PinotFile: 10.22 December 12, 2015
- Winery of Year: Davis Family Vineyards
- Sips of Recently Tasted California Pinot Noir & Chardonnay
- Sips of Recently Tasted Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
- Pinot Briefs
- Holiday Cheers
Winery of Year: Davis Family Vineyards
Guy Davis, the proprietor and winemaker at Davis Family Vineyards, and I share a friendship that goes back twelve
years. I have tasted every Pinot Noir he has crafted over the past twelve vintages and he has shown me the
consistent ability to capture the complex aromas and flavors and captivating textures of Russian River Valley
Pinot Noir. Guy’s son, Cole, has become increasingly involved in the winery’s winemaking as cellar master, and
Guy’s other son, Cooper, who helped farm the family’s estate vineyard beginning at an early age, is pursuing a
wine marketing degree at Sonoma State University, and active in the family winery and tasting room as well.
Guy’s spouse, Judy, an RN, has shared Guy’s passion for wine, and along with Guy, planted their Russian River
Valley vineyard. She assists with hospitality at the winery and represents Davis Family Vineyards at sales
events across throughout the United States. The word “Family” in Davis Family Vineyards is no misnomer.
Guy came to wine as a teenager while working his way through college as a cook at a French restaurant. He
was able to taste benchmark wines from all the famous regions of France, and became so knowledgeable that
he was asked to buy the wine for the restaurant’s wine list. Although he was educated in economics and began
his working career as a stockbroker, the stock market crash of 1987 made him rethink his career goals. He
landed a job as a wine buyer in Sonoma in 1989 and soon was working in the cellars of several boutique
wineries in the area. A stint with winemaker Lori Olds at Sky Vineyards on Mt. Veeder persuaded him to pursue
a career in winemaking.
While taking classes at Santa Rosa Junior College and University of California at Davis, he began a search for
the perfect site to grow Pinot Noir. In 1996, he bought a hillside vineyard on Laguna Road in the Russian River
Valley, located on the same ridge as Swan’s and Dehlinger’s Estate vineyards. The property featured a Zinfandel vineyard dating to 1896 that had been neglected for years. Guy and Judy resurrected 2.8 acres of
the original Zinfandel vines, and planted 7 acres of Pinot Noir along with small amounts of Syrah and
Chardonnay. The photo below shows the estate Soul Patch Vineyard with Pinot Noir planted in the western
uppermost portion of the vineyard. The vineyard is eastern facing with vineyard rows running north to south.
This orientation insures that all the fruit receives equal exposure to the sun. The soil is Goldridge series with a
high amount of volcanic ash. The Pinot Noir clones planted at the Davis family’s Soul Patch Vineyard are
Pommard, and Dijon 777, 667 and 115. Farming of the vineyard is dedicated to organic practices.
Guy is a cerebral winemaker who clearly understands his quest. His “Top 5 Rules for Crafting Great Pinot Noir”
include the following: (1) Only grow on sites destined for greatness; (2) Employ precision viticulture: Guy does
not farm 7 acres of Pinot Noir but rather farms 9,274 vines, striving to get 12 to 14 touches for every vine
during the growing season from pruning to harvest; (3) Pick on the right day: Guy is fanatical about picking the
right day to harvest, striving to find the point at which the flavors are ripe and supple, yet not beyond the fine
line that can jeopardize elegance and beauty of the finished wine; (4) Smell, taste and talk to the wines every
week; and (5) Be an expert at blending: you have to know what true greatness requires to achieve it. Guy says,
“The pursuit of creating the perfect Pinot Noir is like the pursuit of the Holy Grail; only a few of us believe it
exists and we wake up at dawn every day to move one step closer in our quest.”
The winery’s flagship wine is the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, a blend of all the winery’s Pinot Noir grown
in this appellation. Beginning in 2006, favorite barrels of estate Pinot Noir were set aside as a special wine
receiving additional barrel aging and named the PinnaCole. Starting in 2008, another special bottling, Soul
Patch, was crafted using grapes sourced from a unique part of the estate vineyard that has a steep, east-facing
slope that basks in the morning sun but avoids the harsh afternoon sun. Vineyard-designated Pinot
Noirs have also been part of the portfolio, including Russian River Valley Horseshoe Bend Vineyard located
in Occidental Ridge first produced in 2008, Russian River Valley Starr Ridge Vineyard located in Windsor Hills
first offered in 2009, Russian River Valley Dutton Ranch located in Green Valley, and most recently, Campbell
Ranch Vineyard located in Annapolis on the Sonoma Coast. A Sonoma Coast AVA blend is also offered.
Although the winery’s focus is Pinot Noir, Guy is a versatile winemaker and offers a variety of stellar wines
including Estate Grown Syrah, a Rhone white blend (Cuvée Luke), a Rhone red blend (Throne), a Bordeauxstyle
red blend, Zinfandel, a Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, a Russian River Valley Chardonnay, a late
harvest Viognier, and a sparkling wine from Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir fruit. A cold-pressed artisan olive oil is
produced from trees planted in 1906 in the Sierra Foothills.
A tasting room is located in the winery at 52 Front St. in Healdsburg. Guy has a soft spot for creative art and
displays the work of local artists on his tasting room walls and on the grounds of the winery. During the summer
months, well-known local ZaZu restaurant parks its food truck at Davis Family Vineyards and visitors can dine
on the many pork-centric dishes of chef Duskie Estes of ZaZu while enjoy Davis Family Vineyards wines in the
picnic gardens. The tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.. Box lunches
may be pre-ordered as well. Many of the Davis Family Vineyards Pinot Noir wines sell out quickly so it is
advisable to join the mailing list or wine club. Contact Annie Rambo regarding sales at email@example.com.
The winery’s website is www.daviswines.com.
The following wines were sampled at the winery in early October 2015 and in some instances at home as well.
The wines are de-stemmed, cold soaked, fermented with native yeast in small, temperature-controlled, open-top
fermenters with gentle punch downs over 3 to 4 weeks. Aging is typically 10 months in French oak barrels,
2013 Davis Family Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $46 (sold out). A blend of grapes
from Soul Patch, Starr Ridge and Dutton Ranch vineyards.
A cherry-driven wine sporting soft tannins that is
forward drinking and easy to like. Accents of baking spice, cola and oak add interest to the juicy palate.
2013 Davis Family Vineyards Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $45. Double Gold 2015 Sonoma
County Harvest Fair. Grapes are from Horseshoe Bend and Campbell Ranch vineyards.
Highly aromatic, with
aromas of blueberry and cherry. Soft and lush on the palate, with giving flavors of wild berries, blueberries and
plums framed by vivid acid and slinky, fine-grain tannins.
2012 Davis Family Vineyards Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
$55. Double Gold
2014 Sonoma County Harvest Fair. Pommard and Dijon clones.
Extravagant aromas of Bing cherries,
rose petal and spice. The core of intensely flavored cherries is complimented by a riff of oak and lively
acidity. Impeccable balance and finishing persistence. (See also previous review of this wine in the
PinotFile, October 2014)
2013 Davis Family Vineyards Starr Ridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
$55. A 20-year-old
vineyard in a relatively warm site that is picked before other vineyards in the Davis lineup. Some whole cluster.
A burst of dark red fruits greet the drinker in this flashy, exuberant wine with engaging aromatics and flavors.
Quite luscious and sappy, with balanced suave tannins and tight acidity.
2013 Davis Family Vineyards Campbell Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $65. Vineyard
perched at 1,000 foot elevation above the fog line. An extremely cool site along the Pacific coastline. Gold
2015 Sonoma County Harvest Fair.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very perfumed, with the aroma
of fresh, earth-kissed black cherries, dark berries and an enchanting floral-inspired scent. Silky soft on the
palate with succulent flavors of black cherry, black raspberry, plum and fennel framed by integrated tannins and
a vivacious acid backbone. A classy, refined wine with perfectly ripened fruit and noticeable length on the
2013 Davis Family Vineyards Soul Patch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $55.
Double Gold 2015 Sonoma County Harvest Fair. A barrel selection of favorite barrels of the vintage.
Some whole cluster fermentation to lift the aromatics.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the
glass. As typical, this wine needs considerable decanting or several years in the cellar before it can be
fully enjoyed. Upon opening, the nose is reluctant with subdued fruit trying to emerge. Highly
structured and very tight, the wine showed great promise initially with bountiful black cherry and
blackberry fruit veiled by oak and tannins. When tasted 4 days later from a previously opened and recorked
bottle, this wine had completely transformed. In a word it was fantastic. The deep aroma and flavor of
black cherry was intoxicating, there was considerable nuance shown by subtle spices and herbs, the oak had
taken a backseat seasoning role, and the tannins had become very suave. The wine assumed an irresistable
polish and developed extraordinary length on the finish.
