Recently Tasted California Pinot Noir & Chardonnay
Bohème Wines, Forestville
Bohème Wines was founded in 2004 by fifth generation California vintner Kurt Beitler. Kurt joined his family’s
winegrowing tradition in 2000 by managing the Caymus Taylor Lane Vineyard near Occidental. This exposure
to Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir led to his passion for crafting coastal wine. The team of Bohème vineyard and
cellar workers, led by Kurt, farm all the grapes for Bohème’s production (pictured below - Kurt has on a blue
jacket). The wines are vinified and bottled at the Bohème winery in Sebastopol. Tasting is by appointment
(707-887-2287 or firstname.lastname@example.org) during the week or drop into the tasting room located in Occidental
on weekends. I was really impressed with these wines from Kurt, his best to date.
Taylor Ridge Vineyard was planted in 1999 5.3 miles from the Pacific Ocean at an elevation of 869 to 928 feet.
4.9 acres planted to Swan Pinot Noir clone and Wente Chardonnay clone. The Goldridge sandy loam soil is
traced to a prehistoric marine embayment that once covered western Sonoma County. During the growing
season, fog from Tomales Bay and Bodega Bay engulfs the vineyard.
2013 Bohème Taylor Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 192 cases, $55. Swan
selection. Yields 2.0 tons per acre. 10% whole cluster inclusion. Aged 25 months in seasoned French oak
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromatically pleasing with scents of crushed black
cherries and sous-bois. A well-composed wine with vigorous fruit flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and
plum accented with notes of smoke and spice. The wine’s admirable attack, follow through and finish are
endearing and the silky mouthfeel is quite seductive.
2013 Bohème Taylor Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
13.7% alc., 120 cases, $45. Petite
Wente clusters whole cluster pressed, fermented in a mix of neutral French oak barrels and stainless steel
barrels. Partial malolactic fermentation.
Moderately deep golden straw color in the glass. Complex aromatic
profile, featuring scents of yellow apple, spice cabinet, pastry creme, warm croissant and vanilla. Discreetly
concentrated flavors of lemon, baked apple, and pineapple are supported by a bright acid backbone. The
slightly creamy texture hits the spot, and the cleansing finish rewards with uplifting acidity.
Stuller Vineyard was planted in 1998 amid redwood trees and peers over the Pacific Ocean 5.8 miles away.
Two-thirds of the vineyard is a south facing hillside of gravelly Yorkville clay loam planted to clone 115 and the
adjacent rocky hilltop is a plot of clone 667 planted in mixed aggregate and sandstone. Elevation is 1155 to
2013 Bohème Stuller Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 264 cases, $53. Clones 115 and 667. Yield 0.95 tons
per acre. 30% whole cluster inclusion. Aged 25 months in
seasoned French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple color in
the glass. Aromas of oak-kissed black cherry lead the way for
engaging layers of black cherry, pomegranate and blueberry fruit
flavors. A hint of chile spice is among the swirl of spice accents.
Tannic support is perfectly matched, acidity is nicely integrated, and a
very long, seductively slick finish raises the spirits. An entirely charming
and classy wine.
English Hill Vineyard is an 8.5-acre estate-planted high-density mosaic of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah
surrounded by rangeland. The vineyard overlooks Tomales Bay and the Marin Coast Range. Pacific fog engulfs
the vineyard on summer mornings, while afternoon breezes slow ripening. Soils are Goldridge sandy loam and
Steinbeck fine sandy loam. Pinot Noir clones 115, and 667, Calera, Vosne-Romanee selection, and BRC.
Chardonnay clones are Wente and SY 877.
2013 Bohème English Hill Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 384 cases, $49. Composed of
five clones yielding 2.79 tons per acre. 20% whole cluster inclusion. Aged 25 months in seasoned French oak
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Vigorous aromas of Bing cherry, baking spice and
cigar box. Very sleek and polished in the mouth, with a slinky core of delicious black cherry fruit, underlain with
oak driven accents of smoke and caramel. Great verve, with a bombastic finish that satisfies.
