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Sips of Recently Tasted California Wines

Bohéme Wines, Occidental, California

Estate grown, produced and bottled by Kurt Beitler Wines in Forestville. Kurt is celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of his grower crafted wines with the 2014 vintage. The name is derived from the Bohemian Highway that meanders through Sonoma’s coastal range of redwoods, valleys, farms and the town of Occidental. The wines are consistently fine and reflect hands-on craftsmanship. Visit www.bohemewines.com.



2014 Bohème Tenth Anniversary Taylor Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 308 cases, $55. Vineyard is located on a bluff 5.3 miles from the Pacific Ocean so it is exposed to cool maritime air and fog. Soils are sandy loam. Swan selection. Yield 1.69 tons per acre. Tailored cold soak, hand punch downs, aged 22 months in seasoned French oak barrels. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Revealing scents of coddled black cherry, bark and rose petal. The middleweight core of well-spiced black cherry alerts the taste buds and the uplifting, juicy and prolonged finish bring refreshing closure. A real cherry bomb with a satiny texture and a deft compliment of oak. Score: 93

2014 Bohème Tenth Anniversary English Hill Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 446 cases, $49. Vineyard is located at the southwestern edge of Sebastopol Hills. Clones 115, 667, Vosne-Romanee and Calera each vinified separately. Yields 3.3 tons per acre. Tailored cold soak, 25% whole cluster fermentation, hand punch downs, aged 22 months in seasoned French oak barrels. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Enchanting aromas of purple grape, pomegranate, black cherry, baking spice, and sweet pipe smoke set the stage. Flat out terrific in the mouth, with alluring mid weight flavors of raspberry and black cherry and a hint of oak and feral gaminess. Smooth and polished in texture, with a quenching cut of acidity on the finish. Score: 94

2014 Bohème Tenth Anniversary Stuller Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 263 cases $53. This vineyard is located amid the redwoods at 1,200 feet elevation with views of the Pacific Ocean 6.4 miles west. Clones 115 and 667. Yield 1.53 tons per acre. Tailored cold soak, 30% whole cluster fermentation, hand punch downs, aged 22 months in seasoned French oak barrels. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Leading off are aromas of strawberry, raspberry, forest floor, floral bouquet and a subtle soapy note. Mid weight plus in style, with flavors of black raspberry, strawberry, and grape with a floral note in the background. Suede tannins with a silky mouthfeel and a slightly sour cherry note on the finish. Score: 91



2014 Bohème Tenth Anniversary Taylor Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.1% alc., 214 cases, $45. Wente selection. Yield 3.1 tons per acre. Whole cluster pressed, cold fermented in seasoned French oak barrels, and aged on the lees for 20 months with complete malolactic fermentation. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Very inviting aromas of Honeycrisp apple, lemon butter and toasted marshmallow. Well appointed flavors of spiced apple, nectarine, vanilla creme and toasty brioche in a richly styled wine with admirable balance and a pleasing lemon drop finish. Score: 92

2014 Bohème Tenth Anniversary English Hill Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.3% alc., 192 cases, $45. Wente selection. Whole cluster pressed and cold fermented in seasoned French oak barrels, and aged on the lees for 20 months with complete malolactic fermentation. · Moderately dark golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of lemon oil, cut grass, nori and buttery toffee come to the fore upon opening. Robust and ripe, but toned and uplifting, with flavors of pear, yellow apple, pineapple and creme caramel. Slightly creamy in texture with a sublime well-fruited finish. A superbly crafted fruit and oak driven Chardonnay. Score: 93



Chasseur, Hunter Wine Cellars, Sebastopol, California

Pinot Noir enthusiasts are often searching for the latest new producer to check out. But those in the know stay with producers with a long track record of consistent excellence. Winemaker William Hunter of Chasseur, falls into the latter category. Hunter is a 30-year winemaking veteran who has worked with growers in the west Sonoma County region for years and his wines reflect both his experience and his familiarity with his vineyard sources. Many wine critics have praised his wines, yet Chasseur has been under consumers’ radar, probably because Hunter, a University of California at Davis graduate, is a dedicated winemaker and not a publicist. His production is modest because he does all the winemaking himself, infusing each wine with careful hands-on attention. A spring and fall release are sold primarily to Wine Club members. Hunter does accept visitors by appointment to his winery in Sebastopol. Visit www.chasseurwines.com.



