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Sips of Recently Tasted Pinot Noir

Big Table Farm, Gaston, Oregon

Big Table Farm produced almost 700 cases of Chardonnay and 2,000 cases of Pinot Noir in the 2014 vintage. For the first time, some of the best barrels were pulled out, blended and bottled, without dramatically affecting the regular bottlings. The Earth Pinot Noir and Elusive Queen Chardonnay are the result with only a little over 100 cases of each available. These wines are a departure from past bottlings. Winemaker Brian Marcy studied at University of California at Davis and has worked in several esteemed wineries including Turley Wine Cellars, Neyers Vineyards, Blankiet Estate and Marcassin. He is a fan of whole cluster ferments and the wines reflect this. Clare Carver manages the 70-acre farm and designs the unique wine labels which allows her to express her artistic talent. Visit www.bigtablefarm.com. Tasting by appointment only.



2014 Big Table Farm Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir

13.8% alc. $42. Sourced from all the winery’s Pinot Noir sites. Aged in a combination of new, used and neutral French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely scent of dark fruits, spice, bacon, pine sap and rose petal, holding up nicely over time in the glass. More sappy fruit in this vintage offering glorious flavors of dark raspberry, blackberry, anise, smoke, and plum reduction sauce that saturate the palate with goodness. A floral note in the background confirms the presence of whole clusters. Something about this wine’s flavor profile seems to reflect an Asian slant. A very interesting and complex wine that has enough structure and acidity to bring the fruit in balance. A bold wine by Oregon standards. Score: 91

2014 Big Table Farm Pelos-Sandberg Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Oregon Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., $48. Label features Don’s tractor. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Plenty of whole cluster goodness stands out on the nose that offers aromas of dark berries, Moroccan spices, smoke and rose petal. A highly unique wine that doesn’t taste like every other Oregon Pinot Noir. The wine always has a characteristic smoke and manure note that compliments the flavors of dark berries, blueberries, pomegranate and spice. The tannins are immersed, the acidity keeps the wine fresh and vibrant, and the finish is uncommonly generous and spicy. Score: 93

2014 Big Table Farm Earth Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 108 cases, $105. Label features a cattle skull. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Intoxicating aromas of crushed black cherries, exotic spices, rose petal and a hint of oak. The wine hits the palate with vigor, offering bright flavors of black cherry, blackberry, and smoky spices. Beautifully balanced and refined with a finish that holds on for dear life. This wine does not have the power of the Willamette Valley and Pelos- Sandberg offerings, but is more seductive with sleek tannins and a polished demeanor. This is a black tie wine that commands plenty of respect. Score: 94



Byington Vineyard & Winery, Los Gatos, California

Founded by Bill and Mary Byington, Byington Vineyard & Winery was originally a 95-acre mountainous retreat for the family acquired in 1958. Vineyard plantings came later. Byington was bought by Los Altos Vineyards in 2013 and the new owners have invested significantly in the property’s vineyards, wine production, facilities and grounds.The Byington Estate Vineyard is located at 2,100 feet elevation. Los Altos Vineyards also owns a 240- acre ranch in Alexander Valley with 36 acres planted to various varieties including Chardonnay (see review of Chardonnay in this issue). Visitors are welcome to the winery’s 18,000-square-foot villa that houses the winemaking facilities, wine cave, tasting room and event facilities. Visit www.byington.com.

2013 Byington Byington Estate Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.57, 265 cases, $39. Harvest Brix 23.5º. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The perfume of cherry, sous-bois and pine is inviting. Vivid, uplifting and charming on the palate, with mid weight flavors of fresh cherries and a thread of dried herbs. Crisp acidity keeps the fruit vibrant and the tannins are nicely integrated. The wine finishes with appealing generosity. Score: 91

2014 Byington Byington Estate Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.56, 775 cases, $39. Harvest Brix 23.5º. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. This wine is quite different from the 2013 vintage bottling, offering aromas of red cherry, baking spice and sandalwood. The mid weight core of red cherry and red berry fruits aim to please as does the spice accent. Delicious would be a proper term.The tannins are balanced and overall the wine is quite precocious. My only nit is that a hint of alcoholic warmth shows up on the finish. Score: 90



FEL Wines, Sonoma, California

Founded by Cliff Lede in 2002, Lede Family Wines encompasses Cliff Lede Vineyards in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley, and FEL Wines featuring appellation and single vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Anderson Valley and Sonoma Coast. Winemaker Ryan Hodgins has over a decade of experience creating wines from the Anderson Valley. FEL Anderson Valley Chardonnay is reviewed elsewhere in this issue.

