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Small Sips of Recently Tasted Pinot Noir

2011 C. Donatiello Winery Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., pH 3.56, TA 0.63, 513 cases, $40. Sourced from multiple vineyard sites throughout the appellation. Aged 10 months in 25% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Oak overwhelms the fruit in this wine which is light and crisp on the palate, featuring red cherry and raspberry fruit flavors with a citrus-imbued finish. Score: 85

2011 C. Donatiello Winery Hervey Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., 101 cases, $60. The 10-acre Hervey Vineyard is located above Atascadero Creek in the hills just south of Sebastopol. Soils are Goldridge. Aged 10 months in 25% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose has some reduction upon opening which disappears by the following day when re-tasted from a previously opened bottle. Ripe black cherry aromas accented by charred, smoky oak. Deep Bing cherry and cola flavor with a firm, but balanced tannic backbone. The wine is underlain with crisp acidity producing a tangy, citrus-driven finale. This wine warrants more time in bottle to better integrate the oak. Score: 87

2011 C. Donatiello Winery Tina Marie Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., pH 3.44, TA 0.62, 126 cases, $55. Aged 10 months in 35% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose offers enticing aromas of black cherry, rose petals, tea, forest floor and cedary oak. The tasty essence of fresh Bing cherries has a hint of spice and conifer in the background. The tannins are supple and the wine sports a citrus-infused, sweet cherry finish. Score: 88

2011 C. Donatiello Winery Riddle Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 52 cases, $N/A, sold out. Aged 10 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. A bright wine with a spring in its step. Aromas and flavors of dark Bing cherry and raspberry with smooth, supportive tannins and a good cut of acidity. Seamless and easy to like. Tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the black cherry fruit had drifted to the ripe side. Score: 89

2011 C. Donatiello Winery Block 15 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., pH 3.45, TA 0.68, 127 cases, $48. A blend of vineyards featuring clone 777. Aged 10 months in 25% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose hits all the high notes with effusive aromas of dark cherries and complimentary seasoned oak. Delicious essence of Bing cherries with a hint of spice and red licorice flavors. The mid palate richness carries through to the sleek, long finish. The wine is beautifully composed with supple tannins and good acidity. Thoroughly satisfying with easy accessibility and my clear favorite of the C. Donatiello Pinot Noirs in 2011. Score: 91

Note: Chris Donatiello originally founded his namesake label with partner Bill Hambrecht in 2008 on Westside Road at the site of the former Belvedere Winery. The wines were quite good, but the classy operation ceased operation at this site and has been reincarnated, still in Healdsburg, with the original winemaker, Webster Marquez who worked at Williams Selyem and is one of a trio of winemakers at Anthill Farms. A tasting room has opened on the plaza on Center Street in downtown Healdsburg.

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