Recent Sips of California Pinot Noir
Couloir Wines, Santa Rosa
Owner and winemaker Jon Grant, crafts single-vineyard Pinot Noirs from various California appellations under
the Couloir Wines label and value-priced varietal wines highlighting varietal character under the Straight Line
Wine label. Couloir refers to a steep mountainside gorge, reflecting Grant’s love for ski mountaineering. While
managing a wine store at Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah, he began overseeing the wine programs for the resort’s
six fine-dining rooms. Before starting his own label, he worked at several Napa Valley wineries including Turley
Wine Cellars, PlumpJack Winery, Corison Wines and Robert Mondavi Winery. The winery’s tasting room is
located in historic downtown Tiburon. Check the website at www.couloirwines.com for hours.
2013 Straight Line Marin County Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 332 cases, $32. 40% whole cluster. Aged 12
months in 100% French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A simple but
accommodating wine with aromas and flavors of black cherry, black raspberry, spice, savory herbs and toasty
oak. Modest in weight and attack with balanced tannins and a short finish.
2013 Couloir Chileno Valley Vineyard Marin County Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., 194 cases, $44. 35%whole cluster. Aged 12
months in 100% French oak barrels, 30% new.
deep red color in the glass. The nose really perks up the
senses with flamboyant aromas of red cherry and boysenberry.
Expansive and layered on the palate, with impressive attack and
finish featuring flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and
spice. Amazing fruit intensity for Marin County and spectacular phenolic
ripeness at a relatively low ABV. A very pleasing wine with balanced
tannins and acidity, a silky texture, and an intense finish featuring sweet
black cherry and berry flavors with real length.
2013 Couloir John Sebastiano Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 193 cases, $52. 35% whole
cluster. Aged 12 months in 100% French oak barrels, 30% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the
glass. Subdued, but pleasant aromas of crushed berries, pomegranate and a whisper of toasty oak. Intense,
concentrated, yet vibrant, with flavors of sweet boysenberry, blueberry and pomegranate in a mid weight plus
style. The oak is nicely integrated, the modest tannins are supportive, and the juicy finish is fueled by vibrant
acidity typical of the Sta. Rita Hills. This vineyard impresses me of late in vineyard-designated wines made by several producers.
2013 Couloir Monument Tree Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 166 cases, $48. 50%
whole cluster. Aged 12 months in 100% French oak barrels, 20% new.
Moderately light red color in the glass.
Affable aromas of cherry, forest floor and spicy oak. Discreetly concentrated core of black cherry and black
raspberry fruits offering very good entry richness leads to a persistent finish featuring plenty of sweet cherry
goodness. The tannins are nicely tucked in creating an easy drinking experience.
2013 Couloir Campbell Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 240 cases, $58. 50% whole cluster.
Aged 12 months in 100% French oak barrels, 33% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose
mixes aromas of fresh cherries with red currants and candied apple. On entry, the wine saturates the palate
with flavorful cherry and berry fruits and persists with a vengeance through a glorious finish replete with highly
aromatic fruit. Beautifully crafted, with balanced tannins and shear beauty of flavor.
Dutton Estate, Sebastopol
This winery specializes in vineyard-designated Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc from the
1150 acres of the Dutton family’s estate vineyards in the Green Valley, Russian River Valley and Sonoma
Coast appellations. Dutton Ranch, which now farms over eighty unique vineyards, was founded in 1964 by
noted Sonoma County viticulturist Warren Dutton. The winery was established in 1995 by Joe and Tracy Dutton
as Sebastopol Vineyards. Sebastopol Vineyards became a label offering a broader representation of
appellations. Visit www.duttonestate.com.
2013 Dutton Estate Manzana Vineyard-Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., pH
3.45, TA 0.61, 133 cases, $54. This vineyard is located in the heart of Green Valley and was planted in
Goldridge soil to “828” and 115 in 2001. 100% de-stemmed, cold soak, aged 10 months in 100% French oak
barrels, 33% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed, very ripe fruit liquor including
aromas of black raspberries, black plum and cassis. A mix of dark red and black fruits are modestly
concentrated but flavorful, and complimented by suave tannins. A finishing burst of fruit is the wine’s best
2013 Dutton Estate Thomas Road Vineyard-Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.49, TA 0.59, 124 cases, $54.