2014 FEL Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 2,634 cases, $38. Release April 1, 2016. A blend of clones including Pommard, Mt Eden, Martini and Dijon from Donnelly Creek, Savoy, Wiley and Ferrington vineyards. Harvest Brix 24.6º. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Brooding aromas of darker fruits including black cherry. Robust and full-bodied on the palate, with flavors of black cherry, blackberry, Asian 5- spice, and tobacco. Very much a big and riper wine in this vintage with noticeable tannins that ameliorate over time in the glass. The fruit-driven finish lingers with purpose. Score: 90



Foursight, Boonville, California

As described on the back label of Foursight Pinot Noir wines, the ingredients are grapes, tartaric acid and sulfur dioxide and the wines are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Proprietary yeast has never been inoculated at the Foursight winery. All the wines tasted were rechecked the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle and were still stellar indicating some promising longevity. Visit www.foursightwines.com. Pictured is Foursight family clockwise from bottom left - Kristy Charles, Nancy Charles, Bill Charles and Joe Webb (photo credit John Clayton).


2013 Foursight Charles Vineyard Zero Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 361 cases, $38. Released February 1, 2016. Clones 114, 115, 777 and Pommard 05. Wild yeast fermentation in open-top tanks with 40% whole clusters, wild malolactic fermentation, and aged in second year and older oak barrels (zero new oak). Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Delicate aromas of raspberry, rhubarb, blackberry and the slightest oak lead to a mid weight plus core of black raspberry, black cherry and black plum fruits framed in modest fine-grain tannins. Great purity of fruit with an explosion of unadulterated Pinot fruit flavor and a long, intense finish. Score: 91

2013 Foursight Charles Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc.,450 cases, $46. Clones 114, 115, 777 and Pommard 05. 40% whole cluster, native fermentation and malolactic fermentation, basked pressed, and aged in French oak barrels, 40% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. The aroma of fresh cherry pie builds in intensity over time in the glass. The mid weight spiced cherry and cranberry flavors are very giving. Bright, juicy acidity enlivens this cherry bomb that has a lingering cherry-themed finish. Score: 91

2013 Foursight Charles Vineyard Clone 05 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 125 cases, $49. Released February 1, 2016. 100% Pommard 05. Four favorite barrels. Wild yeast fermentation, 40% whole clusters, hand punch downs, wild yeast malolactic fermentation in barrel, and aged in French oak barrels, 60% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Robust aromas of Bing cherry and bark are followed on the palate by a delicious core of fresh black cherry fruit and cola flavors. Very suave, with a tug of balanced tannins and an amazingly intense finish that elevates this wine above the norm. This is a perfect example of why Pommard is my paramour. Score: 94

2014 Foursight Paraboll Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., 100 cases, $54. Release May 2016. From 1880 to 1920, the language of Boontling was spoken in the Anderson Valley. “Para” means “deep, cherry red color,” and “Boll” or “Bahl” means “of excellent quality” in Boontling. Put together, this Pinot Noir is “a great red.” The wine is a homage to a language that may soon be extinct. This wine differs from the other Foursight Pinot Noir bottlings in that it is harvested later for a riper fruit profile and received a different barrel regimen consisting of aging in 50% new French oak for 11 months with heavy and mediumplus toast barrels. 100% estate grapes, Pommard 05 and 777 from Charles Vineyard. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with scents of cherry, sandalwood and Prada leather coat. Bright and fresh flavors of deep red cherry, baking spice and vanilla fan out on the discreetly concentrated palate. Somewhat elegant, with integrated tannins and a red-fruited finish. Score: 92




Hirsch Vineyards, Cazedero, California

The 2013 vintage was rather unremarkable in the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA. Bud break occurred in all blocks by March 20, flowering followed on May 11. In mid June, some vines showed water stress due to lack of rain and this was addressed with irrigation. 2.5 inches of rain intervened on June 23-26, leading to an increase in size of the berries, and this, along with hot weather around July 4, led to a large crop. The remainder of July found moderate temperatures allowing for slow and even ripening. Harvest for still wines occurred from September 3 to September 14, making 2013 the most compact harvest on record. All vines were farmed following biodynamic principals.

