PinotFile: 10.1 December 11, 2014
- Petaluma Gap: Cooling Wind is the Recipe for Fine Wine
- Sips of Recently Tasted California Pinot Noir (& Chardonnay)
- Recent Sips of Oregon Wines: Pinot Amore´
- Tasting Sonoma County Harvest Fair Best of Class & Double Gold Pinot Noirs
- Pinot Briefs
Petaluma Gap: Cooling Wind is the Recipe for Fine Wine
The Petaluma Gap is both an opening in the coastal hills of southwestern Sonoma County allowing marine air
to pass into the Bay Area and Russian River Valley (a term coined by local winegrowers over 15 years ago),
and a geographic winegrowing region defined by the cooling “wind tunnel” effect resulting from this break in the
coastal mountain range. This region, part of the large, 50,000-acre Sonoma Coast appellation (AVA), extends
from the Pacific Ocean to San Pablo Bay, comprising an area of low lying land 21 to 30 miles wide.
Because of the low terrain in the Petaluma Gap, there is little resistance to the marine air that rushes in daily,
bringing with it the cooling coastal fog. A typical day in the Petaluma Gap begins with a blanket of cool, damp,
morning fog. By 11:00 am, the sun chases away the fog and the temperature rises as much as 50º F. By mid afternoon,
the cool on shore breezes begin, gathering speed as the afternoon progresses, and bringing in the
almost nightly fog, and a temperature drops returns.
The predominant wind pattern in the Petaluma Gap is for funneled marine air to move eastward from the coast
toward Sonoma Mountain, then to split into northward and southward paths. The northward path enters Cotati and diminishes as it travels toward Santa Rosa. The southward path travels unabated through the Lakeville
area before dissipating at San Pablo Bay.
The nature and speed of the wind makes the Petaluma Gap region distinctive from other California
winegrowing regions. The PGWA has emphasized this with their tagline, “From Wind to Wine.” Hourly average
wind speeds throughout the Petaluma Gap exceed 8 miles per hour more than 90% of the time every afternoon
during the wine grape growing season. Winds exceeding 20 miles per hour are not uncommon. This cooling
“wind tunnel” effect prolongs hang times and slows photosynthesis, allowing wine grapes to reach physiological
ripeness at lower sugar levels while maintaining ideal levels of acidity.
Michael Browne, winemaker at Kosta Browne Winery in Sebastopol has sourced grapes from three vineyards
in the Petaluma Gap: Gap’s Crown, Terra de Promissio and Griffin’s Lair. He told me, “I feel the Petaluma Gap
is a very special place. The wind and influence from Bodega Bay is epic. Some sites close to the coast are
pretty warm due to their location although some are very cold. The Petaluma Gap receives direct fog
influence, therefore cooler than most regions resulting in more even ripening of fruit. We tend to get fruit from
this region that is elegant yet intense in character due to the fog and wind. I feel the Petaluma Gap is a very
high quality region for Pinot Noir and one in which we have invested quite a lot due to is quality.”
The photo below was taken at Pfendler Vineyards on the eastern face of Sonoma Mountain. Beyond the
vineyard, one can see the low-lying Petaluma Gap region in the distance and the break in the coastal
mountains in the far distance.
The Petaluma Gap has a 150-year tradition of growing grapes and producing wine. General Vallejo was the
first to plant grapevines in the Petaluma Gap region near Petaluma Adobe. The area’s first winery was
founded in 1884 by G.V. Fischer, and about the that time, two other large wineries prospered in the Lakeville
The resurgence of interest in planting premium wine grapes began in the early 1990s. Today, according to the
Sonoma County Winegrowers and Sonoma County Vintners, there are over 4,000 acres of vines (about 12% of
the Sonoma County total), producing 12,000 tons of grapes and 720,000 cases of wine annually with a retail
value of $900 million. Of the 80+ vineyards, most are 4 to 20 acres in size. The leading varieties are Pinot
Noir (75%), Chardonnay (13%), and Syrah (12%). 9 licensed wineries are located in the Petaluma Gap region.
In 2005, the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance (PGWA) was established. The PGWA has promoted
Petaluma Gap wines to the media and consumers, with the goal of establishing a reputation for wines crafted
from Petaluma Gap grapes and distinguish themselves from the West Sonoma Coast growers who are also in
the Sonoma Coast AVA. Members of the group have found recently that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and
Trade Bureau (TTB) is disallowing the term “Petaluma Gap” anywhere on wine labels, because they consider
the Petaluma Gap to be “viticulturally significant.” As a result, the PGWA has begun the process of developing
a petition for a Petaluma Gap AVA that would allow vintners to clearly label their wines as “Petaluma Gap,
The PGWA is currently in the preparation stage of creating a Petaluma Gap AVA petition and plan to submit it to
the TTB the first quarter of 2015. The process is complicated and expensive, and may take two years or longer
for approval. Considerable climate and wind data must be collected to establish distinguishing features that
differentiate the proposed AVA from surrounding regions in all directions, as well as establishing the exact
boundaries of the proposed Petaluma Gap AVA. There are at least 30 different soil types in the Petaluma Gap
so this will not be a distinguishing feature.
The boundaries as shown on the map above are subject to change. A few vineyards in the southwestern corner
of the proposed boundary are in Marin County. One issue is the overlap of the current Petaluma Gap boundary
in the northeastern corner with the Russian River Valley. There are eleven vineyards in this overlapped area.
The original Petaluma Gap map was drawn in 2005, but since then, the boundaries of the Russian River Valley
AVA have been extended twice despite opposition that claimed the area was more aptly included in the
Petaluma Gap region. It is unlikely that the Petaluma Gap AVA submission will include the overlap, since
guidance from the TTB indicates that such a petition would not be approved.
On November 17, 2014, I attended a presentation in San Francisco by the PGWA regarding the proposed
Petaluma Gap AVA with an accompanying tasting of Petaluma Gap wines. This sampling of 5 Chardonnays,
10 Pinot Noirs and 5 Syrahs did not lend itself to establishing a discerning character of the wines from the
Petaluma Gap. The variable vinification methods and winemaker’s imprint overshadowed any consistent
Petaluma Gap signature. That said, the quality of many of the wines were superb, and I have included some
brief comments about the wines here.
Chardonnay (all wines were barrel fermented and underwent 100% malolactic fermentation)
2013 Fogline Fogline Home Vineyard Zephyr’s Block Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 13.3% alc., pH 3.25,
TA 0.66, 145 cases, $38. The most acid-driven wine in the tasting. Aromas of lemon curd, pear, vanilla and
nutty oak. Bright citrus, apple and pear flavors with a subtle contribution from smoky oak. The mouthfeel was
slightly creamy and the refreshing finish ended on a soprano note.
2013 Pfendler Pfendler Vineyards Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 14.2% alc., 224 cases, $38. Moderately
deep straw color. The nose is a bit austere, with demure aromas of lemon and marzipan. The citrus-driven
core had good length, bracing acidity, complimentary toasty oak and a slightly viscous texture.
2013 Keller Estate La Cruz Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 14.1% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.60, 818 cases,
$38. Lovely aromas of tropical fruits including pineapple, and lemon. Fresh, clean and sleek, with a good cut
of acidity, this wine was more mineral-driven, finishing with a crisp squeeze of lemon.
2012 Sojourn Cellars Sangiacomo Roberts Road Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 14.1% alc., pH
3.62, TA 0.60, 825 cases. My least favorite Chardonnay of the tasting with austere aromas of oak and little
fruit, and flavors of citrus, apple and almond. Reasonably good fruit richness with a shallow finish.
2012 La Follette Sangiacomo Roberts Road Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 13.5% alc., pH 3.49,
TA 0.62, 835 cases, $38. This wine offers a very pleasing merger of citrus fruit and oak. There is a nice touch
of spice, a slightly creamy mouthfeel, perfect integration of acidity, and good intensity and length on the
pleasing finish. This was the standout Chardonnay in this tasting.
2012 Baliwick “Borderline” Marin County Pinot Noir 14.1% alc., pH 3.72, TA 0.61, 300 cases, $28. From
Kendric and Chileno Valley vineyards. Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas of
cherries and red berries are accented with hints of smoky oak and dried herbs. Relatively light in weight, yet
flavorful, with a well-spiced core of fresh cherry and strawberry essence. Soft and silky in the mouth, with a
good cut of acidity and respectable finishing presence.
2012 Couloir Chileno Valley Vineyard Marin County Pinot Noir 13.8% alc., TA 0.68, 193 cases, $44.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A stunning wine with hi-tone aromas of cherry, spice and smoky
oak and intense flavors of fresh black cherry, black raspberry and spice. The wine is modest in weight with
bright acidity, well integrated oak, and a juicy finish.
2012 Fogline Vineyards Sun Chase Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 13.9% alc., pH 3.44, TA 0.65, 195
cases, $42. Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of darker red cherries and berries, marzipan
and vanilla lead to mid weight flavors of black cherry and raspberry clothed in ruddy tannin, finishing with good
intensity and aplomb.
2012 Wind Gap Sun Chase Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 14.2% alc., pH 3.58, 161 cases, $60.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. A somewhat disjointed wine with too much oak overlay,
tasting more of tobacco than dark berry fruits that form the core of the wine.
2013 Keller Estate “El Coro” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 14.2% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.58, 396 cases, $52.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Engaging aromas of black cherry, sous-bois and oak. Still young
and somewhat closed, yet showing enough vanilla-enhanced black cherry flavor to promise future pleasure.
The velvety mouthfeel is very seductive.
2013 Pfendler Pfendler Vineyards Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 14.5% alc., 350 cases, $45. Moderate
reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with fresh cherry pie glaze and baking spice. Charming on
the palate, with inviting red cherry flavor. The tannins are supple and the texture is silky. Very forward and
highly enjoyable now.
2012 Kosta Browne Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 14.5% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.59, 2,186
cases, $84. Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. A ripe, fruit-driven wine with aromas of black
raspberry and black grape juice, with a moderately rich charge of black cherry and black raspberry fruits. Very
friendly, with soft tannins and a generous finish.
2013 Guarachi Family Sun Chase Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 14.5% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.60, 915
cases, $65.Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very shy fruit on the nose, with aromas of dark
chocolate and toasty oak predominant. Rather linear, tight and dull, with a generous core of dark berry fruit
and balancing tannins. This wine needs at least a year in bottle to blossom.
2012 La Follette Sangiacomo Roberts Road Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 14.1% alc., pH 3.62, TA
0.60, 300 cases, $40. Moderate light reddish purple color in the glass. Nothing but oak on the nose. The
pleasant dark berry fruit is clothed in oak. The tannins are moderate and there is superb backing acidity. Not
to my taste.
2013 Sojourn Cellars Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 14.6% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.58, 825
cases, $54. Moderate dark reddish purple color in the glass. A very seductive wine with bright aromas of dark
cherries, spice and graham. The mid to full-bodied flavor of black cherry is delicious and expansive. A
beautifully crafted, harmonious wine that is sexy for want of a better word.
Syrah struggles to ripen in this region, so the wines have considerable variability. The potential is evident
2012 Waxwing Flocchini Vineyard Sonoma Coast Syrah <13.4% alc., pH 4.0, TA 0.46, 60 cases, $32. Dark
reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas and flavors of purple and black berries in a mid weight style with
balanced tannins and some length on the finish. There is a curious bubblegum note on the palate.
2004 Clary Grower’s Reserve Shazzam Sonoma Coast Syrah 13.4% alc.. Dark reddish purple color in the
glass. Aromas of black fruits and underbrush lead to a tasty core of juicy black fruits accented with peppery
spice. This wine has aged beautifully and is still fresh and giving.
2011 Keller Estate “Rotie” Sonoma Coast Syrah 14.1% alc., pH 3.77, TA 0.61, 429 cases, $52. Moderately
dark reddish purple color in the glass. An impressive offering with scents of dark cherry reduction sauce,
brown spice and graham. The middleweight flavors of black cherry and black plum are enhanced with spice
and subtle oak. Nicely composed with balanced tannins and a sleek, long finish.