Thomas Road Vineyard was planted to clone 115 in 1997 in rocky
Sebastopol Goldridge-type soil. 100% de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak,
aged 10 months in 100% French oak barrels, 36% new.
cherry red color in the glass. Hi-tone aromas of cherry pie glaze, red
berry jam and spicy oak lead to a middleweight array of red fruit flavors
enhanced by a hint of baking spices. The wine offers impressive
harmony, supple tannins, and an enchanting finish replete with dried
E16 takes its name from 3rd generation winegrower Robert Jones’ estate vineyard that is located off El Dorado
County Highway E16 in the Sierra Foothills appellation of Fairplay. Today, Robert searches beyond El Dorado
County lines to secure select blocks of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for his E16 label. Veteran (30 vintages)
winemaker Daniel Moore produces the wines in Sebastopol in a facility geared toward ultra premium Pinot Noir
2013 E16 E16 Selection Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.58, 546 cases, $38.
Primarily a blend of two Russian River Valley vineyards (Trenton Road and Hawks Roost) with 13% from
Anderson Valley, Bennett Valley and the Santa Lucia Highlands. Barrels are chosen that impress in youth.
Aged 11 months in 100% French oak barrels.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The nose
offers a fragrant mix of cherry, sous-bois mushroom and oak aromas. Quite savory and earthy on the palate,
with flavors of black cherry, tea, and cola, and admirable length and intensity on the juicy, cherry-driven finish.
2013 E16 Trenton 1880 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
TA 0.57, 372 cases, $48. Sourced from Relgnis Family Vineyard owned
by Mary and Joseph Relgnis. An homage to the first grapevines planted
in old town Trenton. Clone 667. Aged 11 months in 100% French oak
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Highly inviting
nose with aromas of cherry-soaked oak and violets. Very tasty black
cherry core with accents of crystallized berry, cola and mocha, framed by
modest tannins. Soft in the mouth with a good cut of acidity on the finish
which packs a little heat.
2013 E16 Upper Bench Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.58, 370 cases, $38.
Sourced from Escolle Vineyard, Pommard clone. Aged 11 months in 100% French oak barrels, 30% new.
Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Lovely scent of mashed red cherries, strawberries
and sandalwood. Light to mid weight flavors of strawberries, cherries and spice. Very elegant and refined,
with fine-grain tannins tucked in and juicy acidity providing vibrancy. Not as brawny as many Santa Lucia
Highlands Pinot Noirs, with more personality. This wine reminds me of wines from Rosella’s Vineyard.
2013 E16 Bowland Ranch Bennett Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.58, 295 cases, $42. Sourced
from 3 blocks of Pommard clone picked at different Brix and co-fermented. Aged 11 months in 100% French
oak barrels. Unfiltered.
Medium reddish purple color in the glass. The nose offers aromas of wooded forest and
oak without any fruit even over a long time in the glass. Mid weight plus flavors of black cherry, black plum and
spice with oak in the background. Pleasant but not exceptional with modest length and intensity on the finish.
The mouth is soft and appealing. A fair amount of tannin and quite a bit of oak shows up on the finish.
2013 E16 The West End Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.63, TA 0.57, 369 cases, $55. Sourced
from a single vineyard at the extreme north end of the Anderson Valley. Clones 667 and Pommard 4. Aged 11
months in 100% French oak barrels. Unfiltered.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose
resonates with aromas of black cherry, darker berries, pine and pencil shavings. The mid weight flavors of
black cherry, black raspberry and blackberry merge into a magical blend. A hint of spice and herbs add
interest. The mouth feel is like touching purple velvet. Nicely composed with good balanced t n’ a and a fruity
Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery, Healdsburg
Winemaker Theresa Heredia joined Gary Farrell in early 2012 so the 2013 wines represent the first complete
vintage under her watch. Gary Farrell and his successor Susan Reed, who preceded Theresa, maintained a
very high standard for this winery, but based on my tasting of these early 2013 releases, I believe Theresa has
taken the standard to an even higher level. I admired her winemaking skills at Freestone Vineyards where she
worked previously, and these wines reinforced my high regard. Having top notch vineyards at her disposable is
a big plus. The 2013 harvest was unusual in that Chardonnay ripeness advanced more quickly than Pinot Noir
when the order is usually the opposite. Gary Farrell is open weekdays for tasting. Visit
2013 Gary Farrell Bacigalupi Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.1% alc., pH 3.35, TA 0.72,
357 cases, $50. The historic block of head-trained and cordon-trained vines planted in 1967 is one of the main
components of this wine. Released May 2015. Harvest Bris 22.0º-23.0º. Whole cluster pressed, chilled,
settled, inoculated with Montrachet yeast. Aged sur lies 8 months in 100% French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. The scents of citrus oil, apple, blonde caramel, spice, toffee
and smoky oak are intriguing. Slightly viscous on the palate, with bright flavors of lemon-lime, pineapple, apple
and nutty oak. Easy to cozy up to with thirst-quenching acidity.
