Sips of Wines Tasted Recently
It is a slow time for wine releases, but this short list is packed with “Too Much Good Stuff,” as the ads for
2012 Alouette Sonoma County Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $24.99,
screw cap. Vinified by fifth generation Belle Glos Wines winemaker
Joseph Wagner whose family founded Caymus Vineyards. Alouette
is the French name for lark, a songbird that is a familiar sight in
vineyards along the coast of California. The lark has been
romanticized over time and serves as the muse for this wine. 2012
was an exceptional vintage in California and the high quality of the
fruit from the coastal regions of Sonoma County show through in this
wine. Aged in 60% new French oak barrels for 9 months.
Aromas of red
grapes, spice, violets, toast and oak vanillin lead to deeply flavored notes of
cherries, strawberries and sarsaparilla with welcome accents of spice and oak. Very soft and silky in the mouth
with balanced tannins that make for easy drinking. Similar to the Meiomi bottling by the same producer. A
featured wine at Total Wine & More retail chain.
2010 B.R. Cohn Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc.,pH 3.60, TA
0.63, 2,400 cases, $40. Sourced from Lera’s and Dutton vineyards. Average
vine age 12 to 17 years. Clones 667, 777 and Pommard. Whole berry and
whole cluster fermented with natural and Assmanshausen yeasts. Aged 19
months in 64% new and 36% 1-year-old French oak barrels. Winemaker Tom
Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Very aromatic initially,
offering bright aromas of Bing cherries, cola and toasty oak. Discreetly
concentrated core of nicely ripened Bing cherry fruit with accents of cola,
mocha, brown spice and oak flavors clothed in soft, dry tannins. The immensely
appealing velvety mouth feel is a clincher. This wine will have wide appeal.
2011 Freeman Ryo-fu Russian River Valley Chardonnay
450 cases, $40. A blend of two vineyards with the largest component
from Keefer Ranch and a lesser amount from Heintz Vineyard (vines
dating to 1982). Aged 14 months sur lies in 21% new and 79% 1, 2 and
3-year-old French oak barrels.
Light yellow color and clear in the glass.
Aromas of lemon, apple and slate lead to crisp, vivid flavors of citrus,
apple, white peach and oak. Plenty to like with forward fruit flavors
reigned in by lively acidity, finishing on a high note with lemon-drop memories.
Still fine the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2010 Furthermore Bohemian Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.56, 74
cases, $40, 375 ml $20. Vineyard is 8 miles from the coast in the western reaches of the Russian River Valley.
Clones 115, 667 and 777. Harvest Brix 27.3º. Native fermentation, aged 12 months in 33% new French oak
Dark reddish-purple hue in the glass. A ripe-fruited and full-bodied wine, featuring aromas of black,
grilled fruits, peat and fennel and flavors of blackberries and ollaliberries. Dense, concentrated and sappy, but
delicious, with a pleasing fruit personality framed by modest tannins, finishing with a burst of citrus-laden fruit.
A decadent wine.
2010 Furthermore Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.67, 83
cases, $50, 375 ml $25. Vineyard is farmed by Gary Franscioni. Clones “828” and Pisoni. Harvest Brix 24.7º.
Native fermentation, aged 14 months in 50% new French oak barrels.
Moderately dark reddish-purple color in
the glass. Aromas of spiced dark red stone fruits with hints of vanilla, nuts and stem. Medium bodied core of
dark red cherries with an herbal vein running through and a citrus underpinning. Good crispness and supple
tannins, with a bright tag of cherry on the finish.
2010 Furthermore Sierra Mar Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., pH 3.47, TA 0.63, 77
cases, $40, 375 ml $20. This vineyard is located at 1,000 feet elevation at the southwestern corner of the AVA.
Soils are decomposed granite and gravelly loam. Pisoni clone plus “828.” Harvest Brix 27.7º. Native
fermentation, aged 14 months in 50% new French oak barrels.
Dark reddish-purple color in the glass.
Somewhat brooding on the nose with a roasted dark fruit tone accented by nutty, vanillin oak. Delicious, fullbodied
core of fresh dark berries with an earthy undertone. Well-managed tannins with bright acidity and some
finishing length. Big and fruity, but everything is in its place.
2010 Furthermore La Encantada Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
alc., pH 3.39, TA 0.67, 76 cases, $40, 375 ml $20. Vineyard planted by Richard
Sanford. Clones 115, 667 and 777. Harvest Brix 27.5º. Native fermentation,
aged 14 months in 40% new French oak barrels.
Dark reddish-purple color in
the glass. Appealing aromas of blackberries, black raspberries and a dash of
toasty oak. Rich and vivid, with plenty of sappy, dark berry and cassis fruit
flavors. Smooth in the mouth with discreet tannins and a pleasing hint of oak in
the background. The finish is fresh and lively. This wine is woven together
nicely and aims to please.
2011 Kudos Single Vineyard Series Carabella Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir
alc., $30. A product of NW Wine Co. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels.
Light reddish-purple hue in the
glass. Evocative perfume of dusty cherries and seasoned oak. Noticeable mid palate attack of fresh cherry
and cranberry flavors with a citrus-driven, nervy finish. Straightforward, light, and easy to drink, this wine will
work beautifully at the dinner table.