2012 Bedrock Griffin’s Lair Vineyard Sonoma Coast Syrah 14.6% alc., 200 cases, $42. Dark violet color in
the glass. A brooding, tannic wine with a full-bodied load of black fruits accented with tobacco oak. This wine
is hard to embrace by itself, and would benefit from some accompanying grilled protein.
2011 Pax Griffin’s Lair Vineyard Sonoma Coast Syrah 13.9% alc., 300 cases, $62. Dark violet color in the
glass. Very pleasing aromas of well-ripened purple and black berries with a compliment of sweet oak. Full-bodied
and luscious, with a charge of boysenberry and blackberry flavors that maintain intensity through a big
finish. A note of peppery spice adds interest. The tannins are bold and muscular, but not out of balance with
the generous fruit load.
For more information on the proposed Petaluma Gap AVA and the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance, visit
www.petalumagap.com. Petaluma Gap member wineries with tasting rooms (some require an appointment)
include Azari Vineyards, Cline Cellars, Couloir Wines, Enriquez Estate, Fogline Vineyards, Karah Estate, Keller
Estate, McEvoy Ranch, Ramey Wine Cellars, Saltonstall Estate, Sojourn Cellars, Sonoma Portworsk,
Trombetta Family Wines, WALT Wines and Wind Gap Wines. There are many wineries that buy Petaluma Gap
fruit and some of them are the most famous wineries in Sonoma County including Cobb Wines, Donum Estate,
Flowers Vineyard & Winery, Freeman Winery & Vineyards, Hartford Family Winery, Kendall Jackson Wine
Estates, Schug Winery, Soliste and Twomey Cellars.
Sips of Recently Tasted California Pinot Noir (& Chardonnay)
There are some amazing wines in this issue from the 2012 vintage. In fact, there are more high scoring wines
than I have ever sampled as a group in my twelve years of tasting for the PinotFile. Quantities are generous in
this vintage so you should be able to stock your cellar with the most desirable wines.
Winemaker Mike Sullivan has waited patiently 8 years to develop and properly farm Benovia’s Martaella and
Tilton Hill estate vineyards. The 2012 releases from these two vineyards joins the historic Cohn Vineyard to
complete the vision of producing three vineyard-designated, estate-grown, Benovia Pinot Noirs. Ultimately,
Benovia plans to produce nearly all wines from estate fruit. The 42-acre Martaella Vineyards surround the
Benovia wineries (a new large winery is currently under construction which will be used for red wine
production, increasing potential output to 10,000 cases) and visitor center. This vineyard is planted to ten
heritage clones of Pinot Noir. The 12-acre Tilton Hill Vineyard is perched on a ridge top near the town of
Freestone and is Benovia’s coldest vineyard site. This vineyard is a high-density planting in Goldridge soil.
Benovia wines are sold primarily through a mailing list. Sullivan now has the vineyard material to realize his
ultimate winemaking goals that have evolved over several years, and the 2012 lineup of wines rewarded him
with the most refined and enticing lineup ever offered at Benovia. Tasting is available by appointment. Visit
2012 Benovia Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 1,500 cases, $38. Produced with almost 95%
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. An array of scents including Bing cherry, spice and
pipe smoke lead to a mid weight core of fresh cherry fruit with a hint of herbs, cranberry sauce, and smoky oak.
A solid, elegant wine with a soft, cherry-fueled finish.
2012 Benovia Cohn Vineyard Sonoma County Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 350 cases, $70. Sourced from Benovia’s historic Cohn
Vineyard planted in 1970. This dry-farmed, 18-acre vineyard is
planted to a massale selection of Pinot Noir (likely Martini and
Pommard). Organically farmed for 6 years. Low yields of 1.25 tons
per acre. 100% de-stemmed.
Moderately light reddish purple color
in the glass. Vibrant, even exhilarating aromas of fresh cherries, spice and
bark that hold up remarkably over time in the glass. Delicious layers of
flavor featuring black cherry, black raspberry, brown spice, cherry licorice
and toasty oak. Seamless, seductive and classy, with a finish of
uncommon persistence. Lighter and more refined in this vintage, with more
suavity and Pinot character. Still great two days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2012 Benovia Martaella Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 425 cases, $56. The first
single vineyard Pinot Noir from this estate vineyard named in honor of the mothers of owners Joe Anderson
and Mary Dewane. A blend of Calera, Pommard, Mt. Eden and Swan selections. 30% whole cluster
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose opens slowly to reveal appealing aromas
of black cherry, dark raspberry preserves, exotic spices, sous-bois, and floral goodness. The flavors of purple
berries and black cherry are bright and juicy, accented with spice and cola. Softly textured and balanced with
modest tannins and a bright, cherry-driven finish. Perfect interplay of tannin and acidity. The long finish is
particularly impressive. Still superb two days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2012 Benovia Tilton Hill Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 325 cases, $56. Vineyard is located at the
Russian River Valley-Sonoma Coast border. Shallow and well-drained Goldridge soils. High-density planting.
Clones are “828,” Calera, 777 and 943. Aged in 30%-40% new French oak barrels.
Dark violet color in the
glass. Lovely aromas of blackberry, black currant, loamy earth and complimentary oak. Full-flavored with a
sappy core of black fruits offering a boatload of pleasure. The concentrated fruit veers to the very ripe side and
a little raisin peeks out the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. An underlying forest
floor and conifer note adds interest. There is both more tannin and acidity evident in this wine compared to the
other two vineyard-designates.
2012 Benovia La Pommeraie Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 375 cases, $56. Sourced from George
Martinelli Vineyard (Zio Tony). This dry-farmed vineyard is planted to Dijon 777 and “828.”
purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, blackberry, forest floor and a touch of rose petal. Full-bodied
charge of boysenberry, black raspberry and black cherry fruit awakens the palate and expands through a
decadent finish where the fruit hangs on tenaciously. Despite its richness, the wine is sleek and polished, with
excellent integration of oak. Well-done in this “New World style.”
2012 Benovia Russian River Valley Chardonnay
13.5% alc., 1,200 cases, $36. Primarily Wente clone from
the estate Martaella Vineyard. 70% malolactic fermentation. Aged 16 months sur lie in <30% new French oak
Light golden straw color in the glass. Aromas of citrus and almond lead to a full-flavored wine featuring
flavors of pear, lemon, and apricot with complimentary oak seasoning. Refreshing, with bright acidity and lift.
2012 Benovia Fort Ross-Seaview Chardonnay
14.2% alc., $48. If you are a fan of Marcassin Chardonnay,
note that this wine is sourced from the same 15 to 20 year-old Dijon vines on the Three Sisters Vineyard
owned by the Martinelli family, and formerly used by Marcassin for years for their Three Sisters Chardonnay.
The vineyard is adjacent Marcassin Vineyard on the West Sonoma Coast. 100% malolactic fermentation, aged
in 40% new French oak, unfiltered.
Light golden straw color in the glass. A classy wine with aromas of
lemongrass, citrus, spice, poached pear and floral goodness. A delicious wine with flavors echoing the
aromas, and offering noticeable attack and finish. Oak adds a subtle note of caramel and brioche. There is
good tension provided by citrus-fueled acidity, and some textural interest. A connoisseur's Chardonnay.
2012 Benovia La Pommeraie Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.5% alc., 350 cases, $48. Sourced from
George Martinelli Vineyard (Zio Tony) located at the edge of the Green Valley AVA. The vineyard is planted at
a very high density of 2420 vines per acre to Dijon clones 548 and 95. The site was once an apple orchard, so
Benovia pays homage to the Martinelli family and the history of the site by naming the wine ‘La Poommeraie’ -
French for apple orchard. Indigenous yeast fermentation, 100% malolactic fermentation, and aged sur lie for 16
months in 40% new French oak barrel.
Light golden straw color in the glass. The perfume of pear, caramel
and toffee leads to a rich, full, smooth palate of lemon curd, pear and spice flavors. A luscious Russian River
Valley style Chardonnay that offers plenty of pleasure.
Anderson Valley-based Foursight Wines is the first winery in the country to label all its wines with ingredients
alongside a vegan/vegetarian statement. Starting with the 2012 vintage, all the Foursight wines are labeled
with “grapes, sulfur dioxide,” or “grapes, tartaric acid, sulfur dioxide,” and “this wine is suitable for vegans and
vegetarians.” This last statement is permitted by the TTB because the wines are unfiltered without the use of
animal-derived products. The winery produced its first ingredients-labeled wine in 2010 - an estate Semillon -
and decided to expand the effort to its entire portfolio due to positive responses from consumers. Copies of the
labels can be found on the winery’s website at www.foursightwines.com.
Foursight wines are made with estate grown grapes, fermented with wild yeast and malolactic cultures, and
bottled unfined and unfiltered. Pinot Noirs are always produced with a percentage of whole cluster
fermentation (10 to 50 percent depending on the vintage).
2012 Foursight Charles Vineyard Zero Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.73, TA 0.58, 173
cases, $38. Release November 2014. Clones are Pommard 05, 777, 115 and 114. 30% whole cluster
fermentation. Aged in second-year and older barrels with no new oak.
Moderately light reddish purple color in
the glass. Bright cherry fruit is the focus of this juicy wine which is very soft and seamless on the palate.
Added accents of raspberry, brown spice and sandalwood add interest. Inviting balance and harmony and
highly approachable now.
2012 Foursight Charles Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., pH 3.72, TA 0.58, 224 cases,
$46. Release May 2015. Crafted from all four clones grown in the estate vineyard (777, 114, 115, and
Pommard 05). 30% whole cluster fermentation. Wooden basket-pressed. Aged in 40% new, 10% secondyear
and 50% three-plus-year-old French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is
infused with the lovely scent of Bing cherry glaze and complimentary oak in the background. Very soft and
sexy, with mid weight flavors of cherry, raspberry and plum caressed by suede tannins. Oak seasoning plays a
favorable role. This wine, which has a little more body and generosity than the Zero, finishes silky and full of
2012 Foursight Charles Vineyard Clone 05 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.74, TA 0.70, 130 cases, $49. Release January 1, 2015.
Four favorite barrels of 100% Pommard 05. 30% whole cluster
fermentation. Aged in 40% new and 40% second-year French oak barrels.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The hi-tone aromas of
black cherry and dark raspberry fill the glass. Soft and velvety on the
palate, even ephemeral, like angels dancing on a cloud. Discreetly
concentrated and highly flavorful, featuring dark cherry and dark red berry
fruits with oak seasoning in the background. Nicely composed with
balanced tannins and a finish that sports refined acidity. This wine will get
george wine company
george levkoff prefers lower case, but his wines are upper case in quality. His winery is a one-man operation,
with george hand crafting Pinot Noir that is cherished by sommeliers countrywide (see the website for the
impressive list of restaurants carrying george Pinot on their wine lists). This vintage is sold out, but you may be
able to beg a few bottles if you call george.
2013 george Sonoma Coma Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $50.
Moderate reddish purple
hue in the glass. Aromas of cherry tart and beef brisket. Although a blend of vineyard sources, the wine
seems to have a large percentage of Hansen Vineyard with its telltale fecal note. Smoky oak envelopes the
modest black cherry core which is supported by substantial tannins.
2013 george Vintage XI Leras Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 148 cases, $60.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is generously endowed with lovely aromas of
black cherry, dark rose petal, conifer forest and a hint of oak. The mid weight essence of Bing cherry really
impresses on the mid palate, carrying over with lushness and length on the finish which lasts at least 30
seconds. Very juicy, with hints of black raspberry and oak vanillin. Substantial youthful, dry tannins guarantee
2013 george Vintage XI Ceremonial Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., 257 cases, $60.
ruby red and slightly cloudy in the glass. Dancing aromas of red berries, red plums, pomegranate and
seagrass. Light to medium in weight with flavors of strawberry, cherry, red plum and brown spice. Oak plays a
significant role and needs time to integrate. More flavor intensity the following day from a previously opened
and re-corked bottle.