2013 Gary Farrell Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.1% alc., pH 3.40, TA 0.65, 568
cases, $55. Released May 2015. The majority of the grapes come from River Block clone 5 planted in 1989
with the balance from the Mid-40s Block, a field selection planted in 1993, and Allen Block 1, clone 15, planted
in 1995. The partnership between Gary Farrell Winery and Rochioli Vineyard began more than 30 years ago.
Harvest Brix 22.0º-23.0º. Whole cluster pressed, chilled, settled, inoculated with Montrachet yeast and
transferred to 100% French oak barrels, 35% new, where the wine was aged for 8 months.
golden yellow color in the glass. Aromatically alive with scents of lemon, honey, and dried mango. Powerful
fruit flavors of lemon curd, nectarine and apricot tempered by citrus-fueled acidity that brings the fruit alive.
The wine picks up fruit intensity over time in the glass and really imposes its will, demanding respect.
2013 Gary Farrell Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., pH 3.41, TA
0.65, 507 cases, $65. Released May 2015. Gary Farrell Winery has sourced fruit from this historic
vineyard for more than 20 years and is one of the fortunate few to source some of the Pommard
selection from the legendary Q Block, considered the most prestigious Pinot Noir block on this famous
site. De-stemmed with a small percentage of whole clusters, 5 to 7-day cold soak, 10 to 15 days of
extended maceration. Pressed gently off the skins and seeds, inoculated for malolactic fermentation,
and racked into French oak barrels, 40% of which were new. Aged 14 months on primary lees, racked
once just before bottling.
Light garnet color in the glass. The nose blossoms over time in the glass, offering
aromas of cherry, strawberry, herbs, spice and sandalwood. Light to mid weight flavors of cherry and raspberry
are accented with hints of oak vanillin. Soft and supple in the mouth with juicy acidity and modest fine-grain
tannins. Very easy to like with a generous finish that lasts and lasts. This is a delicate wine that really delivers
flavor and persistence. The finish seals the deal for me.
2013 Gary Farrell Toboni Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.50, TA 0.63, 694 cases, $55.
Released May 2015. Toboni Oakwild Ranch is located in the
Santa Rosa Plain. Planted in 2001 to 115, 667, 777 and
Pommard. Partially de-stemmed, 5 to 7-day cold soak, 10 to 15-
days extended maceration post fermentation, aged 9 months
sur lies in 100% French oak barrels, 40% new. Racked off
primary lees once just before bottling.
Moderately light reddish purple
color in the glass. Deep aromas of dark red cherries and berries with
many subtle nuances including spice, citrus zest, and wine cave. The
nose becomes more generous over time in the glass and it is hard to
take your nose away from the glass. The lively fruit flavors of black
cherry, black raspberry and pomegranate are very seductive. The tannins are silky and the remarkably intense
and lip-smacking finish resonates for at least a minute. Wines from this vineyard can be meaty and gamey, but
this version is more fruity and vibrant. I guarantee you will love this wine. It is the best I have ever tasted
from this vineyard.
