Recent Sips of California Pinot Noir & Chardonnay
2012 Belle Glos Oeil De Perdrix Pinot Noir Blanc
12.6% alc., $20. Sourced from Brugioni Vineyard in the
Sonoma Coast. The name is French for “eye of the partridge,” a term for this wine’s color. Whole cluster
pressed, brief exposure to French oak during and after fermentation. A portion of the sales go towards breast
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Aromas of strawberry, dried herbs, blood orange and
cherry. Soft in the mouth with pleasing flavors of cherry, strawberry, lime and blood orange. Best chilled.
2012 Carr Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 333 cases, $35. Released March 2014.
Sourced from vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley. Clones 115, 667, 777,
Pommard and Wädenswil. Aged 12 months in 15% new French oak.
Moderate reddish purple
color in the glass. Fruit-dominated nose featuring black cherry and raspberry with a subtle oak
note. Intensely flavored and fruit-driven, with plenty of dark cherry and raspberry swagger. A bit of
citrus in the background contributes a high note, and a touch of oak adds interest. The tannins are
nicely balanced and the mouthfeel has considerable suavity. Even better several hours later from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2012 Carr Turner Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 195 cases, $50. Released March 2014.
From a 21-acre organically farmed vineyard planted by Ryan Carr in 2000. Clones 113, 777 and Pommard.
Aged 12 months in 15% new French oak.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Both earthy and fruity,
this wine features mid to full-bodied dark red and black stone fruits that were picked at the peak of ripeness.
The inviting mid palate attack is attention-grabbing, the tannins are firm but nicely tucked in, and the finish is
very intense, long, and expansive. The oak contributes seasoning without being imposing. Thoroughly
2012 Della Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.35, TA 0.61, 150 cases, $60. Wente selection
sourced from Charles Ranch. Aged 15 months in 40% new French oak.
Moderate golden yellow color and
clear in the glass. Minty and herbal upon opening with toasty oak evident and very little fruit. The fruit aromas
never arrive over time in the glass and the nose remains nondescript. Moderately rich and plush on the palate
with a creamy mouthfeel. The core of citrus fruits is buried in oak-driven notes of caramel, vanilla and toast.
The heavy oak burden is just not to my taste.
2012 Fogline Vineyards Sun Chase Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.44, TA 0.65, 195
cases, $42. Released October 2013. The 40-acre Sun Chase Vineyard is located where the Petaluma Wind
Gap meets Sonoma Mountain on a southwestern facing hillside. This wine is sourced from hillside blocks
above the fog line at 1200 to 1400 feet. Clones 667, 777. Aged in 33% new French oak.
purple color in the glass. Uplifting aromas of forest floor, black cherry and sweet oak. Full-bodied, with broad
flavors of black cherry and blackberry pulled into line with fine acidity and stout tannins. The fruit is very
expressive, even sassy, and captivates all the way through a finish sporting plenty of drive and persistence.
2012 Fogline Vineyards Hillside Block Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.58, 95 cases,
$65. Released October 2013. The first single vineyard Pinot Noir from the estate Fogline Vineyard located in
the Petaluma Gap region on a ridge on Sonoma Mountain. Elevation is 850 feet and fog runs up to the
boundary of the lowest elevation blocks. Clones 115, Pommard, Swan and Mt. Eden. Aged in 33% new
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Delicate aromas of Bing cherry, spice and rose petal.
Plenty of grip and intensity on the palate that features ripe cherry fruit accented with spice and subtle oak.
Very satisfying, with a smooth texture, good tannic sinew, and a generous finish.
2012 Fogline Vineyards Fogline Neighbors Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., pH 3.50, TA 0.60, 72
cases, $65. Released April 2014. A blend of the Sun Chase Vineyard and Fogline Vineyard, both on western
face of Sonoma Mountain. Clones 667, 777, 115, Pommard, Mt. Eden and Swan.
Moderate reddish purple hue
in the glass. An array of aromas fill the glass including forest floor, black cherry and spicy oak. Vivid and juicy
on the palate with great harmony and presence. The bold flavors of raspberry, cherry, and boysenberry are
accented with a touch of spice and earthbound flora. The toothsome tannins are well integrated and the finish
is long and lush.
2013 Fogline Vineyards Zephyr’s Block Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.3% alc., pH 3.23, TA 0.66, 145
cases, $38. Grapes are from the oldest plantings in Fogline’s Estate Vineyard. Old Wente and Dijon 76
clones. Aged up to 10 months in French oak.