2013 george Vintage XI Buena Terra Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., 148 cases, $60.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Enticing aromas of Bing cherry, rose petal, and baking
spices including nutmeg. Soft and smooth on the palate, with a giving essence of cherry flavor. Nicely
balanced with supple tannins, seamless oak integration, and a cherry-laden finish. Definitely more appealing
the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2013 george Vintage XI Hansen Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
alc., 148 cases, $60.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass.
Distinctive aromas of black cherry, sweet manure, dark chocolate and
smoky oak. A terroir-driven wine with its signature fecal character in the
background. Silky on the palate and very well crafted, with balanced
tannins and a delicious black cherry essence. This is a wine with
personality and one unlike any you have ever tasted. The best Hansen
Vineyard Pinot Noir from george to date.
I am a fan of these very stylistic wines crafted by Katy Wilson (photo below) whose wines are very similar in
character to those crafted by her winemaking partner, Ross Cobb. Grapes are picked earlier than many, whole
cluster fermentation plays a big role, and the wines have a juiciness and acidity that is bright and uplifting. Oak
is never an issue and tannins are refined. Those looking for big, extracted fruit bombs, should look elsewhere.
2012 LaRue Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 220 cases, $60. A blend of Rice-Spivak and Emmaline
Ann vineyards. Dijon clones and Swan selection. Goldridge sandy loam soils at both sites. Aged 17 months
in 35% new French oak.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Plenty of whole cluster goodness in this
wine with aromas of cherry, raspberry, cola, rose and spice. An elegant wine. but packs plenty of flavorful
spiced cherry and raspberry fruits with a note of pomegranate, cranberry and rose water in the background.
High grade tension, nicely accented with oak, finishing with crisp, tart cherry goodness.
2012 LaRue Emmaline Anne Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
12.4% alc., 50 cases, $70 (two bottlesper person). From a 3-acre
vineyard near the town of Freestone. Dijon clones are planted in
Goldridge sandy loam soils. Aged 17 months in 50% new French
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Similar to
the Sonoma Coast bottling, but a step up in nuance and
sophistication. Wondrous aromas of wilted rose, red cherry and
spice led to a delicious palate of crisp, juicy red plum, cherry and red
raspberry fruits. A faint note of oak and floral bouquet lurks in the
background. Refined and classy, with a mouthwatering finish.
Ted Lemon is one of California’s most respected winegrowers and vintners. The quality of the wines is based
on low yields and careful site and vine selection. Ted’s focus is not on technology, but rather on farming and
nature, particularly biodynamic and agro-ecological farming techniques. Cultured yeasts, cultured bacteria,
yeast additives, yeast or malolactic nutrients, enzymes, acidification and de-acidification are avoided if
possible. Ted does not make wine for competitions, ratings or trends. His wines are typically elegant and
complex, and often need cellaring for full expression. Visit the Littorai model farm and innovative winery
located between Sebastopol and Freestone (by appointment) to properly understand the effort expended to
produce wines of terroir. The website is www.littorai.com.
2012 Littorai One Acre Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., $75.
Moderate reddish purple color in the
glass. A very young wine that will need patience for full enjoyment. Aromas of black raspberry, pipe smoke
and sous-bois lead to a mid weight palate of dark red cherry, red raspberry and red plum flavors with a leafy,
dried herb note playing in the background. The fruit is embedded in young tannins and oak at this point. The
wine is much more expressive over time in the glass, and significantly more appealing the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle with more overt fruit expression and decreased savory input. Cellar
this special wine for a few years.
2012 Littorai B.A. Thieriot Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $75.
Moderately dark reddish purple hue in the glass.
Engaging aromas of fresh berries, black cherries, mushroom,
conifer and subtle oak. A very refined and classy wine that offers an
intense attack and length. Mid weight dark red cherry and berry,
and blueberry flavors are featured with a touch of savory dried herbs
in the background. The dark red raspberry finish is delightful. Even better
the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle indicating a
promising future. This is always my favorite Littorai bottling.
Patz & Hall
2012 Patz & Hall Jenkins Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
15.4% alc., 957 cases, $55. Released March
2014. This 18-acre vineyard is located two miles west of Sebastopol on Pleasant Hill Road (Sebastopol Hills).
Goldridge sandy loam soil planted to Dijon 667 and 777. Vineyard planted by Charlie Chenoweth in 2001.
Wild and cultured yeast fermentations. 15% whole cluster. Aged in 66% new French oak barrels. Unfined and
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. A very appealing nose filled with savory
goodness including mushroom and sous-bois complimented by aromas of dark raspberry, blackberry and
spice. Mid to full-bodied with a tenacious palate of purple and black berries complimented by oak. There is
plenty of balancing structure to match the sappy fruit, and the finish is powerful and lasting. Clearly a special
wine somewhat defined by the richness and depth bestowed on the wine by the alcohol which is well
2013 Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.2% alc., $38. Inaugural wine replacing the Napa Valley
Chardonnay after 20 vintages. Released July 2014. Predominant sources include Zio Tony Ranch, Durell,
Dutton Ranch, Parmalee Hill, Sun Chase, and Gap’s Crown vineyards. Whole cluster pressed, indigenous
yeast fermentations, aged sur lie with weekly stirring, 100% malolactic fermentation in barrel. Aged in 35%
new French oak barrels.
Moderate straw color and clear in the glass. Aromas of lemon, yellow applesauce,
lemongrass and nutty oak. Lemon flavors drive the pleasure with hints of apple and melon. Slightly creamy on
the palate with nicely integrated oak and a tart lemony finish. Easy to like.
2012 Patz & Hall Hyde Vineyard Carneros Napa Chardonnay
alc., 1,303 cases, $60. Released October 2014. Hyde-Wente selection.
24th growing season working with this fruit. Whole cluster pressed.
Indigenous fermentations, aged sur lie with weekly stirring, 100% malolactic
fermentation in barrel. Aged in 50% new French oak barrels. Unfiltered.
Moderate straw color and clear in the glass. Lovely perfume of fresh lemon,
white rose, and brioche. Hi-tone flavors of lemon, nectarine, apple,
lemongrass and nutty oak working in harmony. Bright, with excellent grip
and follow through on the crisp finish. A stylish wine with excellent
Sommelier Rajat Parr, the wine and spirits director for the Michael Mina Group, joined with Charles Banks, the
former owner of Screaming Eagle, and winemaker Sashi Moorman, to produce Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
from select vineyards in Santa Barbara County. The name, Sandhi, is an ancient Sanskrit word meaning
“alliance” or “collaboration,” and reflects the partnership of the winery. Parr spearheaded the “Pursuit of
Balance” movement, and the stylistic goal of the wines reflects this: avoidance of extreme ripeness, oak and
alcohol while emphasizing finesse, minerality, acidity, structure and balance. The Pinot Noirs are most whole
cluster fermented and are unfined and unfiltered. A tasting room is in Lompoc. Visit www.sandhiwines.com.
For 2012, a Mt. Carmel ($50) and La Cote Pinot Noir ($90) are also offered.
2012 Sandhi Sanford & Benedict Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $65. Sourced from the original 1971 plantings at
Sanford & Benedict Vineyard.
Medium reddish purple color in the
glass. Very engaging nose that is whole cluster inspired with
aromas of rose petal, spicy cola, cherry and spiced pear. Soft and
silky on the palate with succulent flavors of red cherry and red
berries with a hint of dried leaf and rose water in the background. More
brightness and more savory than the Rinconada bottling. Plenty of bones
for aging, with a nice interplay of juicy acidity and suede tannins on the
finish. A sommelier’s wine built for food. Considerable better and more
expressive the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle
with plenty of spice, cola and fruit flavors dancing on the palate.
2012 Sandhi Rinconada Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $55. 100% whole cluster fermentation.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Exhilarating nose offering aromas of dark cherry, rose petal,
exotic spices and a little sous-bois at play. Seductive elegance upon entry with layers of dark red and purple
berry fruits backed by youthful, muscular tannins. A wine to contemplate with nuances arriving over time
including a floral riff. Silky in the mouth with a good spark of acidity to buffer the tannins. Still very enjoyable
the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. This wine needs cellaring for the tannins to
Sea Smoke Estate Vineyard was planted in 1999 on a hillside site. Each evening, the unique geography of the
region funnels a marine fog layer (“sea smoke”) up the Santa Ynez River canyon, cooling the vines and
extending the ripening period. Winemaker Don Schroeder has been at Sea Smoke since 2003, and he has
continued to fine tune his winemaking approach. For the Southing Pinot Noir, some untoasted oak barrels
were used and 10% of the wine was aged in 600-liter demi-muid barrels which slow oxygen ingress and
preserve freshness. The 2012 Southing is the twelfth vintage and is featuring the vineyard in its prime.
2012 Sea Smoke Southing Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
alc., pH 3.42, TA 0.65, $60 (1.5 ml $125). The name refers to the
south-facing hillside block of the estate vineyard. Grapes spent an
evening in the cold room after picking and sorting and then 100%
de-stemmed. Musts were cold soaked for 1 to 4 days, then
inoculated with cultured yeasts. Manual punchdowns were carried
out three times a day, with a total maceration time of 14 to 18 days.
Free-run juice was transferred to tank for settling. Pressing was carried out
at very low pressure. After settling, both free-run and press wines were
racked to 55% new French oak barrels for 16 months aging.
reddish purple color in the glass. Gorgeous nose featuring spiced berries,
violets, sous-bois and a hint of vanilla. The flamboyantly flavored core of
black raspberry and plum is accented with spice and an undertone of earthy flora. Amazing fruit flavor, yet
angelic, with a very soft and seamless demeanor, with oak adding complimentary seasoning. The fine-grain
tannins are beautifully integrated and the typically bright Sta. Rita Hills acidity adds vibrancy. The finish is long
and pleasing, filled with spicy plum goodness. This wine demands your attention from the get-go. Still
stunning the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, when I drained the bottle.
2012 Sea Smoke Sea Spray Blanc De Noirs Sta. Rita Hills Sparkling Wine
11.9% alc., pH 3.15, TA 0.90,
$80. A methode champenoise wine with limited production. A long, cool fermentation began in stainless tanks,
and was completed in once-used and neutral French oak barrels. After 6 months of sur lie aging in barrel, the
was bottle aged an additional 16 months en tirage before disgorging, and finished with no dosage to preserve
Delicate light salmon color in the glass with an effusive bead. Aromas of brioche, lily bouquet and
sandy beach lead to discreetly intense flavors of cherry, strawberry, blood orange, apricot and rose water. A
bone dry sparkler that is expansive in the mouth, finishing with mouthwatering, steely, orange-infused acidity.
Tasting through Siduri’s wines gives a window into the 2013 vintage in the Russian River Valley, Santa Lucia
Highlands and Sta. Rita Hills. The wines are magnificently balanced with bright, up front fruit flavors and
modest tannins. The appellation blends are skillfully assembled by winemaker Adam Lee as always and
represent exceedingly good values.
2013 Siduri Sonoma County Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 4,489 cases, $22, screwcap. A combination of Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley fruit. Unfined and unfiltered.
reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas really pop upon opening with notes of black cherry,
deep raspberry and spice, but fade a bit in the glass over time. The tasty core of black cherry fruit is
tasty, silky and forward, with plenty of richness to satisfy. The tannins are well-proportioned and the
finish is juicy and pleasing. A solid wine that will perk up any mid week dinner.
2013 Siduri Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 2,922 cases, $32, screwcap.
reddish purple hue in the glass. Aromas of Bing cherry and raspberry are slow to arrive in the glass
but satisfy over time. A bit of an atypical flavor profile for Russian River Valley with black raspberry,
blueberry and pomegranate dominating the mid weight palate. Nevertheless, this sleek wine has
admirable balance with complimentary oak and a finish of some persistence.
2013 Siduri Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 2,764 cases, $32, screwcap. 30% of blend from Pisoni Vineyard, the oldest vines that Siduri sources in the region. Also Rosella's, Soberanes, Sierra Mar and Garys' vineyards. 63% of wine comes from vines that are at least 14 years old.
dark reddish purple color in the glass. Very ripe scented nose with aromas of blackberry, spice and
conifer. Silky and juicy on the palate with alluring flavors of boysenberry, blackberry and black
currant with a substantial, but not imposing tannic backbone. The lengthy finish is especially
noteworthy for an appellation blend wine.