Morgan Winery, Salinas
Daniel Morgan Lee has played a major role in Santa Lucia Highlands’ modern wine history. A University of
California at Davis graduate, he and his wife, Donna, launched Morgan Winery in their spare time in 1982 while
Lee was making wine at Durney. In 1984, they moved into their own winery in Salinas, and released their first
Pinot Noir in 1988. The core of the wine program is the estate Double L Vineyard, a 48.5-acre mix of different
clonal selections of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah and Riesling. Neighbors include Sleepy Hollow Vineyard,
Rosella’s Vineyard and Garys’ Vineyard. A variety of Pinot Noirs are offered including the entry-level Twelve
Clones Santa Lucia Highlands appellation blend, and multiple single vineyard wines, all from Santa Lucia
Highlands vineyards. The wines are consistently superb, and what one would expect from a veteran
winemaker who has worked in the region for over 35 years. Dan told me that the 2013 vintage was slightly
early, with focused, low yields, and very “clean” fruit. A tasting room is located in Carmel. The excellent wines
are available online at www.morganwinery.com.
2013 Morgan Twelve Clones Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.51, TA 0.59, 12,713
cases, $34. Primarily from the estate Double L Vineyard with the balance from some of the best neighboring
Santa Lucia Highlands properties. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 44% new.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. Inviting aromas of earth-dusted black cherry and spice. Very soft in the mouth, with
vivid flavors of black raspberry, black cherry, black tea, anise and spice. Nicely composed with suave tannins
and some length and grip on the satisfying finish.
2013 Morgan Double L Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.4% alc.m pH 3.51, TA 0.59, 1,211 cases, $58. 100% from estate
certified organic grapes. A selection of best barrels go into this limited
release. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 50% new.
reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely scent of black cherry with a
compliment of oak. Delicious mid weight core of dark red fruits framed
by firm but balanced tannins. Very comforting, with a smooth, caressing
mouthfeel, and a finish that is uncommonly long and intense and fueled
by a refreshing cut of acidity.
2013 Morgan Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., pH 3.39, TA 0.62, 118 cases,
$58. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. A smaller release in this vintage as replanting of the
vineyard is ongoing.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose draws you into the glass with
the scent of a darker fruit basket. Soft and polished on the palate, with impressive length and intensity. Black
cherry is the featured fruit with a slight note of spice, oak and citrus in the background. A noticeable acid
underbelly provides vibrancy and lift to the intense finish. More acid-driven than usual for Garys’ Vineyard.
Paul Lato, Santa Maria Valley
Paul Lato crafts small lots of vineyard-designated Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc from
premium vineyards in the Central Coast of California. Working out of an unadorned winery in a large
warehouse at Central Coast Wine Services in Santa Maria Valley, he started out modestly, shunning investors,
and achieved considerable success on his own merits. Paul has a knack for finding the “sweet spot” in
vineyards, seeking out the most treasured blocks and rows. He is a passionate winemaker who consistently
offers wines of exceptional quality, and not surprisingly, has a large dedicated following that quickly snap up his
wines each vintage. You won’t see his wines reviewed in major wine publications.
The 2013 vintage is Paul’s twelfth release and the number of wines produced has increased. Some offerings
were as small as two barrels. Increasing production is a challenge for Paul as he continues to uphold his high
standards of authenticity. As he says, “It’s a challenge, but the kind I feel honored to have.” Paul said that 2013
was a year of “supreme balance,” with low yields bringing out a real focus to the fruit. He said, “I believe these
2013 wines are the best wines I’ve ever made.” 2013 Pinot Noirs I did not taste include “The Prospect” Sierra
Madre Vineyard Pinot Noir, “Seabiscuit” Zotovich Vineyard Pinot Noir, “Belle de jour” Hilliard Bruce Vineyard
Chardonnaym “Le Souvenir” Sierra Madre Vineyard Chardonnay, “East of Eden” Pisoni Vineyard Chardonnay,
and “Kokoro” Santa Barbara County Chardonnay.
There are now three 3-star Michelin restaurants in Tokyo serving Paul Lato wines to complement the three in
the US, and restaurants in Germany and Switzerland are also now featuring the wines. Tasting is available by
appointment. Visit www.paullatowines.com.
2013 Paul Lato “Kokoro” Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $90. This wine was originally
produced solely for the high-end Japanese market, but is now being offered to the mailing list as a sign of
appreciation. The wine is sourced from a number of vineyards in the Paul Lato portfolio. “Kokoro” is a
Japanese word that means “from the heart.” 70% new French oak. Unfiltered.