Guy also consults for other wineries including Work Horse Organic Agriculture (WHOA) Farm, started by
Wendy Mardigian and Eddie Geisman in 2010 to supply sustainably grown organic food at no cost to people
most in need in Sonoma County. 100% of the net proceeds from the sale of WHOA Farm Pinot Noir helps
WHOA continue to supply “the best food money can’t buy” to thousands of families under the poverty line. Visit
www.whoafarm.org for more information or to order the wine.
2013 WHOA Farm Crane Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., TA 0.64, 630 cases,
$35 (10% discount on a case). This 5-acre vineyard was planted in 2005 to Dijon 115, 667 and 777
clones and a rare clone of Italian origin (VCR 18). Harvest Brix 24.8º. Native yeast fermentation.
Aged 12 months in French oak barrels, 33% new, 33% 1-year, and 33% 2-year. Aged an additional
12 months before release. Unfined and unfiltered.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely
perfumed with fruity aromas of dark red stone and berry fruits. More purple fruits on the palate which
is suave and silky. Nicely balanced with a compliment of smoky oak in the background.
Sips of Recently Tasted California Pinot Noir & Chardonnay
Arista Winery, Healdsburg, CA
Arista is a family owned and operated winery estate founded in 2002 by Al and Janis McWilliams. The four
estate Pinot Noir vineyards and hospitality center are located on 36 acres along Westside Road in the Middle
Reach sub-region of the Russian River Valley. The emphasis is on appellation and vineyard-designate Pinot
Noir and Chardonnay. The wines reviewed here are the inaugural offerings from winemaker Matt Courtney,
who joined the winery on January 1, 2013. Courtney spent the previous eight years as an assistant winemaker
at Marcassin Winery after graduating from University of California at Davis with a degree in enology and
viticulture. The winery’s beautiful tasting room is surrounded by a serene Japanese garden and is open daily.
The wines are sold on the winery website at www.aristawinery.com, through a mailing list (currently closed but
a waiting list is available), and through distribution to wine stores (larger production offerings) and select
2013 Arista Perli Vineyard Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 208 cases, $68. Vineyard planted in
2001 and owned and farmed by Steve Alden. Located at 2,200 feet elevation and about 6 miles inland.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose opens with aromas of dark red berries, black
cherry and sous-bois, with an espresso note gaining traction over time in the glass. The mid weight core of
nicely ripened dark raspberry, blackberry and black cherry fruits offers length and energy although the fruit is
overlain with lavish oak. The satiny texture is very appealing and the smooth finish is generously endowed with
fruit and oak-driven notes of anise, smoke and black tea.
2013 Arista Harper’s Rest Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.85, TA 0.52,
156 cases, $82. This vineyard is located on a portion of the Arista property that was once an ancient river bed
so the soils are gravely loam. The top soil is relatively shallow so root systems plunge deep beneath the
surface. Yields tend to be less than 2 tons per acre. The vineyard is named to honor Ruben Harper, a pioneer
farmer who settled in the Russian River Valley in the mid 1800s and homesteaded the land that is now Arista
Estate. Ruben is buried under a California Bay Laurel tree in the middle of this 2-acre vineyard. Pommard
clone planted in 2007. Yields 1.25 tons per acre.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Charming aromas
of an assortment of berry and dark stone fruits lead to an oak-kissed mid weight plus core of dark cherry and
blackberry flavors framed by silky tannins. Impressive attack and palate-staining flavor, holding on through a
vigorous finish. Still quite young and not as giving as it will be.
2013 Arista Two Birds Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.87, TA 0.53, 144
cases, $82. Vineyard is named after proprietors Al and Janis McWilliams who call each other “bird” and live
next to these vines. This 3-acre vineyard was planted in 2007 to Pommard, Swan and Calera clones of Pinot
Noir. Soils are a mixture of loam and clay loam. Yield 1.25 tons per acre. Only a few barrels are chosen each
year to go into this blend.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Shy, but pleasing aromas of plum,
blackberry, violet and spice holding up nicely over time in the glass. A spirited wine that combines grace and
machismo. The dark fruits attack and saturate the mouth finishing with outrageous intensity. An oak-driven note
of coffee is evident but not intrusive. The mix of clones adds an extra dimension to this wine.
Bacigalupi Vineyards, Healdsburg, CA
The Bacigalupi family are Russian River Valley originals, with a history of farming on Westside Road dating
back to 1956 when Charles and Helen Bacigalupi bought the 121-acre Goddard Ranch. Today, the Goddard
Ranch has 120 vineyard acres and is the oldest ranch among several that the Bacigalupis farm. Charles’s son,
John, was raised on the Goddard Ranch and after a lifetime of winegrowing experience, teamed with his
spouse, Pam Heck Bacigalupi, and fourth-generation nephew and winemaker, Tyler Heck, to found John Tyler
Wines. John and Pam’s third generation twin sister daughters, Nicole and Katey, became the face of John Tyler
Wines and were instrumental in the building of a stylish tasting room on Westside Road where the wines are
Beginning in 2013, the name of the winery was transitioned from John Tyler Wines to Bacigalupi Vineyards to
honor the legacy of winegrowing of the Bacigalupi family. The first releases bearing the Bacigalupi label were
from the 2011 vintage and were vinified by new winemaker Ashley Hetzberg. She changed the style of the
wines to make them more gracious and enticing upon release. The wines are available at the winery’s tasting
room and from the online website store at www.bacigalupivineyards.com. The 2013 vintage wines reviewed
below are sold out, but the 2014 versions are now available at the same price. The Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and
Petite Sirah-Zinfandel blend (Fondare) are also outstanding wines. The Bacigalupi twins staff the tasting room
and are delightful hosts. The Bacigalupi wines have a pedigree, a legacy, and a family that embraces the
2013 Bacigalupi Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 232 cases, $65 (sold out). Unfined and
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely perfume of Bing cherry, rose petal, spice
and toasted oak. The medium-bodied core of fresh black cherry fruit is complimented by smoky oak and nicely
composed t n’ a. Very juicy and vibrant on the finish.
2013 Bacigalupi Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.2% alc., 166 cases, $56 (sold out). Unfined and
unfiltered. Vines grafted from the original vineyard that supplied the grapes to the 1973 Chateau Montelena
Chardonnay that won the 1976 Paris Tasting.
Moderate light golden yellow color in the glass. The nose
displays aromas of lemon oil, star fruit, toasty oak and lees. Slightly creamy in the mouth, with flavors of citrus,
pear and kiwi set off by a toasty almond note. Very satisfying with a juicy, lip-smacking finish well endowed with
Black Kite Cellars, San Francisco, CA
This winery, owned by Tom and Rebecca Green Birdsall, focuses on producing small lots of Pinot Noir from the
varied blocks of Kite’s Rest Vineyard in the Anderson Valley as well as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from other
similarly expressive vineyard sites in other regions such as the Santa Lucia Highlands and Sonoma Coast.
Kite’s Rest Vineyard is located on a 40-acre parcel in the “deep end” of the Anderson Valley where vines
coexist with towering coastal redwoods. The vineyard consists of a total of 12 acres divided into three very
distinct blocks. Veteran winemaker Jeff Gaffner crafts the wines which stylistically feature generous oak
highlights. The wines are available through the winery’s website at www.blackitecellars.com, the winery’s wine
club, and through select distribution in wine shops and restaurants nationally.
2013 Black Kite Cellars “Kite’s Rest” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., pH 3.50, TA 0.60, 995 cases,
$48. Dijon 114 and 115 and Pommard clones planted at Kite’s Rest Vineyard. Aged 11 months in French oak
barrels, 33% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Highly aromatic, offering scents of macerated
cherry, peppery spice and a hint of toast. The wine offers a forward drinking essence of cherry fruit framed by
modest tannins and a measured riff of oak. Upbeat and easy to like, with a silky mouthfeel and a timid but
flavorful finish. The lightest weight wine in the 2013 Black Kite lineup, but not at all wimpy.