2013 Siduri Bucher Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 388 cases, $49.
reddish purple color in the glass. Well-endowed with generous aromas of ripe Bing cherries, cola and loamy
earth. Discreetly concentrated, cherry-driven flavor on the palate with an undertone of savory spices, smoky
oak, and what the French call merde, a fecal or decaying vegetative note that some drinkers (not me) prize. I
have experienced this in only one other California wine - the Russian River Valley Hansen Vineyard Pinot Noir
produced by Brogan Cellars and George Wine Company.
2013 Siduri Elsbree Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., 103 cases, $45, screwcap.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. This wine shows the most oak imprint of the lineup but it is
not imposing. Aromas of dark cherry, cola, rose petal and espresso. Very smooth and creamy on the palate
with very taste dark cherry and berry flavors accented with cola and dark chocolate notes. Very inviting with
2013 Siduri Parson’s Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., 389 cases, $49, screwcap.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very charming aromas of black cherry pie glaze, brioche and rose
petal. Juicy and silky on the palate, with a generous essence of well-ripened cherries with a riff of purple
berries mixed in. Beautifully balanced with a healthy tannic backbone, finishing with teasing, pleasing charm.
2013 Siduri Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., 378 cases, $54, screwcap.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. A little riper profile in this vintage, offering an array of red and purple
berry and stone fruits. Inviting attack with impressive fullness on the palate, with immersed tannins, finishing
with a charge of fruit excellence. This wine also has textural interest to compliment its refined character.
Always the most feminine wine of the Rosella’s-Garys’-Pisoni trilogy.
2013 Siduri Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., 350 cases, $54,
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Very shy initially, picking up aromatic and
flavor interest over time in the glass. Aromas of dark cherry, dark berry, spice and floral bouquet lead to
a mid to full-bodied rainbow of black cherry, boysenberry, purple grape and plum flavors. The fruit is
flat-out gorgeous. Well-proportioned tannins and a caressing, creamy mouthfeel complete the picture.
2013 Siduri Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., 450 cases, $60,
screwcap. High yields but many berries in each cluster created an
ideal situation. Grapes were picked over a month. A good
percentage of whole clusters were used in the fermentation as the
clusters had very ripe stems. 18 barrels (34% of the lot) were
selected for this wine which includes barrels from the Big Block,
Hermanos, and Tina’s sections of the vineyard.
Dark reddish purple
color in the glass. Typical Pisoni with a rich load of purple and black berry
fruits that balance the wine’s broad shoulders of tannins. The boldest wine
in the Siduri lineup with a remarkable palate-staining, grand cru finish. The
penetrating energy of the wine is striking. When I left a re-corked bottle for 4
days and re-tasted it, I was astonished by its brilliance. The tannins had
thoroughly melded and the wine was all velvet, highly flavorful, and I
experienced stars. This vineyard is truly the source of one of California’s greatest Pinot Noirs.
2013 Siduri Clos Pepe Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 420 cases, $54, screwcap. Excellent stem ripeness in this vintage so whole clusters used in three out of four lots with only part of the Pommard completely de-stemmed. Only 34% of the barrels made it into the final wine.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The explosive perfume of cherry, raspberry, brown spice and
brioche is captivating. Very soft and pleasing on the palate with light to mid weight flavors of fresh cherry pie
glaze, baking spice and raspberry coulis. Impeccable balance and glorious Pinot character. You can
thoroughly enjoy it now, but the balance predicts a long cellar life.
2013 Siduri Cargasacchi Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.32, TA 0.78, 201 cases, $54.
I found this to be a curious wine with a noticeable departure from Cargasacchi wines I have sampled over the
years. Adam Lee told me he used 15% whole cluster, but for some reason the stems really stood out in this
wine. It is the highest acid Pinot Noir for Siduri in 2013 and the reason for using stems to bring down the
strength of the acid. Many wine writers and consumers have liked it, while others have not. Although I am
generally a fan of whole cluster wines, I am in the not group. You can decide for yourself.
garnet color in the glass. Aromas of raspberry, strawberry, smoke and woody stem lead to a light to mid weight
core of red and black raspberry and blueberry fruits with a floral, spicy undertone. The fruit lacks intensity, but
does show persistence on the soprano, sour cherry finish.
2013 Siduri Van der Kamp Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Meunier
14.1% alc., 123 cases,
Moderately light ruby color in the glass. A lovely, nicely balanced wine, with aromas
of cherry and baking spices, and flavors of black cherry, boysenberry and grape. Modest tannins
and easy drink ability with the added bonus of lush finishing goodness.
Small Vines Wines
All Small Vines Pinot Noirs are estate grown with high-density plantings of 2,722-3,630 vines per acre (1 to 2.5
lbs. per vine). Farming adheres to Grand Cru standards, hand selecting each cluster and berry in the vineyard
by starting with a framework of no more than 10 buds per vine followed by 28 hand-worked passes touching
each vine. This meticulous organic farming and attention to detail makes for special wines of unusual high
quality. All small lot wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered. The Sloans advise decanting the wines if enjoyed
young. The wines, including magnums, are available only to release wine club members. Visit
www.smallvines.com, or email Kathryn Sloan at Kathryn@smallvines.com.
2012 Small Vines Wines Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., 169 cases, $50. Released August 5, 2014.
The newest single-vineyard Pinot Noir from the estate Barlow Homestead Vineyard.
Medium reddish purple
color in the glass. Very appealing aromatic goodness with scents of black cherry, black raspberry and sousbois.
Juicy, mid weight flavors of cherry, raspberry and cranberry with a touch of spice and a note of citrus in
the background. Good tension and modest tannins make for easy drinking.
2012 Small Vines Wines MK Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., pH 3.72, TA 0.52, 143 cases,
$65. Released August 5, 2014. Vineyard planted in 1999 by Small Vines on an eastern-facing ridge above
Occidental. Farmed organically using biodynamic practices. Clones 114, 115, 667 and 777. Native yeast
fermentation and native MLF. 25% whole cluster. Aged 15 months on fine lees in 45% new French oak. 100%
free run. Unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. A well-endowed wine
offering bright scents of cherry, black raspberry, earthy flora and a hint of bark, and very tasty flavors of black
cherry, black raspberry, cola and spice. Very polished and beautifully balanced with a healthy structure for
aging. The wine finishes with a charge of deep black raspberry goodness.
2012 Small Vines Wines Baranoff Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., pH 3.69, TA 0.57, 93 cases, $65.
Released August 5, 2014. Vineyard planted in 2001 at top of ridge
above the Laguna de Santa Rosa, Sebastopol. Sustainably farmed
by Small Vines Viticulture, Inc.. Mostly Calera clone with some 115
and 777. Native yeast fermentation and native MLF. 35% whole
cluster. Aged 15 months on fine lees in 25% new French oak. 100% free
run. Unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the
glass. Glorious nose over time, sporting aromas of black cherry, balsam,
baking spice and Christmas kitchen. Amazing presence on the palate with
numbing fruit intensity rarely seen in Pinot Noir. The dark berry and cherry
fruit sap grabs on tenaciously through a very long finish. The firm, youthful tannic backbone holds the fruit in
check and there is enough acidity to brighten the wine. This is a powerhouse wine that will need a few years
for the tannins to soften. Don’t even think about drinking this wine now unless you decant for several hours.
2012 Small Vines Wines Estate Cuvée Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., pH 3.73, TA 0.54, 383
cases, $N/A. About 56% Baranoff Vineyard, 25% Old Mill Vineyard, 12.5% MK Vineyard, and 6% Barlow
Homestead Vineyard. Organically farmed by Small Vines Viticulture, Inc.. Clones are Dijon 113, 114, 115, 459,
667, 777, Swan, Calera and Pommard. Native yeast fermentation and native ML. 27% whole cluster. Aged 15
months on fine lees in 31% new French oak. 100% free run.
Medium reddish purple color in the glass.
Aromas of dark berry pie and sweet oak lead to a mid weight core of flavorful cherry, raspberry, ollaliberry and
spice. Admirable integration of oak and complimentary tannins make for easy drinking. A forward-drinking
wine that aims to please with a soft mouthfeel and a finishing spurt of rich fruit goodness.
2013 Small Vines Wines Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.1% alc., pH 3.45, TA 0.55, 353 cases, $sold out.
Sourced from the estate Barlow Homestead Vineyard planted in Sebastopol in 2009. Vineyard is farmed
organically by Small Vines Viticulture, Inc.. 3,630 vines per acre in Goldridge sandy loam. Clones are Hyde,
Wente and Kistler Mt. Eden Wente selections. Barrel fermented with native yeast and native MLF. Aged 10
months on fine lees in 10% new French oak, 10% stainless steel and 80% neutral French oak. Unfined and
Moderately light golden straw color and clear in the glass. Pleasing aromas of lemon, apple, apricot and salty minerality. Bright, with excellent grip and tension, featuring juicy flavors of lemon and green apple, with subtle oak adding interest in the background. A superb food wine.
This is the fifth vintage from this winery and the 2013 lineup of Pinot Noirs are new to Tessier. The name,
Tessier, is the original French version of proprietor and winemaker Kristie Tacey’s last name. Her initial career
path was biotechnology and in 2000 worked on the Human Genome Project. Switching to winemaking, she
designed a label that depicts a photograph through a microscope of yeasts budding, a clever depiction since
yeasts are the work horses of winemaking. Kristie considers 2013 her favorite vintage. Visit
2013 Tessier Winery After Hours California Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 50 cases, $30. A tribute to
the Velvet Underground and the last tract on their self-titled album, one of Kristie’s favorites: “If you
close the door, the night could last forever. Leave the wineglass out and drink a toast to never.”
50% Saveria Vineyard and 50% Morelli Lane Vineyard. Aged in neutral French oak.
light garnet color in the glass. Uplifting aromas of cherry, cranberry and strawberry with a
complimentary touch of dried herbs. Elegant and lighter in weight, but not wimpy flavor wise, with a
juicy core of red fruits accented with notes of spice and a hint of red hots. A forward drinking wine,
slightly chilled, perfect for the back porch after a long work day.
2013 Tessier Winery Saveria Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 100 cases, $38.
Aged in 25% new French oak.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, strawberry,
and dried rose petal really draw you into the glass. Very suave and pleasurable on the palate with a juicy attack
of fresh cherry and cranberry fruits wrapped in fine-grain tannins. Nicely balanced with good oak integration,
finishing strong with plenty of red berry delight.
2013 Tessier Winery Morelli Lane Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 170 cases, $38. Aged in 30% new French oak.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Nice contrast to the
Santa Cruz Mountains bottling, showing the typical luscious fruit the
Russian River Valley is known for. Hi-tone aromas of Bing cherry,
raspberry, cola and baking spice set the stage. In the mouth, there is a
striking attack of intensely flavored fruit, primarily black cherry, with a hint of
sarsaparilla, mocha and vanilla. Nicely balanced tannins make for easy
drinking now and the finish has impressive generosity.
Misfortune struck this year at WesMar’s young estate vineyard in Sebastopol. The vines were infected with
Young Vine Decline, a fungal disease that prevents the young vines from taking up water and nutrients.
Apparently the vines were infected when they were delivered for planting. Removal of infected vines is the
only cure and so in March 2014, all 3264 vines were removed and in May 2014 the vineyard was replanted
with new rootstock. Next May (2015), the vines will be grafted to chosen clonal selections and hopefully some
estate fruit will be harvested in 2017. Bummer.
2012 WesMar Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $39. A blend of Hellenthal and Balletto vineyards.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Elevating aromas of fresh dark berries, brewed tea and (?
whole cluster) spice lead to a very satisfying mid weight mix of nicely ripened cherry and berry fruits that are
snug with youthful tannins. Not terribly complex, but highly enjoyable, with impeccable balance.