The 2013 vintage Pinot Noirs were among the most delicate wines from Hirsch Vineyards in recent memory. They are the antithesis of the highly concentrated 2012 vintage wines and may leave some consumers looking for more fruit. A very limited amount of West Ridge Estate Pinot Noir was also produced in 2013. Visit www.hirschvineyards.com.

2013 Hirsch Vineyards Bohan-Dillon Estate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., 686 cases, $38. A precocious wine at an exceptional price. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of blueberry, boysenberry, stem and toasty oak. A lightly weighted wine featuring blue and purple fruit flavors framed by vivid acidity creating a slightly tart character. The wine leans to delicacy with a somewhat hollow mid palate, featuring balanced tannins, oak seasoning in the background and a soprano finish. Score: 87

2013 Hirsch Vineyards San Andreas Fault Estate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., $60. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Expressive nose featuring aromas of cherry and earthy flora. Light to mid weight in style, with vibrant flavors of cherry and raspberry sparked by bright acidity. A delicate, teasing wine that is forward drinking, with balanced tannins and a thirst-quenching finish. Score: 89

2013 Hirsch Vineyards East Ridge Estate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

12.8% alc., 456 cases, $85. Sourced from the warmest part of the vineyard and is the most masculine expression of the Hirsch Vineyard. A selection of the best barrels from the oldest blocks on East Ridge that is planted to Mt Eden, Swan and Pommard clones. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The nose offers fresh aromas of black grape, black cherry and tender oak. Light to mid weight in character, with a dark red fruit theme. Delicate, well balanced, with a subtle oak overlay in the background, and a pleasing cherry finish. Relatively simple, I yearned for more nuance. Score: 89

2013 Hirsch Vineyards Block 8 Estate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

12.8% alc., pH 3.58, 336 cases, TA 0.58, $85 (sold out). Released January 26, 2016, highly allocated. David Hirsch considers this his grand cru parcel. This block was planted in 1993 to Pommard and Wädenswil clones. Aged in 100% French oak barrels, 35% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very shy, but pleasant aromas of plum sauce, black cherry pie and floral bouquet. Elegant and charming, with flavors of black raspberry, black cherry and spice, with a noticeable iron riff. The soft tannins are slightly astringent. This wine exhibits the longest finish of the 2013 Hirsch Pinot Noirs making it most appealing. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine was more enthralling and the finish continued to define its excellence. Score: 92

2013 Hirsch Vineyards Reserve Estate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

12.8% alc.,pH 3.60, TA 0.58, 625 cases, $85 (sold out). Released January 26, 2016. A selection of the best barrels from the oldest and finest vineyard blocks at Hirsch Vineyards. Highly allocated. Aged in 100% French oak barrels, 35% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Relatively shy aromas of black cherry, spice and bark lead to a middleweight styled wine with a fresh core of spiced black cherry fruit. More mouthful in this wine with excellent acid integration. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the nose was more expressive and the elegant, soft mouthfeel was apparent. Cellaring is advised. Score: 90-91



Joseph Swan Vineyards, Forestville, California

2013 Joseph Swan Vineyards Cuvée de Trois Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., $35. A representation of the Russian River Valley as a whole with no single vineyard dominating. The wine always includes wine from all six vineyard designates. Aged in about 33% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish purple color and slight haze (unfiltered) in the glass. The nose smells of whole berry fermentation with aromas of rose petal, cherry and raspberry as well as mushroom and a vegetal note. The mid weight cherry core of fruit is red-themed and lean, with a savory vegetal and floral note in the background. Juicy and slightly tart on the finish. Score: 87

2013 Joseph Swan Vineyards Catie’s Corner Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 45 cases, $38. Newest vineyard that is located just south of Windsor and named for Rich and Saralee Knude’s daughter, Catie. Planted in 1996 but budded over to Swan selection from Trenton Estate. Just under 1 acre in size. It is the only 100% Swan Pinot Noir that Joseph Swan Vineyards has bottled. Even the Trenton Estate, which is largely Swan, is not pure. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Shy initially, but picking up interest over time in the glass, revealing aromas of dark red berries, old barrel and caramel. Red to dark red berry flavors are featured in a middleweight style with noticeable fine-grain tannins and a slightly tart, citrus-driven finish. Score: 88

