most tannin.
Aromas: slowest to evolve aromatically; black stone fruits and berries, brambly.
Flavors: dark red and black fruit and plenty of it but not jammy; earthy, savory.
Comment: The Pisoni site is distinct from the two other vineyards which are at a lower elevation and relatively
close to each other. The Pisoni Vineyard is more gravelly, with less wind exposure and therefore
warmer. Tannin levels were very high in 2009. The taster must work harder to appreciate the wines.
The wines are not especially expressive early and should be given time to age. Highly enjoyable with
foods that mute the tannins (ie cheese or protein like steak).