Sips of Recently Tasted Wines
Longboard Vineyards, Healdsburg, CA
Owner, winegrower, winemaker and surfer, Oded Shakked, offers Pinot Noir from purchased grapes in the
Russian River Valley. He is an Israel native who and lived, worked and surfed on four continents, but fell in love
with northern Sonoma County in the late 1980s. The label was established in 1998, but the first Pinot Noir was
released in 2006. That said, he has made Pinot Noir in California every year but once since 1986 (he was in
Bordeaux in 1987). Multiple other varietals are offered, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, sparkling, and
Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and several Syrahs.
The winery’s tasting room, named the Surflounge, is a two minute walk from Healdsburg Plaza, and is open
daily. Visit www.longboardvineyards.com.
2014 Longboard Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.64, 581 cases, $39.
Clones 115, 667, 777 and Pommard. 3-day cold soak, open-top fermentation, aged 12 months in French oak
barrels, 30% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Elevating aromas of Bing cherry, blueberry and
oak spice lead to a mid weight styled wine with a core of fresh red cherry and berry fruits offering good
vibrancy. The silky tannins make for forward drinking. A thread of citrus plies the background and shows up on
the slightly tart finish.
2015 Longboard Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.61, 714 cases, $39.
Clones 115, 667, 777 and Pommard. 3-day cold soak, open-top fermentation, aged 12 months in French oak
barrels, 30% new.
Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of blackberry, cassis, vanilla and root beer
lead off. Rather lush and intensely fruity, featuring flavors of very ripe dark raspberry, boysenberry and
blackberry complimented with oak-driven notes of vanilla and nuts. Energetic, but supportive tannins, with a
consuming, fruit-driven finish. Quite a contrast from the 2014 vintage of this wine that has considerably more
ripeness, sap and grip and less Russian River Valley in character.
2014 Longboard Vineyards Mystos Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.62, 108 cases, $55. The owners of the
vineyard do not want their name on the bottle but the grapes are from a
Russian River Valley hillside vineyard. Mystos is the name of a popular
surf spot on the Sonoma Coast known only to locals. Rochioli selection.
3-day cold soak, open-top fermentation, aged 12 months in French oak
barrels, 33% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Enticing
marriage of Bing cherry and blackberry fruit aromas with barrel input.
Eye-opening, mid weight core of earth-kissed boysenberry and
blackberry flavors. The silky and polished mouthfeel is tres Pinot, the
tannins are integrated, and the juicy and lengthy purple berry driven
finish is glorious. When tasted the following day from a previously
opened and re-corked bottle, the fruit seemed noticeably more ripe, but otherwise this wine was a stellar
Sante Arcangeli Family Wines, Aromas, CA
Owner and winemaker John Beneditti has been turning out notable wines over the past few years. John
learned winemaking from Ryan Beauregard, the Brassfield family and James MacPhail. He says, “It started out
as a hobby and soon became a hobby gone haywire.” The name derives from the person, Sante Arcangeli,
John’s great grandfather
Sante Arcangeli Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines are produced primarily from vineyards located in the
Corralitos region of the Santa Cruz Mountains. A tasting room is located in historic Pescadero, CA, on Highway
1, in a 130-year-old building . Visit the very informative website at www.santewinery.com.
2016 Sante Arcangeli Santa Cruz Mountains Rosé of Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 75 cases, $25. A
combination of direct pressed grapes (Dalardi Vineyard) and saignée (McConnell Vineyard, Lester
Family Vineyard and Saveria Vineyard). Harvest Brix 23.0º-24.5º. Swan, “828,” 115, 777, 2A and
667 clones. Native and M83 yeast fermented. Aged 4 months on the lees in stainless steel.
pink color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, strawberry and dried herbs lead to a clean and crisp
tasting wine with flavors of cherry, strawberry, peach, melon and savory herbs. Very satisfying with
a good cut of acidity and a burst of fruit on the finish.
2015 Sante Arcangeli Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.64, TA 0.59, 225 cases, $39. The
second release of this “Corralitos Cuvée,” a blend from Hall Vineyard (40%), Lester Family Vineyard (35%) and
Saveria Vineyard (25%). Harvest Brix 23.0º-25.5º. Pommard 4, Mt. Eden, 2A, 115 and 667 clones. Native and
proprietary yeast fermentation. 95% de-stemmed. Aged 10 months on lees in French oak barrels, 25% new.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Inviting aromas of cherry, blueberry, toast and smoke.