2013 Black Kite Cellars “Redwoods Edge” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.58, 335
cases, $60. Dijon 114 and 115 clones planted at Kite’s Rest Vineyard. 321 feet elevation, north facing, loam
soils. Yields 1.5-2.0 tons per acre. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 50% new.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. Aromas of macerated dark cherries and spicy, smoky oak lead to a charming medium-
bodied core of cherry and huckleberry fruit flavors underlain with smoky oak and a touch of umami. The tannins
are balanced and the finish is courageous and juicy. The wine is lavishly oaked and shows a slight bit of
alcoholic warmth on the finish, but still has a lot to recommend.
2013 Black Kite Cellars “Stony Terrace” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.58, 350
cases, $60. Pommard clone grown at Kite’s Rest Vineyard. Elevation 217 feet, north facing, gravelly loam soils,
yields 1.0-2.5 tons per acre. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 50% new.
Moderate reddish purple color
in the glass. Very fragrant, with aromas of black cherry, black raspberry, woodlands, sous-bois and a floral note
elevating from the glass. Inviting richness of darker cherry and berry flavors are backed by mildly firm tannins
and juicy acidity. Silky in the mouth, with a vibrant and flavorful finish that really hangs on.
2013 Black Kite Cellars “River Turn” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., pH 3.45, TA 0.62, 352 cases,
$60. Pommard clone planted at Kite’s Rest Vineyard. Elevation 130 feet, north facing, sandy and silty loam
soils, yields 2.5 tons per acre.Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 50% new.
Moderately light reddish purple
color in the glass. Initially shy aromas of oak-kissed black cherry fruit pick up intensity over time in the glass.
Intense attack of cherry and strawberry fruit with an earthy bent. Structured with well-proportioned tannins, a
measured use of oak, and an edgy, generous and lengthy finish.
2013 Black Kite Cellars Soberanes Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., pH 3.60, TA
0.58, 423 cases, $55. Pisoni clone. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 33% new.
Moderate reddish purple
color in the glass. Very engaging nose offering hi-tone aromas of cherries, red berries and latte. Succulent on
the palate, with flavors of pie cherry, red berries and cola dancing in harmony with a deft touch of oak.
Impressive harmony and a consuming finish that seems to last and last.
2013 Black Kite Cellars Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.58,
273 cases, $60. Dijon 777 clone. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 33% new.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. I loved the nose which extended aromas of black cherry, dark red raspberry, redwood
and anise. An appealing wine with impeccably balanced t n’ a, a creamy mouthfeel, and a noticeable top note
Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards, Freestone, CA
2012 Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards Quarter Moon Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $75. From three specific blocks of the estate 41-acre vineyard located at 500 feet elevation
only a few miles from the Pacific Coast as the crow flies. A mixture of Calera and clones 90 and 96
with some 459 and 777. 26% whole cluster. 21% fermented in oak open top fermenters. Aged 14
months in 55% new and 45% 2-year-old and 3-year-old French oak barrels.
Moderately dark reddish
purple color in the glass. Terrific aromatic presence featuring scents of blackberry reduction sauce,
cassis and exotic spices. Suave, polished and packed with a flavorful assortment of dark fruits, this
gorgeous wine offers many nuances including cardamom, Asian 5-spice and game accents combined with a
perfect compliment of oak. Admirable balance with welcome acidity on the lip smacking finish. This wine has
loads of charisma.
2012 Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards Pastorale Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $75. This
34.5-acre estate vineyard surrounds the Freestone winery and
is but 8 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. Calera and 777
clones. 30% whole cluster. 33% fermented in oak open top
fermenters. Aged 14 months in 55% new and 45% 2-year-old
and 3-year-old French oak barrels.
Moderately dark reddish
purple color in the glass. Haunting aromas of black cherry, sous-bois,
rose petal and spice box. A truly harmonious drinking experience with
every component singing in tune. Delicious flavors of black cherry and
black raspberry with an accent of exotic spices and black tea. The fruit
holds on to the peacock finish for what seems like a minute. Perfectly
integrated acidity holds the rich fruit in balance.This wine is true to its
Loring Wine Company, Lompoc, CA
Brian Loring has been crafting Pinot Noir for nearly 20 years. He was one of the new wave of early boutique
California Pinot Noir producers to enter the field from another profession (in his case, software engineer). His
continued success has been predicated in part on his insistence that he acquire first-rate Pinot Noir grapes
from prestigious growers. He never professed to be a knowledgeable winegrower, allowing vineyard owners
leeway to farm his blocks as they farmed the blocks for their own label. Of course this has changed as he has
acquired more experience over the years but quality grapes still remain the cornerstone of the Loring Wine
Company label. Many of the vineyards appear on the front label of the vineyard-designated wines. Stylistically,
the Pinot Noirs have been bursting with showy fruit framed by a toasted oak character, but the wines have
become more refined and now are more reflective of site. Brian branched out into Chardonnay in 2009, and
more recently sparkling wine. A new tasting room is open Thursday through Monday in Buellton near the
Hitching Post II restaurant. The wines are sold through a mailing list at www.loringwinecompany.com. Brian’s
sister, Kimberly, is actively involved in all aspects of the winery as well.
At crush, the Pinot Noir grapes are de-stemmed, cold soaked, and then fermented with proprietary yeast. The
small lots are pressed using a basket press, and aged in Francois Frères and Sirugue French oak barrels that
have medium toast. Approximately 50% of the barrels are new in each vintage. The wines are stored in the
caves at Cottonwood Canyon Winery. All wines are closed with screwcap.
2014 Loring Wine Company Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., pH 3.62, 250 cases, $36.
Released September 2015.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. A solid, but not inspiring wine,
offering little fruit on the nose but deep cherry flavor on the palate. Smooth in the mouth with prudent tannins
and a tasty accent of spice and oak. Good harmony, but very little Russian River Valley typicality.
2014 Loring Wine Company Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., pH 3.63, 400 cases, $36.
Released September 2015.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The nose opens slowly to reveal
aromas of darker berries and cherry syrup with an added note of cigar box. An easy drinking wine featuring a
medium-bodied core of dark red berries and black cherries with the right touch of oak and modest tannins. The
moderately long finish is the wine’s best feature.
2014 Loring Wine Company Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., pH 3.71, 1,000 cases, $36.
Released September 2015.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is the most
inspired of the 2014 AVA Pinot Noirs with enticing aromas of black cherry pie glaze and sous-bois.
A plush charge of fresh black cherry and black raspberry fruit alerts the palate, finishing with a juicy
exit. Nicely balanced with complimentary oak.
2014 Loring Wine Company Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., pH 3.75, 1,000 cases, $28.
Released September 2015.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. This wine features a heavy hand with
oak, with aromas and flavors of toast, cigar box and anise dominating the black cherry and plum fruit essence.
Silky in the mouth, with a cherry fueled finish that is imbued with tart citrus acidity.
2014 Loring Wine Company Graham Family Vineyard Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., pH 3.75, 125 cases, $50. Released September 2015.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass.
This wine brings the senses to attention with a hi-tone perfume of black cherry, raspberry, spice and toasty oak.
Nearly full bodied, with a charge of Bing cherry flavor that saturates the mouth with sappy goodness. Accents
of cola and oak add interest. Impressive balance with suave tannins and flawless integration of acidity, finishing
with plenty of cherry goodness.
2014 Loring Wine Company Keefer Ranch Vineyard Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., pH 3.64, 400 cases, $50. Released September 2015.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the
glass. Red fruits drive this wine which is typical of this cool-sited vineyard. Flavors of iced cherry and
strawberry are framed by juicy acidity and suave tannins. The wine’s velvety mouthfeel is very seductive. More
flavor intensity arrives over time in the glass, including more generosity on the oak infused cherry scented
finish. Wines from this special vineyard always captivate me.
2014 Loring Wine Company Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., pH 3.73, 400
cases, $50. Released September 2015.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Shy, but pleasing scent of
fresh macerated cherries. Very charming in the mouth, with flavors of black cherry and blueberry that build over
time. Quite silky with balanced tannins, a deft touch of oak, and a lip-smacking finish.
2014 Loring Wine Company Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., pH 3.71,
400 cases, $50. Released September 2015.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Inviting aromas of
berry mash, cherry syrup, and oak vanillin lead to a satisfying marriage of cherry and strawberry fruit with oak
driven mocha and vanilla. The suave tannins make for easy drinking, and the juicy finish, although not lengthy,
is quite flavorful. Unchanged the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2014 Loring Wine Company Durell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.66, 200 cases,
$50. Released September 2015.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is very reticent upon
opening. The core flavors of sweet red and purple berries and Damsel plum have lift and energy from an
underlying lively acidity. The tannins are well integrated and the wine finishes on a tart cherry note. Much more
enjoyable the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle when the aromatics and flavors
became more expressive and the wine more cohesive.
