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Many Very Good to Extraordinary California Pinot Noirs Tasted Recently

I received an unusually large number of wines to review recently, a number of which were extraordinary. I am going to get straight to the reviews, with little or no background verbiage.



Balletto Vineyards This winery makes all of its wines from sustainably-farmed estate vineyards located in the southern third of the Russian River Valley. It is one of the few Russian River Valley wineries to be 100% estate grown and estate bottled.

2013 Balletto Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.56, 9,550 cases. $29. Estate grown from 7 different vineyards. Aged in 100% French oak barrels, 36% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. This is a wine that aims to please with inviting scents of Bing cherry, spice, sandalwood and vanilla. Lighter in weight and offering welcoming elegance, the core of cherry fruit is juicy and flavorful, and balanced with supple tannins. Simple and straightforward, but a very good daily drinker. Score: 89



CARR An urban winery established by Ryan Carr in 1999 producing 4,500 cases annually in downtown Santa Barbara. The wines are consistently excellent and available for tasting at The Barrel Room in downtown Santa Barbara and The Warehouse in Santa Ynez.

2013 CARR Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 404 cases, $35. Released March 2015. A blend of 3 vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills. Clones 113, 114, 115, 667, 777, and Pommard. Aged 12 months in 100% French oak barrels, 15% new. · Medium reddish purple hue in the glass. Aromas and flavors of plum sauce, black grapes, black currants in a soft, creamy, light to mid weight, riper fruit style that is a bit shallow on the palate. The modest tannins make for easy approachability, but oak plays too big a role. Score: 87

2013 CARR Turner Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 198 cases, $50. Released March 2015. 21-acre (15 acres of Pinot Noir), organically farmed vineyard planted in 2000 by Ryan Carr. Clones 113, 777 and Pommard. Aged 15 months in 100% French oak barrels, 15% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Medium reddish purple hue in the glass. The nose is not very expressive, even over time in the glass with vigorous swirling, only revealing demure scents of earthy darker fruits. The boysenberry and blackberry fruit flavors are nicely spiced but lack a bit of intensity on the attack and finish. The overall harmony is good with balanced tannins. A solid, but not exceptional wine. Score: 89

2013 CARR The Yard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 195 cases, $50. Released March 2015. An 18- acre vineyard planted by Ryan Carr in 1998. Clones 113, 114, 115 and 667. Aged 15 months in 100% French oak barrels, 15% new. · Medium reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is very appealing for its hi-tone black cherry, black raspberry and vanilla aromas. Very soft and smooth on the palate, with an amalgam of dark cherry, black raspberry and marionberry fruits that is inviting. The tannins are folded in and the juicy acidity brings the wine to life, especially on the vibrant and fruity finish. Score: 92

2013 CARR The Yard 114 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 56 cases, $60. Released March 2015. 18-acre vineyard planted by Ryan Carr in 1998. The site is unique in that it has heavy limestone content in the soils. Aged 15 months in 100% French oak barrels, 15% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. This is a highly unique and delicious wine that offers aromas of dried fruit leather and spice and flavors of dark red and black pie berries. Layered and seamless, with a seductive softness in the mouth, and a huge finish, this luscious wine is delightful. A rarely seen clone 114 bottling that is heaven sent. Score: 94



2014 CrossBarn by Paul Hobbs Sonoma Coast Rosé of Pinot Noir

12.9% alc., $18, screwcap. · Moderate pink color in the glass. Lovely perfume of fresh crush strawberries and cranberries. Very satisfying with great fruit clarity and definition, offering flavors of blood orange, yellow peach and cranberry with a welcome riff of herbs and citrus in the background. Impressive richness of flavor and length. A terrific rosè at a pleasing price. Stock up for summer. Score: 91

2013 CrossBarn by Paul Hobbs Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $35, screwcap. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Bright aromas of black cherry, sous-bois and cedary oak that pick up intensity over time in the glass. Mid weight flavors of black cherry and blueberry offering a flowing mid palate attack and some finishing drive. A solid wine, with integrated tannins and complimentary oak seasoning. Score: 89

2013 CrossBarn by Paul Hobbs Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $35, screwcap. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Shy fruit aromas dominated by nutty oak. Middleweight core of cherry, raspberry and strawberry fruits with a noticeable oak overlay. Juicy, with soft tannins, and a dry red-fruited finish. A pleasantly forward wine. Score: 87



2013 DELLA Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 300 cases, $60. Released March 2015. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Deep aromas of black cherry and cola. Luscious, mid weight plus core of black cherry and blackberry fruits framed by spice and cola. The fruits veers to the very ripe side, but doesn’t cross over. Refined, with moderate but not harsh tannins, finishing with some juicy expansiveness, and a little heat. Succulent but not nuanced. Score: 88

2013 DELLA Keefer Ranch Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 150 cases, $70. Release August 2015. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Thoroughly enjoyable, with hi-pitched aromas of crushed cherries and cake spice. Impressive polish and balance, this sophisticated offering features flavors of dark cherries and berries, nicely integrated gentle tannins, and a silky smooth mouthfeel. Score: 92

2013 DELLA Terra de Promissio Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 50 cases, $70. Release August 2015. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, strawberry, seasoned oak and BBQ spice. Soft and elegant, with flavors of black cherry and black raspberry framed by suave tannins. Highly approachable, with a riff of citrus and a little heat on the finish. Score: 89



2013 Dutton Estate Thomas Road Vineyard-Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.29, TA 0.59, 124 cases, $54. Vineyard located in northeastern part of Green Valley and planted to Dijon clone 115 in 1997. 100% de-stemmed. Aged 10 months in 100% French oak barrels, 36% new. · Moderately light crimson color in the glass. Love the nose which offers penetrating aromas of black cherry and exotic spices including clove. Very flavorful, with a mid weight core of cherry fruit accented with cola and complimented by oak. Wonderful balance with suave tannins and an uplifting, cherry-driven finish. Score: 92