2013 Bohème English Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.1% alc., 72 cases, $45. Yield
2.7 tons per acre. Whole cluster pressed into neutral French oak barrels where it underwent 100% malolactic
Moderately deep golden straw color in the glass. Aromas of lemon oil, apple and spice set the
stage for satiating flavors of citrus, yellow apple, honey, caramel and toffee, finishing with a tight grip of acidity.
Dierberg Vineyard, Santa Barbara County
Jim and Mary Dierberg, with forty years of winemaking experience in Missouri, discovered the potential of
winegrowing in Santa Barbara County in 1996 and planted two estates: Dierberg Vineyard in the Santa Maria
Valley and later Drum Canyon Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills - both under their Dierberg label. These cool
coastal valley vineyards were joined by the warm climate site, Star Lane Vineyard in Happy Canyon. The Pinot
Noirs have had a reputation for consistency, but were a bit rustic and earthy and not exceptional until the arrival
of winemaker Tyler Thomas in the summer of 2013. With a masters degree in viticulture and enology at
University of California at Davis, and experience in winemaking in the Central Coast and several years in
Sonoma County, Tyler has infused the wines with renewed excellence. The 2013 wines reviewed here are the
most compelling from Dierberg that I have tasted over the years, but I believe they will continue to improve as
Tyler gains more experience with the vineyard sites. The Dierberg tasting room is located at the Star Lane
Vineyard and is open daily. Wines are also sold through the website at www.dierbergvineyard.com.
2013 Dierberg Drum Canyon Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $52. Stem inclusion used to
add structure and savory spice and earth tones. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 20% new.
reddish purple color in the glass. The intoxicating aromas of black raspberry, black cherry, potpourri and spice
draw you to the glass. Ultra ripe flavors of black cherry, blackberry and a hint of raisin are framed by easygoing
tannins and the juicy acidity that Sta. Rita Hills is known for. The ripeness qualities reflect the vintage. Stem
inclusion has nicely embellished the wine. Silky in the mouth, and easy to savor, with a modest, but focused
finish that gives off the slightest sense of alcoholic heat.
2013 Dierberg Dierberg Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., $44. Stem inclusion higher
than used previously from Dierberg Vineyard. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 25% new.
reddish purple color in the glass. More sap in this mid weight plus wine, featuring a melange of aromas and
flavors including black cherry, blackberry jam, spice, black tea, dark cocoa and a hint of toasty oak. Despite its
heft, the wine is quite charming, combining intensity of flavor with a refined style. The grand finish is replete
with a generous array of dark fruits, leaving behind just a hint of alcoholic heat.
2013 Dierberg Dierberg Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
14.6% alc., $32. Dierberg Vineyard is
located 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean at the
southern end of the Santa Maria Valley. California
heritage Chardonnay clones. Wine barrel fermented in
400 liter casks, 15% new. Malolactic fermentation only
in certain components. Aged 16 months in French oak
barrels and 4 months in stainless.
yellow color in the glass. A striking wine that achieves greatness over
time in the glass. Lovely aromas of lemon curd, Golden Delicious apple,
and subtle notes of butter and oak. Flavors of lemon, pear, and yellow
apple are presented with a streamlined mouthfeel that culminates in a
tight, crisp, citrus-laden finish. Perfectly balanced and ideal in every way.
E16 Wine Company, Sebastopol
Veteran winemaker Daniel Moore works out of a Sebastopol facility designed for production of small lots of
Pinot Noir. He has over 30 years of experience crafting Russian River Valley wines. The 100% Pinot Noir
wines are sourced from winegrowing partners who practice sustainable viticulture.
