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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 2013.



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. Score: 92-93

2014 Benovia La Pommeriae Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% 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. Score: 92

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. Score: 93

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. Score: 90

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, 46% new. · 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. Score: 91



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. Score: 93

2014 Ernest Vineyards The Settler Cleary Freestone Ranch Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

12.5% 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. Score: 91

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. · Moderate 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. Score: 92

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. Score: 89

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 neutral oak. · 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. Score: 93

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. Score: 90

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. · Moderate golden 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. Score: 92



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 with charm. Score: 91

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. Score: 88



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. Score: 89

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. Score: 90



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. Score: 89

2015 Pellegrini Russian River Valley Unoaked Chardonnay

14.1% alc., pH 3.29, TA 0.74, 2,137 cases, $22. · 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. Score: 91



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 at www.ramsgatewinery.com. 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. Score: 91

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. Score: 93

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. Score: 94

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. Score: 92



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 www.ryancochranewines.com.



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. Score: 89

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 and unfiltered. · 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 exuberant. Score: 92

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. Score: 92



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. Score: 89

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, 70% new. · 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. Score: 90-91

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. Score: 90-91

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. Score: 91-92

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. Score: 87-88

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. · Moderately light 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. Score: 91-92

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. Score: 92-93

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. Score: 89-90

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. Score: 93-94


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