2010 Lachini Vineyards Lachini Family Estate Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., pH 3.54, TA 0.731,285 cases, $50, Magnums $115.
Multiple clones (667, 777, 113, 114, 115, 2A and suitcase selection) from estate
vineyard blocks. Aged 17 months in 26% new and 74% 1 and 2-year-old French
oak barrels. Winemakers Mike Primozich and Ron Lachini.
reddish-purple color in the glass. Fragrant with aromas of Bing cherries,
blueberries, pomegranates, savory herbs and conifer forest. Light and
somewhat lean, but flavorful, offering tastes of red cherries and cranberries
framed by supple tannins and bright acidity. This wine offers plenty of finesse for
easy drinking, and finishes with a tangy burst of cherry fruit. Very Oregon in
style and a good reflection of the vintage.
2012 Liberty School Central Coast Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.77, TA 0.69, 39,895 cases, $20. From Hope
Family Wines, Austin Hope proprietor. Multiple fruit sources including west Paso Robles, Arroyo Seco section
of Monterey, and San Benito County east of Monterey. Aged 6 months in 80% French and 20% American oak
barrels. Cross-flow filtered before bottling in April 2013. Jason Diefenderfer winemaker.
reddish-purple color in the glass. Quite showy upon opening, fading some over time and taking on a confected
note in the glass. Aromas of purple grapes, cherries and ripe strawberries with a hint of violets. Good fruit
intensity on the palate with easy to like flavors of red and black cherries with a hint of spice and dark chocolate.
Well-managed fine-grain tannins with a sweet cherry finish. Less appealing over time in the glass.
2010 Rhys Alpine Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
13.2% alc., $69. From 1.73 acres planted to Hyde, Wente and Dijon
clones at 1,230 to 1,400 feet elevation. 24” of top soil over soft shale.
Grapes are slowly whole cluster pressed for 4 hours. The must is
settled overnight and barrels filled in morning. 20-25% new French oak
barrels are used. The wine is left undisturbed in cask without stirring to
complete native yeast fermentation that sometimes can take an entire
Golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Appealing aromas of lemon
peel, pineapple, slate and a hint of nutty, buttery oak. Delicious core of yellow
apple and lemon flavors with a hint of butter brickle and oak. The fruit really
pops in the mouth and hangs on for a very long and glorious finish. Juicy, crisp and thoroughly satisfying in
every way. Yum. Held up beautifully in an opened and re-corked bottle finished over two days. One of the best
California Chardonnays I have ever tasted.
Alpine Vineyard chalky shale underlies the vines:
2010 Rhys Family Farm Vineyard San Mateo County Pinot Noir
12.7% alc., $59. From a 6.16-acre
vineyard planted to Swan, 115, Pommard and Rhys selection in alluvial clay loam soil.
reddish-purple color in the glass. Very complex nose offering an array of aromas including black plum, black
currant, spice, boot leather and hay bale. Moderately rich black fruit flavors with an added hint of cola and tar.
There is so much character in this wine that the drinker is quickly sent back to the glass for another sip, looking
to discover the many nuances over time. The finish is extraordinarily generous and long, and the underlying
cut of acidity really brings the wine to life. The balance predicates a long life for this wine.
2011 ROAR Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.55, 451 cases,
$52. Pisoni, 777 and Pommard clones. Aged 11 months in 84% new and 16% 1-year-old French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish-purple hue in the glass. Brightly perfumed with aromas of dark fruits, briar, forest floor and
smoky oak. The core of modest tannins is wrapped in layers of dark red cherry and berry fruit with a prominent
charred oak accent. Still, the wine is juicy and pleasing with some length on the finish. The delicate fruit
essence is currently buried in oak and the wine will benefit from more time in bottle.
2011 ROAR Sierra Mar Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.55, 549
cases, $52. Pisoni, Pommard and Swan clones. Aged 11 months in 81% new and 19% 1-year-old French oak
Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Everything comes together nicely in this wine featuring
enticing aromas of black cherry, black currant, spice, forest floor and subtle oak. A mouthful of delicious black
cherry, black raspberry and plum fruit coats the palate and hangs on for a long, generous finish. The fruit really
sings in this wine now, but the wine will benefit from more aging to better integrate the tannins and oak.
2011 ROAR Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., pH 3.54, TA 0.61, 278 cases, $60. Pisoni clone. Aged 11
months in 58% new and 42% 1-year-old French oak barrels.
reddish-purple color in the glass. Wondrous aromas of black stone
fruits, potpourri, forest floor and oak. Stunning on entry with copious
flavors of dark cherries and berries and Hoison sauce that has real grip.
The wine has some structural muscle but is approachable now. A very
smooth mouth feel and an intense, peacock tail finish complete the experience.
A hosanna to the Pisoni family.
2011 Vino Vargas Rio Ruso Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $45.
Rio Ruso is Spanish for Russian River. Aged in 30% new French oak barrels.
Winemaker Pedro Vargas.
Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of
black cherry and ripe strawberry with a slight roasted quality. Fruit flavors of
black cherry and blackberry push the ripeness envelope, but are quite tasty. A
hint of cola and spice add interest. Nicely crafted and very approachable with
mild fine grain tannins.