Three Carneros Pinot Noir Gems
This 1-acre vineyard is a partnership between long time Sonoma County public relations person, Michael
Coats, his wife Valerie, her parents and sister, and Chuck and Jerry Hanson who are owners of Hi-Time
Cellars, one of California’s top wine retailers located in Costa Mesa (photo below shows the crew during the
2007 harvest). All the partners share in the work of the vineyard which is organically farmed and overseen by
noted vineyardist Phil Cotourri. The vineyard, which was previously a plum orchard, was originally planted on
resistant rootstock with a secret Russian River Valley clonal selection in 2000 by viticulturist Chuy Ordaz. It is
located less than 500 feet from the appellation line between Sonoma Valley and Sonoma Carneros. Yields are
kept at just under 2 tons per acre.
The estate Pinot Noir is crafted by B.R. Cohn Winery’s winemaker, Tom Montgomery, at B.R. Cohn Winery in
Glen Ellen. Production is tiny and each vintage since the inaugural commercial bottling in 2004 quickly sells
out. Check Hi-Time Wine Cellars (www.hi-timewine.net) for availability or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit
the website at www.valeriesvineyard.com for more information.
2007 Valerie’s Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 88 cases, $40. Aged
in a mix of new and two-year-old French oak barrels for 17 months.
offering pleasing aromas of dark berries, black plums, pine, dark caramel and soy
sauce. Deep in color but moderately light in weight with plenty of dark fruit powered
pleasure. Bright and focused with gossamer tannins offering alluring
Pinot delicacy. A beautifully crafted wine that makes a statement and is well worth
a search. A gem.
Trinitas is the Latin word for Trinity symbolizing sun, soil and humanity, the three ingredients needed for the
production of wine. It further reflects the triumvirate of the wine country lifestyle, Meritage Resort & Spa, and
Trinitas wines. Tim and Steph Busch founded Trinitas Cellars in 2000, and opened their hotel, The Meritage
Resort & Spa in Napa, in 2006.
The winemaker is Kevin Mills, a graduate of Grayson County College Viticulture and Enology program in
Denison, Texas. He spent over four years mentoring under Peju Province Winery winemaker Sean Foster.
The Trinitas portfolio of wines includes multiple varietals including a single Pinot Noir sourced from Carneros.
The site in Carneros is near the tidal wet lands and primarily (90%) from Sonoma Carneros.
I reviewed the 2007 Trinitas Cellars Carneros Pinot Noir in September, 2009 and found it to be muscular and
Syrah-like. The 2008 version is a horse (wine) of a different color.
2008 Trinitas Cellars Carneros Pinot Noir
15.5% alc., pH 3.76,
880 cases, $28. Low yields, aged in 60% new French oak for 10
Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Pleasing
aromas of ripe black cherries, strawberries and raspberries
accented by a wild flower bouquet and supporting toasty oak. A
riper style with a middle weighted, earth-kissed cherry core offering
a grilled meat, smoky and dusty edge with a hint of root beer.
Admirable finesse makes for easy drinking. A little more alcohol than I prefer,
but it is well-integrated. Plenty of pleasure for the tab. Very good (-).
Sean Minor Wines
The 2008 Sean Minor Carneros Pinot Noir is one of the rare California Pinot Noirs priced under $20 that really
delivers both true Pinot Noir varietal character and a good drinking experience. An online retailer proclaimed
recently that this wine sold out from the winery in 60 days after release, but the wine is still available on the
website at www.4bearswinery.com.
Sean Minor began making value-priced wines in 2005 under the Four Bears Winery name (honoring the
owner’s four children). Minor, a wine industry veteran, found it difficult to find affordable, high-quality California
wines for everyday drinking. With the assistance of his winemaker friend Will Bucklin, who worked with Minor
at King Estate in Oregon, Minor embarked on a quest to fill this void. Minor eventually incorporated 4 Bears
into the Sean Minor Wines label and now produces five varietals from Sonoma and Napa using purchased bulk
wine, all priced under $20. Projected production is 25,000 cases.
2008 Sean Minor 4 Bears Napa Carneros Pinot Noir
A spicy mother on the nose and palate with added interest from
scents and flavors of strawberries, woodshed and cardamon. Lightbodied
but pleasing with enough tannin to support the splashy fruit.
True to the varietal and surprisingly good for the price.
Very good (-).