Recently Tasted California Pinot Noir & Chardonnay
It is interesting to look at the change in taste for different California varietals over the past 20
years. At this year’s Wine Industry Financial Symposium, David Freed presented two circle graphs showing the
Gomberg Fredrickson Annual Review of California Varietal Volume in 1993 and 2003.
Pinot Noir was among the small “Other” category in 1993 but made up 6% of California Table Wine Volume
(13.2 million cases) in 2013. Chardonnay, on the other hand, showed a 9% decrease in volume. The most
striking change over the 20 years is the increase in volume of Premium Blush, Moscato and Pinot Grigio.
Benovia Winery, Santa Rosa
The 2014 Pinot Noirs were reviewed in June 2016 shortly after bottling (www.princeofpinot.com/winery/276/).
The single-vineyard Pinot Noirs have recently been released and reviewed again here after 4 months in bottle.
Vintage 2014 was the third consecutive drought year in Sonoma County, but the growing season was ideal with
the resulting crop much larger than average. There was just enough rain in the spring to charge with soil with water, and cool summer weather allowed the vines to thrive, leading to the earliest harvest on record.
Winemaker Mike Sullivan made fewer than 1,400 cases of single-vineyard Pinot Noirs, all produced from
sustainably farmed estate vineyards. Mike told me that he thinks the 2014 wines’ style falls intermediate between the
bold richness of the 2012 vintage and the refined, more vibrant and less sappy vintage of 2013. I believe the
wines need at least another year in bottle for most enjoyment. All tastings at Benovia are by appointment,
available seven days a week, and are leisurely, seated tastings in Benovia’s ranch house located at 3339
Hartman Road in Santa Rosa. Visit www.BenoviaWinery.com for more information on the wines reviewed here
or to acquire.
2014 Benovia Bella Luna Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $80. Release spring 2017. A blend of Benovia estate vineyards fruit.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Quite approachable, with effusive
aromas of black cherry, cardamom and peppery spices and a hint of oak. A bit exotically flavored, offering
blueberry and black cherry fruit, spice and even a floral note. Inviting harmony, modest tannins, and a sweet
cherry finish that is uplifting. By the time it is released, it should be orgasmic.
2014 Benovia La Pommeriae Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
alc., pH 3.63, TA 0.58, 498 cases, $60. Released September 2016.
Sourced from Zio Tony Vineyard, a former apple orchard located along
the Laguna Ridge at the edge of the Green Valley of Russian River
Valley AVA. High density plantings of Dijon clones 777 and “828.” 10-day
cold soak, indigenous yeast fermentation lasting almost 3 weeks, aged
16 months in French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderately dark reddish
purple color in the glass. The nose is rather primary, grudgingly offering
scents of dark fruits, vanillin and toast. More appealing on the palate,
with a mid weight plus core of luscious black fruits. Still a bit unyielding,
but with a lush mouthfeel, and a persistent finish. When tasted the
following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the nose
was more giving and the fruit more vivid. A lush, fruit-driven wine, but not
in a compote style.
2014 Benovia Martaella Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.57, 440
cases, $60. Released September 2016. Benovia’s largest estate vineyard with densely planted Pinot Noir
vines. Heirloom and Dijon clones. 25% whole cluster. 8-day cold soak, indigenous yeast fermentation lasting
nearly 2 weeks, aged in French oak barrels, 36% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass.
Initially, the aromas of black fruits and toasty oak are subdued, arriving with more purpose over time in the
glass. Somewhat unevolved, but enticing, with a compelling core of oak-kissed blueberry-pomegranate and
blackberry fruits backed by firm tannins. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and recorked
bottle, the wine was more aromatic with more fruit expression and personality. Expect this one to evolve
nicely over the next few years.
2014 Benovia Tilton Hill Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.53, TA 0.61, 492 cases, $60.
Released September 2016. This vineyard is on a ridge top near the town of Freestone, a cold site just a few
miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. 8-day cold soak, indigenous yeast fermentation for almost 2 weeks, aged
in French oak barrels, 45% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A blend of blackberry and black
raspberry fruit aromas with oak-driven notes of sandalwood and vanilla. A boisterous wine, with plenty of purple
and black fruit saturating the mid palate and carrying over on the intensely fruity and lengthy finish. Gorgeous
fruit, but a bit one dimensional with noticeable oak presence that should integrate further over time.
2014 Benovia Cohn Vineyard Sonoma County Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.78, TA 0.56, 440 cases, $75.