2013 Dutton Estate Manzana Vineyard-Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.45, TA 0.61, 133 cases, $54. Vineyard located in Green Valley. Dijon clones 115 and “828.” 100% destemmed. Aged 10 months in 100% French oak barrels, 33% new. A selection of best barrels from the Manzana lot. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Shy, but pleasing scents of black cherry, boysenberry and oak spice. Packed with ripe and vigorous purple fruits with an aggressive attack and a juicy boysenberry-rich finish that has impressive length. The oak is nicely integrated, the tannins are supple, and the peach skin texture is inviting. Score: 90



Fulcrum I found the vineyard designated wines hard to judge as the nose on all the wines was quite primary, even with extended air time and sampling a day after opening. I believe the wines in this vintage need more time in bottle, and I gave a range of scores as a result.

2013 Fulcrum Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 144 cases, $55. Pommard clone from Donnelly Creek Vineyard. Aged 15 months in 100% French oak barrels, 31% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas and flavors of cherry and spice are complimented by a touch of oak. The tannins are folded in, and the wine finishes with a good cut of acidity and plenty of spice. The nose was still shy the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 89-90

2013 Fulcrum Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 216 cases, $60. Clones 667and “828.” Aged 15 months in 100% French oak barrels, 45% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is very primary with only hints of olive and green tea. Much more expressive on the palate, with a tasty core of cherry fruit, a hint of oak, and a silky mouthfeel. The tannins are well matched to the mid weight plus fruit load, and the wine finishes with a charge of bright red cherry fruit. The nose was more expressive the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle offering the aroma of dark red cherry compote. The fruit flavor was more intense and the silky smooth texture continued to satisfy. Score: 91-92

2013 Fulcrum Landy Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 81 cases, $52. Clones 777, 115 and Pommard. Aged 15 months in 100% French oak barrels, 33% new. · Light cherry red color in the glass. The nose is very shy initially, offering mainly oak-driven scents of wood and tobacco. Similarly shy on the palate, with modest flavors of black cherry, cranberry and cola with an oak overlay. Soft in the mouth and easy to drink, but the fruit lacked expression. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the nose was still primary with no fruit but the flavors had begun to arrive. Score: 87-89

2013 Fulcrum Brousseau Vineyard Chalone AVA Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 135 cases, $56. Clones 113, 114 and 115. Aged 15 months in 100% French oak barrels, 35% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is not open for business with very demure scents of briar, oak, earth and faint cherry. The satiny texture really stands out in this mid weight wine featuring red cherry fruit framed by firm, but integrated, fine-grain tannins. The most elegant of the four 2013 Fulcrum vineyard-designates, but also the most tannic which is typical of this vineyard. The nose still had not blossomed the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, but the palate was more pleasing with softer tannins. Score: 89-90

2013 On Point Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14/0% alc., 282 cases, $36. Sourced from Sangiacomo Vineyard (54%) and Gap’s Crown Vineyard (46%). Clones 667 and “828.” Aged 15 months in 100% French oak barrels, 18% new. · Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Quite fragrant with scents of cherry, red berry and spice. Lighter weighted flavors of red cherry and berry with a slight confected bent, complimented by a note of baking spice and toasty oak. The wine is forward, juicy and likable, with modest tannins, and a cherry-driven finish. Score: 88

2013 On Point Christina’s Cuvée Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 198 cases, $36. Named in honor of winemaker’s spouse. Sourced from Donnelly Creek Vineyard in Anderson Valley. Aged 15 months in 100% French oak barrels, 24% new. · Moderately light reddish purple hue in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, sous-bois and oak. Very tasty flavors of black cherry, black raspberry, dark cola and anise with a hint of cardamom spice. Nicely seasoned with oak, with modest tannins and some finishing presence. A little more body and finish than the On Point Sonoma Coast bottling. Score: 89



2014 Gary Farrell Russian River Valley Selection Russian River Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., pH 3.20, TA 0.75, 268 cases, $28. Released June 2015. Sourced from Wat Vineyard-Dutton Ranch located in the Green Valley of Russian River Valley. Mt. Eden clone. Harvest Brix 21.8º. Whole cluster pressed, 70% stainless steel fermented, 30% fermented in neutral French oak barrels. Entire blend aged 2 months in stainless steel. · Moderate pinkish red color in the glass. Captivating aromas of strawberry, cherry and peach bin. A full-flavored style offering notes of yellow stone and red berry fruits. The wine has polish and some length on the persistent finish that brightens the palate with a good cut of acidity. Score: 90

2013 Gary Farrell Russian River Valley Selection Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.47, TA 0.63, 11,267 cases, $45. Released May 2015. A blend from ten vineyards. Small percentage of whole cluster inclusion. 5 to 7-day cold soak, 10 to 15 day extended maceration post fermentation, aged 9 months in 100% French oak barrels, 35% new. · Quintessential Russian River Valley in character with aromas and flavors of Bing cherry and cola in a luscious style that has enough acidity to keep the fruit vibrant. Oak plays a comforting seasoning role in the background. The finish is notable for its intensity. Score: 89

2013 Gary Farrell Hallberg Vineyard Dijon Clones Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.46, TA 0.66, 955 cases, $60. Released February 2015. Clones 667 and 777. Small percentage of whole cluster inclusion. 5 to 7-day cold soak, 10 to 15 day extended maceration post fermentation, aged 9 months in 100% French oak barrels, 40% new. · Medium reddish purple hue in the glass. The perfume of fresh, dark red cherries and berries is complimented by the scent of sous-bois. Impressive attack and finish of mid weight dark red fruits framed by suave tannins. Very silky and polished in the mouth with perfect integration of oak, and uplifting, juicy acidity on the finish that hangs around for quite a spell. Score: 92