2014 Chasseur Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $45. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Deep aromas of coddled black cherry, spice and cola that persist over time in the glass. Mid weight plus flavors of black cherry, cola and baking spices framed by integrated tannins and finishing with good but short exuberance. Easy to like with the weight and ripeness we have come to expect from Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and an ideal representative of the AVA. Score: 90

2014 Chasseur Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $45. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. More feral and gamey than the RRV bottling, with spirited aromas of dark red and purple berries, mulch and subtle oak. Discreetly concentrated flavors of black cherry and black raspberry are backed by quenching acidity and silky tannins. The wine has an earthbound quality that appeals with complimentary oak support and a modest but pleasing finish. Score: 91

2014 Chasseur Umino Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.692, , 99 cases, $60. A collaboration between William Hunter and David Umino of Umino Vineyard. Clones 115 and 777. Harvest Brix 24.8º. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Uplifting aromas of wild berries, fruit cake, oak vanillin and brioche. Mid weight styled, with soothing flavors of dark red cherry and berry and back notes of exotic tea and nutty oak. Ideal balance, with a finish awash in berry fruits. Score: 92

2014 Chasseur Sexton Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.49, TA 0.664, 98 cases, $60. A collaboration between William Hunter and James Pratt on Sexton Road. Harvest Brix 24.8º. Clone 114. aged 17 months in French oak barrels. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Shy aromas initially, unfold to revealing enticing scents of dark cherry, dark berry, fertile earth and oak spice. Almost mysterious in character, with interesting savory toned fruit flavors of blackberry and black grape. Generous, but not weighty sap, with honed tannins and some finishing length. A desirable mix of fruit and savory nuances. Score: 92

2014 Chasseur Freestone Station Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.49, TA 0.62, 124 cases, $60. A collaboration between William Hunter and the Cleary and Dutton families. Sourced from Dutton Ranch-Freestone Station Vineyard. Clones 115 and 115. Harvest Brix 25.2º. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Complex and alluring nose offering scents of cherry, raspberry, spice, seasoned oak, graham and even a hint of peach. One could be happy just smelling this wine. Mid weight flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and spice exude class. The wine has both precision and clarity and a pleasing grip of juicy acidity on the glorious finish. Sublime. Score: 94

2014 Chasseur Soft Asylum Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.47, TA 0.58, 105 cases, $60. A blend of the best barrels from best blocks from the best vineyards. Harvest Brix 25.2º. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Lovely aromas of fresh cherry juice, worn leather, wilted rose and vanilla. The mid weight plus flavors of black cherry and black raspberry have an ephemeral character. Satin in texture, with nothing out of place, and an extended black cherry fueled finish that transcends all other Chasseur Pinots in this vintage. Still superb when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. A ticket to heaven. Score: 95



2014 Chasseur Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.1% alc., $40. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. A rich riper fruited style with aromas of lemon curd, pineapple and crème brûlée and flavors of lemon pie, spiced apple, and buttery brioche. Bold and creamy on the palate with a welcome marriage of fruit and oak on the finish. Score: 91

2014 Chasseur Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.1% alc., $40. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. A complex offering, with aromas of green apple, lemon-lime, spice and nutty oak. Very smooth in the mouth with flavors of lemon butter, pear, green apple and honeycomb. Nicely integrated acidity, with a pleasing lemon-lime finish. Score: 90

2014 Chasseur Sanctuary Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.1% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.63, 103 cases, $60. Montrachet selection. Harvest Brix 24.6º. 100% malolactic fermentation. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 67% new. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Sensational aromas of lemon, chalk dust, salt air and stony minerality. Bright and focused, with impressive intensity, offering vibrant flavors of lemon, Fuji apple and caramel. The glorious finish also exudes these flavors. A very classy Chardonnay offering. Score: 95



2014 Chasseur Graton’s Choice Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.1% alc., pH 3.51, TA 0.66,101 cases, $60. A collaboration between William Hunter and the Dutton Family. Sourced from Dutton’s Graton Vineyard. Wente-Hyde selection. Harvest Brix 25.2º. 100% malolactic fermentation. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Somewhat reserved but highly pleasing aromas of lemon, honeysuckle and crushed sea shells. A somewhat lean and steely style, that is nevertheless extremely refreshing, with a core of lemon-lime, green apple and vanilla flavors. Beautifully composed with a bright and clean demeanor. More Chablis styled than California in character and a wine that one would never tire of drinking. Score: 95



LaRue, Sonoma, California

If your choice is lower alcohol, elegant wines with whole cluster inclusion, then winemaker Katy Wilson is your girl. She focuses on high quality Pinot Noir exclusively from Sonoma Coast vineyards. The label is named after her great grandmother, Veona LaRue Newell. The wines are sold though a mailing list and online at the winery’s website store at www.laruewines.com. These wines have a special aura. They are very easy to drink and one never thinks of oak or tannins. At the lower alcohol levels, one can enjoy a couple of glasses without feeling sideways. The equally superb 2015 Charles Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay was reviewed in the previous issue.