Released September 2016. This is sourced from one of the oldest Pinot Noir vineyards in the region planted in
1970. The vines are organically dry farmed and efforts to reinvigorate the soil and bring new life to the vineyard
has been rewarded. A massale collection of most likely Martini 13 and Pommard clones. Yields just over 1 ton
per acre. 8-day cold soak, indigenous yeast fermentation lasting almost 2 weeks, aged in French oak barrels,
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of dark red cherry and berry are infused
with oak. Modest in weight, with a giving core of cherry and berry fruits. The comforting texture and suave
tannins make very easy approachability. The barrel treatment is still evident on the finish.
Ernest Vineyards, Santa Rosa
A portrait of Ernest is displayed on the labels of the wines. Ernest was a role model for his grandson, Todd
Gottula, who founded Ernest Vineyards with his wife Erin Brooks in 2012. Currently, Ernest Vineyards produces
wine at Punchdown Cellars, but is building a modern production facility, called Grand Cru, located in northern
Sonoma County, that will be a crush facility with space enough for Ernest and a number of like-minded small
producers. Expected opening is summer 2017. Currently, Ernest Vineyards works with 17 different sites or 24
acres of land. The winery’s goal is to offer value so the wines are something affordable for everyone to enjoy.
The winemaker is Kent Humphrey (Eric Kent) and assistant winemaker is Hanna Chort. The wines are sold
through a mailing list available at the impressive website, www.ernestvineyards.com.
2014 Ernest Vineyards The Artist Bush Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., 131 cases, $55.
From a 12-acre vineyard planted in 2012 and developed for a select set of Dutton Ranch clients including
Ernest. The vineyard is located in the Green Valley of the Russian River Valley AVA. Calera selection harvested
at 22.0º average Brix. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color
in the glass. Glorious aromas of dark cherry reduction sauce and spice emerge over time in the glass. Very
satisfying in the mouth, with mid weight flavors of black cherry, savory herbs, cola and subtle oak. Sleek
tannins with a silky texture, and an exceptionally long and generous finish. An impeccably balanced wine that
won me over.
2014 Ernest Vineyards The Settler Cleary Freestone Ranch Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
alc., 388 cases, $58. A 6-acre vineyard downslope from Freestone Hill Vineyard in the West Sonoma Coast.
Clones are Pommard, 777, 667 and 113 harvested at average Brix of 23.1º. Aged 10 months in French oak
barrels, 30% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Fruit aromas of blueberry and black cherry
are complimented by scents of rose petal and oak. A mid weight plus styled wine, with ripe fruited flavors of
blueberry-pomegranate, plum and black cherry with a background hint of spice and herbs. The tannins are
silky and integrated, the finish is modest but pleasant and the overall impression is one of harmony.
2014 Ernest Vineyards The Grandfather Rayhill Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 161
cases, $56. Clone 115 harvested at 23.4º Brix. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 30% new.
reddish purple color in the glass. An array of aromas greet the nose, including black cherry, forest floor and
oak. A harmonious offering, with teasing flavors of dark cherry, red currant and supportive oak. Easy to cozy up
to with invisible tannins, and a grand finish that goes on and on.
2014 Ernest Vineyards The Engineer Romanini Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
12.0% alc., 260
cases, $51. This vineyard was originally planted in Sonoma Valley in 1954 by Antonio Romanini. Pommard
clone and Calera selection harvested at 21.9º average Brix. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of forest floor, pine needle, Asian spice, red cherry and red
raspberry lead off. The savory fruits are darker tasting, and the overall tone is rustic and forestry. Rather lean,
with vivid acidity and a dry finish.
2015 Edaphos Green Valley Ranch Chardonnay
12.5% alc., 81 cases, $28. Pronounced “ee-dah-
fos,” it means “base,” or “soil” in Greek. The strategy behind this label is exploration,
experimentation and applying lesions learned making wine under the winery’s other labels. These
are basically laboratory, small-lot wines that incorporate new approaches to winemaking with
different styles and sometimes off beat grape varieties. Rued-Z clone from Green Valley Ranch
harvested at 22.3º average Brix. Cold fermented at 50ºF and aged in 2/3 stainless steel and 1/3
Very light golden yellow color in the glass. Highly floral nose, with added aromas of
white peach and spice. A wine with personality, offering flavors of citrus, white stone fruits, apricot and edible
flower. Exceptional grip and length on the bright finish. This wine works beautifully as a stand-alone drinker, or
can pair exceptionally well with a variety of foods.
