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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 cancer research. · 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. Score: 87

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. Score: 90

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 enjoyable. Score: 92

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. Score: 86

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. · Moderate reddish 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. Score: 92

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 French oak. · 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. Score: 91

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. Score: 92

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. Score: 89

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. Score: 90

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. Score: 90

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. Score: 89

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. · Moderately dark 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. Score: 89

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. Score: 88

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. Score: 90

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 oak. · 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. Score: 89

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 cellar. Score: 89

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 French oak. · 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. Score: 92

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. Score: 90

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. · Moderate 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. Score: 94

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. · Moderate ruby 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 glass. Score: 92

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. Score: 89

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. Score: 90

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. Score: 87

2011 Woodenhead Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., 144 cases, $38. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate 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. Score: 90

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