2014 LaRue Rice-Spivak Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

12.9% alc., 150 cases, $70. A 6-acre vineyard south of the town of Sebastopol. Dijon clones and Swan selection are planted in Goldridge sandy loam with volcanic ash that gives wines from this vineyard an unmistakable spice and minerality character. Aged 20 months in French oak barrels, 33% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. This wine is exotically spiced as typical for this vineyard. The aromas arrive over time in the glass to accolades, offering hi-tone aromas of dark cherry, burnt tobacco, vanilla, rose petal and spice. The whole cluster character infuses the mid weight core of cherry, raspberry and blueberry fruit flavors. The polished mouthfeel appeals, and the citrus imbued finish is up lifting. The wine seems to gain traction over time, releasing its charms in steps. Glorious when tasted the following day from a previously opened and recorked bottle. Score: 94

2014 LaRue Emmaline Ann Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

12.5% alc., 70 cases, $70. A 3- acre vineyard near the town of Freestone planted to Dijon clones in Goldridge sandy loam soils. The vineyard’s close proximity to the Pacific Ocean and high elevation at 800 feet contribute to its character. Aged 20 months in French oak barrels, 33% new. · Moderately light ruby red color in the glass. Fruit-driven aromas of dark red cherry and berry with a hint of sarsaparilla and floral intricacy. Impressive fortitude on the palate with mid weight flavors of an array of well-ripened cherries and berries. The wine sports gentle tannins and an extremely long finish. Very soothing, offering power in a velvet glove character. Score: 95

2014 LaRue Thorn Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

12.7% alc., 50 cases, $70. This vineyard is is farmed by Ted Klopp who also farms Klopp Ranch Vineyard. This wine is a blend of Pommard and 115 clones planted in Goldridge sandy loam soils. Aged 20 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Aromas of ripe berries, black cherry, spice and fertile earth lead to a middleweight fashioned wine with a solid grip of black cherry and black raspberry fruits. Very engaging on the mid palate and finish, with a silk and satin mouthfeel, a deft touch of oak, and up lifting acidity on the WOW finish. Noticeably better when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 94




Maggy Hawk, Windsor, California

Maggy Hawk Estate Vineyard is a breathtaking and steeply sloped site among coastal redwoods located in the “deep-end” of the Anderson Valley. It consists of a patchwork of different aspects and clones. The coolness here puts it on the edge of potential ripening. Uniquely, each bottling is from a single clone block and is named for a horse born to Maggy Hawk. Moderate weather throughout the spring and summer allowed the grapes ample time to achieve optimal ripeness, flavor development and balance. The wines are not as extracted as those from recent vintages, offering more Pinot charm. Winemaker Elizabeth Grant-Douglas (pictured below) told me, “I am so excited about the 2014 Maggy Hawk Pinot Noirs. 2014 was such a great year to be a winemaker.” The wines are sold by allocation to a mailing list at www.maggyhawkwines.com. You should have some of these wines in your cellar. The series of wines offers an opportunity to taste single clone Pinot Noir. Remember, however, clonal expression is dependent on site and these single clone wines may resemble but not accurately reflect single clone wines produced from another site!



2014 Maggy Hawk Graceful Lady Maggy Hawk Estate Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.57, 178 cases, 176 cases, $66. Clone 777. 5-day cold soak, slow moving AMII yeast fermentation, daily punch downs, and aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 38% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Deep cherry aroma with a touch of spice, tobacco and bittersweet chocolate. The delicious Bing cherry and black raspberry core has a just picked quality. Upon opening, the gorgeous fruit is wrapped in an oak corset, but the oak relaxes over time in the glass. The tannins are gracious making for easy enjoyment and the wine finishes with purpose. Score: 93

2014 Maggy Hawk Unforgettable Maggy Hawk Estate Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.57, 247 cases, $66. Clone 667. 5-day cold soak, slow moving AMII yeast fermentation, daily punch downs, and aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 30% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose predicts an extraordinary experience with soaring aromas of fresh cherry, iced dark berries, forest floor and honey mocha. The opulent blackberry and boysenberry fruits show uncommon intensity and focus with a adulatory succulence. The wine offers impressive mid palate presence, toned tannins, and extraordinary fruit intensity on the finish. Truly unforgettable. Score: 95

2014 Maggy Hawk Afleet Maggy Hawk Estate Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.59, 223 cases, $66. Pommard clone. 5-day cold soak, slow moving AMII yeast fermentation, daily punch downs, and aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 27% new. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Shy aromas of dark cherry, ripe strawberry, spice, nut oil and redwood bark. Laden with plenty of tasty black cherry and black raspberry fruits with a slightly gamey, earthy and herbal countenance. The tannins are modest, and the wine finishes with a load of sweet fruit that lasts and lasts. I like this wine a lot, but I don’t think this site brings out the best qualities of the Pommard clone, probably because of ripeness issues. Score: 92