2014 Loring Wine Company Russell Family Vineyard Paso Robles Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.55, 125
cases, $50. Release February 2016.
Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Very ripe fruit profile in this wine
that offers aromas and flavors of sweet blackberry jam and cassis overlaid with oak. Full-bodied and tannic,
akin to some Syrahs, with intensity of fruit flavor and a sweet, fruity finish. Not a classical version of Pinot Noir
but of interest to those looking for a hedonistic experience and something different.
2014 Loring Wine Company Aubaine Vineyard San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.58,
250 cases, $50. Release February 2016.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very fruity nose featuring
darker, very ripe raspberry and cherry aromas with a hint of rose petal and oak in the background. Quite silky in
the mouth with middleweight flavors of purple berries framed by modest tannins. The acidity sticks out as a bit
sharp, particularly on the citrus driven finish.
2014 Loring Wine Company Clos Pepe Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.59, 400 cases,
$50. Release February 2016.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. This is an elegant and polished wine
that exudes pinotosity. The nose leads with aromas of black raspberry jam and graham. The mid weight core
of dark red cherry and berry fruits is in harmony with the tannins and acidity. Very inviting, with good energy.
2014 Loring Wine Company Kessler-Haak Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., pH 3.62, 300
cases, $50. Release February 2016.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry are
dominated by oak driven vanilla and cigar box. The core of black cherry and loganberry fruit is quite vibrant due
to a lively backbone of acidity which sticks out a bit. A thread of tobacco and ash sticks out. About the same
the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Solid, but not special.
2014 Loring Wine Company Rancho La Viña Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., pH 3.70, 200
cases, $50. Release February 2016.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Shy, but appealing aromas of
darker berries, rose petal and subtle toast. A mid weight wine driven by a charge of sweet black raspberry and
plum fruit that is accented with a note of spice and green tea. The leather-like texture is of interest, the tannins
are well integrated, and there is some length on the finish that leaves behind a slight bit of alcoholic warmth.
2014 RASI 3 Barrels Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $42. A blend of fruit from Kessler-Haak, Clos
Pepe and Rancho La Viña vineyards produced by the assistant winemaker, Rachel Silkowski, at Loring Wine Company. Second vintage.
Moderate reddish purple color in the
glass. Thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, this wine sports flamboyant aromas of black cherry, spice and
tobacco oak, and delicious flavors of perfectly ripened black cherry and black raspberry fruits clothed in fine
grain tannins. Generous on the attack, then building in intensity on the palate, and offering an extended finish
with deft integration of oak. This wine really stands out.
2014 Loring Wine Company Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
14.6% alc., pH 3.65, 250 cases,
$24. Released September 2015.
Moderate light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Welcome
aromas of lemon, brioche and a touch of nutty oak. Nicely composed and light on its feet, with flavors
of citrus, white peach and toffee that seem to elevate over time in the glass. A very food friendly wine
with notable balance that will sure to please Chardonnay drinkers, especially at this price.
2014 Loring Wine Company Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
14.2% alc., pH 3.78, 250 cases, $24.
Released September 2015.
Moderate golden yellow color and clear in the glass. A distinctive wine
with aromas of saline-infused ocean breeze, pear and buttery brioche. Slightly viscous on the palate
with flavors of lemon, palmetto, caramel and toast. Somewhat oak driven and a tad shallow, but easy
2014 Loring Wine Company Durell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.3% alc., pH 3.91, 125 cases,
$40. Released September 2015.
Moderate golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Complex nose leads off
with aromas of lemon, peach, apple, white flower blossom and spice. Noticeably smooth in the mouth with vivid
flavors of lemon and grilled peach. This wine sports admirable balance and a deft integration of oak.
2014 Loring Wine Company Parmelee-Hill Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.6% alc., pH 3.91, 125
cases, $40. Release September 2015.
Light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. This is a syrupy ripe,
buttery style of Chardonnay that is rich and heady. Aromas of buttery citrus, kiwi and warm brioche lead to
flavors of citrus, kiwi, pear, peach, warm brioche, butterscotch and toffee. A very Caliesque style. When
sampled the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine had become somewhat
ponderous and flat due to lack of acidity. This wine should be consumed in the near term.
2014 Loring Wine Company Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
14.3% alc., pH 3.48,
125 cases, $40. Released September 2015.
Moderately light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Apple
aromas dominate the nose which is quite generous. Lighter weighted, but flavorful, featuring tastes of lemon
and white peach in a classic style with uplifting acidity, a delicate touch of oak, and welcome harmony. This
wine gathers sneaky appeal over time in the glass.
2014 Loring Wine Company Sierra Mar Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH
3.58, 125 cases, $40. Released September 2015.
Moderate golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Clean
aromas of buttery brioche, lemon oil, white flower blossom and nutty oak. This wine is somewhat rich with
lemon, pear, stewed apple and toasty oak flavors complimented by a slightly creamy texture, ending with plenty
of sweet, nutty oak.
Manross Wines, Sonoma County, CA
Heather Manross carries on a family winemaking tradition by practicing natural winemaking techniques. Her
approach is rooted in balance and non-manipulation during every phase of the winemaking process. She left a
career in Hollywood’s television and film industry to pursue a career in wine. After a stint at one of the largest
wine retail and wholesale operations in Southern California, she held management positions for several Napa
Valley wineries where she learned the intricacies of winemaking and began to articulate her own winemaking
vision. Heather’s vineyard sources include Donnelly Creek in Anderson Valley, Lone Oak Vineyard in the
Russian River Valley and Hawk’s View Vineyard in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The wines are sold exclusively
through a mailing list at www.manrosswines.com.
2013 Manross Donnelly Creek Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 50 cases, $54. 30%
whole cluster. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. Unfined and unfiltered.
reddish purple color in the glass. Alluring perfume of cherry pie glaze, cranberry and spice. A charming and
somewhat delicate wine that delivers plenty of cherry, raspberry and spice flavors. Oak chimes in subtlety as
does the whole cluster producing a bit of herbal seasoning. The modest tannins are fine grain and the cherry
driven finish offers a juicy grip of acidity. Impressive harmony.
Pisoni Estate, Santa Lucia Highlands, CA
2013 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $75 (sold out). A blend of barrels
and different vineyard blocks from the estate property.Each block vinified separately in small lots using
native yeast fermentation, hand punch downs, no fining and no filtering.
Moderate reddish purple color
in the glass. Aromas of blackberry reduction, cassis and baking spices gain intensity in the glass over
time. A bit reticent upon opening, but picks up body and appeal with swirling. The mid weight purple
and black fruits really glam onto the palate, finishing with uncommon generosity. The wine offers a
little less extraction in this vintage, but more juicy acidity. When tasted the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine had undergone a remarkable transformation, offering a
plethora of richly flavored fruit on the nose and palate held in check by a firm, balanced structure, and offering
a glorious finish that had become even more generous. I would put this wine in the cellar and check it again in
3 to 5 years, but it will most certainly last well over a decade and a half.
Rhys Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
2013 Rhys Home Vineyard San Mateo County Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $79. A mixed field blend from 1.57
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose leads with aromas of red berries, rose petal
and whole cluster spice. A daunting wine today, even when tasted the following day from a previously opened
and re-corked bottle, with muscular tannins that dominate the charming black cherry fruit. Whole cluster adds
cinnamon and other baking spices along with stem notes. Softly textured, the wine’s tannins tend to ameliorate
some over time in the glass allowing the cherry fruit to shine. Put this wine in the cellar for at least 3 to 5 years
to allow the tannins to soften.
2013 Rhys Alpine Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
12.8% alc., $79. Rhys selection plus heritage
clones from 11 acres located at an elevation of 1230 to 1400 feet.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the
glass. Lovely aromas of dark red fruits, rose petal, and stem stream from the glass, becoming more expressive
the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. The light to mid weight array of red and purple
fruits accented with spice and herb notes is quite approachable. Bright, fresh and charming, with modest
tannins and a lively cut of acidity in the background.
Willowbrook Cellars, Sebastopol, CA
Winemaker Joe Otos formed Willowbrook Cellars in 2001, partnering with retired technology entrepreneur John
Tracy and retired sales executive Ed Sillari, both of whom had moved to Sonoma County to pursue the wine
business. In 2003, Joe began to seek out small, special vineyards in the area and this led to a long term
collaboration with the Kaufman Sunnyslope Vineyard on Sonoma Mountain. The Willowbrook Estate Vineyard
Pinot Noir is made from fruit from John Tracy’s vineyard. Pinot Noirs are also bottled using fruit from Carneros,
Sonoma Coast and Monterey County. Visit www.willowbrookcellars.com for ordering details.
