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Kasuari Pinot Noir

One of the real joys in life is browsing a wine store filled with a cache of Pinot Noirs, handling the bottles, reading the labels and purchasing a wine that lacks a recognizable name but seems to hold promise. Anticipation follows and if you are lucky, a big smile breaks out on your face when you take that first sip. This happened to me recently when I came across Kasuari Pinot Noir.

Kasuari is a rare and dangerous flightless bird that inhabits Indonesia, New Guinea and Australia. It belongs to the family of birds known as Cassowaries from the Indonesian name Kasuari. The third largest bird in the world, it has the capability of killing humans, but fortunately prefers to eat snails, snakes, frogs and fruit.

I asked Michael Peters, who along with Drake Johnson (both pictured below) founded this label in 2004, why he chose this name. His response was, “Kasuari is a rare bird, perfection and paradise all in one… .i.e. do it well and enjoy it more!” Now if you can figure that out let me know. Michael has been crafting wine for fifteen years and this label is the result of him “simply chasing his dream to make great wines and enjoy them with every one!” His cousin, Randy Peters, farms the Peters Vineyard located in south Sebastopol, the site of a former apple orchard. The soil is loamy goldridge type and the clone is Pommard.

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2010 Talisman Spring Hill Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 244 cases, $44. Release April 2014. The vineyard is located on a wind-blown ridge west of the town of Petaluma. · Medium reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas are so appealing one wants to dive into the glass. Scents of red cherry, spice, herbs and oak in perfect harmony. The cherry core of fruit is complimented by an oak sheen. Lighter in weight with mild tannins and some finishing intensity and length, offering good lip-smacking acidity. A good example of how oak brings out the best in Pinot Noir. The most interesting wine I have had from this vineyard. Score: 92

2010 Talisman Wildcat Vineyard Los Carneros Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 242 cases, $44. Release April 2014. This vineyard has the highest elevation of any vineyard in the Los Carneros AVA. Red, pebbly clay loam soils born of decomposed volcanic basalt. The site is exposed to a cool air flow from San Pablo Bay. Clones are Dijon 115, 667, 777 and Swan. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. The nose is spectacularly endowed with aromas of boysenberry, wood spice and anise. Soft in the mouth with a plethora of purple and blue berry flavors underlain with an earthy riff. Very mild fine grain tannins, perfect integration of oak, and a satisfying, intensely flavored finish. An evocative wine. Score: 94

2010 Talisman Red Dog Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 241 cases, $52. Released October 2013. This vineyard is located high above Bennett Valley at 800 feet elevation on the northwestern side of Sonoma Mountain. A very low-yielding site. · Medium reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of red cherries, cinnamon and other spices, and old cask. Round and polished on the palate, featuring flavors of black cherries with a hint of tobacco and oak in the background. The most rustic, earthy and savory of the lineup. A noticeable lift of acidity on the finish is refreshing. Score: 92

2010 Talisman Adastra Vineyard Los Carneros Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 243 cases, $56. Release April 2014. An organically farmed and certified vineyard tended by Chris Thorpe and his son-in-law Edwin Richards. Clones are Wädenswil, Swan, 113 and Pommard. · The nose brings you to attention with deeply fragrant notes of Hoison sauce, black grapes, blackberries and cardamom spice. Very softly textured, perfectly composed with a judicious use of oak. Typical Los Carneros flavors of darker berries, black plum, mushroom and damp soil pervade. The sweet, perfectly ripened fruit attack makes an impression on the front of the palate, expands its reach across the mid palate like a silk sheet, and finishes with a flourish. A transcendent, “Oh My God” wine. Score: 95

2010 Talisman Weir Vineyard Yorkville Highlands Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 243 cases, $65. Released October 2013. A unique site with very cold night time temperatures and gravelly, well-drained soils. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Shy, but pleasing aromas of cherry, raspberry, blueberry and dark chocolate. Charming essence of sweet, dark red cherries and berries with a hint of lovable spice on the palate. Seamless with integrated tannins and a long, intensely fruited finish. This wine just speaks class. Everything you like in Pinot Noir from a very special vineyard. Score: 96

Kasuari wines (they also produce a Rosé, Zinfandel and Cab) are available on the website at The phone is 707-322-7055.

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