Moderate reddish purple color in
the glass. The nose leads with aromas of black cherry, ash, tobacco and vanilla. Modest in weight, but very
flavorful, with tastes of black raspberry, black cherry and boysenberry accented with oak-driven spice and
toast. Quite elegant with modest tannins, some finishing power and a touch of warmth at the silky end.
2013 Paul Lato “Suerte” Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $75.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, strawberry, earth, mushroom
and peat. Mid weight black cherry and blackberry flavors with a hint of spice, black tea, anise and oak. Elegant
with supple tannins and good length on the finish. Shows the most oak overlay of any of the 2013 Pinot Noirs
tasted. A solid, even exceptional wine, but not my favorite Solomon Hills bottling.
2013 Paul Lato “Duende” Gold Coast Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $65. 30-year-old
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely perfume of strawberry preserves,
cherries, and spice. Light to mid weight charming flavors of ripe strawberries with a compliment of oak.
Elegant and silky on the palate, sporting suave tannins and a finishing burst of strawberry goodness. A
2013 Paul Lato “The Contender” Drum Canyon Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $75.
Inaugural vintage for this source. Unfiltered.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Shy, but
pleasant aromas of dark berries and pomegranate juice with a hint of rose petal and pork cracklings.
Noticeably intense on the attack but polished on the palate offering mid weight flavors of cherry and raspberry
with a hint of oak vanillin in the background. Impressive length and power on a glorious finish that urges
2013 Paul Lato “Atticus” John Sebastiano Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $70. Unfiltered.
purple color in the glass. This wine stands out from the crowd.
Enticing perfume of black raspberry jam, tobacco oak and nori.
Effortless and harmonious, with racy flavors of black raspberry,
boysenberry and plum attacking with intent and persisting
through a finish that won’t quit. The oak is very complimentary, the
tannins are balanced, and the acidity is spot on. Stay for the finish.
2013 Paul Lato “Lancelot” Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., $85. Unfiltered.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas and flavors of cherry, cranberry, raspberry and
sandalwood in an unusually elegant and refined style for Pisoni Vineyard. The nose is particularly stunning.
Very classy, with suave tannins, impeccable harmony, and a finish to shout about. A very charming wine.
Rivers-Marie, Napa Valley
Winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown is a Napa Valley superstar winemaker for several high-scoring Cabernet
Sauvignon wines from multiple producers who indulges his love of Pinot Noir with single-vineyard bottlings of
Sonoma Coast produced under his own Rivers-Marie label. The wines are highly treasured by a cadre of
followers who snap up each vintage on the release day each year. Production is less than 1,500 cases so
managing allocations is more challenging for Thomas than crafting his coveted wines. If you are not currently
on the mailing list, your only source is the secondary market, as there is reportedly several thousand wine
lovers on the waiting list. Visit www.riversmarie.com. The wines are bold and extracted in this vintage (except
for the Summa Old Vines), and I would not be in a hurry to pop the corks except on the Sonoma Coast bottling.
2013 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $25.
Moderately dark reddish purple
color in the glass. Aromatically pleasing with scents of dark fruits, sous-bois and complimentary oak.
Rich and sappy flavors of blackberry, cassis and pomegranate with a touch of spice. A generous,
juicy wine without subtlety, but with suave tannins, easy approachability and a tenacious finish.
2013 Rivers-Marie Gioia Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $50.
Moderate reddish purple
color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, mulch and green garden. More appealing on the palate, with flavors
of spicy black cherry, purple berries, plum, dark chocolate and oak with a savory herbal vein in the background.
The wine offers a good attack and fruit tenacity in the mouth but lacks some length and intensity on the finish.
More polish than the Sonoma Coast bottling and shows a deft touch of oak. Overall, the wine wants for inspiration.
It was tasted a day and two days after opening and remained unchanged.
2013 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $50.
reddish purple color in the glass. The best nose in this 2013 lineup of Rivers-Marie Pinot Noirs, sporting
effusive aromas of black cherry tart, spice and underbrush. Sweet, sappy flavors of boysenberry, blackberry
and pomegranate explode on the palate in this bold and luscious wine. Despite its richness, the wine is slick
and refined, with balanced tannins and a very long finish. An angelic fruit bomb.