2013 Willowbrook Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., 250 cases, $42. From a 6-acre vineyard
on Burnside Road. Clones 115, Swan and Calera. Gold Medal Sonoma County Harvest Fair.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Deep
black cherry aroma with a pleasing hint of spice. The mid weight plus core of Bing cherry fruit is quite flavorful
and accented with notes of cola and smoky oak. Impeccable balance with submerged tannins and a generous and
juicy cherry finish.
2013 Willowbrook Kaufman Sunnyslope Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., 207 cases, $42. Double Gold Sonoma County Harvest Fair. Vineyard planted
in 1994 and owned by Jim and Sue Kaufman, this 6-acre vineyard sits on the cooler north side of the Sonoma
Mountain AVA. Clone 777.
Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. A welcome perfume of fresh cherries
and cranberries great the drinker. Elegantly composed, with charming flavors of cherry, raspberry, cola and
smoky oak. The tannins are refined and the finish is particularly notable for its silkiness and extended length.
Sips of Recently Tasted Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
On a recent trip to the Willamette Valley, I had an early introduction to the 2014 vintage Pinot Noirs. The
vintage started with a dry winter and early spring. Early bud break, early bloom and ideal conditions led to good
fruit set and a higher than normal yield. The rest of the growing season remained warm with reasonably cold
nights. Harvest was about 2 weeks ahead of previous vintages. Fruit was generally harvested in good balance
with moderate sugars and acids. The wines are more extracted with more tannin, lower acidity and higher
alcohol than the previous 2013 vintage. I think the wines from this vintage will be very special.
Big Table Farm, Gaston, OR
I visited Clare and Brian at Big Table Farm in the Yamhill-Carlton District this past rainy week, and tasted
through their fall 2013 releases, some 2014 bottled wines, and even a few 2015 barrel samples. As readers
know, I am a big fan of Big Table Farm PInot Noir and white wines and intrigued by their active farm located on
the same property as their new winery where there are goats, horses, cattle, chickens, and pigs. One day there
will be a vineyard as well. Tasting is carried out in the owner’s century-old farmhouse so it couldn’t be more
personal. Big Table Farm wines are sold through a mailing list at www.bigtablefarm.com.
Brian described 2013 as a challenging vintage. He was able to pick most of his grapes before the heavy rains
arrived in September and found that the flavors were riper than the low Brix levels would indicate. No
chaptalization in 2013. The following 2013 Pinot Noirs were released in the fall of this year. Brian favors heavy
toast in his French oak barrels, believing that the barrels impart more flavor but less wood tannins. As a result,
some Pinot Noir bottlings show a slightly smoky note (guaiacol) in the background.
2013 Big Table Farm Cattrall Brothers Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
11.2% alc., $48. A
higher elevation (700 feet) and cooler site. Own-rooted Wädenswil clone planted in the 1980s and organically
farmed. 100% whole cluster fermented. Unfined and unfiltered.
Light cherry red color in the glass. Uplifting
aromas of cherry spice lead to a light to mid weight core of red cherry and red berry fruits that are vibrant. Wellintegrated
whole cluster character, with balanced tannins and a vivid cherry fueled finish.
2013 Big Table Farm Wirtz Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
11.5% alc.,157 cases, $48. 40 plus year
old vines. A small amount of Pinot Gris is interplanted in this vineyard and included in the fermentation. 100%
de-stemmed since the grapes offer enough spice on their own. Unfined and unfiltered.
Moderate reddish purple
color in the glass. Magical aromas of fresh cherry, berry, toasty oak and spice. Both fruity and savory featuring
an array of darker red and purple berry flavors that have uncommon swagger at this low ABV. Nicely
composed, with modest tannins, a hint of smoky oak, and a generous, lip-smacking finish that lingers.
2013 Big Table Farm Sunnyside Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
11.5% alc., 211 cases, $48. 10
acres south of Salem planted to Wädenswil and 777 clones. Harvested before the September rains. Whole
cluster fermented 777 only. Unfined and unfiltered.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black
cherry, blueberry and sous-bois lead to a vivacious core of assorted dark red, blue and purple fruits accented
with notes of smoky oak, dark chocolate and mulch. Plenty of sap to satisfy and a generous lip-smacking finish
of welcome length.
2013 Big Table Farm Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
11.8% alc., 150 cases, sold out. A new
offering. 75% Pommard and 25% Wädenswil from the 7-acre Coats & Whitney Vineyard. Some whole cluster
fermentation. Unfined and unfiltered.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Deeply perfumed with aromas
of cherry, strawberry and rose petal. Delicious attack of black cherry and raspberry fruits complimented by
notes of savory herbs, spice and vanilla. Very juicy, with a soft mouthfeel and a suave finish.
The first two 2014 white wines are part of the winery’s fall 2015 release. The 2014 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
wines were bottled in September 2015. The 2014 Pinot Gris was bottled in April 2014, but held back before
release based on experience with this wine in the 2013 vintage (it was all sold before it reached its best
2014 Big Table Farm Edelzwicker Willamette Valley
13.4% alc., 451 cases, $28. Bottled April
2014. A blend of Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris from the Wirtz Vineyard planted in the late 1960s and
early 1970s. Original plantings were sourced from Charles Coury. Barrel fermented in neutral oak barrels to
dryness and complete malolactic fermentation. Unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately light yellow color in the
glass. Aromas of citrus, flower blossoms, and dry herbs. Delicate, but flavorful, featuring tastes of orchard fruits
and spice. Slightly creamy on the palate with bright acidity. Best slightly chilled.
2014 Big Table Farm Wirtz Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Gris
13.6% alc.,162 cases, $32.
Fermented 8 to 12 days on the skins and stems. Unfined and unfiltered.
Light orange color in the
glass. Aromas and flavors of peach, blood orange and a touch of vanilla creme, fashioned in a
medium bodied style with a slightly creamy mouthfeel and a peach driven finish. A delightful wine with
plenty of intrigue that will stand up nicely to salmon and other fatty seafoods.
2014 Big Table Farm Willamette Valley Chardonnay
13.2% alc., 700 cases. Sourced from six sites. Barrel
fermented, 100% malolactic fermentation, aged 10-11 months in French oak barrels, about 15% new. unfined
Light golden yellow and clear in the glass. This is a special wine that I look forward to each year.
Aromas of lemon oil, creme brulee, and salty apple lead to a slightly creamy palate offering vivid flavors of
citrus fruits, honey and pear. Beautifully crafted with everything in step.
2014 Big Table Farm “Elusive Queen” Willamette Valley Chardonnay
13.6% alc., 100 cases. A
barrel selection and a little more new oak than the regular Willamette Valley bottling.
Light golden color
and clear in the glass. A little more fruit richness, structure and finish than the regular bottling. Upon
entry, the wine fills the cheeks with a panoply of orchard fruit and apple flavors with a subtle sense of
spicy oak seasoning. There is just enough tannin to add body and backbone, and a crisp, slightly
viscous finish entices the drinker to take another sip.
2014 Big Table Farm Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc.. Sourced from several vineyards. 100% whole
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Voluptuous aromas of cherry, spice and rose
petal. A full charge of black cherry fruit envelopes the palate and persists through the finish. The tannins are
firm, yet silky, there is a complimentary riff of oak, and the savory notes of whole cluster including spice are in
harmony. This appellation offering has always been a charmer.
2014 Big Table Farm Pelos-Sandberg Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
This vineyard is a warmer site causing the grapes to lose some acidity as they ripen producing a more fruit
driven wine. Pommard, 777 and some Wädenswil clone. Aged in about 20% new French oak barrels. Unfined
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A mix of red berry and blueberry scents underlain
with toasty oak highlight the aromatic profile. Nicely composed, with a mid weight core of juicy berry fruits
accented with a smoky note. A slight smoky character is the signature of this vineyard which at least in part is
due to the fruit (the same oak regimen is used for all single vineyard Pinot Noir bottlings yet the smoky note is
more evident consistently in this wine).