2014 Ernest Vineyards The Bombardier Black Emerald Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay
13.5% alc., 141 cases, $42. Sourced from a 17-acre vineyard on Vine Hill Road in the heart of the Russian
River Valley. Originally planted by Duff Bevill to Old Wente clone of Chardonnay in the 1960s, today the owners
are Dennis and Mary Black and the site is called Black Emerald. 75% Black Emerald and 25% Green Valley
Ranch vineyards. Wente 4 and Rued clones harvested at an average Brix of 23.2º. Aged 10 months in French
oak barrels, 43% new.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. A more ripely fruited wine with more oak
seasoning. Aromas of charred lemon, yellow apple, poached pear, pastry cream and spice. Richly flavored,
with tastes of lemon, pear, pineapple and toast. Viscous in texture, with some fruit persistence on the finish.
Rewarding ripe fruit flavors, but lacking some of the vibrancy exhibited by The Farmer bottling.
2014 Ernest Vineyards The Farmer Green Valley Ranch Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
13.0% alc., 298
cases, $45. Sourced from a vineyard planted by Warren Dutton in 1969 west of the town of Graton. The clone
is Rued-Z harvested at 23.0º average Brix. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 35% new.
yellow color and clear in the glass. Complex nose offering scents of lemon rind, cake spice, white flower, and
flint. Nicely lifted on the palate, with flavors of yellow stone fruits and citrus. Refined and sophisticated, with
impeccable balance and soothing, but not creamy texture.
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Sonoma
Celebrating 30 years, Gloria Ferrer is better known for its excellent sparkling wines, but it also offers solid
value-priced Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Visit www.gloriaferrer.com.
2014 Gloria Ferrer Carneros Estate Chardonnay
14.1% alc., $25. Estate grown. Whole cluster
pressed, barrel aged 9 months in French oak barrels.
Light golden yellow color in the glass. A very
nicely composed wine, with pleasing aromas of apple and lemon oil, and flavors of citrus, apple and
pastry cream. Slightly viscous in the mouth, yet crisp and juicy with no oak intrusion in a balanced style
2013 Gloria Ferrer Carneros Estate Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.72, TA 0.58, $27. 21st release for this wine.
100% de-stemmed, 2-day cold soak, aged 9 months in 96% French and 4% Hungarian oak barrels, 14% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Earth-kissed aromas of black raspberry with a tag of toasty oak.
Mid weight flavors of black cherry and black raspberry with a hint of dark chocolate and tobacco from barrel
aging. Nicely balanced, with good structure and a modest finish.
Loos Family Winery, San Francisco
A very small, urban boutique winery celebrating its tenth anniversary. Owner and winemaker Brad J. Loos is a
member of the Guild of Sommeliers. Emphasis is on ecologically balanced vineyard sources, extended cold
soak, native and cultured yeast fermentation, gentle bladder pressing, gravity flow wine transfer, premium
French oak barrel aging, and minimal racking. Tasting is by appointment in San Francisco. The winery is also
the home of Enological Innovations™, that includes several U.S. patents and patent applications relating to
fermentation technology. Visit the website at www.loosfamilywinery.com.
2014 Loos Family Coastside Cuvée Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.69, TA 0.62, 300
hand-numbered bottles, $42. Primarily sourced from Doctor’s Vineyard. Mainly Dijon 777 clone and Swan
selection harvested at 26.5º Brix. Over 10% whole cluster, 4-day cold soak, 14-day primary fermentation using
feral and selected proprietary yeasts. Aged 11 months in medium toast plus French oak barrels, 70% neutral
and 30% new. Bottled unfined with nominal polish filter.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of
grape, Damsel plum, black raspberry and nutty oak. Mid weight flavors of black cherry and blueberry-pomegranate
with a straw note in the background. The tannins are well matched, and the finish is particularly
heady. The wine picks up fruit intensity over time in the glass, yet there is something about the flavor profile
that puzzles me.
2015 Loos Family La Cruz Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.36, TA 0.848, 300 handnumbered
bottles, $28. 98.5% Chardonnay, 1.5% Sauvignon Blanc. Wente 4 clone. Harvest Brix 23.2º. 10%
whole cluster, 4-day cold soak, 14-day primary fermentation, aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 70%
neutral and 30% new. Bottled unfined with nominal polish filter.
Moderate golden straw color in the glass.
Inviting aromas of apple, pear, lemon curd and buttery brioche. A nice blend of fruit and oak attributes, with
flavors of yellow apple, lemon, honey, pineapple, and blond caramel with a hint of toast in the background.