2014 Maggy Hawk Stormin’ Maggy Hawk Estate Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., pH 3.77, TA 0.57, 297 cases, $66. Clone 667. 5-day cold soak, slow moving AMII yeast fermentation, daily punch downs, and aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 30% new. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Vivacious aromas of black cherry, blackberry and brioche. Just terrific smells. Descriptors can’t do justice to this gorgeous wine that offers delicious flavors of blueberry, blackberry and cola with a commendatory touch of earthiness and oak. The balance is spot-on, the gentle fine-grain tannins make for easy approachability, and the extraordinary finish is particularly noteworthy. Score: 96

2014 Maggy Hawk Jolie Maggy Hawk Estate Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.73, TA 0.55, 614 cases, $66. Clone 115. 5-day cold soak, slow moving AMII yeast fermentation, daily punch downs, and aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 29% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Time is needed for this wine to open so I recommend decanting. With time, the nose becomes ridiculously alluring with aromas of black cherry, cranberry, rose petal, pecan oil and allspice. Flat out delicious, with crunchy, intense black cherry, blueberry and black raspberry fruit flavors. Impeccably balanced and perfectly structured, with a finish that is a celebratory black cherry delight. I have tasted multiple past vintages of Maggy Hawk Pinot Noir, and Jolie is always the one I want to date. Score: 97




McEvoy Ranch, Petaluma, California

A 550-acre ranch in the rolling hills west of Petaluma in Marin County that was once a dairy farm and now reincarnated as an organic olive tree orchard and vineyard. Founded by Nan McEvoy who was inspired by her love of Tuscan olive oil, McEvoy Ranch became one of the preeminent leaders in certified organic, extra virgin olive oil. Grapevines were first planted in 2006 and there is now five certified organic vineyards on 38 acres. Beginning with the 2010 vintage, limited edition wines are produced including Pinot Noir, Viognier and several Mediterranean varietals, vinified by winemaker Blake Yarger. A combination of new and old French puncheons as well as concrete and stainless steel tanks are used to lend old world character to the wines.


2014 McEvoy Ranch Azaya Marin County Pinot Noir

12.5% alc., 585 cases, $50. Azaya is an estate vineyard nestled in the Petaluma gap. This is the premiere release of Azaya Pinot Noir. Aged 20 months in 500L French oak puncheons, 15% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Very shy but pleasant aromas of cherry and blueberry with a savory herb, green garden and nutty compliment. Black cherry, blueberry and spice flavors delight in the mouth. Firm but not imposing tannins provide structure and the wine finishes with length and generous black cherry and blueberry aromatic goodness. Score: 90

2013 McEvoy Ranch The Evening Standard Marin County Pinot Noir

12.8% alc., $N/A. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The nose is well-oaked with no discernible fruit. Light to mid weight flavors of strawberry, raspberry, and herbs are rather delicate and subdued. The tannins are somewhat prominent and a citrus note plies the background. The wine finishes with an herbal oak theme. Score: 87

2012 McEvoy Ranch The Evening Standard Marin County Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., 1, 402 cases, $45. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. This wine sports a noticeable imprint of oak. Aromas of black cherry, black raspberry, spice and char unfold in the glass. Lovely fruit flavors of black cherry, blueberry and pomegranate are infused with juiciness and carry through to an enjoyable ending. Score: 88



Roger Roessler Wines, Sonoma, California

This winery was founded in 2000 and is dedicated to making small-lot Pinot Noir and Chardonnay appellation and single vineyard designated wines. The Roger Roessler Signature Series wines are available on a limited basis to Wine Club members and through the winery’s tasting room in Sonoma. Visit www.rogerroesslerwines.com.


2015 Roessler Wine Cellars Hein Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

12.9% alc., $54. Roger Roessler Signature Series. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The nose is reductive, with the aroma of flint accompanying scents of herbs, forest floor, toast and tobacco. Light to mid weight in style and cherry driven with a bit of spice, game and vegetal accents. Highly individualistic, with mellow tannins and some finishing cherry fruit intensity. The fruit seems slightly under ripe and the flavor just doesn’t hit home for me. Score: 86

2015 Roessler Wine Cellars Bogey Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., $50. Roger Roessler Signature Series. This vineyard is located at 1,000 feet elevation looking down on the town of Sonoma. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. The fruit has a highly ripened, even roasted character in this wine. The nose offers aromas of purple grape, blackberry jam, raisin and sweet tobacco fruit. The mid weight plus core of black fruits are accented with flavors of herbs, black tea and toast. The sinewy tannins are well proportioned and there is some depth of finish. Score: 88

2015 Roessler Wine Cellars 3 bbl Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.3% alc., $54. Roger Roessler Signature Series. 3 barrels from Western Sonoma Coast Vineyard blended together. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Pleasant aromas of dark berry mash and rose petal. Enticing mid weight flavors of dark berry and dark stone fruits underlain with a riff of hazelnut oak. The very seductive satiny texture, the seamless composure, and a long boysenberry-fueled finish are delightful Score: 92

