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Small Sips of Carneros Pinot Noir

Acacia Vineyard Pinot Noirs are one of the standard-bearers of Carneros. I tasted these wines initially over a year ago and I found them austere with brisk acidity. During the last year they have taken on more weight of fruit, acidity has become less prominent, and the wines have become very enjoyable. All the wines are true to Pinot Noir and bring out the delicacy and feminine charm of the grape. The lesson here is that many California Pinot Noirs need a year or so after bottling to achieve integration and show true colors. We are all eager for instant gratification but we need to show restraint and not judge a wine too soon.

2006 Acacia Napa Valley Carneros Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., $28. · Dark reddish-violet color. Cherries, cinnamon spice, oak and herbs are featured on the nose. Flavors of dried cherries, cranberries with faint oak in the background. Light and elegant with a brisk lift of acidity on the finish. A reliable daily drinker.

2006 Acacia DeSoto Vineyard Napa Carneros Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., $55. · Takes its time to open in the glass revealing black cherries, berries and herbs. Ripe, but not over ripe, berry fruit with decent intensity and a touch of savory herbs. Soft with restrained tannins. Sneaky good.

2006 Acacia Lone Tree Vineyard Napa Carneros Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $55. · Scents of black cherries, pine tree and tar. Rich, dark and imposing cherry-driven flavors with some hints of herbs, vanillin and oak char. Very soft and smooth in the mouth with a good spark of acidity.

2006 Acacia St. Clair Vineyard Napa Carneros Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $95. · Wondrous aromas of berry patch, bright strawberries, violets and cedar. Very expressive flavors of cherries, berries, pomegranate with a persistent tang on the clean finish. A vibrant wine that is hi-strung.

2006 Acacia Horseshoe Bend Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., $65. · Subdued, but pleasant aromas of candied Bing cherries and raspberries. Light and demure with soft berry fruit touched by cola and spice. A very pleasant drink which is a little warm from the alcohol.

2005 Kazmer & Blaize Primo’s Hill Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $45. · The nose is fruit-shy, displaying smoke, oak, ash and mocha Java. Dark fruit forms the backbone, but flavors of ash and dark chocolate take the limelight. For chocolate lovers only.

2007 LIOCO Sonoma Carneros Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 504 cases, $38. Harvest Brix 24.6º. 7-9-day cold soak, 16-day fermentation in open top tanks with wild yeast. Manual punch downs. Aged 12 months in neutral barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. Sourced from an unnamed vineyard near the Napa/Sonoma County line. · Profusion of plums, currants, oak and spice on the nose. Very tasty dark fruits that show impressive purity. A perfectly balanced wine that captures the essence of the fruit with a finish that lingers for at least 20 seconds. Crafted by a sommelier, it is not surprising that this is a superb food wine. Very impressive and one of the best wines and most reasonably priced Pinot Noirs I have had from Carneros in recent memory.

2006 Lost Canyon Los Brises Vineyard Los Carneros Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., <275 cases, $42. · Aromas of root beer, raisin and sassafras. The flavors follow in step. A very ripe fruited wine that is well-crafted and is both soft and smooth in the mouth. Lovers of Tootsie roll will be attracted to this wine.

2006 Molnar Family Poseidon’s Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $26. This vineyard was planted by the Molnar family in 1973. It is located at the confluence of the Napa River and Carneros Creek. Michael Terrien is the partner and winemaker for the label. The wine is unique in that it is aged in 100% Budapesti Kadar Tokaj oak. · The nose displays aromas of ripe grapes, raisin and oak. The flavors carry over the ripe fruit theme with raisins and root beer evident. There is plenty of tannin but the rich fruit hides it.

2006 Patz & Hall Hyde Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., $60. · Scents of berries, oak char and barnyard. Pretty core of berry fruit with an oak sidecar. Some charm and persistence on the finish which leaves a touch of heat in its wake. I get the feeling that this wine will become more expressive with another year or two in the bottle. Good but not great at this point.

2003 Whitethorn Hyde Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., $34. · Initially the aromatic profile include cherries, leather glove and seasoned oak. With time, herb garden takes over. Flavors of ripe berries, root beer and some citrus peel in the background. The tannins have melted away and there is good persistence on the finish which is a touch hot.

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