2012 WesMar Hellenthal Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Moderately light reddishpurple color in the glass. Shy initially, but
teases over time with vibrant aromas of wild berries, potpourri, spice and
conifer. Delicious mid weight flavors of mixed berries, dark cherries and
black plum with an appealing conifer note in the background. Highly
nuanced, with plenty to discover over time including hints of sarsaparilla,
cola, earth and smoke. Softly textured with a very long and engaging finish
that demands contemplation. The pick of the litter.
2012 WesMar Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $39.
Moderately light reddish purple hue in the
glass. Deep cherry aromas with hints of sous-bois, oak spice and floral bouquet. Soft and sleek in the mouth
with a pleasing mix of cherry and cranberry flavors accented with spice and cola. A top notch Russian River
Valley appellation blend that begs to be enjoyed now.
2012 WesMar Oehlman Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $42.
reddish purple color in the glass. Pleasant aromas of ripe cherry and raspberry with a hint of floral bouquet.
Cherry-driven on the palate with inviting attack and finish. A touch of spice and savory herbs add interest.
Considerably more enjoyable the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle with brighter fruit
expression and more finishing power. Decant if you must drink now, but I would wait a year or two.
2012 WesMar Salzgerber Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $45.
reddish purple color in the glass. A multitude of fruits are layered in this beauty, including cherries, blueberries,
red grapes and strawberries. This wine has noticeably more mid palate intensity and appeal. Very juicy, with
balanced tannins, bright acidity, complimentary oak management, and admirable harmony. More approachable
now than other single vineyard wines in this lineup.
Williams Selyem has gradually acquired estate vineyards since the winery was bought by John and Kathe
Dyson in 1997. Drake Estate Vineyard was added in 1998, the Estate property in 2001, and the property on
the east side of the Russian River known as Eastside Estate almost opposite the winery on Westside Road. In
2014, a Luella’s Garden Pinot Noir will be released honoring the original owner of the Williams Selyem
Westside Road Williams Selyem Estate Vineyard, Luella Litton. It will join the Block 10 Mass Selection Estate
Vineyard Pinot Noir and the Vista Verde Chenin blanc as special wines that can be tasted and purchased only
at the winery. Tasting is by appointment at www.williamsselyem.com. Wines are sold exclusively through a
mailing list. The 2012 wines reviewed here made me wish I had ordered more Williams Selyem Pinot. The
wines are stunning.
2012 Williams Selyem Williams Selyem Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
$105. Primarily Swan, Mt. Eden selections and Pommard clone.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass.
Intriguing aromas of black cherry liqueur, raspberry, spice, humus, herbs and toast. Impressive fruit intensity
and finishing generosity. Mid weight flavors of Bing cherries, red raspberries, baking spices and cola are
wrapped in well proportioned young tannins. Seamless, with inviting composure and potential.
2012 Williams Selyem Allen Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $82.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in
the glass. The knockout nose is orgasmic, featuring spicy black
cherry, berry wonderland and dark chocolate aromas. Soft, smooth
and polished on the palate, the dark red cherries and berries attack
with intent, and the epic flavor circus finishes with a grand cru level
of bombastic cherry goodness. The texture is very seductive and
the fruit is vibrant and pure. Superlatives don’t do this spectacular wine
2012 Williams Selyem Burt Williams Morning Dew Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
alc., $78. This vineyard is located in the northern end or “deep end” of the Anderson Valley.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Effusive aromas of black cherry cola, blackberry
jam, underbrush and oak-driven vanilla and anise. Mouth numbing flavors of black cherry, baking
spice, dark chocolate, tea and anise with sequestered tannins and a huge, long, and I mean long,
finish. Very soft and suave on the palate making for easy drinking now, but this wine can go the
distance. A glorious wine that has many nuances to offer.
2012 Williams Selyem Weir Vineyard Yorkville Highlands Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $58.
reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of blackberry, spice, bark, expensive dark chocolate and
smoky oak. Velvety on the palate, offering a burst of blackberry, black currant and boysenberry fruits
backed by supple tannins. Tremendous polish with a crazy long finish featuring spicy and very juicy
2013 Byron Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.56, TA 0.56, 50,000 cases, $19,
screwcap. Aged 8 months in 3% new French oak barrels.
Moderately light reddish purple color in
the glass. Fragrant with aromas of cherry, rose and oak. A solid, easy drinking wine, with juicy mid
weight black cherry flavor and a pretty good tug of oak. There is an earthy undertone and a hint of
iron-driven minerality adding interest. The tannins are supple and the velvety mouthfeel is appealing.
Amazing quality given the very large production.
2012 Carpe Diem Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $32. Crafted by Roederer Estate’s
winemaker, Arnaud Weyrich.
Medium reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is dominated by toasty,
smoky oak with little fruit evident. Better on the palate with a flavorful core of berry and plum fruit with oakdriven
notes of tobacco leaf and smoke in the background. Creamy on the palate with balanced tannins and a
short finish. Unchanged the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. The heavy oak
overlay is too much for my taste.
2012 Failla Occidental Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 575 cases, $55.
reddish purple color in the glass. Pleasant aromas of mixed berries, sous-bois, and subtle oak and vanilla. A
nuanced wine with considerable charm, offering flavors of boysenberry, black raspberry, black cherry, plum,
spice and a woodsy conifer edge. Impeccable harmony with an impressive finish lifted by refreshing acidity.
Quintessential west Sonoma Coast gem.
2012 Gehricke Los Carneros Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., RS 2.5 g/L, 1,050 cases, $50. The first entry into the
premium wine market by The Other Guys known for laid back labels like Hey Mambo, Pennywise and
Plungerhead. This wine resulted from a collaboration between August Sebastiani and his brother-in-law and
winemaker, Kendrick Coakley. Aged 9 months in French oak.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the
glass. Oak aromas and flavors dominate the lovely fruit in this otherwise appealing wine. The nose offers
scents of dark chocolate coated black cherries, smoke and coffee. Silky smooth on the palate, with a mid
weight core of sweet, fresh black cherry and black raspberry fruits with anise, spice and dark chocolate notes
in the background. Modest tannins and some length on the fruit-laden finish. Your pleasure will depend on how
big a role you want oak to play in your Pinot.
Supporting the community has always been part of the mission at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards. The
Ferrer family proudly served as honorary co-chairs of this year’s Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, whose
auction raised more than $4 million dollars for local charities. The 2012 Gloria Ferrer Willmar Artist Series
Pinot Noir marked the second vintage of supporting the Willmar Grief and Healing Center in Sonoma. All
proceeds from the sale of this limited-release Pinot Noir, which features an original artwork label created by a
young Willmar artist, benefit the center. In October, Gloria Ferrer hosted “Yoga for Hope” in support of the
Northern California chapter of the City of Hope. Gloria Ferrer also poured at two of amFAR’s Inspiration Galas
in support of AIDS research. This year for the first time, Gloria Ferrer was the exclusive wine for GLAMOUR
magazine’s 24th Annual Women of the Year Awards in November.
2012 Gloria Ferrer Estate Grown Carneros Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.55, $27. Aged
9 months in 94% French oak and 6% Hungarian oak with 25% of barrels new. A variety of Pinot Noir
clones and selections planted in this 365-acre estate vineyard.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the
glass. Lovely aromas of spice, black cherry and pomegranate. Forward-drinking and juicy with a
luscious core of dark cherry, purple berry, cola and spice flavors. The mid palate attack is tenacious,
the tannins are fine grain and supportive, there is enviable integration of oak, and a satisfying finish.
A terrific wine at this reasonable price.
Robert Pellegrini took over sole proprietorship in 2013 of the Pellegrini Wine Company that includes Olivet
Lane Estate and Pellegrini labels. The last vintage of Pellegrini Pinot Noir bottled was in 2009 and Chardonnay
in 2010, as all fruit was sold to Merry Edwards and Williams Selyem until the 2013 vintage (a 2011 Pellegrini
Pinot Noir was reviewed by me in July 2014, and it had 5 tons of Olivet Lane fruit in it but it was blended with
other Russian River Valley fruit and crafted off the property). Going forward beginning with the 2013 vintage
there will be two labels: Olivet Lane Vineyard that will include a single vineyard estate grown Pinot Noir and
Chardonnay, and Pellegrini, to include regional appellation wines and some single vineyard wines such as
Hurst and Toboni Oakwild Ranch Pinot Noirs. The current Pellegrini Pinot Noir has only a small fraction of
estate fruit and is a blend of several Russian River Valley vineyards. I recently stopped by the winery and
tasted the 2013 Olivet Lane Estate, Hurst and Toboni PInot Noirs from barrel with winemaker Lynn Krausmann,
and was very impressed. Krausmann has impressive credentials including stints as a winemaker at Esterlina
Vineyards and Williams Selyem. Look for exciting wines to come. A new outdoor tasting bar is now available
Thursday through Monday from 11:00 to 4:30 by appointment.
2013 Pellegrini Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $30.
Moderately light reddish purple color in
the glass. Aromas of black cherry, black tea and smoky oak lead to a tasty core of ripe strawberry, cherry and
cola flavors accented with oak. Medium weighted with good balance and some finishing persistence. A solid
2012 Windy Oaks Estate Special Release Les Deux Grands Cru Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., one barrel (24 cases), $85
(futures). Offered to Wine Group members only. A co-fermentation of the
estate vineyard special Burgundy clone and a little half-acre of the newly
certified Chambertin clone.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the
glass. Very pleasing aromas of cherry and red berry with a compliment of
toasty brioche. Light to medium weight flavors of red berry preserves with a
seasoning of oak. Softly textured with admirable balance, and a long red
cherry and red berry fueled finish. This wine grows on you over time in the
glass, picking up intensity and nuances. A cellar-worthy wine of
Recent Sips of Oregon Wines: Pinot Amore´
If you relish fruit and are susceptible to seduction, put aside your inhibitions and dive into 2012 Oregon Pinot
Noir. The wines, which combine marvelous fruit concentration with bright acidity, are so juicy some have even
called them “slutty.” Yields were down in 2012, so many of the best wines will have limited availability.
Antony Beck is the proprietor of Angela Estate located in Dundee, Oregon. A resident of Lexington, Kentucky,
where he has a thoroughbred farm, Beck is an emigrant from South Africa. His father founded the Graham
Beck label in South Africa, and after his father’s passing, Antony oversees the business operations of the
200,000-case winery. A chance meeting with Ken Wright in the late 1990s at a fundraiser led to a friendship.
Wright has family in Louisville and spent two years at the University of Kentucky. Beck would eventually buy a
undeveloped 34-acre property adjacent Abbott Claim Vineyard located between Anne Amie and Soter wineries
and Wright’s crew planted Pinot Noir there in 2006 and 2007. The planting was named Angela Estate Vineyard
and Wright was retained as the winemaker for the new 4,000-case production Angela Estate label focused
entirely on single vineyard Pinot Noir.
2012 Angela Estate Abbott Claim Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $60.
The 16-acre Abbot Claim vineyard was planted in 2001 to Pommard, 777 and 115 clones. It is part of the
original John F. Abbott Donation Land Claim. Soils are marine sedimentary.
Moderately light reddish purple
color in the glass. Aromas of cherries, spice and wood lead to a discreetly concentrated core of red cherries
and red berries with a touch of baking spices. Exquisite balance, a tad shallow on the attack but a good sweet
The winery reported ideal growing conditions in 2012 producing wines that are “powerful, energetic and
incredibly vivacious.” They are said to closely resemble the 2008 vintage wines but have a little more
complexity and verve. The two wines reviewed here were released in October 1, 2014. Also available are the
2012 Antikythera Pinot Noir ($100) and 2013 Aurata Chardonnay ($75).
2012 Antica Terra Ceras Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 600 cases, $75.
Medium reddish purple
color in the glass. Aromas of dark raspberry and espresso lead to oak-kissed flavors of boysenberry and black
raspberry. Very silky with soft tannins and a juicy finish. Still young and awkward with a hint of popcorn oak
and a touch of heat on the finish, but has considerable potential.