2014 E16 The West End Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.61, 350 cases, $60. Sourced
from Conzelman Vineyard in the “deep end” of the Anderson Valley. Pommard and Dijon 667 clones. Aged 11
months in French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Black fruits prevail
on the nose and palate in this sappy and structured offering that has a sweet and spicy tone to the fruit flavors.
This is a big boy, hedonistic wine yet offers admirable balance.
2014 E16 Trenton 1880 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.52, TA 0.61, 225 cases, $50.
Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. Sourced from Martaella Vineyard. Dijon and 828 clones.
Nicely scented, with aromas of black cherry, boysenberry jam and spice cabinet. Delightful flavors of black
cherry, blueberry, black raspberry, black tea and spice. Toasty oak is complimentary in the background, the
tannins are satiny, and the intensely fruity finish satisfies.
2014 E16 Upper Bench Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.96, TA 0.48, 395 cases, $42.
Sourced from Escolle Vineyard planted in 2008 to eleven Pinot Noir clones on five rootstocks. Pommard clone.
Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 33% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Exceptional
aromatic presence with scents of cherry, dark strawberry, rose petal, pipe smoke and sweet oak. Ripe flavors
of strawberry, black cherry and black raspberry are accented by tobacco oak and framed by suave tannins.
Although the acidity is low, the wine does not come across as flabby. The finish is generous and shows some
2014 E16 Bowland Ranch Bennett Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.61, 375 cases, $44. Sourced
from the Bowland Ranch Block at Moaveni Vineyard. Pommard clone. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels,
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is somewhat primary, opening slowly in
the glass to reveal aromas of blackberry, spice and graham. The middleweight sweet fruited flavors of
blackberry and black raspberry are a bit flat and the wine finishes with a noticeable oak presence.
2014 E16 E16 Selection Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.61, 335 cases, $40.
Sourced from Hawks Roost Ranch (Mariafeld clone) and Martaella Vineyard (Dijon clones), and a small
contribution from properties in Anderson Valley, Bennett Valley and the Santa Lucia Highlands. Aged 11 months
in French oak barrels, 20% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Savory aromas of
underbrush and flora compliment the aromas of cherry and strawberry. Both savory and fruity on the palate,
with flavors of black cherry, pomegranate, pine needle, and woodland herbs. Shy initially, picking up interest
over time in the glass. Finishes on a sweet cherry high note.
2014 E16 Bacigalupi Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.50, $44. Aged 11
months in French oak barrels, 40% new.
Light golden yellow
color in the glass. The nose is flat out amazing with soaring
scents of lemon, golden apple juice and honey. Impeccably
crafted, with vivid flavors of pineapple, juicy yellow apple, spice,
buttered toast and honey. Silky smooth in the mouth, with a
dreamy finish that has serious length. A superb wine.
RMH (River Myst Haven) Wines, Healdsburg
2014 RMH Wines Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.73, TA 0.63, 420 cases, $52. Released
May 2016. Sourced from Moshin Estate Vineyard on Westside Road. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels,
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose offers aromas of black cherry, rhubarb
and pipe smoke. Full bodied, with a charge of black cherry and dark berry flavors that are fully ripe. More sap
and tannin than the 2013 version of this wine. Citrus driven acidity plies the background and sticks out on the
dry, slightly tart finish.
2013 RMH Wines Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.78, 360 cases, $52. Released
May 2015. Sourced from Moshin Estate Vineyard on Westside Road. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels,
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, truffle and oak lead off. Flavors
of black cherry, cola and savory herbs are framed by ripe tannins and lively acidity. Noticeable vibrancy, with a
trail of oak on the cleansing finish. Better the following day when tasted from a previously opened and recorked
bottle showing more harmony.
More Pinot Noir
2014 BARRA of Mendocino Estate Grown Mendocino County Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 390 cases,
$20. Released July 15, 2016. Charlie Barra just completed his 69th harvest. Wine is certified organic
by CCOF and vegan friendly.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry and
Asian spices lead off. The fruit ripeness pushes the envelope, with flavors of black cherry, black
currant, cola, root beer, dark chocolate, and raisin. Still, the wine is nicely crafted with pliable tannins
and some finishing purpose.