Relatively light in weight and elegant, with a core of oak-kissed black cherry, cranberry, tobacco and even
apple flavors. Uplifting juicy acidity with a modest finish that leaves a trail of oak.
2015 Sante Arcangeli Hall Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.61, 75 cases, $45.
Vineyard is located at 2,000 feet elevation in the Summit region. Harvest Brix 23.3º. Pommard 4 clone. 100%
de-stemmed. Native and proprietary yeast fermented. Aged 10 months on less in French oak barrels, 30%
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is primarily oak-driven, offering aromas of cigar,
toast and tundra along with some black cherry fruit. Discretely concentrated flavors of black cherry, black
raspberry, and purple grape fruits are accented with baking spices. Plush in the mouth, with an appealing finish
flush with oak-imbued cherry goodness.
2015 Sante Arcangeli “Selezione Susie” Family Reserve Toulouse Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.58, 125 cases, $65. Harvest Brix 25.5º. Clones are 667, 777, 115 and Pommard.
20% whole cluster. Native and proprietary yeast fermented. 6-day cold soak, Aged 11 months on lees with
stirring every 2 weeks for 3 months in French oak barrels, 20% new. Bottled unfiltered.
Moderately dark reddish
purple color in the glass. The fruit in this wine pushes ripeness but never enters the compote realm. Aromas of
spice, black fruits and a hint of oak lead to a richly appointed charge of black cherry, black raspberry and
blackberry fruit flavors. This wine has serious sap with a supporting backbone of brawny tannins. Much more
appealing the following day when tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle with inviting harmony
and glorious fruit exuberance. This is meant to be an age worthy wine and more time in the cellar will fulfill that
Looking back - review of an older release of “Selezione Susie” Pinot Noir
2012 Santa Arcangeli “Selezione Susie” Family Reserve Split Rail Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.65, 50 cases. David Bruce selection and Roederer clone 32. Harvest Brix 23.5º. 20%
whole cluster. Aged 10 months on lees in French oak barrels, 60% new.
Moderate reddish purple color with
slight rim bricking in the glass. A full flight of aromas build in intensity over time in the glass showing off black
cherry, dried rose petal, raspberry, spice, burnt tobacco and nutty oak. The cherry fruit is still showy without
dryness, and the earthy, underground tone gives the wine character. The tannins are nicely integrated. A bit of
oak intercedes on the slightly tart but refreshing finish. Drink now to 2000. (Reviewed October 2013, score
2015 Sante Arcangeli Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
13.2% alc., pH 3.31, TA 0.72, 175 cases, $30. 60% Bald
Mountain Vineyard (Bonny Doon) and 40% Split Rail Vineyard
(Corralitos). Harvest Brix 21.5º-24.0º. Native and proprietary
yeast fermented. Aged in French oak barrels, 14% new.
golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Enticing aromas of
lemon, hazelnut, bread dough and yeast. Sleek and
mouthwatering on the palate, with flavors of citrus, honey, poached pear,
caramel and brioche. Beautifully composed in a bright and lip-smacking
style, that finishes with good cut and plenty of citrus goodness. This wine
confirms my conviction that the Santa Cruz Mountains is one of the best
wine regions in California for Chardonnay.
Sarah’s Vineyard, Gilroy, CA
Before the Santa Clara Valley became known as “Silicon Valley,” it boasted a 175-year history of winegrowing
and wine production. Sarah’s Vineyard is located in the foothills of Mount Madonna in the Santa Clara Valley
and carries on that tradition. Here the Hecker Pass gives the cool site a perfect balance between warm and
sunny days and cooling winds and fog from the Pacific Ocean. The 28-acre property (17.5 planted acres) is a
labor of love for winegrower Tim Slater, a former DJ, musician and successful engineer with many patents to
his name. At Sarah’s Vineyard, he channels both his inner “mad scientist” and artistic side to grow and produce
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as well as Rhone varietals. The Sarah’s Vineyard home estate is made up of three
vineyards: the original plantings and the newer Timcat and Dwarf Oak blocks. He also partners with top
growers for limited Sarah’s Vineyard releases from neighboring Santa Cruz Mountains and Santa Lucia
The Sarah’s Vineyard Tasting room is open daily on Hecker Pass Road, just outside Gilroy. Sarah’s Vineyard
online home is www.SarahsVineyard.com.