Guillén Family Wines, Dundee Hills, OR
Jesus Guillén crafts wine wines in association with proprietor Greg Sanders at White Rose Estate. Jesus
launched his own label in 2013, initially offering 80 cases of Pinot Noir using grapes sourced from Vista Hills
Vineyard. By the 2015 vintage, he has acquired more vineyard sources and increased production to 1,000
cases of Pinot Noir. The Guillén Family wines are not identical to White Rose Estate wines, although both are
usually 100% whole cluster fermented. Jesus uses native yeast fermentations and strives for more extraction
and structure. The following 2014 Pinot Noirs were bottled in August 2015 and were tasted December 7, 2015,
so they are quite young and will not be released until the spring of 2016. The 6 wines (a total of 460 cases) are
all 100% whole cluster fermented with native yeasts and aged 11 months in neutral French oak barrels except
for the Damián (20% new) and Adrián (100% new) bottlings. There is only 1 barrel of each of the single
vineyard wines. The wines are sold through a mailing list at www.guillenfamily.com. Jesus over delivers in
quality at reasonable prices.
The wines are quite structured now but in an elegant manner. In 2014, stems were generally lignified and
provided more structure than in 2013. I have given a range of scores to indicate potential over time.
2014 Guillén Family Estaban Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc.,154 cases, $25. Sourced from 3
vineyards: 56% Domingo, 42% Vista Hills Block F, and 2% Meredith Mitchell. A selection of the most
approachable barrels in the cellar. Native yeast fermentation with 100% whole clusters. Basket pressed and
aged on the lees in 100% neutral French oak barrels for 11 months. The wine was racked twice, after the
completion of MLF and again before bottling.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose really
shines with bright aromas of plum, dark raspberry and spice. Very soft in the mouth with the mid weight core of
darker berry and plum fruit flavors accented with notes of dark chocolate. Forward drinking and easy to like,
with plenty of fruit and a bit of fruit tannin on the structured finish.
2014 Guillén Family Vista Hills Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., $45.
Pommard 4 clone planted in 2006.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Shy dark fruits on the nose that
is primarily offering sous-bois and floral aromas. The intense attack of dark stone and berry fruits is framed by
firm, but amorous tannins and bright acidity. The fruit offers a moderately expansive finish.
2014 Guillén Family Saikkonen Vineyard Ribbon Ridge Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $45.
Pommard clone planted in 2003. Vineyard is adjacent Brick House.
Moderate dark reddish purple color in the
glass. Nicely appointed nose, offering aromas of purple fruits, spice, bark and ground almonds. Great potential
for this mid to full-bodied wine that offers appealing intensity of boysenberry, cassis and black plum fruit flavors
backed by firm, ripe and well-proportioned tannins and racy acidity.
2014 Guillén Family Meredith Mitchell Vineyard McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
$45. Pommard clone planted in 1996.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Beautiful aromatic presence,
offering scents of black cherry pie and spice. The mid weight, juicy purple berry and black cherry fruits have
noticeable presence on the mid palate and envious length on the finish. A spice and savory earth component
add interest. This wine has the most tannin among the single vineyard bottlings, but the tannin is fruit in origin
and not particularly astringent. The lip-smacking finish completes the bright picture.
2014 Guillén Damián Winemaker’s Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 140 cases, $40.
Sourced from 3 vineyards: 40% Vista Hills Block F (667), 20% Meredith Mitchell (Pommard), and 40%
Saikkonen (Pommard). No cold soak, 13-day native yeast fermentation, 100% whole cluster, basket pressed,
aged on the lees 11 months in French oak barrels, 20% new Francois Frères. Racked twice, after the
completion of MLF and again before bottling. Filtered. A meticulous selection of the best barrels in the cellar
offering harmony, complexity and mouthfeel.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Gorgeous nose with
effusive aromas of black cherry jam, dark red rose petal, pine sap and spice. Impressive fruit presence offering
an array of purple fruits and plenty of spice. Somewhat forward, with appealing elegance, harmony, and firm,
but lacy tannins.
2014 Guillén Adrián Reserve Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., 125 cases, $60,
Sourced from 3 vineyards, 100% Pommard clone: 40% Vista Hills Block G, 20% Saikkonen, and 40%
Meredith Mitchell. Native yeast fermentation using 100% whole clusters. Basket pressed and aged on
the lees in 100% lightly toasted new French oak barrels for 11 months. The wine was racked twice
after MLF and again before bottling. Filtered. 100% Pommard. Jesus’ attempt to mimic DRC.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of plum, boysenberry, exotic spice
and wilted dark rose petal. Vibrant purple fruits tread lightly on the palate in this juicy wine. Inviting
integration of oak, fruit and oak tannins, and acidity. This wine will need a few years to fully evolve and
display its engaging character, but it has purposely been built for longevity.
R. Stuart & Co., McMinnville, OR
Rob and Maria Stuart and partners founded this winery in 2002 in an old granary in downtown McMinnville,
Oregon, in a neighborhood known as the “Pinot Quarter.” Rob, who made wine for other people for more than
twenty years before starting his own winery, is the winemaker and sources grapes from more than 20 vineyards
within 32 miles of the winery. Maria is the marketing, public relations and hospitality manager who is also the
incumbent President of the Board of Directors of the International Pinot Noir Celebration in 2016. She is also the author of “The
Life and Times of a Pinot Mom,” a blog about life, food, and the wine business at www.pinotmom.com.
Wines are produced under the R. Stuart & Co. (Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, as well as other assorted varietals
including sparkling wine), Big Fire (casual, weeknight dinner wines) and Love, Oregon labels. Visit the website
for more information and to buy wines at www.rstuartandco.com. The Stuarts operate the R. Stuart & Co. Wine
Bar in downtown McMinnville.
The wines reviewed here from the 2013 vintage are not blockbusters, but rather light in weight with delicately
concentrated fruit that is flavorful, juicy and vibrant. All the Pinot Noirs were aged 14 months in neutral French
oak, bottled in late November of 2014, and released in November of 2015. Every wine is capped with the glass
2013 R. Stuart & Co. Menafee Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.1% alc., pH 3.78,
TA 0.51, 63 cases, $50.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, strawberry and
herb garden lead to a fresh and juicy core of darker fruit flavors including blueberry and boysenberry supported
by balanced tannins. A little earthy, finishing with modest cherry goodness.
2013 R. Stuart & Co. Ana Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., pH 3.79, TA
0.525, 43 cases, $50.
Light cherry red color in the glass. Demure aromas of cherry, strawberry and cranberry.
Very delicate, bordering austere flavors of cherry and strawberry with soft tannins and a gentle riff of backing
oak. There is no finishing fruit presence.This wine is well made, and displays the signature red fruit of the
Dundee Hills, but doesn’t deliver enough fruit pleasure to excite. It may pick up weight and interest with more
time in bottle.
2013 R. Stuart & Co. Elkhorn Ridge Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.7% alc., 83 cases, $50.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Inviting perfume of ripe cherries and sandalwood. Elegant
and charming, with a fresh and juicy mid weight core of black cherry fruit. Not a big wine, but very flavorful with
adroit harmony in a very approachable style.
2013 R. Stuart & Co. Hirschy Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.1% alc., pH 3.59,
TA 0.51, 73 cases, $50.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The nose leads with a mix of cherry
and berry fruits and a hint of marzipan. Somewhat saucy flavors of cherry, cranberry and raspberry with
inviting presence and length, finishing with brightness, noteworthy intensity and a subtle complement of nutty
2013 R. Stuart & Co. Weber Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.7% alc., pH 3.65, TA
0.51, 73 cases, $50.
Light cherry red color in the glass. Nicely appointed aromas of red cherry, strawberry,
sugar cone and Asian spice. Somewhat reticent in the mouth, with an array of light to mid weight red fruits
backed by supple tannins. Very drinkable, but currently lacks nuance and inspiration. I suspect this will become
more expressive with more time in bottle.
2013 R. Stuart & Co. Daffodil Hill Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., pH 3.55, TA
0.57, 138 cases, $50.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Hi-tone aromas of spiced darker berries
please upon opening. Noticeably more sappy than the other single vineyard wines in 2013 with more finish,
offering a middleweight nucleus of marionberry and black raspberry fruits accented by a hint of dried herbs.
Nicely crafted with suave tannins and integrated acidity.
2013 R. Stuart & Co. Autograph Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.8% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.57, 155 cases, $60.
Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Demure aromas of darker fruits with notes of forest floor, rose
petal and iodine. Notable mid palate intensity of black cherry and black raspberry fruits with a savory bent.
Nicely integrated tannins and oak, with a cherry driven finish of some intensity.