2013 Gary Farrell Martaella Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., pH 3.43, TA 0.61, 388 cases, $60. Inaugural release June 2015. Clones 37, “828,” 96 and Martini. Small percentage of whole cluster inclusion. 5 to 7-day cold soak, 10 to 15 days extended maceration after fermentation, aged 14 months on primary lees in 100% French oak barrels, 40% new. · Medium reddish purple color in the glass. Perfume of oakkissed black cherry, violets and smoke. Mid weight flavors of black cherry, cola and tar. Very soft in the mouth and elegant, but a bit shallow on the attack and on the acid-driven finish. A good food wine, but not particularly notable on its own. Score: 89



Goldeneye Wines Goldeneye farms 200 acres over four estate vineyards with 96 unique blocks and 49 combinations of clone and rootstock. The estate vineyards span only 8 miles in the Anderson Valley, but all the wines are distinctly different. Goldeneye has a distinctive style. The wines are bold, even voluptuous expressions of Pinot Noir embellished by significant oak, but extremely well crafted in that style. Despite the fruit-driven character, the terroir of the individual vineyards does shine through in the wines. All the wines reviewed below are current releases.

2012 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.89, TA 0.51, 14,500 cases, $55. A blend of grapes from the four estate vineyards (19 clones) and independent growers. Harvest Brix 25.0º. Aged 16 months in 70% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Rich aromas of black raspberry, black current and blackberry fruits with a hint of oak in the background. Mid weight flavors echo the nose with added notes of brown spice, mocha and molasses. The oak adjunct is nicely fashioned but more prominent than in the other 2012 Pinot Noirs. The wine has good harmony, and finishes with an inviting combination of fruit and cut. Score: 90

2012 Goldeneye Estate Grown Confluence Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.93, TA 0.47, 700 cases, $82. This vineyard is located in the heart of the Anderson Valley with varying soils and exposures. Harvest Brix 25.0º · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. This wine has the least developed nose among the 2012 Goldeneye Pinot Noirs, offering shy aromas of black cherry, plum and balsam. Much more giving on the silky palate, with plenty of black cherry, purple grape, plum, and blackberry fruits to satisfy. Nicely composed, with more finish than the Anderson Valley bottling and easy to cozy up to. Score: 91

2012 Goldeneye Estate Grown The Narrows Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 4.00, TA 0.52, 490 cases, $82. This vineyard is located at the northernmost tip of the Anderson Valley. An historic mountain ranch, it is planted with mature Pinot Noir vines. Harvest Brix 24.5º. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of dark red berries, wine cave and sawdust. Delicious attack of dark red cherries, strawberries and raspberries in a mid weight style, with a hint of spice and woodlands. A charming wine with modest tannins and a luscious, fruit-filled finish of uncommon generosity. Score: 92

2012 Goldeneye Estate Grown Gowan Creek Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.85, TA 0.50, 930 cases, $82. Vineyard is two miles north of Confluence Vineyard and exposed to more coastal fog. Planted to 8 different clones tailored to a specific site and soil type. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Deep, dark fruit aromas lead the way. A bolder wine, filled with gorgeous blackberry and black raspberry sap, yet light on its feet with soft tannins. There is an appealing earthiness to this wine which also offers an unusual accent of BBQ spices. The smooth texture is especially noteworthy. A full throttle wine that still retains plenty of Pinot charm and is beautifully balanced. Score: 93

2012 Goldeneye Estate Grown Split Rail Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.86, TA 0.50, 360 cases, $82. This vineyard is made up of 16 distinctive blocks and 9 clones. Harvest Brix 25.0º. · Medium reddish purple color in the glass. Very ripe fruited on the nose and palate, with a plethora of black raspberry, black currant and blackberry fruits. Intense on the attack and on the bold finish, with modest tannins. A bit ripe for my taste, but well composed, easy to drink, and quite enjoyable. Score: 91

2012 Goldeneye Estate Grown Ten Degrees Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.52, 750 cases, $115. The name Ten Degrees pays homage to the 10 degree difference between The Narrows Vineyard in the cool “deep end” to the Confluence Vineyard in the South, a span of only 8 miles. Harvest Brix 25.5º. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Brooding, but highly pleasurable aromas of black fruits, hung game and underbrush. A glamorous wine with a mid weight plus attack of pretty dark red and black fruits infused with spice. Impeccable balance, with integrated oak and firm, but not imposing tannins. The structure and balance predict long term age ability. The very long and juicy raspberry-infused finish emotes. This is a bold, yet refined Pinot that has a sophisticated demeanor. Score: 94



2013 Gracianna Estate Mercedes Riverblock Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 279 cases, $64. Estate vineyard planted to clone 115. Barrel aged for 11 months. · Dark violet color in the glass. Very ripe, brooding nose, offering scents of black currant, blackberry jam and oak. Almost syrupy, with copious purple and black fruit sap, including flavors of blackberry, marionberry and pomegranate, with muscular and slightly rugged tannins which tend to dominant the lavishly fruited finish. A dead-ringer for Grenache. Tasted twice (one bottle had some volatile acidity which blew off over time). Score: 87

2013 Gracianna Bacigalupi Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

15.9% alc., 486 cases, $52. Barrel aged for 11 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry reduction sauce, kirsch and baking spices. Very ripe, roasted fruit flavors with an overlay of oak-driven coffee flavor. Full-bodied and very lush. The tannins are well integrated and the wine is in balance despite the high ABV, but it is tiring to drink. Tasted twice. Score: 85