2012 Antica Terra Botanica Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., 630
Moderate dark reddish purple color in the glass. A noticeable
step up from the Ceras bottling. Very aromatic. When the cork was pulled,
aromas emerged like caged monkeys. Lovely scents of black cherry, spice,
brioche and vanilla. Tasty and expressive, with flavors of black cherry,
ollaliberry and plum with complimentary oak seasoning. Exquisite balance
and generosity at this young age.
Bethel Heights Vineyard
2012 Bethel Heights Iliahe Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 125 cases, $50. This
vineyard is located in the foothills of Oregon’s coast range of mountains. The name, Illahe, is a local Chinook
word for soil or earth.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Plenty of savory blueberry and blackberry
fruit with spice, underbrush and earthy accents on the nose. This unique terroir-driven wine features layers of
flavors of boysenberry, blackberry, black currant, anise, iron and earth. The youthful tannins are well integrated
and the finish is bold and lengthy. Even better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle
with more composed and expressive fruit.
2012 Bethel Heights Estate Vineyard Flat Block Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
250 cases, $58. From a block in the estate vineyard characterized by shallow, gravelly soil planted in 1979 on
its own roots.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is remarkably fragrant with aromas of
cherry pie, spice and rose petal. Very soft and elegant on the palate with a mid weight core of tasty cherry,
raspberry and cranberry fruits backed by a hint of oak seasoning. Juicy and crisp, with a lengthy finish. Even
better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle with more intense fruit expression.
2012 Bethel Heights Estate Vineyard Southeast Block Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., 150 cases, $50. From a small
section of the estate vineyard planted in 1979.
Moderate reddish purple
color in the glass. A complex nose offers nuances of cherry, raspberry,
potpourri, rose petal and smoky oak. Impressive mouth filling richness, yet
suave and refined with flavors of dark cherry and raspberry clothed in
youthful tannins and complimentary oak. Amazingly intense grand cru
finish that seems to build in intensity over a lengthy time. This wine has the
structure and balance to age beautifully. Very special.
2012 Bethel Heights Estate West Block Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., 100
cases, $50. From a small section of the estate vineyard planted in 1977 to own rooted Wädenswil clone.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of sweet cherry, violets, and spicy
oak. Soft, elegant and seamless, with a core of cherry, raspberry and cranberry fruits accented with spice.
Very juicy with supple tannins and a silky finish. Lacks a bit of intensity on the attack, but a very pleasurable
Coeur de Terre Vineyard
These organically farmed artisanal wines are always special. The 2012 vintage at Coeur de Terre produced
very darkly colored, intensely fruity wines that are atypical for the Willamette Valley. The McMinnville AVA
tends to produce intense Pinot Noir anyway, but the intensity from the Coeur de Terre Vineyard was ramped up
in this vintage.The result was very luscious, hedonistically flavored wines that tended to obscure the terroir of
the individual blocks. The one standout and distinctive wine was from Abby’s Block. Scott Neal, proprietor and
winemaker and Lisa Neal proprietor. Tasting room at the vineyard is open Thursday through Monday from
11:00 to 5:00 or other times by appointment. Visit www.cdtvineyard.com.
2012 Coeur de Terre Vineyard Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.61, 2,480
cases, $26. Released May 15, 2014. Average harvest Brix 24.3º. 50% estate vineyard fruit with the rest from
other vineyards in the McMinnville AVA and one vineyard that borders the AVA. Multiple clones including
Pommard, Wädenswil, 113, 114, 115, 667, 777 and Coury selection. Indigenous and commercial yeast
fermentation, aged 11 months sur lie in 20% new, 40% once-filled, 30% twice-filled and 10% neutral French
Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Deep aromas of black cherry, dried herbs and oak spice.
Mid weight + flavors of dark plum and boysenberry. Highly flavorful with complimentary tannins and juicy
acidity. Easy to like.
2012 Coeur de Terre Vineyard Estate The Heritage Reserve McMinnville Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.575, 466 cases, $36. Harvest Brix 24.2º. Release November 2014. A
selection from all four blocks of the estte vineyard. Both younger and mature vines. Aged sur lie for 12 months
in 35% new, 30% once-filled, 25% twice-filled and 10% neutral French oak.
Inky dark reddish purple color in
the glass. Very ripe fruited with aromas of blackberry, black currant, raisin and vanilla. Rich and full-bodied,
with a generous palate of very ripe purple and black fruits and a touch of strawberry and spice mixed in. The charge of
tannins on the finish overwhelms the fruit now and needs time to soften.
2012 Coeur de Terre Vineyard Estate Renelle’s Block Reserve McMinnville Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.73, TA 0.56, 79 cases, $65. Release November 2014. Sourced from the original
estate plantings (1999) which are a mixture of 9 clones (Pommard and two Wädenswil and several Dijon
clones) and several rootstocks. This is the mother block for the rest of the estate vineyard plantings. 4-day
cold soak, indigenous and commercial yeast fermentation. Aged 13 months in 45% new, 30% once-filled, and
25% twice-filled French oak. Unfined and unfiltered.
Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Restrained
aromas of blackberry and black plum with a tug of charred oak. Very generous on the palate with a sappy,
even sweet, charge of purple and black fruits. Substantial tannins match the fruit load. Oak plays a large role
in the experience at present. Hard to find any terroir here, but the magnificent fruit is luscious. Needs time to
integrate the oak and tannins.
2012 Coeur de Terre Vineyard Estate Sarah Jane’s Block Reserve McMinnville Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.73, TA 0.54, 87 cases, $65. Release November 2014. Sarah Jane’s Block was
the second estate block planted. Traditional Willakenzie soils. Clones are Pommard, 667, 777, 113, 114, and
115. 4-day cold soak, indigenous and commercial yeast fermentation, aged 13 months in 40% new, 30% oncefilled
and 30% twice-filled French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered.
Inky dark reddish purple color in the
glass. Aromas of blackberry jam, fennel, and conifer. A full-bodied, very savory, earthy wine featuring black
fruit and black tea flavors. Juicy and trim with the savory component adding interest. The daunting tannins
tend to swallow up the luscious fruit. More like Syrah than Pinot.
2012 Coeur de Terre Vineyard Estate Abby’s Block Reserve McMinnville Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.73,
TA 0.54, 68 cases, $65. Release November 2014. This block is mid slope
in the vineyard. Clones are a selection of vines from the estate vineyard
(Pommard, 667, 777, 113, 114 and 115) and grafted in the estate nursery. 4-
day cold soak, indigenous and commercial yeast fermentation, aged 13
months in 30% new, 35% once-filled and 35% twice-filled French oak
barrels. Unfined and unfiltered.
Dark reddish purple color in the glass. The
nose is to die for, with bright aromas of fresh black cherries and spice. The
most elegant and refined and most appealing of the block-designated
wines. The fruit is dark red rather than black in profile and more juicy and
uplifting. The balance is spot-on, the tannins are less daunting, and the
dark red cherry finish is alluring.
2012 Coeur de Terre Vineyard Estate Tallulah’s Run Reserve McMinnville Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.76, TA 0.55, 67 cases, $65. Clones 115, 667 and 777. 4-day cold soak,
indigenous and commercial yeast fermentation, aged 13 months in 40% new, 30% once-filled and 30% twicefilled
French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered.
Inky dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of
blackberry, black currant and ollaliberry syrup. Sappy purple fruits coat the tongue with layers of flavor. Bold
tannins match the hedonistic fruit in a balanced recipe. The huge fruit-filled finish leaves a stunning
impression. Closer to Syrah than Pinot, but a voluptuous wine that is hard to ignore. Nicely crafted in this style.
This highly lauded winery really hit the mark in 2012 with its unfiltered single vineyard Pinot Noirs.
2012 Cristom Marjorie Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $58. The only
original vineyard kept intact after the property was bought in 1992. The vineyard has phylloxera to the vines are gradually being replaced. This is first vintage that is not entirely from old vines, containing a single barrel of new vines.The “prettiest” vineyard wine in the Cristom
lineup that is usually elegant and spicy.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Aromas of dark cherry pie
filling, marzipan, brandied raisin and baker’s yeast. Elegant flavors of black cherry, spice and floral nuance
with a firm backing of tannin. Modest and seductive, very smooth on the palate, finishing with good
persistence. Needs at least a year or two in bottle for full enjoyment.
2012 Cristom Louise Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $58. This
vineyard was the first established by Cristom. It is densely planted at 2300 vines per acre on the lower slopes
of the property. Typically the last single vineyard to be released. More concentrated and dark fruited than other
estate Pinot Noirs.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Very shy nose initially, offering more
pleasure over time in the glass with aromas of cherry, rose petal, underbrush and vanilla. Gorgeous core of
well-spiced black cherry fruit clothed in muscular tannins. There is amazing length on the generous finish
which sports a refreshing spark of acidity. Still very young and tight, lacking Pinot delicacy, but suggesting a
tremendous upside potential.
2012 Cristom Jessie Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $58. One
of the steepest vineyard sites in the Willamette Valley. This wine is typically deep, dark and displays a
tension between the fruit and structure.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Vibrant aromas of
black cherry and Marionberry elevate over time in the glass. A wine that astonishes with a charge of
cherry fruit that is pure and deeply flavored. The amazing spiced cherry essence caresses the palate
and expands in the mouth, finishing with impressive length and a pleasing snap of acidity. This wine’s
impeccable balance insures long term age ability. An exquisite wine that is fresh and vivid, and aims to
please even at this young age.
2012 Cristom Eileen Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $58. Typically the most precocious of
the four estate vineyard wines and often the first wine released to
the market. This vineyard extends to the crest of the property
exposing the vines to the last rays of sun and the first cooling
breezes from the Pacific Ocean. Volcanic soils.
reddish purple color in the glass. The seductive scents of dark
berries, black cherries, rose petal and cardamon spice really get the juices
flowing. It is challenging to adequately describe this nose since the aromas
saturate the olfactory senses with so much whole cluster goodness. “Wow”
might be the best descriptor. On entry, this wine delivers a charge of black
raspberry fruit and exotic spices that really brings the palate to alert. This is
a stunning wine with a silky texture, healthy young tannins, and a peacock finish that hangs on for at least a
minute. There is some umami at work in this wine as well. Scary to think that this wine will be even better with
more bottle age.
All Pinot Noirs are sourced from sustainably grown grapes and non-irrigated vineyards and are bottled
2012 Evehsam Wood Terra Mahonia Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $27.
light garnet color in the glass. Very savory aromas of dark cherry and raspberry, spice and underbrush with a
hint of floral perfume. Light to mid weight flavors of cherry and raspberry in an elegant style with balanced
tannins and good finishing fruit goodness. A bit shallow on the attack but bright and refreshing.
2012 Evehsam Wood Illahe Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $27.
dark reddish purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of dark berry jam and wine cave. A ripe profile of
blackberry, black currant and plum fruits backed by firm, structured tannins. Noticeable grab and
hold finishing intensity. Very true to the character of this vineyard that features darker fruits,
substantial tannins and more finishing power. Cellaring should mollify the tannins. A hint of alcohol
heat shows up on the finish.
2012 Evesham Wood Temperance Hill Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $27. Produced
from organic grapes.
Woodsy aromas of black cherry and cranberry lead to a light to mid weight, savory wine
that is elegant and polished. Flavors of cherry and red berry predominant with a woodsy, sous-bois tone.
Rather rustic, with balanced tannins and some gratifying finish.
2012 Evehsam Wood Cuvée J Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $42. Produced from organic grapes.
purple color in the glass. A noticeable step up in quality with an expressive
nose of dried rose petal, boysenberry, and Middle Eastern spices. The
flavors echo the nose with a remarkable complex and intriguing spice
component. A classy wine with complimentary oak seasoning, a good
tannic backbone for aging, and a lengthy finish that soars with a purple
berry scent. Has shoulders but is still refined.