Moderately light golden yellow and clear in the glass. A
California styled Chardonnay with plenty of aromatic and flavor richness. Scents of baked apple, lemon, honey
and sea breeze, lead to a discreetly concentrated palate of apple, pear, lemon and caramelized banana
flavors. Plenty of juicy acidity balances the fruit load. An enjoyable wine, especially for those who prefer
generous oak input.
2012 Lombardi Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.56, TA 0.59, 24 cases, $38. Sourced from Terra
de Promissio Vineyard. Clone 777. Aged 16 months in neutral French oak barrel.
Moderately dark reddish
purple color in the glass. Hi-tone perfume of wild berries, plum, cedary oak and floral blossoms. The
middleweight core of black cherry, dark berry and black currant fruits are nicely integrated with seamless
tannins. Very polished on the palate, with vivid fruit presence. This wine is ready to drink now.
2012 Lombardi Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH
3.35, TA 0.61, 24 cases, $36. Sourced from Charles Ranch.
Wente selection. 100% barrel fermented for 15 months in
neutral French oak.
Moderately light golden yellow color in the
glass. Plenty to like in this wine with an array of aromas
including lemon zest, nectarine, white grape, straw bale and
saline minerality, and flavors of lemon, kumquat, pear and
honey. Very pleasing with a slightly creamy texture.
2012 Owl Ridge Carneros Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 903 cases, $24. 92% Pinot Noir, 5%
Sangiovese, and 3% Syrah. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels.
Moderately light garnet color in
the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of strawberry, red cherry, baking spices, sandalwood and
forest floor. The light to mid weight fruit flavors echo the aromas with added hints of mocha and
tobacco. There is an underlying tangy, citrusy acidity which adds verve, and modest tannins add
structure. A forward drinking and juicy wine that only lacks a bit of finishing intensity.
2012 Pali Wine Co. “Riviera” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 8,005 cases, $21, screwcap.
Sourced from Collins Ranch, Arrowhead, and Champlain Creek vineyards. Vinified and blended to
have consistency from year to year. Aged 10 months in 25% new French oak.
reddish purple color in the glass. Rather bold and dense with a meaty core of black raspberry,
pomegranate and black currant fruit accented with earth-kissed herbs. Fruit-driven and proud of it,
this wine still has enough verve for pleasant drinking. Bigger, bolder and riper than the 2011
version, but in the same vein.
2012 Pali Wine Co. Durell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., 113 cases, $56. Clones 115,
667 and Pommard 5. Aged 15 months in 50% new French oak.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the
glass. Opens over time in the glass to reveal stellar aromas of cherry, strawberry and complimentary oak.
Modest in weight, with a core of earthy dark red and black berry fruits overlain with a prominent oak sheen.
There are notes of stem and savory herbs that might be oak-driven. The finish is a bit sharp and angular.
Tasted the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine showed a prominent oak overlay.
2012 Pali Wine Co. Durell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.5% alc., $50. Aged 16 months in 50%
new French oak.
Light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Attractive scents of apple, lemon pie, peach,
and tropical fruits including pineapple. Citrus-driven flavors on the palate, with a hint of caramel, roasted nuts
and buttery oak. Some fullness on the palate with decent acidity. A California-styled Chardonnay that leaves a
good impression with a delightful finishing grip.
2013 Pali Wine Co. Charm Acres Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.0% alc., 4,360 cases, $21,
screwcap. Sourced from Windsor Oaks, Collins Ranch, Champlain Creek and Sangiacomo Family
vineyards. No malolactic fermentation. Barrel fermented and aged 10 months in 25% new French
Light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Pleasant aromas of nutty lemon, peach,
tropical fruits and toasty oak. Crisp and bright, and quite enjoyable, with flavors of lemon-lime, pear
and white peach with a slight oak overlay, finishing with a burst of citrus-driven refreshment.
2012 Pali Wine Co. Cargasacchi Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 40 cases, $56. Clone 115
from a 16-acre vineyard. Aged 15 months in 50% new French oak.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass.
The aromas pick up interest over time in the glass, revealing blackberry, Hoison sauce and subtle tobacco
notes. The sleek texture is dreamy in this wine but the black fruit core is rather drab, linear and closed with a
beefy, animale, unami character that can be typical of this vineyard. Should benefit from more time in the
2012 Pali Wine Co. Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., 210 cases, $56. From a 140-acre vineyard planted in 1998.