2013 Guarachi Family Wines Sun Chase Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $75. Inaugural single vineyard release from this vineyard which is now an estate property. Clones 777 and “828.” Aged 11 months in 100% French oak barrels, 55% new. Bottled in the heaviest bottle I have ever met with! · Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Shy, but pleasant aromas of blackberry, marionberry and toasty oak. Full-bodied charge of purple and black berry fruits that are sweet and plush on the palate. The wine is bold and luscious, but lacks balance, with weighty tannins exerting their muscle and alcoholic warmth showing up on the finish. A big wine in every way, with a big bottle, big fruit, big tannins, and big alcohol. Score: 87



2013 J. Lohr Falcon’s Perch Monterey County Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.55, $17. Grapes are sourced from Santa Lucia Highlands (57%) and Arroyo Seco (43%). Harvest Brix 26.9º. 3-day cold soak, fermented in 12-ton lots in open-top punchdown tanks. Matured in stainless steel with 17% aged in third-fill French oak barrels. · Very dark reddish purple color in the glass. Very shy aromas of blackberry jam, anise and oak. A decadent wine that reminds of Syrah with a voluptuous core of blackberry, crème de cassis and white pepper flavors. Very plush and velvety on the palate with soft tannins. Loads of fruit but little complexity or verve. Score: 87



2013 La Crema Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.55, $40. A blend of grapes from 14 different properties including several estate-owned vineyards. Aged for 9 months in 100% French oak barrels, 33% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas and flavors veer to the very ripe side featuring black cherry, blackberry and Damsel plum fruits with a hint of cola. Quite sappy, with some tannin showing up on the slightly warm finish. Score: 88



2013 Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., $46. Released April 2015. Sourced from an array of vineyards in Green Valley, Sonoma Valley and the Russian River Valley. Gap’s Crown Vineyard is a key part of this wine. Wild and cultured yeast fermentations, aged in 100% French oak barrels, 40% new, bottled without fining or filtration. · Moderately dark reddish purple hue in the glass. Bold and outspoken, this wine features aromas and flavors of dark berries, purple grapes, grilled beef and smoked jerky. Toasty oak chimes in in the background, the tannins are folded in nicely, and there is some finishing zest in this fruit-forward wine. Score: 90

2013 Patz & Hall Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 1,028 cases, $70. Released March 2015. This vineyard was first planted in 2002 in the foothills of Sonoma Mountain in the Petaluma Gap region and is now owned by Bill Price. Wild and cultured yeast fermentations, 15% whole clusters, aged in 100% French oak barrels, 65% new. Unfined and unfiltered. · Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of purple berries and spice gain intensity over time in the glass. Fleshy and flavorful, with an abundance of fruit, yet soft on the palate with exemplary elegance. Fine-grain tannins add textural interest, there is commendable integration of oak, and the tasty finish seems to last forever. This virile beauty was kissed by an angel. Score: 94

2013 Patz & Hall Jenkins Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 1,566 cases, $60. This 18-acre vineyard is located two miles west of Sebastopol on Pleasant Hill Rd. in an area known as Sebastopol Hills. Goldridge series gravelly loam soils planted to Dijon 667 and 777 in 2001 by renowned vineyard manager Charlie Chenoweth. 10% whole clusters. Wild and cultured fermentations. Aged in 100% French oak barrels, 60% new. Bottled without fining or filtration. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of ripe strawberries and cherries fill the glass. Inviting elegance and balance, with gossamer tannins, discreetly concentrated dark red fruits, and complimentary oak in the background. Fruit-driven and still young. Score: 91

2012 Patz & Hall Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 550 cases, $90. Released March 2015. An iconic vineyard site that is the benchmark for the Santa Lucia Highlands. Grapes are sourced from Pisoni’s coveted “old field,” planted in the early 1980s. Wild and cultured fermentations, 10% whole clusters, aged in 100% French oak barrels, 75% new. Aged an additional year in bottle. Unfined and unfiltered. · Dark violet color in the glass. Deeply perfumed with aromas of black raspberry and cassis. Always the biggest and “baddest” wine in the Patz & Hall lineup, this full-bodied, gorgeous wine is fully structured and packs a wallop of purple and black berry fruits. The finish is ridiculously generous. Not a timid wine, but it still reflects the Pisoni Vineyard terroir. Score: 93



Red Car This winery focuses on growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah in the cold-climate regions on the edge of the Pacific Ocean in the West Sonoma Coast. A large of amount of fruit is grown by the winery. For several years, organic and biodynamic farming has been integrated into the vineyards. All wines are made in small lots with native yeast fermentation, gravity flow, and natural acid. Winemaker Carroll Kemp takes the tenants of the In Pursuit of Balance movement seriously.

2013 Red Car Manchester Ridge Vineyard Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., pH 3.80, TA 0.51, 300 cases, $68. Vineyard is in a mountain range that is an extension of the Sonoma Coast range just north of the Sonoma County line in Mendocino County. Elevation is 2,000 feet, 3.5 miles from Pacific Ocean. Harvest Brix 22.1º. Clones 114 and 115. Aged 12 months in neutral French oak barrels. · Medium reddish purple color in the glass. Racy aromas of grape must, spice, rose petal and oak. Light weight flavors of red fruits and spice with a floral note and oak in the background. The acidity sticks out, and the oak supersedes the thin fruit on the finish Score: 88

2013 Red Car Estate Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.52, 610 cases, $68. Vineyard first planted in 2005 at 1,000 feet elevation, 3.7 miles from Pacific Ocean. Harvest Brix 22.3º. Clones are Calera, Jackson 16 and “828” planted in well-drained Ohlson sandstone. 15% whole cluster. Aged 12 months in 24% new and 76% neutral French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is pleasant but not highly expressive, offering aromas of dark berry compote and cherry pie. Redder fruits dominate the palate that is uplifted with bright acidity in a mid weight style that has admirable balance. A bit austere, with modest tannins and a finish flush with citrus-infused cranberry fruit. Score: 89

