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Alcina Cellars

Alcina Cellars is another of the young hounds that have joined the California Pinot Noir race. Wine lover Greg Piatigorski (Greg P to his friends) learned his winemaking craft under Greg LaFollette (Tandem, DeLoach) and has looked to winemaker Richard Davis (former assistant winemaker at Tandem and now winemaker at Londer Vineyards, Halleck Vineyards and his own label, Calstar Cellars) for additional guidance. His initial vintage, 2002, produced small amounts of Pisoni Vineyard and Sangiacomo Vineyard Pinot Noir. He has expanded his vineyard sources and in the 2005 vintage released 2 appellation and 3 vineyard-designate Pinot Noirs in addition to a Syrah and Petite Syrah.

I recently tasted through the 2005 lineup of Alcina Cellars Pinot Noirs. Because of the vagaries of weather in 2005, yields on the Sonoma Coast were tiny at 0.3 tons per acre, but more normal in the Russian River Valley at 3 tons per acre. I found the entire lineup quite interesting with all wines showing an admirable style exemplified by elegance. Alcohols were 14.5% or above but were wellintegrated. All wines were closed with a synthetic stopper.

2005 Alcina Cellars Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $45. · Earth, mushroom, forest floor and black cherry aromas develop with swirling. Delicious cherry cola, bittersweet chocolate and a hint of tobacco lurking in the background. Plenty of power but silky and blessed with finesse. The clean finish of lovely dark cherries lasts and lasts.

2005 Alcina Cellars Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., $45. 20% new oak. · Light in weight and light on its feet. Bright perfume of cherry, cola and cooked strawberries. The wood-tinged cherry and sassafras flavors were enhanced by fine sweet tannins leading to a long and tangy finish.

2005 Alcina Cellars Ramondo Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., $53. Ramondo Vineyard is located in Sebastopol and straddles the line between the warmer Russian River Valley and cooler Sonoma Coast fruit profile. · The darkest wine of the lineup with the most body and richness. The nose is closed with brooding dark tarry aromas still reticent after two hours. Teeth-staining plush fruit with edges of oak and chocolate. Despite its heft, it is supple and the finish is silky. A big mouthful that is currently shy and would benefit from decanting and/or aging.

2005 Alcina Cellars Sangiacomo Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 264 cases, $53. This vineyard is located in the Petaluma Gap and yields are low ranging from a ton to a ton and a half per acre. · Elegant and easy to drink , this wine is dominated by oak. There is plenty of toast and some funk in the nose and char and green tea embrace the cherry and red berry flavors.

2005 Alcina Cellars Silacci Vineyard Monterey County Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., $53. The Silacci Vineyard is located 5 minutes north of the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA in Monterey County. Its cool location makes ripening always a concern and this wine seems to show a failure to reach optimum phenolic ripeness. · The most exotic wine in the lineup. Nutmeg, tomato, and floral scents. The flavors range from tart berry to Asian spice to graham with lively tart acidity on the backend. Very unusual and lightbodied for a Silacci Vineyard Pinot Noir.

Alcina Cellars is located at231 Market Place #404, San Ramon, CA. 415-722-9393. The wines are sold to a mailing list and distributed to a number of distinguished restaurants. Sign up for the mailing list at www.alcinacellars.com. The 2006 vintage lineup has just been released: Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Ramondo Vineyard Sonoma Coast, and Sangiacomo Vineyard Sonoma Coast.

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