2013 Rivers-Marie Silver Eagle Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $50.
purple color in the glass. Brooding nose that reluctantly gives up shy aromas of dark stone and berry fruits
over time in the glass. Plenty of fruit load, but light on its feat, featuring purple and black fruits with a hint of
dark chocolate and cola. Polished tannins and admirable oak integration, finishing with some generosity.
When tasted a day later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the aromas were more uplifting and the
wine was more open and expressive.
2013 Rivers-Marie Kanzler Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $50.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. This is a
striking wine that stands out in this vintage. The nose offers bright
aromas of blackberry jam, potpourri, violets and smoky oak. Lovely fruit
presence in a mid weight plus style that offers impressive harmony. The
purple and black berry flavors are complimented by a hint of smoky oak
and show expansive power in the mouth and on the finish.
2013 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., $75.
Moderate reddish purple
color in the glass. The aromas and flavors of cherry, cranberry relish, dried herbs, sandalwood and pine sap
are quite appealing. A charming wine that fills the mouth with fruit goodness, and recedes very smoothly on
the finish which has good grip and length. Not a blockbuster, and not the best Summa Old Vines I have had,
but a very suave wine that satisfies.
Reuling Vineyards, Forestville
Jim and Jackie Reuling own a 14.4-acre Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyard (12.2-acres of Pinot Noir
including Calera selection and two different “suitcase” selections from the Vosne-Romanée region of Burgundy)
and 2.2 acres of Chardonnay from Montrachet Vineyard in Burgundy) in Forestville in the Sonoma Coast
appellation. The vineyard was originally planted in 2003 in conjunction with Peter Michael Winery and used in
Peter Michael La Caprice Pinot Noir in 2007 and 2008. After this, Aubert bottled a critically acclaimed Pinot
Noir and Chardonnay from the vineyard until 2011, when the owners hired Matt Taylor as the winemaker and
vineyard manager to produce Reuling Vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The 2011 Pinot Noir debuted in
2013 and the Chardonnay in the spring of 2014. Visit www.reulingvineyard.com.
2013 Reuling Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.0% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.49, 325 cases, $70. Whole
cluster pressed to barrel, native yeast fermentations, barrel fermented. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels,
Light golden yellow color in the glass. Delicate aromas of lemon oil, nut oil, brioche, and petrichor.
On the palate, the citrus, white peach and honey flavors are vivid, accented with a flattering note of toasty oak.
A bright vein of acidity brings a refreshing bent to the overall experience. The wine leaves a lemon butter,
saline-imbued finishing sensation that is mouthwatering, and calls for another sip.
2013 Reuling Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., pH
3.86, TA 0.50, 475 cases, $70. Harvest Brix 22.7º-23.0º. Reuling “L”
clone 60% whole cluster, Calera clone 30% whole cluster, and Reuling
“R” clone 30% whole cluster. No cold soak. The 3 clones were
fermented in separate tanks. 100% native yeasts. Aged 10 months in
100% French oak barrels, 33% new.
Medium reddish purple hue in the
glass. A high-class wine that offers appealing aromas of cherries, dried
rose petal and spice. Mid weight flavors of black cherry, black raspberry,
spice and earth are very polished. The fruit fills the mouth with layers of
goodness, and persists through a satisfying oak-kissed black cherry
finish. Great harmony in this wine that has the structure and balance to
age. Even better the following day from a previously opened and recorked
Sojourn Wine Cellars, Sonoma
Based in the town of Sonoma, Sojourn Cellars is a highly acclaimed winery specializing in Pinot Noir,
Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Fruit is sourced from vineyards in both Sonoma and Napa counties,
where vineyard operations are directed by the Sojourn team. The winemaker is Erich Bradley and associate
winemaker is Randy Bennett. A Tasting Salon is located just off the Plaza in downtown Sonoma. Seated
tastings are available daily by appointment. Visit www.sojourncellars.com.
Later in 2015, Sojourn will be releasing a 2012 Reuling Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. The 2013 wines
are rich in color and steeped in more flavor concentration than the 2012 vintage wines.