2012 Red Car Platt Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., pH 3.80, TA 0.49, 463 cases, $68. Vineyard overlooks the town of Bodega. Vines struggle to set fruit each year and vineyard is exposed to chilling marine winds from coast 5 miles away. Harvest Brix 22.6º. Clones are Calera, 777 and “828” densely planted in Goldridge soil. 10% whole cluster. Aged 14 months in 20% new and 80% neutral French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The whole cluster peeks out on the nose in the guise of rose petal and spice aromas framing the cherry fruit. Delicious black raspberry and boysenberry fruit framed by dry, balanced tannins. The silky mouthfeel is engaging and there is notable fruit intensity on the finish. Good harmony in this thoroughly enjoyable wine. Score: 92

2012 Red Car Zephyr Farms Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.3% alc., pH 3.80, TA 0.52, 325 cases, $68. 7-acre vineyard in the hills above Freestone at 525 feet elevation, 6.7 miles from the Pacific Ocean, where it is exposed to dense coastal fog and intense afternoon winds. Harvest Brix 22.4º. Clones 777, 115 and “828.” 10% whole cluster. Aged 18 months in 22% new and 78% neutral French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of dark cherry, rose hips tea, wilted rose and sous-bois. The mid weight core of darker cherry and raspberry are presented in a velvety smooth textural style. There is a slight herbal, but not herbaceous tone in the background. The dry tannins make a modest encore on the generously fruity finish. Score: 90

2012 Red Car Hagan Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., pH 3.80, TA 0.52, 400 cases, $68. A 12-acre vineyard is located on Taylor Lane near Summa, Theiriot and Occidental vineyards, west of the town of Occidental. Perched at 850 feet elevation, 4.6 miles from Pacific Ocean. Clones are Calera, Schoolhouse, 777 and 115 planted in Goldridge soil. Harvest Brix 22.9º. 10% whole cluster. Aged 18 months in 24% new and 76% neutral French oak barrels. · Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Comforting aromas of dark berry jam, rose petal and spice. The most expressive and pleasing nose among the 2012 Red Car Pinot Noirs tasted. Impressive entry and finish with a mid weight plus array of blackberry, boysenberry and crème de cassis flavors with some oak and earthiness in the background. Very silky mouthfeel, with wind-blown tannins and pleasing roundness and fullness on the finish. This wine has plenty of character and a killer texture. Score: 93



Rexford Winery Joe Miller, a long time Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at University of California at Santa Cruz, is the winemaker at this winery located on the west side of Santa Cruz. He has taught university courses on enology and wine appreciation for more than 30 years and began making wine in the 1970s. He has traveled extensively in the wine-producing regions of France, Italy and Australia. Joe works with his son Sam, the associate winemaker at Rexford. Visit the website for tasting room hours and to acquire the wines: www.rexfordwinery.com.

2011 Rexford Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 210 cases, $25, screwcap. Joe and Sam Miller are father and son winemakers with winery located in Santa Cruz. Sourced from three vineyards: Trout Gulch, Severia and Muns. Average harvest Brix 23.75º. 100% de-stemmed, aged in 100% French oak barrels, 0% new. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. This wine is very ripe fruited with aromas of black cherry, blackberry, cola and oak spice. Velvety on the palate with a luscious core of black plum, crème de cassis, and blackberry flavors overlain with a charred oak imprint. Inviting intensity, with balanced tannins, and a juicy finish that leaves a sense of warmth behind. Score: 87

2010 Rexford Brousseau Vineyard Chalone Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 161 cases, $N/A, screwcap. Organically farmed vines in limestone soil east of Soledad. Clones are 538, Pommard and Mt. Eden. Harvest Brix 24.5º. 100% de-stemmed. Aged 18 months in 1-to-3-year-old French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of macerated black plum, briar and plentiful oak. Weighty tannins are paired with a full-bodied core of darker berry fruits. Oak is better integrated on the palate which is very smooth and seductive. The tannins arrive with a rush on the astringent finish that can be typical of this vineyard. Score: 88

2012 Rexford Fambrini Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.9% alc.,123 cases, $42, screwcap. A monopole for Rexford. Limestone-laden soil. Clones 667 and 777. Harvest Brix 22.5º. 100% de-stemmed, aged in 100% French oak barrels, 50% new. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Aromas of red cherry, red berry, sandalwood and spice remind of some whole cluster. Mid weight flavors of red fruits with plentiful oak in the background. Rather simple, but crisp and lively on the finish, with a burst of tart plum flavor. Score: 88



Sojourn Cellars Based in the town of Sonoma, Sojourn Cellars specializes in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Farming operations are directed at notable vineyards in Sonoma and Napa counties. Craig Haserot proprietor and Erich Bradley winemaker. This is a top producer with consistently fine offerings, although oak seems a bit heavy handed on some wines in this vintage.