2013 Blair Estate Delfina’s Vineyard Arroyo Seco Monterey County Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., 400 cases,
$45. Released summer 2016. Clones are Pommard 4 (50%), 115, 667 and 777.
Moderately light reddish purple
color in the glass. The expressive nose offers scents of cherry, sandalwood and cigar box. The gorgeous mid
weight core of Bing cherry fruit alerts the senses, expands in the mouth, and finishes on a high note with plenty
of cherry goodness. There is significant oak overlay but I did not find it particularly intrusive, and otherwise the
wine’s balance was quite tidy.
2014 Cotillion California Pinot Noir
13.8% alc, $9.99. Vinted and bottled by Ashford Court, Napa. A Trader
Joe’s exclusive label. A blend of grapes from Monterey, Santa Barbara and Sonoma counties.
reddish purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of black cherry and cigar ash. The mid weight black cherry core
is accented with charred oak and mushroom flavors. Refined, with gentle tannins and a short finish.
2014 Girasole Vineyard Mendocino County Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 6,545 cases, $16. Released July 15, 2016. Family
owned and operated vineyards with some dating to the 1950s.
Certified organic by CCOF and vegan friendly.
light reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with
aromas of cherry reduction sauce, red berries, spice and
organic flora. Pleasing charge of deep cherry cola and root
beer flavor on the attack, carrying through a modestly generous finish.
Good harmony is achieved through a balanced tannic backbone and
well-integrated, juicy acidity.
2014 Sarah’s Vineyard Estate Santa Clara Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 415 cases, $40. Winemaker Tim
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A complete wine with welcoming aromas of black raspberry,
black cherry, spice and toasty oak followed in the mouth with expressive flavors of black cherry, cranberry,
black tea and a subtle overlay of oak. Admirable vibrancy, with great harmony and a cherry-infused, delightfully
2014 Mansfield-Dunne Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.74, TA 0.57, RS <.1g/L, 148
cases, $36. Released September 1, 2016. Clones 667, Pommard 5, 115 and 777. Aged 15 months in French
oak barrels, 33% new. Winemaker Ed Kurtzman.
Light cherry red color in the glass. Effusive aromas of cherry,
rose petal and sandalwood. The light to mid weight essence of cherry fruit is enhanced with notes of baking
spices and dried herbs. The fruit is quite vivid, the tannins are suave, and the wine finishes with agreeable
2014 Trader Joe’s Reserve Lot # 109 Arroyo Grande Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $9.99. Vinted and
bottled by Reluctant Wine Co. in Arroyo Grande, California.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass.
This wine is true to its Pinot Noir origins, with aromas of dark cherry, raspberry and truffle, and mid weight
flavors of black cherry and purple grape. Oak is supportive without being intrusive, the tannins are silky, and
this simple wine is easy to drink.
2015 Westwood Annadel Gap Vineyard Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir Rosé
13.3% alc., pH 3.39,
TA 0.56, RS 1.2 g/L,102 cases, $25. Released May 2016. Estate grown. 77% Pinot Noir clones 115,
667, 777, 943, Pommard, Calera, Mt. Eden, Chambertin, and UCD 90, 12% Mouvedre, 11%
Grenache. Harvest Brix average 24.0º-25.3º. A saignée, barrel fermented with feral yeasts in
seasoned oak with occasional lees stirring, partial native malolactic fermentation. Aged on the lees
for 5 months. Bottled with minimal filtration and fining.
Moderately pink salmon color in the glass.
The scent of cherry, strawberry, cranberry and underbrush leads to a core of cherry, cranberry, blood
orange and peach flavors with a savory, earthy thread in the background. A bit rustic, with inviting richness of
fruit, soft in the mouth, finishing with noticeable generosity.