2015 Roessler Wine Cellars Lennox Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., $54. Roger Roessler Signature Series. This site is located in the cooler southwestern edge of the Russian River Valley. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of sweet cherries, cola and vanilla. The delicious core of black cherry, boysenberry and blackberry flavors envelope the palate and persist on the very long finish. Great harmony with toned oak highlights. Plenty of Pinot singing in this wine and true to RRV in character. Score: 93

2015 Roessler Wine Cellars Black Pine Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $30. A blend of grapes from vineyards up and down the California Coast. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Alluring aromas of black cherry pie and mocha lead to a very tasty core of nicely ripened black cherry and raspberry fruits with a back note of bittersweet chocolate and cola. The tannins are finegrain and agreeable, the fruit is succulent, and the finish exhibits good fruit persistence. A terrific value. Score: 92




Sandhi Wines, Lompoc, California

This winery is currently a collaboration between Rajat Parr, wine director for Michael Mina Restaurants, winemaker Sasha Moorman and venture capitalist Steve Webster. A former investor, Charles Banks, sold his interest in 2016. The Pinot Noirs are feral yeast fermented mostly whole cluster, with zero additions of water, sugar, acid and enzymes and are bottled unfined and unfiltered. Alcohols are lower and only a small amount of new French oak is used. The goal is to produced wines that are subtle, elegant and balanced. All the wines below are also available in magnum format. Visit www.sandhiwines.com.


2014 Sandhi Rinconada Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., 450 cases, $55. This historic vineyard was planted by Richard Sanford in 1997 in silica-based soils tending to produce an earthy expression of Pinot Noir. · Light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of red cherry and red raspberry, rose petal, pine sap and turned earth lead to a lighter-weighted style wine with an array of red and blue fruits backed by vibrant acidity. There is a hint of leaf and herbal tone in the background. The most austere wine in the 2014 Sandhi lineup, offering a slightly tart cherry finish. This wine did assume more character and flavor over time in the glass and the following day when tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 89

2014 Sandhi Sanford & Benedict Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 260 cases, $65. Planted in 1971 by Richard Sanford, these are the oldest Pinot Noir plantings in Santa Barbara County. Mt. Eden selection. · Light garnet color in the glass. Laudatory aromas or blueberry, cranberry, spice, forest floor and rose petal. Light to mid weight in style, with a vivid core of fresh cherry and cranberry flavors infused with polite acidity. Silky in texture, with slightly astringent tannins on the finish. Score: 90

2014 Sandhi La Côte Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

12.5% alc., 99 cases, $90. This 9-acre vineyard was originally called Evening Land Tempest. It is located on the far western edge of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA 3 miles west of other vineyard sites. This magical site produces very low yields and is extremely cool. · Light ruby red color in the glass. Nicely appointed whole cluster infused nose with aromas of cherry, spice, rose petal, pipe smoke and burnt tobacco. Mid weight flavors of cherry, cranberry, orange peel and tobacco are framed by mellow tannins. A slight thread of wood and green herbs is noted in the background. The slightly tart, lipsmacking finish has good length. For whole cluster aficionados only. Score: 90

2014 Sandhi Mt. Carmel Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 367 cases, $55. Sourced from an organically farmed vineyard planted in 1991 and is located below Rita’s Crown and above Sea Smoke. · Light garnet color in the glass. More mainstream in style with little whole cluster character. Aromas of cherry and earthy flora lead to a mid weight style with a discreetly sappy core of black cherry fruit that is nicely spiced. Nicely put together, with noticeable length and juicy cut on the refreshing finish. Score: 91

2014 Sandhi Mt. Carmel Vineyard Old Vines Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 68 cases, $90. Sourced from an own-rooted block planted in 1990. Yields are barely 1 ton per acre. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Nicely appointed aromas of purple berries, spice, mulch and marzipan. The mid weight flavors of boysenberry and plum have noticeably more layers of flavor and more pedigree. Silken in the mouth, with ideal integration of acidity, a respectful hint of oak, a tannic structure that predicts age ability and an appealing savory whole cluster overlay. Score: 93



Screen Door Cellars, Calistoga, California

The Donnel family was quite a discovery for me a few years back. This small producer has a knack for Pinot Noir and I have found every release to be praiseworthy. You would be hard pressed to find better Russian River Valley Pinot Noir anywhere!. The 2016 Rosé was received my highest score ever for a California Pinot Noir Rosé. Great wine made by great people. Don’t hesitate on these beauties. Visit www.screendoorcellars.com.