2013 Sojourn Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.56, 500 cases, $42. Sourced from Wohler Vineyard (clone 2A) and Riddle Vineyard (Mt. Eden and Pommard). Clones 115 and 667. 100% destemmed, native yeast fermentation, aged in 50% new French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Medium reddish purple hue in the glass. Highly aromatic, even two days after opening, with scents of Bing cherry, spice sous-bois and a hint of oak. Smooth on the palate, with light to mid weight flavors of black cherry, cola and tobacco. A bit shallow on the attack and finish with a little too much oak overlay for my taste. Score: 88

2013 Sojourn Wohler Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.57, 525 cases, $48. Young vines in Goldridge soil. Clones are Wädenswil 2A, “828,” 115 and 667. This vineyard was replanted in 2006 and is located in the heart of the Russian River Valley within sight of the historic Wohler Bridge. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is shy initially, but opens slightly over time to reveal inviting aromas of Bing cherry and cola. Bright dark cherry and dark raspberry flavor in a mid weight style with deep oak seasoning in the background. The tannins are balanced, and the wine finishes with some enjoyable cherry cola goodness. Score: 89

2013 Sojourn Ridgetop Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.56, 425 cases, $59. This vineyard is owned and managed by Thomas Rivers Brown and Fred Schrader, with Ulises Valdez caring for the vineyard. It is located near Annapolis in the northern Sonoma Coast region at 1100 feet elevation. Clones 115, 667 and 777 blended after being fermented in separate lots. 100% de-stemmed, native yeast fermentation, aged in 50% new French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely perfume of black cherry, red berry, baking spice and sous-bois. Very tasty attack of black cherry, black raspberry and marionberry fruits framed by soft tannins with a deep toasty oak overlay. The finish is quite generous, but leaves a bit of heat in its wake. Score: 89

2013 Sojourn Campbell Ranch Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.58, 300 cases, $59. This vineyard is surrounded by redwoods at about 750 feet elevation, located in the northern coastal mountains near Annapolis. Clones 115 and 777. 10% whole cluster. Native yeast fermentation, aged in 50% new French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Aromas of crushed dark red berries and spice draw you into the glass. Smooth and refined, with delicious flavors of spiced red cherries and berries underlain with an earthy flora tone. Nicely balanced with well integrated oak, fine-grain texturally interesting tannins, and a charge of fresh fruit on the finish. Still pumping out the goodness two days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 93

2013 Sojourn Silver Eagle Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.49, TA 0.60, 325 cases, $59. This vineyard is owned and managed by Ulises Valdez, and is located in the rolling hills north of Occidental. Clones are Pommard, Calera and a unique Vosne-Romanee selection. 100% de-stemmed, native yeast fermentation, aged in 50% new French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Reticent, but pleasing aromas of blackberry jam, black grapes and sweet oak. Silky in the mouth with layers of black raspberry, blackberry and black cherry fruits that are saucy and lush. The fine tannins are well integrated and the right touch of oak adds interest. The finish is clean and fruity with notable persistence. Still highly enjoyable two days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 92



2013 Sonoma Collection Sonoma County District 3 Growers Reserve Sonoma County Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.53, $19.99. From Matt Stornetta and Ned Hill, multigenerational Sonoma grape growers. California Cellars, LLC, Isleton, CA. 100% de-stemmed, fermented in small batches, and aged for 14 months in French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very ripe fruit profile on the nose and palate, featuring oak-kissed black cherry, blackberry and black currant fruits. The rich middle palate is slightly overshadowed by oak-driven tobacco flavor, and the cherry goodness on the finish is accompanied by a sense of heat. Score: 87



2013 Talbott Kali Hart Monterey Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., pH 3.79, TA 0.69, $21, screwcap. 100% estate fruit from Sleepy Hollow Vineyard. It is sourced from vines ranging from 10 to 40-years-old. Released September 15, 2014. Aged 9 months in 100% French oak barrels, 10% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The inviting aromas of cherry and raspberry are replicated in the flavors on the palate with an added note of black tea and toasty oak. Well-structured and pretty intense on the mid palate, showing a significant oak overlay over time in the glass. Score: 87

2013 Talbott Logan Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., pH 3.74, TA 0.66, $25, screwcap. Released September 15, 2014. 100% estate grown fruit from Sleepy Hollow Vineyard. Vines range in age from 10 to 40-years-old. Aged 10 months in 100% French oak barrels, 20% new. · Moderately reddish purple hue in the glass. Dark cherries and purple and black berries are the theme in this wine accented with anise-laced oak. Easy going drinking with immersed tannins, juicy acidity, and a dry, somewhat generous finish. Straightforward but appealing. Score: 89

2013 Talbott Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.63, $42, screwcap. Released November 15, 2014. Composed of 50% Martini clone planted in 1972 and 50% Dijon clones ranging in age from 15 to 20 years, all from the finest blocks of Sleepy Hollow Vineyard. Aged 10 months in 100% French oak barrels, 30% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is zippered up, reluctantly offering pleasant scents of black cherry and toasty oak. Strikingly soft and smooth on the palate with intensely flavored black cherry and black raspberry fruits framed by balanced tannins and a lively spark of acidity. Needs time in bottle for the aromas to arrive. Score: 90-91



The Winery San Francisco This is a unique urban winery housed in a 20,000-square-foot World War II airplane hanger on San Francisco’s Treasure Island. The winery is dedicated to bringing the winery experience to wine enthusiasts in the Bay Area and has hosted nearly 100,000 people a year. The winemaker is Bryan Kane, also the winemaker for Sol Rouge, Howell Mountain Vineyards and Vie Winery.

2013 The Winery SF North Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 1,700 cases, $29.99. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The nose offers scents of blueberry, blackberry, plum and leaf. The discreetly concentrated black raspberry and blackberry fruits are overlaid with noticeable oak and backed by weighty tannins which surface on the finish. A little better integrated and enjoyable the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 87

2013 The Winery SF Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 200 cases, $40. Sourced from a vineyard near the border of Los Carneros. clones 115, 667 and 777. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Very shy berry mix on the nose which fails to open much even when tasted the following day. Tasty mid weight flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and cedary oak with a riff of savory herbs in the background. Nicely composed with balanced tannins and some finishing intensity. Score: 88



Thomas Fogarty Wine Estate Winemaker Nathan Kandler produces Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from 25 acres of Estate vineyards including 8 unique sites planted at high elevation in thin rocky soils. Yields in 2012 were at 2-tons-per-acre, the highest since 2009. All wines were fermented with indigenous yeast and naturally occurring malolactic fermentations. Total time in barrel was about 18 months. All wines were bottled unfined and unfiltered. These are somewhat earthy wines that have plenty of terroir-driven character, that are still young and chunky, and although the wines will likely benefit from a few more years in the cellar, it is hard to predict the future.

