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Press Tasting of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

Vintage 2011: 2011 was the second cool vintage in a row and was the coldest in the last fifteen years in Anderson Valley. The winter was very wet and the cool spring delayed bud break and flowering, reducing the potential crop. June rain also slowed fruit development. July and August were cool and foggy and precautions had to be taken to prevent mildew. Extra work was necessary in the vineyards involving fruit drops and leaf pulling. Temperatures finally warmed in early September and grapes finally matured. Harvest occurred primarily in October, even late October, and most grapes were harvested before the rains.

Vintage 2012: This vintage was a striking contrast to 2011 and has been often referred to as the “Goldilocks” vintage since it was not too not and not too cold. Temperatures rose into the high 80s and even 90s during the summer. Harvest occurred on schedule in mid September to early October before the rains arrived. The perfect conditions helped the grapes reach ideal phenolic ripeness at moderate sugar levels.

Unfortunately, the organizers fail to feature wines of the same vintage from each winery, making comparisons and evaluations complicated.



2012 Angel Camp Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 353 cases, $55. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Appealing aromas of black cherries, plum and dried herbs. Soft and smooth on the palate with a plethora of dark stone fruits and berries with an earthy undertone. The tannins are integrated and the finish is generous and pleasing. Score: 92

2012 Baxter Langley Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 125 cases, $48. Roederer clone 23 planted in 1982. Aged in 100% neutral French oak barrels. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Very appealing on the nose with true aromas of exotic spice, raspberry and blueberry. Mid weight flavors of blue and black fruits with a silky mouth feel. Still young and a little tight with tannin showing up on the finish. Still, very pure and vibrant and a wine of great potential. Score: 92

2011 Brutocao Slow Lope’n Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 1,100 cases, $24. Pommard, Swan, 113, 115, 667 and 777. Harvest Brix 23.6º. Aged 18 months in 30% new French oak. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Shy aromas and flavors of strawberry and cherry with hints of spice, herbs and oak. The tannins are tight and the wine could use some time in the glass. Score: 88

2012 Cakebread Cellars Two Creeks Vineyards Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $42. Several Dijon clones, Pommard and Swan selection. Aged 10 months in 38% new French oak. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very shy aromas of black cherry, raspberry and underbrush. Much more expressive on the palate with vivid black cherry and ripe strawberry flavors complimented by oak. The middleweight fruit core is striking. Score: 90

2011 Champ de Revés Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $40. Sourced from Boone Ridge Vineyard above the town of Boonville planted in 2006. Clones 667, 777 and 115. 100% de-stemmed, aged 9 months in 29% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. An array of aromas including blackberries, blueberries, cut flowers and oak lead to medium to full bodied flavors of ripe purple and black fruits with a tug of toasty oak in the background. The bright acidity lifts the moderately long finish. Score: 89

2012 Drew Balo Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 142 cases, $45. Harvest Brix 23.4º. 50% Pommard, 35% 115, 15% 777. 20% whole cluster fermentation. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of spiced cherry, tea and leaf. Polished on the palate with juicy flavors of red cherry and red berry with a hint of exotic spice. Well-structured with a noticeably generous finish that leaves a lasting impression. Score: 93

2011 Elke Donnelly Creek Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 196 cases, $36. Release August 2014. 100% de-stemmed, pressed with a basket press, aged 11 months in 35% new French oak. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Appealing scents of red cherry, raspberry and spice. Bright, crisp and vivid red cherry and berry fruits with a deft touch of herbs and oak. Lighter in this vintage but very elegant and charming. Score: 91

2012 Expression Ordway Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 160 cases, $50. 100% destemmed, 1-week cold soak, short, hot fermentation. Slight extended maceration post fermentation. · Moderately dark reddish purple hue in the glass. Well-ripened cherry and berry aromas. Mid to full bodied core of dark red and black stone fruits and berries with a touch of dark chocolate and cola. Plush and velvety on the palate with refined tannins and a hint of alcohol on the finish. Score: 89

2012 Fulcrum On Point Christina’s Cuvée Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 182 cases, $49. Sourced from Donnelly Creek Vineyard. Pommard and Elliot clones. Aged 16 months in 25% new French oak. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Bright aromas of Bing cherry elevate from the glass. Middleweight core of cherry, spice and cola flavors backed by integrated tannins. The finish is very pleasing, lingering with a kiss of cherry. Score: 90

2012 Greenwood Ridge Vineyards Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 300 cases, $30. Aged 8 months in French oak. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of darker fruits. A forward-drinking wine with discreetly concentrated flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and earthiness. Good lift and harmony with a juicy finish. Score: 90

2010 Handley Cellars RSM Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 293 cases, $52. Harvest Brix 26.0º. From the 7-acre estate vineyard located 700 to 1,000 feet above the fog line. 3-day cold soak, aged 9 months in 33% new French oak. · Moderately dark reddish purple hue in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, Hoison sauce, dark chocolate, and oak. Mid to full bodied flavors of black fruits, anise, spice and dark chocolate with some oak sheen. Thoroughly satisfying with integrated tannins and a richly fruited finish. Score: 91

2007 Harmonique Delicacé Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 422 cases, $44. Primarily 2A clonefrom Ferrington Vineyard with some 777 clone from Klindt Vineyard and Pommard from Conzelman Vineyards. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Welcoming scents of cranberry, strawberry, spice and herbs. Very elegant and light on the palate with a flavorful core of cherry, rhubarb and pomegranate. This wine has aged beautifully and its character definitely fits the name. Score: 90