Mildly creamy in texture with brisk acidity and some finishing purpose.
Pellegrini Wine Company, Santa Rosa
Pellegrini Wine Company is best known for its estate Olivet Lane Vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but the
winery also produces appellation Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sourced from the winery’s own and other Russian
River Valley vineyards. Since Robert Pellegrini took over sole ownership of the winery in 2013, his focus has
been on furthering the quality of Pellegrini wines and the provenance of the Olivet Lane Vineyard. He brought
on winemaker Lynn Krausmann to participate in this focus. Lynn was previously a winemaker for Williams
Selye, Esterlina Vineyards and Clos du Bois. The Olivet Lane Vineyard and Pellegrini appellation wines are
produced on site at the estate winery on West Olivet Road that was designed specifically for small lot Pinot
Noir and Chardonnay production by a former winemaker, Merry Edwards. The Pellegrini Russian River Valley
Pinot Noir and Pellegrini Russian River Valley Chardonnay are available through the winery and website, and
at wine retailers and fine restaurants in select markets nationally. Visit www.pellegrinisonoma.com.
2014 Pellegrini Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.64, TA 0.54, 727 cases, $35.
Nicely perfumed with hi-tone aromas of Bing cherry, black raspberry, blackberry and spice. The mid
weight core of black cherry fruit pleases, as does the soothing mouthfeel. The oak overlay is a bit
prominent and the finish is rather modest, but this is a solid wine that will please at the table.
2015 Pellegrini Russian River Valley Unoaked Chardonnay
14.1% alc., pH 3.29, TA 0.74, 2,137
Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Fresh aromas of cut apple, lychee and
pear transition to flavors of apple, pear, grapefruit and nori on the palate. Very crisp and clean, with a
slightly creamy mouthfeel.
Ram’s Gate Winery, Sonoma
This is a high level producer with a focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from marquee vineyards in Sonoma
County and Carneros and 28 acres of estate vines in Carneros. The inspired architecture and interior design of the winery
make it a destination to savor along with the outstanding wines. Veteran winemaker Jeff Gaffner (Saxon
Brown, Black Kite) crafts the wines. The wines are produced in limited quantities so the wines are rarely
available on the winery’s website. The best way to acquire the wines is to visit the winery or join the mailing list
The Chardonnays reviewed here are barrel aged for 11 months in French oak
barrels, ranging from one-third to two-thirds new.
2014 Ram’s Gate Ram’s Gate Estate Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay
14.6% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.60, 227
cases, $76. 4.2-acres of hillside vines planted on the Ram’s Gate Estate Faultline Vineyard. A blend of five
clones. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 33% new.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. This
wine’s nose speaks more of salinity and lees with only a hint of lemon curd and oak aromas. Slightly creamy on the
palate, with flavors of lemon, apple and pastry cream, in a sleek, fresh and understated style that has
exemplary balance and only a bit of oak in the background.
2014 Ram’s Gate Green Acres Hill Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay
14.7% alc., pH 3.30, TA 0.64, 263
cases, $62. The first vineyard that Vittorio Sangiacomo planted. Old Wente clone. Aged 11 months in 40% new
French oak barrels.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. An array of enticing aromas include lemon,
Bartlett pear, toasty brioche and a white flower note. Also a bit floral on the palate, with added flavors of lemon
and pineapple. Somewhat restrained, with bracing acidity, a slightly viscous mouthfeel, and some length on the
citrus-driven finish. Nothing but good things to say about this wine.
2014 Ram’s Gate Hudson Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay
15.1% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.57, 359
cases, $64. Calera clone grown on the Napa County side of Carneros.
Moderate golden yellow color
in the glass. Ripe fruit aromas of lemon pie, pear and pineapple. The essence of lemon is
complimented by flavors of pear, apple and spice in a highly delicious, heady version of Chardonnay.
Very slightly creamy in texture, with spry acidity, and uncompromising intensity and length on the
finish. Impressive balance at this high ABV. This is a Chardonnay to drink by itself, offering a
contemplative experience from one of California’s grand cru Chardonnay vineyards.
2014 Ram’s Gate Durrell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.9% alc., pH 3.30, TA 0.61, 355 cases,
$74. Aged 11 months in 33% new French oak barrels.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Elevating
aromas of golden apple, lemon and nutty oak draw you into the glass. Exceptional harmony, with acidity in its
place, and flavors of lemon, Asian pear, vanilla and bark.
