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Sips of Pinot: Wines Tasted Recently

2011 Bruliam Caritas Cuvée Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., pH 3.38, TA 0.828, $35. Sourced from Deer Meadows Vineyard farmed by Rich Savoy. The 2011 crop was plagued by botrytis and harvest was challenging. Mixture of co-fermented Swan, 777 and Calera. 100% de-stemmed. Aged 10 months in seasoned French oak and 9 months in bottle before release. · Light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of red cherries, red hard candy and rose bush. Delicate and pleasant, but rather hollow, offering crisp flavors of red cherries and red raspberries with a hint of herbs. Decent.

2011 Bruliam Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.46, TA 0.462, $55. Picking began a day before September rains. Clone 115. 100% de-stemmed. Saignée for a rosé was followed by minor acid and water additions to replace the volume lost. Aged 10 months in 20% new French Radoux oak barrels and 80% Radoux seasoned oak barrels. Aged 9 months in bottle before release. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose is enchanting, starting out with aromas of black cherries and evolving to more complexity with scents of sassafras, bark, cola and cinnamon. Elegant and tasty, with mid weight flavors of black cherries and black raspberries and undertones of oak and anise. The fruit is well-framed by good acidity and gentle tannins. The finish is fruit-driven and charming. Very good.

2010 Byron Monument Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.57, 225 cases, $60. A small lot wine that is part of the winery’s experimental approach to winemaking. From Sanford & Benedict selections. A barrel selection that represents the finest red wine made each year. Aged 16 months in 100% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. A bit exotic and highly alluring on the nose with aromas of black cherry pie glaze, blackberries and spice. Earth-kissed array of darker stone and berry fruits that gently saturate the palate, finishing with a remarkable kiss of spiced raspberries. Velvety smooth in the mouth with ripe, balanced tannins and judicious presence of oak. Not overwrought like so many reserve-type wines. A complete wine that gets better and better over time in the glass. “Monument” is an appropriate name for this exceptional offering.

2010 Byron Clone 667 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.69, TA 0.53, 50 cases, $45. A small lot wine that is part of the winery’s experimental approach to winemaking. Sourced from the estate Nielson Vineyard. 10% whole clusters. Aged 16 months in 100% new French oak barrels. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Reserved, but pleasant array of darker fruit aromas with a sexy perfume of a fine Prada leather coat. Earthy and meaty, relatively big, but polished, with a delicious core of well-spiced dark fruits, backed by firm, but balanced tannins. A very satisfying wine that only falls a tad short on the finishing length. Very good.

2010 Byron Whole Cluster Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.57, 225 cases, $60. Aged 16 months in 100% new French oak barrels. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Bright black cherry and spice aromas with oak-driven notes of coffee and smoke. Well-endowed with an intensely flavored core of black cherry fruit balanced with firm but powdery tannins and accented with oak. Has enough acidity to carry the fruit and tannin load. Soft and silky on the palate. Great potential here, but needs more time for the oak to integrate. Very good.

2009 Dierberg “Steven” Estate Grown Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.62, $65. Dierberg Vineyard is located on top a sandy loam mesa above the South Bank of the Santa Maria River. “Steven,” named after the Dierberg’s first grandson, is sourced from areas of loamy clay near the western edge of the vineyard (“sweet spot”) that produce wines with more power and structure. Brix at harvest 25.9º. De-stemmed but not crushed. Long maceration of 21 days with pump over regimen reduced one short mixing per day. Aged 17 months in 100% new Francois Frères oak puncheons. Clarity fined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark purple color in the glass. The nose is reluctant to reveal itself, slowly offering aromas of black cherries and black berries with forest floor notes and some smoky oak. Soft, structured and full-bodied on the palate with oak-kissed black cherry, blackberry, dark chocolate, and earthy, grilled mushroom flavors. The tannins are firm and dry. The wine is consistent with the Dierberg style from this vineyard, but ramped up a bit in concentration. At present the fruit is buried in the oak topcoat, but this should largely resolve over time in the bottle. About the same the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. A terroir-driven wine that is well crafted in its style. Very good.

2011 Eric Kent Small Town Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.61, 414 cases,$48. Release Spring 2013. 38% Cleary Ranch and Michael Valentine, 23% Roberts Road, 23% Kiser/Vella, and Stiling. Clones 777, Swan, Pommard, 667, 114 and 115. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Enchanting nose offering aromas of exotically spiced black cherry and plum with a hint of smoky oak. Elegant and soft on the palate, with juicy flavors of black cherries, black raspberries and cardamom spice caressed by gentle tannins and ending on a clean, bright, dark cherry note. One of the most suave Pinots ever from Eric Kent. I like this wine for its seductive character.

2011 La Crema Monterey Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.52, 30,000 cases, $23. Aged 7 months in 23% new and 77% seasoned French oak barrels. Racked once out of barrel before final blending. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Very fragrant with aromas of confected cherries, ripe strawberries, Indian spices and a subtle saline note. Easy to cozy up to with forward flavors of black cherries, black raspberries, spice and toffee-laced oak. A subtle, confected (sweet) tone to the fruit is evident. Very smooth on the palate with gentle tannins. One of California’s best and most reliable, value-priced and widely available Pinot Noirs. Good.