2013 Sojourn Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.1% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.60, 600 cases, $38. Release in spring
2015. A blend from several vineyards including Sangiacomo Vella and Green Acres ranches, Sangiacomo
Roberts Road Vineyard, Durell Vineyard, and Campbell Ranch Vineyard. Each component was fermented
separately with native yeast in French oak barrels, 30% new and underwent 100% malolactic fermentation.
Regular lees stirring was performed during the first three months of fermentation and aging. After 11 months,
the components were blend to create a winemaker’s cuvée, and bottled unfined.
Moderate golden yellow color
and clear in the glass. Aromas of lemon cake, nutty spread and floral bouquet. Some richness of lemon,
honey and caramel flavor with a noticeable oak overlay. Slightly creamy, finishing with a subtle saline note.
2013 Sojourn Sangiacomo Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.1% alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.62, 325 cases,
$45. Release in spring 2015. A combination of Old Wente clone from Sangiacomo Vella Ranch (planted in
1997) and clone 95 from Roberts Road Vineyard (planted in 1998). Whole cluster pressed, 100% malolactic
fermentation, aged in French oak barrels, 30% new and bottled unfined.
Moderate golden yellow color in the
glass. A refined and classy wine with aromas of pear, melon and lychee. Crisp flavors of citrus, pear and nutty
oak are complimentary. Very clean with good cut and a refreshing finish.
2013 Sojourn Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.69, TA 0.56, 1,750 cases, $39. Release in spring
2015. A blend of eight lots from the Sojourn stall of vineyard sources with Gap’s Crown and Sangiacomo
vineyards making up the majority of the blend. A mix of clones 115, “828,” 667, Pommard and 2A. 100% destemmed,
native yeast fermentation, aged in 50% new French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very fragrant with vibrant aromas of black cherry, raspberry,
cardamom spice and a hint of toast and smoke. Mid weight plus core of earth-kissed flavors of black cherry,
black raspberry, cassis, black tea and dark chocolate brownie. Nicely balanced tannins, good vibrancy, and a
lengthy finish boasting plenty of spiced plum flavor. A very good AVA wine.
2013 Sojourn Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.60, 1,025 cases, $59. Release in spring 2015.
Gap’s Crown is located on Roberts Road just above the Sangiacomo
Vineyard. “828,” 115, and 667 clones. 10% whole cluster (the “828” was
fermented with stems). Native yeast fermentation, aged in 50% new
French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
purple color in the glass. Subdued aromas of darker fruits, forest floor
and spice. Welcome attack of luscious dark red and blue fruits including
blueberry and pomegranate. Refined and silky in the mouth with eyeopening
intensity and length on the big finish.
2013 Sojourn Sangiacomo Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.58, 1,250 cases,
$54. Vineyard is located on Roberts Road at the base of Sonoma Mountain. Clone 115, 777, and small
amounts of Swan selection. 100% de-stemmed, native yeast fermentation, aged in 50% new French oak
barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The deep aroma of
cherries is accented with scents of wooded forest, bark and potpourri. Redder fruits are featured in this
middleweight wine which offers crisp, clean flavors, modest fine-grain tannins and a pleasing cherry-fueled
finish kissed by oak.
2013 Sojourn Rodgers Creek Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.57, 700 cases,
$48. Release in spring 2015. From a vineyard located in the Petaluma Gap. Pommard ( a portion of which is
fermented whole cluster) and 777 clones. Native yeast fermentation, aged in 50% new French oak barrels.
Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherry and
raspberry are accented with notes of seasoned oak and stem. Light in weight but flavorful, with a vivid core of
cherry fruit framed by an herbal tone. Well-balanced, with a refreshing and intensely flavored cherry-themed
Twomey Wine Cellars, Healdsburg
Twomey Cellars was started to produce varietals in California beyond Cabernet Sauvignon. The Duncan family
used 40 years of winemaking experience to create Merlot, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. The Pinot Noir and
Sauvignon Blanc are produced at the company’s winery on Westside Road in Healdsburg where a tasting room
is also located. Daniel Baron was Twomey’s founding winemaker and continues as Twomey Director of
Winemaking to oversee production. Erin Miller was appointed the new Pinot Noir winemaker in 2014. She
formerly had stints at Hartford Family Winery and Evening Land Vineyards. The Twomey tasting room in
Healdsburg is architecturally impressive and a wonderfully relaxing spot to taste Pinot. Visit
2014 Twomey Sauvignon Blanc
13.7% alc., $25, screwcap. Released April 25, 2015. 52% Napa
County and 48% Sonoma County.