TREOS Wine, Monmouth, OR
Partner, winemaker and winegrower Dave Jepson only produced a limited amount of wine in the cold, rainy
2011 vintage. The 2011 Pinot Noirs were initially out of sorts and needed time to develop so they are just being
released now. The wines are not as robust and full-flavored as usual for TREOS, but they are quite bold for the
2011 vintage and I find them very appealing. The remainder of the 2011 Pinot Noir grapes were distilled to use
in making a Pinot Noir based, port-styled wine called Ternion ($39). Interestingly, the Ternion has been infused
with dry roasted Oregon hazelnuts.
2011 TREOS Estate Elegant Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., $48. Dijon Clones.
reddish purple color in the glass. Fragrant upon opening with aromas of black cherry, sous-bois and
complimentary oak. The succulent purple and black fruits fill the mouth with goodness and are quite sappy for
this vintage. Very juicy, with harmonious tannins, a welcome touch of toasty oak, and a satisfying finish.
2011 TREOS Estate Founder’s Choice Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., $48. Estate grown. A blend
of three Dijon clones.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Dark orchard and berry fruit aromas fill the
glass. Classy and polished, with a load of delicious purple and black fruits complimented by deft barrel work
and enough refined tannins and acidity to age nicely. Like the Elegant Reserve bottling, the fruit concentration
is unusually grand for this vintage.
White Rose Estate Winery & Vineyard, Dundee Hills, OR
This winery was my 2014 “Pinot Noir Winery of the Year” and this award sums up my enthusiasm for the Pinot
Noir produced here. For extensive coverage of the winery visit www.princeofpinot.com/article/1615/. The 2013
vintage examples reviewed below have not diminished my eagerness to enjoy the unique wines produced
here. Using generous and often 100% whole cluster ferments, the ultimate objective is to craft wines that are
good from day one, yet undergo a metamorphosis over time becoming different but equally enjoyable. The
nuances, textures, haunting aromas and flavors associated with whole cluster fermentation create an
emotional connection to the wines. The 2013 vintage Pinot Noirs do not have the extraction and sap that the
2012 vintage Pinot Noirs had, but are very charming in their own right, offering more “pinotosity,” that almost
indescribable lacy, feminine attribute that only Pinot Noir can deliver. The wines are offered on the website at
www.whiteroseestate.com. Special bottlings are extended to the Explorer’s Club and Neo-Classical Club
members first. The tasting room in Dayton, Oregon, is open daily.
Owner Greg Sanders has bought a 40-acre
farm near White Rose Estate on Archery Summit Road and planted an initial 5-acre vineyard in 2012 using
cuttings from the most desirable vines at White Rose Vineyard. Called Domingo Vineyard, one ton of grapes
were harvested in the 2014 vintage. Greg is also building lodging for guests adjacent the winery that will
include underground (cave) rooms, a project that will be gradually developed over the next six years or so.
2013 White Rose Estate The Neo-Classical Objective Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.8% alc, $80. 100%
whole cluster fermentation. Aged in French oak barrels, 12% new.
Light cherry red color in the glass. Aromas
of exotic spices, wilted rose petal, pine sap, nutmeg and cherry leap from the glass. A very charming wine that
is both delicate and flavorful featuring light to mid weight flavors of red cherry and red berries framed by
spirited acidity and suede-like tannins. A slight woody, herbaceous note peeks out over time in the glass.
2013 White Rose Estate Winemaker’s Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.6% alc., $95 (Club members
priority). 92% whole cluster fermentation. Aged in French oak barrels, 13% new.
Light cherry red color in the
glass. Penetrating and persistent aromas of darker cherry, raspberry, sandalwood, rose petal and spice.
Impressive attack and finishing power with ideal integration of whole cluster character. Light to mid weight
flavors of red cherry and raspberry fruits, prominent spice (cumin, nutmeg) framed by very fine grain, almost
furry, tannins. When tasted two days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine was still
highly aromatic and even more flavorful, featuring cherry, spice and sandalwood in abundance. A highly
nuanced wine with grand age ability.
2013 White Rose Estate Anderson Family Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
alc., $95 (Club members priority). 100% whole cluster fermentation. Aged in French oak barrels, 17% new.
Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Inviting perfume of macerated cherries, baking spices and red
rose petals. There is great purity of cherry flavor with impressive length and intensity on the finish. The texture
is like purple satin and the harmony of this wine is notable.
2013 White Rose Estate Guillén Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
$95 (Club members priority). 100% whole cluster fermentation. Aged in French oak barrels, 13% new.
Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. The nose draws you into the glass with elevating aromas
of black cherry, Moroccan spices, cinnamon toast, pine sap and floral goodness. A bombastic
combination of cherry and spice flavors attack the palate with noticeable energy, expanding over time
in the mouth and grabbing on to the finish with tenacity. A classy wine that also offers a seductive, silky
mouthfeel. Still pumping out plenty of generous aroma and flavors two days later from a previously
opened and re-corked bottle.
2013 White Rose Estate White Rose Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
alc., $125 (Club members priority). 100% whole cluster fermentation. Aged in French oak barrels, 9%
Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Intoxicating aromas of cherry reduction sauce,
exotic spices and wilted rose petal. The light to mid weight red cherry and cranberry flavors are nicely
spiced and balanced with supple tannins and tight acidity. An underlying savory woodland flavor plays
in the background. There is good grip on the red fruited, juicy finish that is both elegant and aromatic.
Wines from this vineyard typically become more complex over time in bottle and this wine has the
harmony to last. This wine brought back memories of a 1990 DRC Romanee-Conti wine I had the pleasure of
drinking a number of years ago because of its lighter color and elegant yet flavorful demeanor.
The following wines were tasted at the winery December 7.
2013 White Rose Estate Durant Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.7% alc., $60.
Clone 114 planted in 1998. 100% whole cluster fermentation. Aged in French oak barrels, 14% new.
cherry red color in the glass. Aromas of red cherry, rose petal, pine sap, spice and a hint of stem. Lean and
acid-driven, with flavors of iced cherry and cranberry, backed by soft tannins, and finishing on a soprano note.
2013 White Rose Estate Lia’s Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
$60. Clone 115 planted in 1998. 100% whole cluster fermentation. Aged in French oak barrels, 13% new.
cherry red color in the glass. The nose is both fruity and savory with both dark red and blueberry fruits. The
light to mid weight fruit flavors echo the aromas. Satisfying body and finish with a healthy acid background.
2013 White Rose Estate Vista Hills Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Dijon Clone 115 Pinot Noir
12.0% alc., $60. 100% whole cluster fermentation. Aged in French oak barrels, 16% new.
Light cherry red
color in the glass. Aromas of red cherry pie glaze, spice, forest floor and rose petal. A savory stemminess and
floral and woody notes dominate the light weight red fruits. Noticeable cut with modest tannins. Whole cluster
traits dominate the wine at present and further bottle age may warrant a higher score.
More Oregon Pinot Noir
2012 Crowley Entre Nous Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., $27.
Moderate reddish purple
color in the glass. Lovely play between aromas of black cherry, sous-bois and oak. Plenty of lush
black cherry and purple berry flavor in a fruit-driven wine with noticeable oak overlay. Fine tannins
make for easy drinking. The finish offers a charge of rich and sweet plum fruit that has modest
2014 Owen Roe The Kilmore Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $39. Pommard,
Wädenswil and Dijon clones.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of huckleberry, grape, sandy
soil, and green olive. A bold and assertive wine attacking with rich dark berry flavor that lingers on the finish. A
bit awkward, with muscular tannins that stick out. Caliesque in style. Not as appealing as previous vintages that
I have recommended, but may come together with more time in bottle.
2013 Violin Sunny Mountain Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., $45. Small
production Pinot Noir from Will Hamilton starting with this vintage. Sunny Mountain Vineyard was planted and is farmed by industry veteran Steve Price. It is located in the southern Willamette Valley, hear Broadley Vineyards in Monroe. One of a handful of producers making designated wines from this vineyard.
Moderately light cherry red color
in the glass. Demure aromas of red fruits and wood spice lead to a medium-bodied wine with an
enjoyable array of red berry and cherry flavors framed by dusty tannins. Very forward, elegant and
quite appealing now, with a forthright attack and finish.
2013 Willamette Valley Vineyards 40 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 175 cases, $45. A wine
crafted by iconic Oregon winemaker Bill Fuller who returned to winemaking to celebrate his 40th vintage.
Harvest Brix 22.0º. Pommard clone. Aged 14 months in 30% new French oak barrels.
Moderately light cherry
red color in the glass. A crisp and vibrant wine that offers appealing aromas of cherry, cranberry relish and
vanilla, and a complex flavor profile including cherry and cranberry fruits, spice, blood orange and oak vanillin.