2010 Lundeen Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., 100 cases, $30. From Genius Loci Wines. Sourced from Ana Vineyard in the Dundee Hills (40%) and Illahe Vineyards in the Willamette Valley (60%). Aged 18 months in 25% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. A little reduction upon opening blows off revealing aromas of red cherries, raspberries, cranberries and a hint of tobacco oak. Light red fruits are featured with oak in the background. Gentle tannins and lively acidity make for easy drinking. Decent.

2008 Okanogan Estate & Vineyards Washington State Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., $19.99. This winery is located in Oroville, Washington, a turn-of-the-century gold mining town in the Okanogan Valley, five miles south of British Columbia, Canada. All grapes are grown locally in the Northern Okanogan Valley. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherries, black raspberries, oak and soy sauce. Middleweight flavors of black cherries, plum and a touch of spice with the palate dominated by slightly astringent tannins. The flavors veer to the very ripe side and a note of prune creeps in. Decent.

2010 Patz & Hall Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 400 cases, $85. Released March 2013. A vineyard-designate for Patz & Hall since 1997. Sourced from the vineyard’s Hermanos Block and famed Old Field. This wine sees more oak than other Patz & Hall Pinot Noirs and receives more bottle aging before release. Wild and cultured fermentations. 15% whole clusters. Aged in 80% new Burgundian French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Very ripe fruit aromas including blackberry jam on toast, plum reduction sauce and prune. Luscious on the palate with mid weight sappy flavors of blackberries, raspberries, raisins and spice. The oak is beautifully integrated. Modest tannins make for easy approachability in this vintage. Wears its alcohol well. Long, long finish. On the ripe side, but the fruit is captivating, and you have to love it. Very good.

2011 Sineann Resonance Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $38. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of black cherries with a hint of rose petal and oak. Relatively lush core of black cherry fruit lashed with tobacco oak and buried in oak tannins. The wine has a curious sweet and sour finish. This bottling is usually one of my favorites from the Willamette Valley but this vintage falls short. Decent.

2011 SPELL Nichole’s Blend Sonoma County Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., 245 cases, $39. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Very shy, but pleasant nose offering primarily black cherry fruit. A cherry lovers delight with complimentary hints of cola and spice. Smooth and balanced with soft tannins and some cherry driven length on the finish. Good.

2011 SPELL Marimar Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., 90 cases, $72. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Wild and exotic on the nose with aromas of fresh-picked berries, grapes, spice and cut flowers. A delightful wine that aims to please with appealing black raspberry and black cherry flavors and a touch of spice. Seamless and polished with gentle tannins and a cherry cola finish. Very good.

2011 SPELL Alder Springs Vineyard Mendocino Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., 100 cases, $50. · Medium reddishpurple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherries, dark berry liquor, spice and an earthy-clay note typical of this vineyard. Mid weight cherry, berry and plum flavors with firm, balanced tannins, and a mineral-driven note of iron. Finishes with a zing of citrusy acidity. Very good.

2011 SPELL Weir Vineyard Yorkville Highlands Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., 90 cases, $50. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Highly fragrant in the glass with aromas of darker berries and cherries, rose petals, and the inside of a well-perfumed woman's leather glove. Ambrosial on the palate with layers of flavor including cherry, raspberry and pomegranate. This wine has the most tannin in the 2011 lineup, but enough fruit to take it on. The good acidity gives the wine vigor and the finish is ridiculously long. This is one of those wines that makes you sit back in your chair, smile and exclaim, “Wow!” I have had several great wines from this vineyard and this one joins the crew.

2011 St. Rose Nunes Vineyard 777 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.68, 54 cases, $44. The Nunes Vineyard is owned and farmed by Fred and Wendy Nunes. 100% clone 777. Harvest Brix 23.0º. Aged 12 months in new, 1-year and 2-year-old Francois Frères oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Light reddish-purple color in the glass. Delicate aromas of dark red cherries, spice, oak-driven tobacco and herb notes with a rose petal perfume appearing over time in the glass. Light weight cherry core with slight oak in the background, finishing with a charge of cherry flavor. Bright acidity and mild tannins make for refreshing drinking. Atypical for clone 777 which usually produces very dark fruit with good density. This delicate wine seems to fall short of full ripeness as it veers more to the red fruit spectrum. Good.

2011 St. Rose Nunes Vineyard Ten Block Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.68, 72 cases, $38. Clones 115, 777, 667 and 114. Favorite three of ten barrels. Aged 12 months in new, 1-year and 2-year-old Francois Frères oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light reddishpurple color in the glass. Very shy and never really opens fully in the glass offering demure aromas of dark red cherries and berries. Smooth on the palate with an appealing crispness, offering a tasty core of cherry, cola and spice flavors with complimentary oak in the background. I would give this wine more time in the bottle to allow the aromas to arrive. Good (+).

2008 Walnut City Wineworks Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.69, TA 0.56, 650 cases, $30. A barrel selection of the best lots from five vineyards in the Willamette Valley. Aged 18 months in 10% new French oak barrels and 24 months in bottle. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose is well-endowed with aromas of black cherries, black raspberries, baking spices and toasty oak. Discreetly concentrated flavors of black cherries with complimentary oak notes of spice and toast, and a citrus-laden underbody. The extended bottle aging has allowed the tannins to fully meld and the wine is enjoyable now. Good.

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