Ryan Cochrane Wines, San Francisco
Ryan crafts very small quantities of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Santa Barbara County. He selects grapes
from the best vineyards he can source and makes wines that reflect the sites from which they originated. Ryan
trained under noted winemaker Roger Nicolas of RN Estate in Paso Robles, where he is now the assistant
winemaker. Ryan produced his inaugural Ryan Cochrane Pinot Noir in 2010. Tasting are not available, but these are
truly hand crafted artisan wines made with passion available for sale on the winery website. Visit
2014 Ryan Cochrane Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., 270 cases, $43.
30% 115, 30% 667, 40% Pommard 5. 20% whole cluster. Feral yeast primary fermentation. Aged 10 months in
French oak barrels, 20% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Both
cherry and berry fruits and oak aromas blend on the nose. Elegantly styled, with mid weight flavors of cherry,
strawberry, tobacco and dried herbs, even a tomato note. Oak plays a prominent role in this wine that has a
pleasing cherry-fueled, dry finish.
2014 Ryan Cochrane Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 190 cases, $43. 60% 115,
20% 113, and 20% 667. 20% whole cluster. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 20% new. Bottled unfined
Moderately light cherry red hue in the glass. Aromas of cherry, strawberry and sandalwood lead
to a mid weight flavored wine featuring dark red cherry, cranberry, strawberry and raspberry fruits
complimented by a hint of spice, The tannins are tame, the wine is nicely balanced, and the finish is pleasantly
2014 Ryan Cochrane Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
13.3% alc., 70 cases, $34.
Clone 4. Barrel fermented, 100% malolactic fermentation with lees stirring. Aged 10 months in French oak
barrels, 33% new.
Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Aromatically pleasing with scents of yellow
apple, yellow peach and brioche. Slightly creamy on the palate, with flavors of lemon, peach, honey, baking
spices and toast. Highly flavorful, with a good acid spine, and a cleansing finish.
Talisman Wine, Sonoma
Proprietors Scott and Marta Rich recently sent me all of their 2013 Pinot Noirs, some of which are very special,
super limited, small production wines. Readers of the PinotFile know that I have been a long time fan of the
Pinot Noirs produced by Talisman, not only for their individuality but also their age ability. Because of the
inclusion of some whole clusters, extended post fermentation maceration, and lengthy aging in a relatively high
proportion of new French oak, the wines benefit from cellaring. The high percentage of new oak and alcohol
tends to mask the terroir when the wines are young. If opened upon release, they need decanting. A quaint
tasting room is located in Glen Ellen and is open Thursday through Monday from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.. A
personal, comparative Pinot Noir tasting experience is offered. Visit www.talismanwine.com.
2013 Talisman Cuvée No. 5 North Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 217 cases, $38. Released October 1, 2016.
Sourced from a few young vineyards. 25% whole cluster, feral yeast fermentation, aged 19 months in French
oak barrels, 44% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is quite giving, with bright aromas
of black cherry, strawberry, forest floor and exotic spices. Forward drinking and middleweight in style, with
flavors of dark red and black cherry, black berry and anise. The whole cluster has contributed good structure to
the wine. Not particularly complex, but easy to like.
2013 Talisman Weir Vineyard Yorkville Highlands Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 241 cases, $65. Released
October 1, 2016. Planted in 1992, this vineyard sits at 850-1000 feet elevation. Clones 2A, and Pommard,
along with DRC suitcase and a Rochioli selection planted in gravelly, loamy clay. Aged in French oak barrels,
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, forest path, dried herbs and
floral bouquet. A very savory wine, with light to mid weight flavors of black cherry and black raspberry fruits
dominated by flavors of herbs, eucalyptus and toasty oak. Firm, but supportive tannins, with a generous finish
of some length. Still quite savory when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2013 Talisman Gunsalus Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., 314 cases,pH 3.67, TA
0.60, $54. Released May 1, 2016. This vineyard, planted in 2001, is farmed by Pamela and Glen Gunsalus. It
is located in the Green Valley of Russian River Valley AVA. Clones 114, 115 and 777. 30% whole cluster
fermentation. 1 week cold soak, feral yeast primary fermentation, 36 days in fermenter, and aged 19 months in
French oak barrels, 50% new, without racking until just before bottling.
Moderately light reddish purple color in
the glass. Hi-tone aromas of Bing cherry, strawberry and mild toasty oak lead off. Dark red fruited and mid
weight in style, with complimentary oak seasoning and a vivid acid spine. Quite approachable now, with a
modestly intense finish.