2015 Screen Door Cellars Leras Family Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 50 cases, $65. The Leras family has been farming grapes for over 75 years. This vineyard is planted to Pommard, “828,” and 667 clones. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Terrific nose with profuse aromas of dark cherry and raspberry, spices including sage, white pepper and a hint of vanilla. An abundance of black cherry and cola flavors are accented with a back note of charcuterie and oak vanillin. Smooth in the mouth with immersed tannins and a charitable finish. Most notable is that this wine grew in appeal over time and was considerably better when tasted from a previously opened bottle later in the day. Score: 94

2015 Screen Door Cellars Roan Family Vineyard Green Valley of Russian River Valley

14.2% alc., 50 cases, $65. The Donnel family met the Roan family at schools their children attended. 100% Pommard clone. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Enchanting aromas of red cherry and sandalwood lead to a very charming wine that exudes pinotosity. Only modest in weight, but intensely flavored with luxurious tastes of cherry, red berry, brown sugar and spice. The wine displays cool climate vibrancy, a mellow finish and impeccable balance. A stunning wine that offers everything you look for in Pinot Noir. The lighter color may put some drinkers off, but you would be regretfully remiss. I was tasting eight Pinot Noirs and this wine was tasted at the end. It immediately made me sit up in my chair, stare at the glass and smile. Score: 96

2016 Screen Door Cellars Russian River Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 90 cases, $22. · Moderate pinkish orange color in the glass. Soaring aromas of strawberry, white peach and blood orange. Generous layers of flavor unfold on the palate, including pear, strawberry, melon and blood orange. Clean and bright, with a welcome grip of acidity on the orange flower water themed finish. The top Rosé I tasted this year and one that can be chilled and enjoyed on its own or used to enhance any summer dining experience. Score: 94




Siduri, Santa Rosa, California

These 2015 offerings are highly extracted, sappy and ripely fruited wines that lack some aromatic charm. These are some of the biggest wines in recent memory from Siduri. The fruit muscle creates wines that are delicious, but except for the Dierberg bottling, are pretty much the same, and lack any vineyard identity.


2015 Siduri Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 286 cases, $35, screwcap. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of soy, tobacco, straw, oak and fern lead off. An array of mid weight plus very ripe dark fruits meet the mid palate. Rather jammy and singularly fruity with no AVA identity. Some oak overlay, balanced tannins, a slight sense of alcohol, finishing with a plethora of sweet fruit but absent vibrancy. Score: 86

2015 Siduri Bellflower Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 192 cases, $55, screwcap. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Shy nose initially, slowly unfolding to reveal aromas of black cherry, blackberry, clove, smoke and cigar box. A palate saturating flood of sweet blackberry and boysenberry fruits with hints of spice and graphite give notice. The tannins are ripe and balanced, oak plays in the background, and there is some finishing intensity. A hedonistic display of RRV fruit. Score: 90

2015 Siduri Barbieri Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 193 cases, $55, screwcap. · Dark garnet color in the glass. The nose is somewhat primary, offering only hints of berry pie, wilted rose and sweet oak. Sweet-fruited and rich, offering an array of highly extracted black fruit flavors along with notes of black tea and anise. Nicely integrated tannins and oak with a juicy, generously fruited finish. Score: 91

2015 Siduri Saralee’s Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 195 cases, $55, screwcap. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Oak-infused berry aromas lead to a full-on attack of purple and black berry fruit flavors framed by noticeable, but well-toned tannins. A Cab lovers Pinot, with a lush mouthfeel and an unctuous fruit finish. Score: 89

2015 Siduri Dierberg Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 194 cases, $55, screwcap. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. A love able nose, with hi-tone aromas of redder fruits, potpourri and bark. Very charming in the mouth, with vivid flavors of earth-kissed cherry and strawberry backed by genteel tannins. Impeccably balanced with a compelling finish. This wine exudes charisma and is quintessential Central Coast in character. Score: 94




Sojourn Cellars, Santa Rosa, California

Regular readers know I am a big fan of Sojourn Cellars Pinot Noir. The fruit sources are top notch and the owners are able to direct farming operations to assure grapes are produced using modern viticultural techniques. Erich Bradley winemaker, Randy Bennett associate winemaker and Craig Haserot proprietor. The 2015 vintage offered significantly reduced yields across much of California, but Sojourn’s vineyard sources had near normal yields. The following wines were bottled in August 2016 and will be released in the fall 2017. Visit www.sojourncellars.com.


2015 Sojourn Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.60, 775 cases, $42. Primarily sourced from Wohler Vineyard, with lesser contributions from Riddle, Pratt and Reuling vineyards. 100% destemmed, native yeast open-top fermentation, aged in French oak barrels, 50% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Alluring aromas of fresh cherry, dark red grape, spice and a back note of oak. The middleweight flavors of cherry, spice and herbal oak have good vibrancy and complimentary support from modest tannins. A refined, easy to like style. Score: 89

