Sips of 2006 California Pinot Noirs
Don’t forget the 2006 vintage California Pinot Noir, many of which are still readily available in the marketplace.
2006 Athair Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., 650 cases, $36. Athair means “father” in Irish Gaelic.
Winemaker Jim McMahon crafts this wine dedicated to the fathers in his life. Sourced from three vineyards. 3-day cold soak, 8-day
fermentation, aged in 25% new French oak barrels for 9 months, held in bottle for an additional 5 months before release.
Captivating aromas of cherries,
sassafras, sandalwood, sage and oak. Ripe cherry and raspberry core with underlying hints of herbs
and forest floor. The mouth-coating ripe tannins need some time to resolve. A very flavorful wine that is
immensely satisfying. Decant now if you pop the cork and match with short ribs.
2006 Benziger Signaterra Bella Luna Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $40.
Fairly garnet color. A light and elegantly styled Pinot Noir that
has some charming ripe cherry and berry fruit aromas and flavors with underlying
dark caramel notes from oak and a juicy grip of citric peel on the bright finish.
Harmonious with ripe, dry tannins and alluring finesse.
2006 Coho Stanly Ranch Los Carneros Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 483 cases, $30.
Vivid black cherry aromas with faint smoke in the background. Slightly confected
cherry and cranberry flavors with a little oak on the edge. A very smooth texture,
gossamer tannins and bright acidity on the finish make for easy drinking.
Dierberg farms two cool climate estate vineyards: the 160-acre Dierberg Estate Vineyard just outside the town
of Santa Maria with about two-thirds of the vineyard planted to Pinot Noir and the newer 70-acre Drum Canyon
Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills planted to Pinot Noir. Jim and Mary Dierberg also own the 230-acre Star Lane
Ranch, a warmer vineyard site planted to warm-climate varieties in a valley not far from Santa Barbara. A new
winery has been carved into the sandstone of a 1,500-foot-high ridge above Star Lane Vineyard. Nick de Luca
is the winemaker for both Star Lane and Dierberg Vineyards. His background includes winemaking tours at
Williams Selyem, Fisher, and Byington. Rodolfo Bravo is the vineyard manager for the vineyards. The Dierberg
Estate Vineyard is planted in soil with a higher loam content tending to produce Pinot Noirs that are more
savory in flavor and powerful in structure. The clones consist of multiple Burgundian clones and unusual
California selections. Winemaking for the 2006 Dierberg Pinot Noir featured severe hand sorting, some stem
inclusion, natural yeast fermentations, aging in 75% new French oak for 17 months, light fining with egg whites
and bottling without filtration.
2006 Dierberg Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
$42. The Dierberg Vineyard is located 14 miles from the Pacific coast at
the southern end of the Santa Maria Valley. Dierberg is a family
owned winery founded in 2001 producing hand-crafted wines from estate
vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley and Santa Rita Hills. Vineyard yields
were down 35% in this vintage.
A stunning nose composed of aromas of
perfectly ripe cherries and berries with subtle hints of baking spice and smoke-infused
oak. A really impressive mouth full of delicious dark sappy fruit underlain
with smoky oak, earthiness and citrus. Seamless with perfect integration of
alcohol and harmonious t n’ a portending a long future. The wine is more
elegantly styled than usual from this vineyard. The best I have ever tasted from
this producer and a memorable wine.
2006 Halleck Vineyard Hallberg Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., 295 cases, $55.From a vineyard located in Sebastopol that was
formerly an apple orchard.
Lovely perfume of slightly confected black cherries, oak
toast, and mocha java. Soft in the mouth with generous berry and cherry fruit.
Fruit-driven flavors are primary with some earthiness in background. Plenty of
acidity adds a lively tone.
2006 La Crema 9 Barrels Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 225
cases, $90. The most exceptional nine barrels in the cellar. Clones are 115, 667,
777, 23 and Pommard. All free-run juice and aged for 9 months in 45% new
French oak. The Nine Barrel blend is layered and then racked to one-year-old
French oak barrels for an additional 5 months of aging.
Deep ruby color. Ever
changing aromas of Bing cherries, cherry cola, Asian spice, and oak vanillin. Rich
dark blackberry fruit that is intense but not jammy. Oak plays a light supporting
role. Plenty of lively acid and ripe tannins to balance the prodigious fruit.
Beautifully crafted with perfect harmony. A very good wine but doesn’t yet quite
deliver the emotion one expects from such an expensive wine. Cellar for at least
a year or two.
2006 Olson Ogden Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., 283 cases, $42.
Sourced from two vineyards. Clones are 23 and Martini. Aged 16 months in 55%
new French oak.
The nose stars Bing cherries with side notes of Provencal herbs,
sage and oak. Crunchy dark cherries, and ripe strawberries with an underpinning
of forest floor, savory herbs and a citrus note on the brisk finish. The dry tannins
are well corralled. The mid-palate fruit attack lacks some fullness, but this is a very
2006 Sierra Madre Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., 1,772
cases, $40. Winery owners Doug and Jan Circle source grapes for their wines from
their own Sierra Madre Vineyard. The vineyard, which was planted in 1971, was
purchased from Michael Mondavi in 2003. The winemaker is Steve Rasmussen.
Clones were vinified separately. Aged in 35% new French oak barrels.
reddish-violet color. The plentiful oak overwhelms the ripe cherry fruit on the nose.
Prodigious fruit with touches of cola, herbs and oak. Soft and smooth with a mouth
filling presence and admirable acidity. The oak takes over in the glass over time.
A man’s Pinot Noir that will appeal especially to oak lovers.