Johanna and Don Sandberg moved from Minnesota to Portland in 1999, after a visit to Oregon to discover the
feasibility of growing wine grapes and making wine in the Willamette Valley. By 2000, they had moved to wine
country and partnered with relatives (Sandbergs) to buy land where Pelos Sandberg Vineyard was planted. To
date, there are 11 acres of Pinot Noir planted. The vines are not irrigated and farmed using sustainable and
organic practices. The first IOTA Cellars wine was produced in 2006. Grapes have also been sold to Big Table
Farm, Rex Hill, EIEO & Company, Bergstrom Winery and Beaux Freres.
2012 IOTA Pelos Sandberg Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 577 cases,
$42. Pommard, Wädenswil, 777 and 667 clones. Aged 10 months in 3-year-air-dried French oak barrels and
an additional 12 months in bottle.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Amazingly fragrant with
aromas of dark berry, cassis, plum, black cherry and espresso leaping from the glass upon opening. Mid
weight + core of well ripened dark berry fruit with some smoky oak in the background. Soft tannins and a fruitfilled
finish ramp up the pleasure. The wine has plenty of oak overlay, but an equal amount of luscious fruit.
Ken Wright Cellars
An Oregon stalwart, with two 2013 Pinot Noirs from very distinguished vineyards that really deliver. Other
vineyard designates for 2013: Bonnie Jean Vineyard, Bryce Vineyard, Canary Hill Vineyard, Carter Vineyard,
Freedom Hill Vineyard, Guadalupe Vineyard, McCrone Vineyard, Savoya Vineyard, Shea Vineyard, and
2013 Ken Wright Abbott Claim Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., $50.
Vineyard owners Antony and Angela Beck and vineyard manager Mark Gould.
Moderately light reddish purple
color in the glass. Shy initially, but explodes with time in the glass, strutting hi-tone aromas ob cherry, baking
spice, rose petal and a hint of smoke. A cherry-driven wine with a hint of raspberry and spice, lively on the
palate and really hanging on to the finish. This wine is crisp, juicy and has enough structure to age.
2013 Ken Wright Meredith Mitchell Vineyard McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., $50. This vineyard is
planted to own-rooted Pommard first established in 1988. Soil is
Yamhill - shallow silty loam over basaltic bedrock. The vineyard is
owned and managed by Susan Meredith and Franck Mitchell.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Scents of cherry,
forest floor and oak char are somewhat shy, but the fruit explodes
on the palate. Rich raspberry and cherry flavor that attacks the mid palate
with a vengeance. Accents of baking spice, earth and conifer add interest.
Uncommon fruit energy that fuels an intensely flavorful finish. Rare to find
a wine with such palate saturating fruit. The nose has not arrived, so give
this wine at least a year in bottle.
These are outstanding wines from a producing with a history of two generations and 30 years of Oregon
winegrowing at very modest prices considering the quality. The 18-acre estate vineyard is in the northern part
of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Soils are Willakenzie and Peavine. Average vine age is over 20 years and much of
the vines are own-rooted. Pinot Noir clones consist of Pommard, Dijon 115, 667, 777, and Wädenswil. The
bright acidity in the wines reviewed here really brings an appealing juiciness to the wines.
2012 Kramer Vineyards Estate Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH
3.50, TA 0.61, 300 cases, $24. Harvest Brix 23.5º. 75% de-stemmed. 5-day cold soak, pump over
and punch downs twice daily until dry. Aged 10 months in 25% new French oak barrels. Composed
of various clones from several of the estate vineyard blocks.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in
the glass. Engaging perfume of black cherry, blackberry, spice and vanilla. A forward drinking wine
with plenty of cherry, berry and spice flavor to satisfy. Admirable intensity on the attack with some
power on the finish that ends with a rush of young tannins. This wine will benefit from more bottle age but is hard
to resist now.
2012 Kramer Vineyards Cardiac Hill Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.47, TA 0.64, 100 cases, $42.
Crafted from LIVE-certified grapes. Sourced from the steepest
hillside vines on the estate vineyard. Clones are Pommard and
Dijon 11. Harvest Brix 23.3º. Willakenzie soil with a high clay
content which stresses the vines and leads to small yields. 100%
de-stemmed. 5-day cold soak, pumped over and punched down
twice daily until dry, then pressed. Aged 17 months in 25% new French oak
barrels. Unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the
glass. I am crazy about this nose which features aromas of black cherries,
complex floral notes, complimentary spice and a hint of smoky oak. On the
palate, the mid weight flavors of black cherry, ripe strawberry, raspberry and
spice are enticing. The bright acidity gives the vibrant apple fruit flavor a lift. There are plenty of tannins to go
the distance. A delightful wine with charm and sophistication.
2012 Kramer Vineyards Heritage Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.47, TA
0.62, 100 cases, $42. Sourced from the oldest block of Pinot Noir in the estate vineyard first planted in 1984.
100% own-rooted Pommard clone. Harvest Brix 23.2º. 75% de-stemmed, 8-day cold soak, pumped over and
punched down twice daily until dry. Aged 18 months in 25% new French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple
color in the glass. Shy aromas of dark fruits and sous-bois. Charming flavors of boysenberry, blackberry and
spice, building in intensity over time in the glass. Remarkable appeal and length, with substantial tannins. Still
opulent the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2012 Kramer Vineyards Rebecca’s Reserve Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH
3.40, TA 0.62, 75 cases, $42. From an estate vineyard block planted in 1992 to 4’ x 4’ spacing. Pommard and
Dijon 115 clones. Harvest Brix 23.0º. 100% de-stemmed. 6-day cold soak, pumped over and punched down
twice daily until dry. Aged 18 months in 25% new French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered.
reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry and underbrush lead to intense flavors of blackberry
and black plum. Reasonably good attack and finish, with enough structure to satisfy. Only hints at its ultimate
promise at this time and should elevate with more time in the bottle.
2013 Kramer Vineyards Reserve Dijon Clones Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Chardonnay
13.7% alc., pH 3.32, TA 0.59, 125 cases, $28. Estate grown. Harvest Brix 19.7º. Whole cluster
pressed, barrel fermented sur lie for 10 months in 60% neutral French oak barrels adn 40%
stainless steel barrels. Full malolactic fermentation with minimal lees stirring.
Light yellow gold
color and clear in the glass. Nicely perfumed with scents of tropical fruits, pear, floral bouquet and a
hint of Muscat. Relatively light in weight but pleasing with crisp flavors of apple, pear, nectarine and
honeydew melon. Nicely balanced with a silky mouthfeel and the slightest hint of tannin on the dry
2013 Kramer Vineyards “Celebrate!” Müller-Thurgau Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley sparkling wine
12.5% alc., pH 2.99, TA 0.82, RS 0.6%, 99 cases, $22. Sourced from vines planted in 1986-1988 in Peavine
and Willakenzie silty clay loam soils. Harvest Brix 19.1º. Whole cluster pressed, fermentation in stainless tank,
racked and aged on lees in stainless for 5 months. To sparkle, the wine was transferred to a high-pressure
tank, chilled, and carbon dioxide bubbled in through a diffusion stone until the ideal level of pressure was
Faint golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of lemongrass, pear, melon and wilted rose. Dry and
crisp on the palate, with flavors that echo the aromas. A refreshing drink with a good bead and a citrus-driven
2013 Kramer Vineyards “Celebrate!” Pinot Gris Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley sparkling wine
alc., pH 3.18, TA 0.49, RS 1.5%, 325 cases, $22. Harvest Brix 17.7º. Whole cluster pressed, racked to
stainless tank for primary fermentation. When fermentation complete, racked and aged on lees in stainless for
5 months. To sparkle, the wine was transferred to a high-pressure tank, chilled, and carbon dioxide bubbled in
through a diffusion stone, until the ideal level of pressure was achieved.
Steely white color in the glass. Nicely
perfumed with aromas of tropical fruits, Muscat, apricot and peach. Fruity, off dry, with a good bead, offering
flavors of banana, peach, pear and vanilla. Winemaker recommends toasting with this wine on its own, or
using it for mimosas and as a part of creative mixtures with cranberry, pomegranate or guava juices. Have
some fun with it!
Stoller Family Estate
2011 Stoller Family Estate Reserve Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., 1,300 cases, $45. A
selection of best vineyard blocks and barrels in the cellar. Pommard, Wädenswil, Dijon 114, 115, 667 and 777
planted in Jory soil. Aged 10 months in 40% new and 60% neutral French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple
hue in the glass. A very appealing nose offering aromas of cherry, spice, rose hips tea, dried herbs and a hint
of oak. Very tasty core of mid weight cherry, raspberry and tea berry flavor with judicious oak in the
background. Juicy and bright, with impeccable balance, finishing with a blast of iced cherry fruit that you can
almost chew on. A highly enjoyable offering from a challenging vintage.
Proprietor and winemaker Matt Driscoll sources grapes from several Oregon AVAs and crafts his wines at Illahe
Vineyards. The name WildAire, is derived from the family estate in Roanoke, Virginia. The name, “WildAire,”
was carved into a fireplace mantel in the remains of an old hotel on the family estate. This is my first
experience with this producer and was impressed by the high quality of the winemaking.
2012 WildAire Timothy Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.64, TA 0.55, 260 cases, $25,
screwcap. This wine is dedicated to Matt Driscoll’s father, who loved to hike in the Appalachian Mountains and
return to the homestead to share a glass of wine with family and friends. Sourced from Shea, Kiff, Illahe and
Zenith vineyards. 100% de-stemmed, proprietary yeast.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very
fragrant initially with aromas of raspberry, cherry, rose petal and dried herbs, losing interest over time in the
glass as the fruit aromas faded. Middleweight flavors of cherry and raspberry with a hint of spice and
noticeable oak presence. A forward drinking, back porch wine.
2012 WildAire Reserve Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 250 cases, $35 (sold
out). Crafted from select barrels from several legendary Oregon vineyards (Kiff clone 777, Shea
Wädenswill clone, Zenith clone 115 and Wädenswil, and Illahe Pommard clone). 100% destemmed,
Native and proprietary yeast fermentations. 23 days on the skins. Aged 10 months in
33% new French oak barrels.
Medium reddish purple color in the glass. Appealing aromas of black
cherries, loganberries and loamy earth. Relatively approachable for a reserve wine, with tasteful
notes of black cherry, boysenberry, plum and spice. The tannins are balanced and the wine finishes with a
moderately intense charge of cherry fruit. The wine improves over time in the glass indicate age worthiness.
2012 WildAire Zenith Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.68,
TA 0.55, 72 cases, $45. Harvest Brix 24º. 66% Wädenswil, 34% Dijon clone 115. 100% de-stemmed, 7-day
cold soak, inoculated with yeast. Aged 10 months in 33% new French oak barrels.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, sarsaparilla, and forest floor are inviting. Juicy and easy to like mid
weight core of fresh cherry goodness with a hint of boysenberry. Nicely integrated oak, mild tannins and good
2012 WildAire Shea Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.72, TA 0.55, 72 cases, $45.
Harvest Brix 24.5º. 100% Wädenswil clone from Block 25. 100%
de-stemmed, 7-day cold soak, inoculated fermentation. Aged 10
months in 33% new French Oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple
hue in the glass. Very engaging aromas of dark cherry pie glaze,
spice, violets and smoky oak. Delicious core of nicely ripened black
cherry fruit with a hint of mocha and spice. The fruit really attracts attention
as it is vivid and juicy. There is a good amount of fine-grain tannins for
structural integrity and noticeably intense finishing presence. I am not
usually a fan of single clone Wädenswil Pinot Noir, but this beauty bursts my
bubble. A standout.
Tasting Sonoma County Harvest Fair Best of Class & Double Gold Pinot Noirs
The 2014 Sonoma County Harvest Professional Wine Competition was held in October. Three of the highest
levels of award are of special interest. The Double Gold award reflects an unanimous decision of the judging
panel. The Best of Class award is selected from all the Gold Medal award winners in every class. I was
curious to taste some of the top award-winning wines. It was revealing that quality correlated very closely with
price. With Pinot Noir, you get what you pay for!