Light golden yellow color in the glass. Highly aromatic with effusive
aromas of peach, mango, lemon and a faint grassiness. Intensely flavored with layers of fruits
including pineapple, passion fruit, white peach and apricot. Thoroughly satisfying with bright acidity and
a razor-sharp, stone fruit-charged finish. An extraordinary wine.
2013 Twomey Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $50. Released
April 25, 2015. Sourced from estate owned and sustainably farmed
Monument Tree Vineyard and sustainably farmed Ferrington Vineyard.
Aged 12 months sur lies in 100% French oak barrels, 32% new.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Very fragrant initially
with aromas of black cherry, black raspberry and smoky oak. Delicious
core of strawberry raspberry and cherry fruits framed by mellow tannins.
Good vibrancy and tension, with admirable finesse and balance, finishing
long with a charge of cherry goodness.
2013 Twomey Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $50. Released April 25, 2015. Sourced from
estate owned and sustainably farmed Last Stop Ranch, estate managed West Pin Vineyard and sustainably
farmed Bailey Family Vineyard. Aged 12 months sur lies in 100% French oak barrels, 37% new.
reddish purple color in the glass. This wine has a typical Russian River Valley profile with aromas and flavors
of Bing cherries, cola, rhubarb and spice. It is a rather delicate wine that is very smoothly textured and elegant,
but is a bit shallow in the mid palate and finish.
2013 Twomey Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., $50. Released April 25, 2015. Sourced from
sustainably farmed Gap’s Crown Vineyard, sustainably farmed Bailey Family Vineyard, and estate owned and
sustainably farmed Last Stop Ranch. Aged 13 months sur lies in 100% French oak barrels, 37% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of berry mash and sous-bois. Intense flavors of
boysenberry and black raspberry on entry, expanding to fill the mouth with sweet, sappy fruit. Substantial ripe
fruit tannins are supportive and the persistent finish is expansive and intensely fruity. The most penetrating fruit
of the three 2013 appellation wines tasted here.
2013 Bogle Vineyards California Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.53, $9.99. Released
December 2014. Grapes were sourced from Russian River Valley, Monterey hills, and Clarksburg
Delta. Aged 10 months in French and American oak.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass.
Highly aromatic, with scents of black cherry, black raspberry, spice, rose and vanilla persisting over
time in the glass. Plenty of tasty dark berry and dark stone fruit accented with spice and vanilla
from complimentary oak. The broad-shouldered tannins are well matched to the fruit load, making
the wine easy to drink. This wine will stand up to substantial, hearty foods. It reminds me of the
highly popular Meiomi California Pinot Noir in style and flavor. A crazy value. I challenge you to find a better
California Pinot Noir at this price! Widely distributed.
2014 Red Car Sonoma Coast Rosé of Pinot Noir
alc., $28. Backbone is from the biodynamically farmed
Bybee Vineyard in Sebastopol Hills. Pinot Noir was harvested
at 21º Brix, whole cluster pressed off skins immediately, and
fermented with wild yeast in a mix of stainless steel and
Delicate orange color in the glass. An
exceptional rosé with a fragrant perfume of strawberries and
blood orange juice and flavors of Rainier cherry, strawberry, and yellow
peach. Bright, crisp and bone dry, with a lip-smacking finish that begs
another sip. Chill, serve, chill.
2013 Valerie’s Vineyard One Acre Carneros Pinot Noir
93 cases, $40. Winemaker Jeff McBride (Benziger Family Winery). Aged 18 months in French oak barrels.
reddish purple color in the glass. A very savory wine with aromas of herbs, sous-bois and cigar box.
Middleweight flavors of black cherry, blueberry and black raspberry with a riff of grilled mushroom and sweet
oak in the background. Very earthy, with satiny tannins and some finishing length. I liked it more over time in