2012 Thomas Fogarty Rapley Trail Vineyard Estate Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., 429 cases, $75. Estate grown. Martini clone planted in 1983 at 1650 feet elevation in fractured shale. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, cranberry, strawberry and sous-bois. Earthy, mid weight flavors of black cherry and black raspberry backed by modest tannins, finishing dry, with a good cut of citrus-driven acidity and some length. Score: 89-90

2012 Thomas Fogarty Rapley Trail Vineyard M Block Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., 75 cases, $85. 1.5 acres of Martini clone planted in 1983 in shale and sandstone. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose opens over time in the glass to reveal aromas of oak-kissed black cherry and black raspberry with some savory herb and earthy flora adjuncts. Over time, this wine offers the most appealing nose of the vineyard designates tasted. Impressive attack and finish with nicely ripened dark stone and berry fruits. The intensity is ramped up especially on the finish. The wine is a bit rugged and herbal at present, with notable oak presence, but should improve with another two to four years in the cellar. When re-tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine was about the same. Score: 90-92

2012 Thomas Fogarty Rapley Trail Vineyard Henry Ayrtons’ Block Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., 75 cases, $85. 0.5 acres of Martini clone planted in 1983 at 1500 feet elevation in shale and sandstone. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose is quite reserved, even when checked a day after opening, with scents of dark red cherry and berry and dried herbs. There is some spectacular fruit here presently buried in aggressive tannins. The finish is replete with dark red berry fruit that hangs on for at least a minute. The status was about the same the following day when re-tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Hopefully, the tannins will ameliorate over time. Score: 89-91

2012 Thomas Fogarty Razorback Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

12.9% alc., 239 cases, $70. 2 acres of Swan selection and clones 115, 667 and 777 planted in 1986 at 1400 feet elevation in sandstone and shale. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Reserved aromas of cherry, spice and sawdust. Light to mid weight flavors of red cherries with a mantle of savory dried herbs and oak. Juicy, with soft tannins. The most agreeable wine to drink now among the vineyard designates tasted in this vintage, but seems a bit shallow on the attack and finish. Score: 88-89

2012 Thomas Fogarty Will’s Cabin Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 200 cases, $65. 3 acres of Mt. Eden and Swan clones planted in 2001 at 2300 feet elevation in fractured sandstone, a little further from the Pacific Ocean. Part of Santa Cruz Mountains AVA blend for many years: first vineyard designation. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Aromas of cherry, anise and oak are married nicely on the nose. A little reserved, but very enjoyable, with mid weight flavors of juicy cherries and cranberries. The fruit has character and resolve, the tannins are ripe and balanced, and there is some finishing intensity propelled by good acidity. Score: 90-91



Three Sticks Wines Winemaker Bob Cabral joined the team as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay winemaker while the 2013 vintage was in barrel. He was involved in creating the final blends. The new home to Three Sticks Wines is The Adobe, a historical renovation that opened in 2014 in downtown Sonoma. These are the best Pinot Noirs ever from Three Sticks Wines. The Chardonnays, on the other hand, are less appealing to me. They are ripe, richly fruited and lack acidic vibrancy. The wines have received a number of accolades, but I prefer the style of Chardonnay crafted by the previous winemaking team at Three Sticks headed by Don Van Staaveren. (see reviews in section on white wines in this issue)

2013 Three Sticks Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.65, 573 cases, $60. Sourced from a vineyard just north of Sebastopol planted in Goldridge soils. 8 to 26-day fermentation after a 5-day cold soak. 25% whole cluster. Aged 16 months in 100% French oak barrels, 40% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of Bing cherry and cola intensify with swirling. Generous attack of black cherry and strawberry fruit flavors complimented with cola, black tea and spice accents. Nicely integrated oak barrel treatment, balanced tannins, bright acidity and a good finishing kick of lush cherry fruit. Score: 92

2013 Three Sticks Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.70, 177 cases, $60. 14 to 20-day fermentation after a 1-day cold soak. Aged 16 months in 100% French oak barrels, 35% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A savory nose offers scents of blackberry on the vine, plum, and dried herbs. Complex and layered, with mid weight flavors of a bowl of crushed cherries, as well as black raspberries and Damsel plums. Welcome harmony with just the right touch of oak, and an amazingly long finish that lasts over a minute. The voluptuous fruit is vibrant, not jammy, and really clings to the finish. Score: 93

2013 Three Sticks The James Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.64, 615 cases, $60. Sourced from Burning Creek, La Rinconada and Sanford & Benedict vineyards. 5-day cold soak, fermentation in open top fermenters, aged 16 months in 100% French oak barrels, 30% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. This wine needed two days after opening to really show its stuff. Wonderfully fragrant with scents of red cherry, baking spices and sandalwood. The core of red and purple berry fruits is uplifted with a quenching cut of acidity that brings a vibrancy to the wine. The tannins are soft, the mouthfeel is silky smooth, and the finish is refreshing. A wine lover’s wine that will show best with decanting or another year or two in the cellar. Score: 92