Best of Class ($25-$39.99)
2012 MacMurray Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $28 ($20 at some retailers).
Moderately dark ruby hue in the glass. The rather shy and dull nose offers hints of cherry and oak. A gentle,
shallow wine that is pleasant but not exciting, featuring a discreet weighted core of cherry fruit with a touch of
floral and oak accents and well-endowed backing tannins.
2012 D&L Carinalli Vineyards Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
15.0% alc., $25. Family owned
vineyard and winery.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, strawberry, oak spice and
a hint of wintergreen. A very serviceable wine with mid weight flavors of black cherry and ripe strawberry with a
compliment of toasty oak in the background. The fine grain tannins are modest in proportion and the finish has
a little length.
2013 Thirty-Seven Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 420 cases, $26.
Moderate reddish purple color in
the glass. A little volatile acidity initially blows off over time. Hi flying aromas of boysenberry, black raspberry
and spice. A forward drinking and expressive middleweight wine featuring a core of purple berries and spice
with complimentary toasty oak in the background. Very soft on the palate with balanced tannins and some
finishing verve. A flashy wine that would show well in competition.
2012 DRNK Cavers Cuvée Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 196 cases, $32. Saralee’s,
Hallberg Ranch and Sweetwater Ranch vineyards. Ryan R. Kunde is the winemaker.
Moderately light garnet
color in the glass. Inviting aromas of cherry, raspberry and sandalwood. Easy to like with thirst-quenching
flavors of cherry syrup and raspberry coulis with a hint of spice. Nicely balanced with good oak management.
2012 Davis Bynum Winery Jane’s Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir $35. 2011 vintage previously
reviewed in November 2013. (89)
2013 Fogline Vineyards Sun Chase Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir $42 2012 vintage previously
reviewed in August 2014. (92)
2013 Balletto Sexton Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.58, 608 cases, $42. Harvest Brix 23.7º and 25.3º. Sourced from an estate vineyard southwest of
Sebastopol. Grower is John Balletto and winemaker is Anthony Beckman. Clones are Calera (95%) and Swan (5%).
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely, exuberant aromas of
Bing cherries and baking spices. Juicy mid weight flavors of Bing cherries,
raspberries and boysenberries. Ideal balance with plenty of finishing fruit
goodness and length on the dry finish. A forward-drinking crowd pleaser.
2012 Davis Family Vineyards Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $55. This is an expression of the
Green Valley and is composed of Pommard and Dijon clones.
This is one of the coolest climate sites in the Russian River
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The
glorious nose is deep and inspired, with vivid aromas of fresh
cherries, spice, Prada leather coat and rose petal. A cherry
bombast on the palate that really made me sit up and take notice.
Discreetly concentrated with added accents of spice, raspberry and plum
with a complimentary note of smoky oak. An absolutely delicious and
harmonious wine that floods the mouth with flavor.
Grower John Bacigalupi Tests Disruptive Technology John Bacigalupi, owner of the
historic Bacigalupi Vineyards is the first California grape grower experimenting with AgriOzein to reduce
pesticide and fungicide use. This ozone generator, AgriOzein, recently approved by the FDA, EPA and the
USDA, produces oxygenated water, that when applied, shatters the cell walls of pests and funguses in
vineyards, reducing the need for standard chemical regimes. The ozone is introduced into water and then
applied to the grapevine with a sprayer. The ozone sprayer is lethal to anaerobic organisms that have to live
with oxygen. Ozone selects out these organisms and as they breathe in the ozone, it shatters the cell walls.
Excess ozone decomposes rapidly to produce oxygen and leaves no residue on grapes and grapevines.
Bacigalupi plans to spray every 7 to 10 days. The harvest of 2015 will reveal whether Bacigalupi’s ozone
treatments are successful.
Australia’s Yabby Lake Pinot Noir Wins Top Honors at National Wine Show The
new release 2013 Yabby Lake Block 2 Pinot Noir took home four trophies at the Australian National Wine Show
Trophy Presentation Dinner in Canberra, collecting the RSN Riedel Trophy for Best Pinot Noir, the trophy for
Best Dry Red Table Wine, the trophy for Single Vineyard Dry Red Wine, and the Len Evans Memorial Trophy
for Champion of the Show. The wine was also recognized with the Pinot Noir trophy at the Royal Brisbane
Wine Show earlier this year. This followed the achievements of the 2012 Block 1 Pinot Noir in late 2013, which
was the first Pinot Noir to win the Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy at the 2013 Royal Melbourne Wine Awards,
and was also awarded the trophy for Best Pinot Noir and Best Single Vineyard Dry Red at last year’s National
Wine show (reviewed previously in the PinotFile). The wine is one of three 2013 Single Block Wines under the
Yabby Lake label that include a Block 6 chardonnay and a Block 1 Pinot Noir. The wines, crafted by
winemaker Tom Carson, are made in tiny quantities. The U.S. importer is Southern Wine & Spirits.
Next Glass Knows Your Taste in Wine A new app using a database of wines, your preferred
tastes, and a camera to scan a label, can tell you ahead of time whether there is a good chance you will like
the wine. The app is free and available now for iOS and Android. Apparently tens of thousands of wine
samples have led to a database that can match your personal preferences to a wine. Visit www.nextglass.co.
IPNC Early Bird Special The 29th Annual International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) will be held July
24-26, 2015. 2014 marks an historic anniversary in Oregon since fifty years ago, David Lett planted the first
Pinot Noir vine in the Willamette Valley. Early bird pricing for tickets to the 2015 IPNC are available now
through December 31, 2014, and offer full weekend passes for a savings of $100 per ticket. Make sure to book
lodging accommodations as they fill up quickly. Tickets and a a full list of local accommodations are available
¡Salud! Raises Record $722,000 for Vineyard Workers’ Healthcare. The sold-out
¡Salud! Cuvée Tasting and Big Board Auction of 2013 vintage Oregon Pinot Noirs at Domaine Drouhin Oregon
on November 14 drew 475 attendees and raised more than $200,000, a record for that evening. The sold-out
Saturday Dinner and Auction Gala on the following day staged at The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg gathered
340 patrons and raised $522,000 through live and silent auctions, ticket sales and sponsorships. Willamette
vineyards founder Jim Bernau and St. Innocent winemaker Mark Vlossak were honored at the event with
Bernau receiving the Los Heroes de ¡Salud! Award and Vlossak the Legacy Winemaker Award.
WHOA Farm Pinot Noir WHOA (Work Horse Organic Agriculture) is a southeast Santa Rosa,
California, farm that grows wheat, fruits, vegetables and wine grapes that are given away to local nonprofits
that help feed the needy. In 2012, the first WHOA Farm Pinot Noir was produced from the 5-acre Crane
Vineyard, nestled between two agricultural sites on Petaluma Hill Road. The vineyard was planted to vines
beginning in 2005, and now includes Dijon clones 115, 667 and 777, and a rare clone of Italian origin known as
VCR 18. The vines are dry farmed. The wine was crafted gratis by Guy Davis of Healdsburg's Davis Family
Vineyards, and 100 percent of the profits go toward the costs of animal care, farm management and the
demands of providing up to 500 meals a day for Sonoma County residents. The 2012 WHOA Farm Pinot Noir
is available now at www.whoafarm.org.
Passes Now on Sale for 2015 World of Pinot Noir This annual Pinot Noir bacchanalia will be
held March 6&7, 2015, at the Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara, California. The event includes in-depth
tastings, seminars and lunches and dinners. Friday, Saturday and Weekend Passes are now available on a
first-come, first-served basis at www.worldofpinotnoir.com. The program has been expanded to include more
wine dinners. Jancis Robinson will be the honored moderator at Friday’s seminar. The World of Pinot Noir
Crystal Anniversary Dinner will be held Saturday, marking the fifteenth anniversary of the World of Pinot Noir.
Visit the website for the list of over 200 participating wineries.
Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers on the Road Stars of Santa Barbara in Beverly Hills on January 21,
2015, San Francisco Chronicle Grand Tasting February 14, 2015, Road Trip to Marina Kitchen in San Diego
April 11&12, 2015, Road Trip to The Wine House in Los Angeles April 20, 2015, and Road Trip to Ventura Wine
Company May 3, 2015. Visit www.staritahills.com for details and tickets.
Recent Pinot Noir Awards of Note
Vineyard & Winery Management 24th Annual 2014 Grand Harvest Awards: Best of Class - 2011 Handley
Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2011 Tondre Tondre Grapefield Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, 2012
Wild Horse Unbridled Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir, 2012 Graton Ridge Cellars Estate Paul Family
Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 2012 Nicholson Ranch Estate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.
Wine Enthusiast 2014 Top 100 Wines (The Enthusiast 100 of 2014): #1 - 2012 Ken Wright Abbey Claim
Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (97), #13 - 2012 Lynmar Freestone Russian River Valley
Pinot Noir (96), #49 - 2012 Sextant Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir (93), #61 2012 Byron Santa Maria Valley
Pinot Noir (93), and #63 - 2011 Brick House Evelyn’s Ribbon Ridge Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2014 (based on quality value, availability and excitement): #8 - 2012
Brewer-Clifton Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir (94 - $40), #17 - 2012 Soter Mineral Springs Ranch Yamhill-Carlton
Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (93, $60), #26 - 2011 Emeritus Hallberg Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (93
- $42), #29 - 2012 Hamilton Russell South Africa Pinot Noir (93 - $46), #36 - 2009 Marcassin Marcassin
Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (97-$125), #53 - 2012 Ponzi Tavola Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (91 - $25),
#71 - Roar Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir (93 - $52), #86 - 2012 Pali Wine Co.
Huntington Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir (90 - $23), and #100 - 2012 Saint Clair Pioneer Block 16 Awatere
Marlborough Pinot Noir (92 - $31).
Stanford Wine Tasting Class When I attended Stanford almost 50 years ago, the curriculum did not
surprisingly include a wine tasting class, because the campus was dry. Stanford students can now take
FRENLANG 60D:French Viticulture, a one-unit course taught by a veteran of the wine business, AJ Ferrari,
who works at Michael Mina Restaurant in San Francisco. Ferrari has been teaching the introductory wine
class for nine years, and offers an advanced version of the class as well. Students have been known to camp
out overnight to sign up for the courses. Even nerds love wine.
Scott Paul Wines Sold Now in its 15th anniversary year, Scott Paul Wines was sold to Scott Wright’s
long time friend and business partner, Cameron Healy. Wright will retain full ownership and concentrate solely
on his Burgundy and Grower Champagne import company. The new name of the Burgundy and Champagne
import company will be announced soon. Cameron will push forward with brand building with both Scott Paul
and Wildstock Wines under the umbrella of Vintisanal Wine Company. He is a sixth generation Oregonian who
founded both Kettle Foods (Kettle Chips) and Kona Brewing Company. For the next year, Wright will stay on
as a consultant for Scott Paul Wines assisting Kelley Fox with winemaking decisions. The vineyard and
winemaking philosophies of Scott Paul Wines will remain unchanged.
Millennials Now Prefer Wine Over Beer I commented recently that a high percentage of my
readers are Millennials. A new study by Goldman Sachs was reported in thedrinksbusiness.com (December 5,
2014) showed that Americans aged over 50 remained faithful to beer, the Millennials prefer wine and spirits
over beer. It is predicted that the craft beer rage will soon plateau.
Anaba Wines Appoints New Winemakers Anaba Wines produces Burgundian and Rhone
varietals from grapes grown on its Carneros estate and other vineyards throughout the state. Anaba, named
for the anabatic winds that flow through the region, was established in western Carneros in 2003. Owner John
Sweazey has appointed Ross Cobb (COBB Wines and Hirsch Vineyards) and Katy Wilson (La Rue Wines).
The pair met while working at Flowers Vineyard & Winery and in 2012 formed a winemaking partnership.
Video Expressing Argument Against Expanding Sta. Rita Hills AVA A video has been
posted that expresses the opinion of the Sta. Rita Hills Wine Growers Alliance that the Sta. Rita Hills AVA
should not be expanded to the East. A proposed expansion of the AVA is currently being reviewed by the
government. Visit www.independent.com/news/2014/dec/03/video-argument-against-expanding-sta-rita-hillsap/.