2010 Husch Knoll Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 200 cases, $40. Original plantings that were the first Pinot Noir vines in Anderson Valley dating to late 1960s. Harvest Brix 25.9º-26.4º. 15% whole cluster fermentation. Aged 17 months in 50% new French oak. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A very rustic and earthy wine with aromas of forest floor, mushroom, black cherry and a hint of oak. On the palate, the moderately sappy black cherry fruit is embellished with noticeable oak, very dry tannins and juicy acidity. There is a subtle sense of alcohol. Score: 89

2012 Lichen Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., 164 cases, $65. From 7 acres of estate vines planted in 2008 and farmed organically. Four clones (Martini, Wädenswil, Pommard and 667) on three rootstocks. First substantial crop. Harvest Brix 22.4º-24.6º. 5 to 6-day cold soak, 2 to 3-day extended maceration. Aged 17 months with batonage during the first 9 months. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Demure aromas of red cherry, mocha and sandalwood lead to a very light and elegant, even dilute, palate featuring cherry, raspberry and complimentary oak flavors. This wine has soft tannins and is rather ephemeral, but lacks excitement. Score: 88

NV NV Lichen Estate Solera Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.65% alc., 134 cases, $48. Harvest Brix 22.4º-24.6º. This wine features the “solera” approach common in Sherry to this multi-vintage blend. Combination of first Estate harvest of two barrels in 2011, six barrels of 2012 Estate, and four barrels of 2013 Estate. 5 to 6-day cold soak, 2 to 5-day extended maceration, aged in French oak. · Light rhubarb color in the glass. Scent of oak-kissed cherries and spice echoed on the palate. Light and delicate, but with good flavor intensity, bright acidity, and a finish featuring plenty of cherry and spice goodness. Score: 89

2012 LIOCO Klindt Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

12.9% alc., 287 cases, $N/A. Harvest Brix 21º. Clones 115, 667, and 777. Clones co-fermented, 30% whole cluster fermentation, native yeasts, 5-day cold soak. Aged 11 months in 20% new French oak. Unfined and unfiltered. A swan song (vineyard sold and fruit no longer available to LIOCO). · Light garnet color in the glass. Uplifting aromas of fresh cherry, red rose petal, spice and sandalwood. Much more flavorful than color would suggest, with mid weight tastes of dark red cherry and whole cluster spice and floral goodness. The velvety texture is of special interest as is the wine’s remarkable harmony. The class of this tasting. Score: 94

2009 Nelson Hill Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 205 cases, $34. Harvest Brix 24.9º. Clones 777, 114, 115 from Deep End Vineyard in Philo. 3-day cold soak, aged 12 months in 50% new French oak. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas and flavors of cherry and pomegranate fruits are offset by an unpleasant vegetal woodiness. Fully mature, with soft tannins. Score: 86

2011 Phillips Hill Two Terroirs C+R Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 125 cases, $36. 70% Cerise Vineyard and 30% Ridley Vineyard fruit. Harvest Brix 22º-23º. Whole berry and whole cluster fermentation, 4 to 6-day cold soak, 16 days on skins, natural yeast fermentation. Aged 16 months in 30% new French oak. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light orange-red color in the glass. Light and elegant cherry aromas and flavors with a lively cut of acidity and a heavy tug of oak and oak tannin. Score: 86

2010 Philo Ridge Vineyards Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., 250 cases, $36. Philo Ridge and Ferrington vineyards. Clones 115, 777, 667, Pommard and Wädenswil. Harvest Brix 23.6º. 100% destemmed, 3-day cold soak, proprietary yeasts, basket bladder pressed, aged 25 months in 35% new French oak and the remainder in neutral barrels. Aged in bottle 6 to 8 months. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Highly approachable, with aromas of forest floor, herbs and oak, and an array of red fruits on the lean palate which is accented with spice and acid-driven minerality. Score: 88

2010 Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 300 cases, $40. Estate grown clones 667, 777, 115, Pommard and 114. 100% de-stemmed, aged 10 months in a blend of new and used French oak barrels. Light filtration. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherries, dried herbs and oak. Mid to full bodied flavors of black cherry with an herbal thread in the background. The wine displays nicely balanced tannins and acidity, with some finishing intensity and length. Score: 89

2012 Waits-Mast Deer Meadows Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 97 cases, $55. This vineyard is situated at 1,600 feet elevation above Boonville farmed by Rich Savoy. Harvest Brix 24º-25º. Clones 115, 777 and Calera. 100% de-stemmed, whole berry fermentation, native yeasts. Aged 17 months in 25% new French oak. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Soaring scents of black cherries, rose petals and spice. Delicious mid to full bodied flavors of dark cherries, dark berries and plums with a riff of Asian 5-spice. The mouthfeel is velvety, the tannins are well proportioned, the oak is beautifully integrated, and the finish has impressive depth and length. Score: 94

2012 Witching Stick Dowser’s Cuvée Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 426 cases, $55. A blend of 4 vineyards and several clones from both Anderson Valley and Mendocino Ridge (Akin, Wiley, Cerise and Gianoli vineyards). 77% of fruit from the cooler “deep end” of the valley. Aged 19 months in 27% new French oak. · Medium reddish purple color in the glass. Bright nose with hi-tone scents of dark cherry, dark raspberry, cardamom spice, and oak vanillin. Plenty of ripe cherry and pomegranate fruits and a hint of citrus fill the mouth with layers of pleasure. The wine is still young with some unintegrated tannins, but the potential is evident. Score: 90

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