2013 Joseph Swan Vineyards Trenton Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., $69. More than 40 vintages of this wine have been produced. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose features quite a bit of oak at this stage with fruit notes of dark berry and cherry. This wine has the most sap of the three 2013 Joseph Swan wines tasted here, offering flavors of cherry, strawberry and spice with an earthy bent. Nicely balanced with modest tannins and a light touch of oak, finishing with a slight bit of alcoholic warmth. Typically, this bottling improves over time in the cellar and is long lived. Score: 90



Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens, Fulton, California

Kendall-Jackson offers both a Jackson Estate Appellation collection and a Jackson Estate vineyard designate collection, both from Jackson Family estate vineyards. The wines are produced with 100% renewable energy and both the estate vineyards and winery are certified sustainable. The wines are available at select onpremise locations as well as through the website at www.KJcom.

2014 Jackson Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.54, 5,874 cases, $32. Released March 2016. 52% Outland Ridge Vineyard, 35% Boone Ridge Vineyard and 13% Falk Vineyard. 36% clone 667, 25% clone 777, 17% clone “828,” 11% clone 115 and 11% clone 5. Aged 11 months in 100% French oak barrels, 29% new. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. The nose is primarily oak driven with little fruit showing up. Much more pleasing on the palate, with a charge of mid weight black cherry, blueberrypomegranate, spice and vanilla flavors initiating a generous attack and noticeable finishing presence. This wine will appeal to those who welcome a prominent oak overlay in Pinot Noir. Score: 87

2013 Jackson Estate Outland Ridge Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

15.0% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.53, 1,625 cases, $35. Vineyard is located at 1370-1670 feet elevation. Soils are loam over fractured sandstone. 42% clone 667, 31% clone “828,” 15% clone 777, 7% clone 115 and 5% clone 5. Aged 11 months in 76% French oak, 35% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Plenty of toasty oak engages the black cherry, ripe strawberry and underbrush aromas that hold up over time in the glass. The discreetly concentrated core of black cherry, dark raspberry and blueberry fruits are embellished with oak-driven notes of toast, spice and anise. The raspberry-imbued and spicy finish has noticeable persistence. Despite the 15.0% ABV, this wine is in balance. Score: 89



MacPhail, Healdsburg, California

2013 MacPhail Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.40, TA 0.56, 1,025 cases, $40. Released spring 2016. A blend of grapes from 8 vineyards. Clones are 115, 667, 777, 2A, 23, “828,” Pommard, Swan, Calera and Martini. Harvest Brix 24.5º-25.5º. 100% de-stemmed, native and inoculated fermentation, native malolactic fermentation in barrel, and aged 11 months on lees in French oak barrels, 37% new. · Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Highly aromatic, with scents of cherry hard candy and vanilla. The darker cherry and berry fruits are unusually spiced with notes of cardamom and vanilla. Forward drinking, with silky tannins and a modest finish. Score: 87

2013 MacPhail Pratt Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.58, 625 cases, $49. Released spring 2016. Clones 23, Pommard 4, 114 and 777. Harvest Brix 24.6º-25.5º. 100% de-stemmed, 5- day cold soak, inoculated yeast fermentation, native malolactic fermentation in barrel, battonage weekly for 3 months, aged 11 months on lees in French oak barrels, 35% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of oak-kissed black cherry lead to a middleweight styled wine with a core of black cherry fruit overshadowed by oak-driven flavors of toast and anise. The tannins are modest and the fruit cries out for attention, but the oak overwhelms what otherwise is a good wine. Score: 87

2013 MacPhail Sangiacomo Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.56, 241 cases, $49. Released spring 2016. Clones 115 and Pommard. Harvest Brix 25.0º. 100% de-stemmed, 6-day cold soak, native fermentation, native malolactic fermentation in barrel, battonage weekly for 3 months, and aged 11 months in lees in French oak barrels, 28% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Pleasant aromas of black raspberry, black cherry and ripe strawberry lead to a full-bodied charge of black cherry and black raspberry fruits that are graced by complimentary tannins. Enviable fruit expression and admirable balance, with some finishing length. Score: 90