2015 Sojourn Ridgetop Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.63, TA 0.58, 200 cases, $59. This is one of those secluded west Sonoma Coast vineyards that is very hard to get to. It is owned and managed by Thomas Rivers Brown and Fred Schrader with Ulises Valdez caring for the vineyard. It is surrounded by redwood trees at 1,100 feet elevation. This is unique site, located near Annapolis, is rather tropical. Yields are miniscule with concentrated flavors as vines struggle to grow in Goldridge loam soil and remnants of ancient seabed. Clones 115, 667 and 777 were fermented separately. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Soaring aromas of dark red cherry and berry with a compliment of spice and sous-bois. Exotic and foresty in the mouth, with engaging flavors of purple berries, pomegranate, blueberry and pine needle. Gentle in demeanor, with well integrated oak, and a juicy, persistent finish. Even better when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle showing loads of enchanting black cherry, purple berry and spice flavors. A unique wine with character. Score: 94

2015 Sojourn Reuling Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.63, 325 cases, $69. This vineyard was planted in 2000 under the direction of Mark Aubert and Peter Michael Winery and is composed of 12.2 acres of Pinot Noir planted to Calera selection and two distinct “suitcase” selections reportedly from the Vosne-Romanee region of Burgundy. 100% de-stemmed, native yeast fermentation in open-tops, aged in French oak barrels, 50% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of black raspberry, game and earth come to the fore in the glass. Flavors of black raspberry, boysenberry, and black cherry are complimented by a riff of graphite and forest floor. Silky in the mouth, with balanced ripe fruit tannins, deft oak in the background, and a noticeably long finish. Even better when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 93

2015 Sojourn Riddle Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.58, 350 cases, $59. This vineyard is located in the cool Green Valley of Russian River Valley near the town of Occidental. Planted in 2008 at high density of 3.5’ x 6’ in Goldridge soils. Clones 115, “828,” Pommard and Mt. Eden taken as original bud wood from a prominent vineyard planted along California’s Central Coast. 100% de-stemmed, open-top native yeast fermentation, aged in French oak barrels, 50% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Shy, but seductive aromas of darker cherries and berries, spice and floral intricacy. Well-structured with a mid weight core of forest-tinged purple berry fruits. Admirable elegance, with opulent fruit and that appealing West Sonoma Coast savoriness. Beautifully composed, with a fat and lifted finish. Score: 94

2014 Sojourn Wohler Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.60, 600 cases, $48. This vineyard, located in Forestville, was replanted in 2006. This wine is sourced from five distinct blocks planted to clones 667, “828,” 115, 777 and 2A. Clones were vinified separately. 100% de-stemmed. Open-top fermentation with native yeasts, aged in French oak barrels, 50% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. An array of pleasing aromas arrive in the glass, including black cherry, cola and spice. Noticeably sappy on the palate, with opulent flavors of spiced Bing cherry, purple berries, mocha, and cola. Very polished despite its richness, with modest tannins and a cherry-fueled finish. Still inviting when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 93

2015 Sojourn Durell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.3% alc., pH 3.31, TA 0.65, 450 cases, $48. Cleaned-up Wente selections. Whole cluster pressed, fermented with native yeast and aged in French oak barrels, 40% new. 100% malolactic fermentation. Bottled unfined. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of lemon, apple, spice, vanilla creme, brioche and nuts. The palate is infused with citrus, but also pear and apple flavors with a hint of oak. A solid wine that is not to rich or too lean, with a smooth but not creamy mouthfeel and some finishing verve. Score: 92




Wind Racer, Windsor, California


2014 Wind Racer Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $50. Sourced from Maggy Hawk Estate Vineyard. Clones 777, 115 and 2A. 100% de-stemmed with 70% remaining whole berries, 5-day cold soak, inoculated and native malolactic fermentation. Fermented in open tanks with daily punch downs. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 39% new. · Moderately dark ruby red color in the glass. Aromas of strawberry, cherry, baking spices and sandalwood maintain over time in the glass. Mid weight plus in style, with deep flavors of cherry, blueberry and tobacco. Impressive attack, follow through and finish with tame tannins and the right touch of oak. Even better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 91

2014 Wind Racer Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $50. Sourced from Piner Vineyard, originally planted in 1996 to a mix of clones. Located in West Santa Rosa in a slightly cooler area that receives lingering fog. Well-drained Huichica loam soils. Clones 115, Pommard, 23, 2A and 777. 100% de-stemmed, 70% whole berries retained, 3 to 5-day cold soak, inoculated and native malolactic fermentation. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 35% new. · Moderate ruby red color in the glass. Vibrant aromas of Bing cherry, bay leaf, and fertile earth. Modest in weight, with an earth-toned flavor of black cherry. Silky in the mouth, with an oak driven riff of dark chocolate and noticeable length on the finish. Still solid when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 90



More Pinot Noir


2015 FEL Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $38. Sourced from top vineyards in Anderson Valley including Ferrington, Donnelly Creek and Savoy. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Inviting aromas of black cherry, woodland spices and mulch. Delicious cherry core accented by a note of cola. Nicely balanced, with refreshing acidity, polite oak, and a celebratory finish. A perfect, well-priced Pinot for everyday drinking. Score: 90