Clones 667, 777, 115 and Pommard. Aged 15 months in 50% new
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Seductively
perfumed with scents of black cherry coulis, rose petal and wood cask.
Mid to full-bodied array of spicy purple and black fruits with corralled
tannins and lively acidity. Luscious, but vivid and soft in the mouth. This
wine is very pretty for a Fiddlestix Pinot Noir. The finish is memorable for
its length. Tasted the next day from a previously opened and re-corked
bottle, this wine still had the most class of the 2012 Pail Pinot Noir lineup.
2012 Pali Wine Co. Rancho La Viña Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., 279 cases, $56. Clone
115. Aged 15 months in 50% new French oak.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. I was really
attracted to the nose which offered seductive aromas of black cherry, black raspberry, anise and vanilla. Very
open and satisfying with a smooth, suave texture and a juicy finish. Tasty flavors of purple fruits are featured
brought to life by generous acidity. Finishes with a good kick of acid and a modest tug of oak.
2011 Peter Michael Le Caprice Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $110 (secondary market). Vineyard is located in the
Ft. Ross-Seaview AVA. Winemaker Nicolas Morlet.
reddish purple hue in the glass. This is a sophisticated, polished
offering that hits all the right notes. The nose picks up interest
over time in the glass exhibiting aromas of black cherry, purple
berries, spice, rose petal and vanilla. Delicious mid palate attack
of fresh black cherry, black raspberry fruits with a hint of spice and aniselaced
oak. There is a nervy minerality in the background which is very
appealing. Silky in the mouth, with modest chalky tannins, this elegant
wine finishes with an enjoyable nutty cherry note that lingers. This
harmonious and almost ephemeral wine drinks so effortlessly, one could
easily polish off a bottle without realizing it.
2012 Schermeister Cellars Paladini Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.60, 120 cases, $47. Inaugural release from
winemaker Robert Schermeister who previously worked as an assistant
to Mark Aubert. Clones 115 and 777. 100%n de-stemmed. Native
fermentation, extended maceration after primary fermentation (28 days
on skins), light press, aged 15 months in 20% new, 40% 1-year-old, and
40% neutral French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered.
red color in the glass. A refined offering that has intrigue. Aromas of
cherry, wooded forest, baby’s breath and mint. Delicious mid to full bodied
core of dark cherry fruit with enticing hints of tea, oak, spice,
earth and mushroom. Admirable harmony with good brightness,
balanced tannins and a juicy finish. Holds up nicely over time in the
2012 The Winery SF North Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $30. From a San Francisco urban
winery located on San Francisco’s historic Treasure island.
Moderate reddish purple color in the
glass. Bright aromas of cherry, strawberry, rose petal and briar initially, fading somewhat over time
in the glass. A cherry jubilee with hints of black raspberry, spice, and savory herbs. The texture is
satiny, the wine is open and giving, the tannins are soft, and the clinging finish satisfies.
2013 The Wonderland Project “The White Queen” Sonoma County Chardonnay
13.2% alc., 2,650 cases, RS
0.02 mg, $26. Robert Young and Wente clones. Harvest Brix
22.5º. Vinified with native yeast fermentation in stainless
steel. Aged 7 months in 1/3 new French oak, 1/3 stainless
steel and 1/3 neutral French oak.
Pale yellow color and clear
in the glass. Inviting aromas of grapefruit, pear and white
peach are replicated in the flavors which add some hints of
nuts, brioche and honey. A very pleasant sipper and excellent food wine
with some discreet richness, bright acidity and appealing edginess.
Reminds me of Pinot Blanc. Better than the very good 2012 vintage of
this wine. A very solid daily table wine.
2011 Willowbrook Kaufman Sunnyslope Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 168 cases,
$42. Released July 2013. From JCO Limited Wine by Joseph C. Otos. Grapes are from a 7-acre high-altitude
vineyard. A mix of Dijon and Mariafeld clones.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The nose is savory
with predominant aromas of dried herbs, bark and tea leaf. Some red cherry and spice shows up over time in
the glass. Juicy and bright, offering light to mid weight flavors of red cherries and berries with an herbal and
oak (tobacco and mocha) underpinning, finishing a bit shallow.
2011 Woodenhead Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 144 cases, $38. Unfined and unfiltered.
reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is spicy and smoky with plenty of black cherry and black raspberry
fruit aromas. Very tasty mid weight core of darker stone and berry fruits with a spice overlay. The wine is juicy
and refreshing, with suave tannins and a good cut of underlying acidity. The finish is crisp and satisfying.