2013 MacPhail Dutton Ranch Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.57, 638 cases, $49. Released spring 2016. Sourced from Thomas Road and Manzana vineyards. Clones “828,” 777 and 115. Harvest Brix 24.7º. 100% de-stemmed, 4-day cold soak, proprietary yeast fermentation, native malolactic fermentation in barrel, battonage in barrel once weekly for 3 months, and aged 11 months on lees in French oak barrels, 35% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Engaging aromas of black raspberry, blackberry, black walnut and vanilla lead to a luscious and pleasing dark fruit compote that attacks with purpose. Very polished with elite tannins. Only a slight warmth on the finish intrudes on the pleasure. Score: 90

2013 MacPhail Wildcat Mountain Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.69, TA 0.60, 217 cases, $49. Released spring 2016. Clones 115, 667, 777 and “828.” Harvest Brix 25.5º100% de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak, inoculated yeast fermentation, native malolactic fermentation in barrel, battonage weekly for 3 months, and aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 30% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Considerable coaxing is needed to bring out shy aromas of wild berries and forest floor. The dark berry essence satisfies and is well framed by gritty tannins and some oak overlay. Overall, the wine is quite enjoyable, but nothing stands out. Score: 89

2013 MacPhail Sundawg Ridge Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.59, 640 cases, $49. Released spring 2016. Clone 115, Pommard and Calera. Harvest Brix 24.6º to 25.0º. 100% de-stemmed, 5 to 6-day cold soak, native and inoculated fermentation, native malolactic fermentation in barrel, battonage weekly for 3 months, and aged 16 months on lees in French oak barrels, 35% new. Bottled unfined and lightly filtered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas pick up interest and intensity over time in the glass, offering enticing notes of black raspberry, blackberry jam, prickly pear and spice. On entry, the explosion of dark red fruits really wakes up the palate. The wine exhibits adroit balance with a pleasing grip of acidity on the glorious finish that brings plenty of fruit to bear. Score: 92

2013 MacPhail “The Flyer” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.56, 263 cases, $59. Released spring 2016. Sourced from Susanna’s Vineyard. Clones are Calera, Dehlinger Swan, and Quail Hill Vineyard Swan. Harvest Brix 24.5º-25.0º. 100% de-stemmed, 6-day cold soak, primary fermentation started with native yeast, then finished with proprietary yeast, native malolactic fermentation in barrel, batonnage weekly for 3 months, and aged 16 months on lees in French oak barrels, 45% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is dominated by oak-driven aromas of espresso and tobacco. Much better on the palate, with an enjoyable, intensely flavored essence of oak-kissed, black cherry and purple berry fruits. Well-endowed with fruit, but still light and seductively silky on the palate. Your tolerance for the notable imprint of oak will determine your pleasure. Score: 89

2012 MacPhail Anderson Creek Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.81, TA 0.57, 114 cases, $49. Released fall 2014. Clones 777 and 115. Harvest Brix 24.8º. 100% de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak, native and inoculated yeast fermentation, native malolactic fermentation in barrel, battonage in barrel once weekly for 3 months, and aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is closed for business and despite considerable time, never reveals any notable aromas. A richly flavored, big boy wine with intense dark fruit flavors and matching tannins. This is a fruit-driven wine of considerable heft that lacks nuance but will please those who welcome hedonistic fruit. There is a slight residual of warmth on the finish. Score: 88



Martin Ray Vineyards & Winery, Santa Rosa, California

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Siduri Wines, Santa Rosa, California

Adam and Dianna Lee produce about 10,000 cases of Pinot Noir annually. Each barrel is vinified separately by lot, clone, yeast and cooper, then blended individually and bottled unfiltered and unfined. The wines are sold directly to winery mailing list members and through distributors to select restaurants and wine retailers nationally. Tasting at the winery is by appointment daily. Visit www.siduri.com.

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Stoller Family Estate, Dayton, Oregon

The 2014 vintage in the Willamette Valley had a temperate spring, perfect weather at fruit set, and a warm and dry summer. Harvest was the earliest on record, beginning September 8. The wines from this vintage are concentrated and fruit-driven. For more information on the winery, visit www.stollerfamilyestate.com.

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Windy Oaks Estate, Corralitos, California

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