2015 Masùt Vineyard and Winery Estate Vineyard Eagle Peak Mendocino County Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.53, TA 0.60, 1,500 cases, $45. Eagle Peak is a recently recognized AVA marked by coastal afternoon breezes, many microclimates, and elevations ranging from 800 to 3,000 feet. Vineyard planted in 1997 in the shadows of Eagle Peak.Blocks 5, 6, 7, 12, and 13. 81% 115 and 19% 777. Yield 2.1 tons per acre. 100% de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak in stainless open-top tanks. Aged 12 months on the lees in French oak barrels, 50% new and bottled unfiltered. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Nicely appointed aromas of black pie cherries, rose petal, and timber. Blackberry, black raspberry and black grape fruits are luscious and perfectly ripened, composed in a mid weight style with added back notes of licorice, conifer and toasty oak. Both savory and fruity, with a seductively satiny mouthfeel, and a deep black cherry infused finish. A distinctive wine with plenty of character that reveals itself nicely now, but will improve in the cellar. Congratulations to the Fetzer boys on one of the best wines yet from Masùt. Score: 94



2014 Morgan Double L Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.50, TA 0.60, 1,335 cases, $64. Clones are 777, 667, 115, 114 and Pommard 4. This vineyard was first planted in 1997 to 14 clones of Pinot Noir. The very best lots are selected and combined through many bench trials and tastings and until the best wine of each particular vintage is determined. The vineyard is certified both organic and sustainable. The winegrower and winemaker is Dan Morgan. 100% de-stemmed, whole berry fermentation with native yeasts in small, open-top tanks. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 50% new and 50% one and twoyear- old. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry and black raspberry with a compliment of smoky, toasty oak. Boisterous flavors of black cherry, black raspberry, cola and toast are rounded out with balanced tannins and acidity. Silky in texture with soft tannins that make the wine very approachable now. That said, the wine had more fruit expression and better oak integration when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle indicating that decanting would be in order. Score: 92

2014 Press Cellars Helluva Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., $N/A (2013 vintage was $30 and a Double Gold Winner at 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition). Pommard clone. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 60% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Inviting aromas of black cherry, raspberry, dark red rose and toasty oak. Impressive attack of cherry fruit that is expansive in the mid palate and finishes with length. A bit of baking spice, brown sugar and dark chocolate add interest. Ideal balance, with a glorious finish that goes on and on. A real find. Score: 93

2014 Sarah’s Vineyard Reserve Santa Clara Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., 142 cases, $60. Estate grown. Hand-waxed bottles. Clones 667, 777, 115 and “DRC.” Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 30% new. Winemaker Tim Slater. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of very ripe cherry and berry and toasty barrel. Mid to full-bodied flavors of purple berries and black cherry entering modestly but then exploding on the mid palate with rich fruit flavor. Structured to match the sappy fruit core and enough acidity for streamlined drinking. Silky in the mouth, with accents of cola and dark chocolate, finishing with joyous fruit. Very ripe fruited in style, but highly enjoyable. Score: 92

2015 Tongue Dancer Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.58, RS <1.0 g/L, 35 cases, $49. Released March 8, 2017. Grapes sourced from the Annapolis area of the West Sonoma Coast. Clones 2A, 114, 115, 667, 777, Martini and Pommard. 100% gently de-stemmed, not crushed. Fermented in small opentops, 5-day cold soak, daily punch downs four times a day. Aged 17 months on the lees in 100% French oak. Light filtration without fining at bottling. James MacPhail is the winemaker. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Fresh aromas of cherry, spice, leaf and pine lead to a deeply flavored core of cherry and raspberry fruits. Succulent in the mouth, with balanced tannins and supportive oak, finishing on a luscious high with notes of cherry and pine needle. Score: 91

2015 Turtle Vines Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $25. From an organically farmed vineyard in Sebastopol owned by Doug and Joanne Williams. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, underbrush, wood pile and beet root lead to a mid weight styled wine with fruit flavors of cherry and red berry accompanied by a vegetal back note. Silky in the mouth, with good acid/tannin balance, and some cherry goodness on the finish. Score: 87

2014 Ultramarine Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

12.0% alc., $85 (secondary market). This is a highly acclaimed cult producer of both sparkling wines and still Pinot Noir sourced from Charles Heintz Vineyard, crafted by The San Francisco Chronicle’s 2016 Winemaker of the Year, Michael Cruse. · Light red ruby color in the glass. A similar aromatic profile to a Pinot Noir Rosé, with scents of strawberry, cranberry, blood orange, herbs and spice. Rather light in weight and lean in style, with flavors that echo the aromas. Bright and lifted with good acidity, but the attack and finish lack sustenance. Seems like a still wine made with sparkling wine ripened grapes. Score: 89


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