2013 Truchard Carneros Napa Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.60, 7,159 cases, $35. Released March 1, 2015. 7 clonal selections grown on the Truchard Estate Vineyard (two Martini clones, Pommard, Swan, and Dijon 114, 115, 667 and 777). Vines range in age from 17 to 39 years. Harvest Brix 24.5º. 100% de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak, aged 10 months in 100% French oak barrels, 35% new. · Medium reddish purple hue in the glass. Complex nose offering scents of cherry, strawberry, herbs, oak and beef. A bit rustic and savory, but with a good mid palate attack of spiced red fruits embellished with tastes of mushroom and dried herbs. Well-structured with healthy, but not imposing tannins, finishing with a generous burst of cherry fruit that picks up intensity over time in the glass. Score: 90



Wedell Cellars This winery was started in 1994 on the Central Coast of California, sourcing grapes from northern Santa Barbara and southern San Luis Obispo vineyards. The production facility is located in Santa Maria. Maurice and Susie Wedell are intimately involved in the production of the wines, assisted by consulting winemaker Kirby Anderson. The wines are typically aged an additional time in both barrel and bottle before release.

2012 Wedell Cellars Wavertree Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.43, TA 0.73, 1,200 cases, $40. 95% of fruit from Fiddlestix Vineyard and 5% from La Encantada Vineyard. Harvest Brix 24.6º. Clones 113, 115, 667, 777 and Pommard. 3-day cold soak, aged on the primary lees for 22 months in 10% new and 60% once-used French oak barrels. Gently filtered. · Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Pleasant aromas of red cherry and raspberry lead to a light to mid weight styled wine that offers delicious cherry and red raspberry fruits accented with spice and cola. Forward, with an aggressive mid palate attack, finishing with vibrancy and clarity. Score: 90

2011 Wedell Cellars Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.40, TA 0.68, 318 cases, $75. Clones 113, 114, 667, 777 and Pommard from Fiddlestix Vineyard. Harvest Brix 24.7º. More than 95% free-run juice. 100% de-stemmed, aged on the lees for almost 30 months in 35% new French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose leads with aromas of black cherry, blueberry and wine cave. A rich core of ripe black cherry and boysenberry that offers a riper profile than the 2012 appellation bottling. Easy to drink, with mild tannins, and a hint of oak, finishing with good intensity and the slightest sense of warmth. Score: 89

2011 Wedell Cellars Fiddlestix Vineyard The Barn Find Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.23, TA 0.665, 95 cases, $100. Sourced from one very small section of the Fiddlestix Vineyard that is within sight of the barn. Harvest Brix 24.4º. 100% de-stemmed, 6-day cold soak. All free-run juice. Aged on the primary lees in 30% new French oak barrels for almost 30 months. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Well-endowed with bright aromas of black raspberry and spice. Luscious and classy, with a charge of dark red and purple fruits that envelope the palate and find every nook and cranny in the mouth. Very suave with refined tannins, juicy acidity, and a peacock finish of uncommon length. A striking, irresistable wine. Score: 94



2013 Willowbrook Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 388 cases $28. Released November 2014. Sourced from two vineyards in the Sebastopol Hills. Calera and Dijon 115 clones. · Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Perfumed with hi-tone aromas of cherry, ripe strawberry and sandalwood. Tasty core of cherry fruit accented with spice, toasty oak and red licorice notes. A solid wine with balanced tannins, a good grab of cherry on the finish, but plenty of toasty oak. Score: 89

2013 Willowbrook J.C.O. Limited by Joseph C. Otes Kastania Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.4%alc., $42. Sourced from a small well-known, established and family owned vineyard. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, spice, earth and terra cotta are enchanting. Earthy on the palate as well, with mid weight flavors of red cherry and red berry. Soft, smooth, comforting and forward, with impeccable balance. Score: 91



Windy Oaks Estate Winemaker Jim Schultze produces very limited amounts of a Pinot Noir from a half-acre section of the Schultze Family Vineyard that he hand tends himself. The clone is a rarely propagated French Burgundy Pinot Noir clone not available in the United States. The wines are typically aged over 2 years in 100% new French oak barrels.

2008 Windy Oaks Estate Schultze Family Vineyard Special Burgundy Clone Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $75. Unfined and unfiltered. This wine was very favorably reviewed in December 2012, but this bottle either aged prematurely due to oxidation (doubtful since the long cork took a superhuman effort to extract) or has taken a rather rapid aging trajectory since 2012. · Light crimson in color in the glass. Aged nose profile with scents of cherry compote, cranberry, and hung game. Middleweight flavors of black cherry, dark raspberry and spice cake with some cherry-driven finishing intensity. Very soft in the mouth with heat showing up at the end. Completely shot the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Not scored.

2010 Windy Oaks Estate Schultze Family Vineyard Special Burgundy Clone Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 12 cases, $87.50. · Moderately light crimson color in the glass. Rewarding aromas of Bing cherry, spice and toasty oak. Satiny and seductive on the palate, with flavorful spiced black cherry fruit with a noticeable overlay of oak. Still sporting tannins that are not intrusive, and overall elegant and appealing. Score: 90

2011 Windy Oaks Estate Schultze Family Vineyard Special Burgundy Clone Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 24 cases, $87.50. · Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, rose petal, spice, and sandalwood leap from the glass. Very refined on the palate, with mid weight flavors of black cherry and spice. The tannins are structured but soft, there is a pleasant hint of oak seasoning, and the finish is generously endowed with cherry fruit. Still highly aromatic and full of flavor the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 92



2013 Wonderwall Edna Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., $18.99. Wonderwall is one of Field Recordings Winery labels crafted by winemaker Andrew Jones. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of blackberry jam, roasted plum, dark chocolate and oak. A succulent, very ripe, fruit-driven wine featuring mid weight flavors of blackberry and crème de cassis. Nicely balanced with modest tannins and very drinkable, but the ripeness of fruit obscures all origin or nuance. Score: 86


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