The refined tannins and good cut on the finish make for refreshingly pleasurable drinking.
Burt Williams’ Morning Dew Ranch Changes Hands Iconic California winemaker, Burt
Williams, has put his 40-acre property in Anderson Valley up for sale for $1,920,000. The property includes a
12-acre vineyard currently sourced by Drew Family Wines, Williams Selyem and Brogan Cellars, a 2-bedroom
house, and a small winery with a lab and crush pad. Burt last released his own wine from this property from the
2009 vintage. I have heard that the property is currently in escrow and being sold to V. Sattui Winery that owns
another Anderson Valley vineyard and bottles Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley, North Coast, Los Carneros and
Santa Lucia Highlands. Followup January 5, 2016: Morning Dew Ranch was sold to Dario Sattui for Castello di Amorosa.
Jadot to Release Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir in 2016 Noted Burgundy wine company,
Louis Jadot, bought Resonance Vineyard from Kevin Chambers in 2014. The noted vineyard is located in the
Yamhill-Carlton District and sits adjacent Gran Moraine Vineyard and has Pinot Noir vines planted on their
original roots between 1981 and 2006. Jadot’s 2013 bottling has been in barrel at Trisaetum Winery in Ribbon
Ridge and is scheduled for release March 2016. Jacques Lardière is the winemaker. The price and name of the
new wine has not been disclosed.
Smith Story Wine Cellars Hires Ross Cobb and Katy Wilson as Winemakers
Spouses Eric Story and Alison Smith-Story, who met while working for K&L Wine Merchants in Northern
California, bring over a combined 30 years of wine industry experience to Smith Story Wine Cellars. Ross
Cobb makes Pinot Noir under his own label, COBB Wines, and crafts wines for Hirsch Vineyard. Katy Wilson
produces Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir under her LaRue label. Together the “Dream Team” consult for Anaba
Wines and now Smith Story Wine Cellars. Smith Story offers both white (Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and
Chardonnay), and Red (Pinot Noir from Helluva Vineyard in Anderson Valley), as well as a Riesling and Rosé
from Rheingau, Germany. The inaugural vintage is 2014. A Kickstarter Crowdfunding campaign raised funds for
the winery’s grape growers.The website is www.smithstorywinecellars.com.
Discussions Underway for New Willamette Valley sub-AVA The Chehalem Mountains
AVA extends 20 miles in length and 5 miles in breadth and is an uplifted land mass southwest of Portland. It
includes several discrete spurs, mountains, and ridges, including Ribbon Ridge and Parrot Mountain. Soils on
the southern and western slopes are primarily Jory (basaltic) and ocean sedimentary (Willakenzie), while soils
on the northern face of the mountains are wind-blown loess (Laurelwood). A group of wineries on the northern
face have entered discussions to create a sub-AVA of the Chehalem Mountains (Ribbon Ridge already is a
sub-AVA of the Chehalem Mountains) that would be based on vineyards having Laurelwood soil.
2016 Oregon Chardonnay Celebration The fifth annual Oregon Chardonnay Celebration will take
place Saturday, February 27, 2016, at The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg, Oregon. This event was founded as
the Oregon Chardonnay Symposium and has now joined forces with the International Pinot Noir Celebration.
The Oregon Chardonnay Celebration begins with a seated seminar and tasting, followed by a walk around
Grand Tasting of over 40 Oregon producers, one of the region’s largest varietal-specific tastings. The Seminar
will present four winemakers who will discuss their interpretation of Durant Vineyard’s 2014 Chardonnay, all
made from the same single block of clone 96 fruit. For more information and tickets, visit www.ipnc.org.
2016 30th Annual International Pinot Noir Celebration An Early Bird Special is being
offered until December 31, 2015, for the 30th celebration. Full Weekend guests can save $100 per ticket due to
early bird pricing. Hotels and on-campus accommodations fill up quickly, so you should look into lodging
options now. The ipnc website, www.ipnc.org, has a full list of local accommodations including on-site room or
apartment. Passport to Pinot tickets on July 31, 2016, are now on sale for $125. This outdoor tasting offers
Pinot Noir from over 70 wineries and culinary treats from 15 of the Northwest’s top chefs.
11th Annual Celebration of Pigs & Pinot Chef Charlie Palmer has announced that the 2016 Pigs
& Pinot event will be held March 18-19, 2016, at Hotel Healdsburg. Tickets go on sale January 20-21, 2016.
Guest chefs include Matt Lambert, Barbara Lynch, Michael Mina and Bryan Voltaggio. Guest wineries include
Williams Selyem represented by winemaker Jeff Mangahas, Paul Hobbs represented by owner and winemaker
Paul Hobbs, Handley Cellars represented by co-winemaker Randy Schock, and Mt. Difficulty represented by
winemaker Matt Dicey. For more information, visit www.pigsandpinot.com.
In Pursuit of Balance 2016 Event Schedule Announced IOPB will hold trade tastings
February 4-6, 2016, at TWE and February 22 in London, on March 13-16 for attendees of ProWein, and April
17 (public tasting) and 18 (trade tasting). Tickets for the Los Angeles public tasting will go on sale in the spring
of 2016. Visit www.inpursuitofbalance.com.
American Wine Consumers Still Prefer Chardonnay and Merlot Sonoma State
University and the Wine Business Institute reported their 2nd annual survey of American wine consumer
preferences. The survey of American wine consumers ranging in age from 21 to 68 found that despite the
popularity of red blends and Pinot Noir, the American consumer still loves Chardonnay and Merlot. When
asked to pick their favorite grapes from a list, 50 percent included Chardonnay and 49 percent Merlot in their
selections. 38 percent chose Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. Respondents also preferred wines that are
“fruity,” “semi-sweet,” and “smooth.” Only 26 percent said they preferred dry styles of wine. Meiomi Pinot Noir is
a perfect example of the American palate preference for intensity fruity wine that is smooth or plush. 72 percent
said that cost was the most important factor in choosing a wine. Those in the survey who considered
themselves wine connoisseurs tended to be willing to spend more and showed a preference for dry wines.
Asked why they drink wine, the majority of the respondents said they liked the taste, wine goes well with food,
and wine offers relaxation and socialization opportunities.
Beaux Frères Touts the 2014 Vintage and offers a Special Release Winemaker Mike
Etzel has called the 2014 vintage in Oregon “epic.” So epic, that the winery will create a separate bottling from
the Beaux Frères Vineyard for the first time ever - Cuvée ’59.’ While working on the blends for the 2014 wines,
Mike was taking a break and reading through some tasting notes from Burgundy vintages of the past. An entry
for the 1959 vintage read like an excerpt from the 2014 Oregon growing season summary. The similarity
spurred Mike to select barrels from the oldest blocks of own-rooted Pommard and Wädenswil plantings in the
original Beaux Frères Vineyard to create 475 cases of this special wine ($125). Visit www.beauxfreres.com to
Adelsheim Releases $225 Vintage 35 Pinot Noir For the fourth time in Adelsheim’s history,
Vintage 35 from the 2012 vintage has been released. Named in celebration of the winery’s 35th vintage year,
this 2012 Pinot Noir is made entirely from estate grown fruit sourced frtom Bryan Creek and Calkins Lane
vineyards in the Chehalem Mountains. It is a blend of wines from winemaker Dave Paige’s favorite five barrels
and was held in bottle for two years before release. A few Oregon Pinot Noirs have exceeded $200 in price in
recent vintages and although surprising at first glance, is not out of place considering the quality of Pinot Noir
wine in vintages like 2012. Comparing $225 to the prices Burgundy now commands for Premier Cru and Grand
Cru red wines, the Adelsheim bottling seems relatively reasonable. What’s your preference in Pinot: single,
double or triple figures? Remember PINO sands for “Price is No Object.” Adelsheim’s 2012 Nicholas Estate
Pinot Noir, Winderlea Pinot Noir and Zenith Pinot Noir are priced at $225 in magnum format. Visit
www.adelsheim.com to purchase.
Annual PinotFile Pinot Noir All-Americans Look for the next issue arriving at the end of the
year that features the 2015 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay All-Americans.
With the Pinot all bundled up snug in French oak
Let’s all toast the 2015 vintage
with a cool glass of Pinot
As you approach 2016, and continue your search
for that elusive, orgasmic Pinot Noir, remember
this mantra of Pinot Noir: Why be difficult when
you can be impossible!