2014 Sarah’s Vineyard Santa Clara Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 1,211 cases, $25. Sourced from the Dwarf Oak
Block of Sarah’s Vineyard, clones 667, 777, 115 and a “DRC”
selection. 100% de-stemmed, native and inoculated yeast
whole berry fermentation, aged 11 months in French oak
barrels, 10% new. Formerly the winery’s “Central Coast
Series” Pinot Noir.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the
glass. Lovely aromas of cherry, rose petal, hazelnut, sandalwood and
earthy flora lead to a very charming mid palate display of unctuous
cherry and baking spice flavors. The wine’s elegant tannins and a
polished mouthfeel attract attention in this forward drinking offering with
plenty of Pinot talking. Like cherry pie day at baking school: cherries,
spices, and very interesting results. Still charming when tasted the
following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2015 Alma de Cattleya Sonoma County Chardonnay
14.1% alc., $24. Cellared and bottled by
Cattleya Wines. A value-priced offering from Bibiana Gonzalez Rave, the winemaker for Wayfarer,
Pahlmeyer and Cattleya. A low malolactic, lightly oaked style.
Light golden yellow color and clear in
the glass. Aromas of lemon, pear, flint, petrol and buttered toast lead off. Light in style, with flavors of
lemon, pineapple, golden apple and crusty bread. A polished, clean mouthfeel adds to the appeal.
2015 Blank Canvas California Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $12.84. Vinted and bottled by American Vines Cellars,
Napa (this label term means the bottler made less than 10% of the wine and possibly did not make any of the
wine). Gold Medal, 2016 Orange County Fair Wine Competition.
Light reddish purple color in the glass. Very
woody and off putting nose that fails to come around with swirling. Better on the palate, with light-weight flavors
of black cherry and boysenberry and noticeable oak overlay. Silky tannins make for easy drinking and some
fruit rises up on the finish, but the oak treatment ruins the experience.
2014 Black Kite Angel Hawk Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., pH 3.45, TA 0.61, 152 cases, $85.
Released February 2017. A reserve bottling comprised of the vintage’s best and most age worthy barrels from
each block of the Kite’s Rest Vineyard. Clones 114, 115 and Pommard. Aged 22 months in French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is filled with spices such as clove, cardamom and
turmeric in harmony with well-ripened dark cherry fruit. Potent and sappy on the palate, with well-spiced dark
fruit flavors flooding the mouth, yet light on its feet, with integrated firm tannins and skillful use of oak. Not really
a terroir-driven wine, but offers an unrivaled hedonistic drinking experience.
2015 Knudsen Vineyards Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Chardonnay
14.0% alc., pH 3.33, TA 0.71, 320
cases, $45, screwcap. Vineyard still Knudsen family owned since 1971, Salmon Safe and LIVE certified
sustainable. This wine debuted February 25, 2017, at 2017 Oregon Chardonnay Celebration. Release April 4,
2017. Harvest Brix 22.6º. Dijon clones 95 and 76 planted in 1995 in Jory soils at an elevation of 655-760 feet.
Aged 20 months in French oak barrels, 27% new.
Very light platinum color in the glass. Demure aromas of
apple, citrus, almond biscotti and buttery brioche excite the senses. Serene and sophisticated on the palate,
with flavors of apple, pear and coconut. Impeccably balanced, with a sleek mouthfeel and a lip smacking, dry
finish. Very classy juice.
2014 MacMurray Estate Vineyards Central Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.60, $18.56.
Primarily sourced from Olson Ranch Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Clones 777, 2A, 459,
667 and 23. Aged in 40% used French oak barrels and 60% in stainless steel. Best of Class at the
2017 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass.
Pleasant nose offering streaming aromas of dark fruits and hints of vanilla and dark chocolate.
Modest in weight, featuring a charge of blackberry and blackberry flavors with a bit of black cherry
and spice as well as oak chiming in. Rather typical of Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, with ample
mid palate presence, a pleasant mouthfeel, and some finishing length. This wine is in wide distribution and is a