2013 Talisman Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.57, 164
cases, $56. Released May 1, 2016. The highest vineyard in the appellation at an elevation of 750 feet. Vines
are planted in rocky soils of volcanic origin and exposed to the full brunt of fog and cold airflow that streams off
San Pablo Bay. The vineyard was established in 1998 by Nancy and Tony Lilly and their partner, winemaker
Steve MacRostie. 25% whole cluster, cold soak, feral fermentation both primary and malolactic, extended post
fermentation maceration, and aging 19 months in French oak barrels, 57% new.
Moderate reddish purple color
in the glass. The nose opens slowly in the glass, revealing aromas of wild berries, underbrush and forest floor.
Good attack of Damsel plum, black cherry and purple berry flavors with an earthy undertone. Some drying
tannins show up on the finish. Much more aromatic with more finishing power and length when tasted the
following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2013 Talisman Jamison Vineyard Destein Estate Bennett Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., 51 cases, $48.
Released June 1, 2016. Inaugural bottling from this vineyard. This vineyard receives the brunt of cold air
through the Petaluma Gap. 565-625 feet elevation. Clone 777 planted in 1996. Aged 20 months in French oak
barrels, 50% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of rhubarb, raisin, bruised apple, earthy
flora and a touch of oak. The core of fruit flavors consist of boysenberry and blackberry with nutty oak in the
background. Nicely balanced, with a satiny texture, but nothing stands out, with the fruit fading quickly on the
finish. Better the following day when tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, with a sappy dark
fruit compote character, and resolution of the bruised apple note evident upon opening.
2013 Talisman Red Dog Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., 413 cases, $56. Released May
1, 2016. Clones 115, 777 and Pommard 5. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 59% new.
reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, graphite and a hint of oak combine in a pleasing
perfume. The mid weight flavors of black cherry, pomegranate and spice evolve slowly over time in the glass.
Nicely composed, with a juicy underpinning, slightly astringent tannins, a silky texture and a modest finish.
Considerably more fruit expression and finishing length the following day when tasted from a previously
opened and re-corked bottle. The oak treatment is very complimentary.
2013 Talisman Red Dog Vineyard Dijon Clones Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.66, TA
0.62, 413 cases, $68. Released October 1, 2016. This vineyard, planted in 2000, is located high on the
northwestern flank of Sonoma Mountain at 800 feet elevation and is exposed to cool air and fog from the
Pacific Ocean through the Petaluma Gap. Clones are predominantly Pommard with lesser amounts of Dijon
115 and 777. After feral fermentation, the wine underwent extended maceration before pressing and barreling.
Aged 19 months in French oak barrels, 62% new.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of
black cherry, mushroom and toasty oak. Intense attack of black cherry fruit with impressive palate presence.
Weight and weightlessness combined with generous intensity on the finish. The satiny texture seduces, the
tannins are well integrated, and the charming cherry fruit delights. When tasted the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle, the fruit continued to charm and the wine had opened further. This
bottling needs more time in bottle to integrate the oak.
2013 Talisman Adastra Vineyard Los Carneros Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., 316 cases, $56. Released October
1, 2016. This vineyard, planted in 1994 in clay loam soils, is CCOF organically certified and farmed by Chris
Thorpe and Edwin Richards. Clones include 113, 115, 777, Swan, Pommard, Wädenswil 2A and suitcase
selections. Aged in French oak barrels, 62% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed
with heady scents of blueberry, cherry, cola and subtle oak. An array of dark red and blue fruits are offered in a
mid weight styled wine, with a muscular tannic backbone but balancing acidity. The oak treatment peaks on the
finish that reveals a bit of alcoholic warmth. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and recorked
bottle, there was better oak and tannin integration, more polish, but still a hint of heat on the finish.
2013 Talisman Adastra Vineyard “Méthode Valise” Los Carneros Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., 20 cases, $125. Released
October 1, 2016. One barrel from a suitcase selection. CCOF
certified organic grapes planted in 1994. 100% whole cluster,
feral yeast fermentation, aged in a new French oak barrel.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very shy nose
offering only oak spice aromas without fruit. A serious, age
worthy wine with a mid weight core of black cherry fruit
enhanced with flavors of savory herbs and exotic whole cluster driven
spices. Substantial tannins yet not indulgent, with remarkable length and
intensity on the finish. When tasted the following day from a previously
opened and re-corked bottle, the nose was still primary, but this wine
was clearly the most complex and interesting in the 2013 lineup. It will
definitely benefit from several years in the cellar.