PinotFile: 10.25 February 5, 2016
- Revisiting New Zealand Pinot Noir on the Occasion of Spectacular 2013 Vintage
- Cattleya: California Wines with a French and Colombian Accent
- Sips of Recently Tasted Pinot Noir
- Pinot Briefs
Revisiting New Zealand Pinot Noir on the Occasion of Spectacular 2013 Vintage
The New Zealand wine industry is thriving in a relatively small country that depends on exports for its survival.
According the 2015 New Zealand Winegrowers Annual Report, the value of New Zealand wine exports grew
7% in 2015 to reach a new record of $1.42 billion. Three markets, Australia, UK and USA each account for
around one quarter of exports (the USA is the largest export market by value) with significant future growth
potential evident in North American and China. New Zealand wine is exported to more than 90 countries.
Exports of Pinot Noir nearly doubled from 2008 to 2015.
New Zealand is still renowned for Sauvignon Blanc which accounts for the vast majority of the country’s wine
production, but Pinot Noir, and even Chardonnay, is attracting the most attention from wine connoisseurs. As
Nick Stock, Australia Gourmet Traveller Wine, pointed out in April 2015, “The attention given to New Zealand
Pinot Noir is well above what’s deserved in terms of the amount made, but factor in their quality across a range
of styles and it’s easy to justify the hype.” Refer to chart below for percentage of production by varietal.
From 2006 to 2015, the number of New Zealand wineries has increased from 530 to 673 and the number of
growers from 87 to 762. Total producing vineyard area in 2015 was 88,609 acres. Pinot Noir acreage has
increased from 10,039 acres in 2006 to 13,748 acres in 2015 (nearly equal to the 14,027 acres of Pinot Noir in
the Willamette Valley.
Although New Zealand Pinot Noir exports are increasing, only a small amount of the top end wines reach fine
wine retail stores in the U.S.. Periodically, I like to assemble a representative sample of wines available here to
see the quality and styles of New Zealand Pinot Noir. I have found that a range of wines are produced much
like the variety of Pinot Noir evident stateside, ranging from elegant, classic Pinot Noirs, to more earthy,
mineral-driven styles, to sappy, highly extracted examples. It is impossible to talk about a specific New Zealand
style, especially since the Pinot Noirs from the three largest Pinot Noir growing regions, Martinborough in the
North Island, and Marlborough and Central Otago in the South Island, produce wines that are quite different in
Prices for many of the better bottlings of New Zealand Pinot Noir are modest compared to similar stateside
wines. There is also a vast quantity of value-priced labels that are fine, but no better than the value-priced
labels from California and Oregon.
The commonly planted New Zealand Pinot Noir clones are similar to those in wide use stateside (Pommard-
UCD 5, Martini - UCD 13, and Dijon 113, 114, 115, 375, 667 and 777) except for the Abel clone (also known as
the Ati Rangi clone) that is allegedly a suitcase selection from Domaine de la Conti smuggled into New Zealand
in the 1970s and unique to New Zealand. AM 10/5 (also known as Anton Meyer and origin is Wädenswil,
Switzerland) and AM 2/10 (also a Wädenswil clone), were the first premium Pinot Noir clones imported into
New Zealand in the 1980s.
Winemaking, at least for most of the wines reviewed here, is very similar to that employed in California and
Oregon. The grapes are mostly de-stemmed, with variable but usually low amounts of whole cluster. There is a
cold soak, followed by indigenous yeast fermentation in small vats, and a post fermentation extended
maceration. Aging can vary from 10 to 18 months, usually in 30% or less new French oak barrels. The wines
are usually unfiltered. The Kiwis are leaders in screwcaps, and the majority of wines are closed with a
Early 2016 is a suitable time to look at examples of New Zealand Pinot Noir because the 2013 vintage wines
are in our retail marketplace now. 2013 was an exceptional vintage in New Zealand and has been hailed as
“vintage of a lifetime,” vintage to remember,” and “one of the best vintages in recent memory.” 2013 was a near
perfect growing season in New Zealand leading to a record crop that exceeded the 2012 vintage by 28%, with
the 2013 Pinot Noir crop 36% larger. 2014 turned out to be an even bigger crop for New Zealand (30% higher).
Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast review and score some New Zealand Pinot Noir, as do James Suckling
and Jancis Robinson, but the most comprehensive coverage is by wine critics specializing in New Zealand
such as Bob Campbell, MW - www.bobcampbell.nz, Raymond Chan - www.raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz,
Geoff Kelly - www.geoffkellywinereviews.co.nz, and Sam Kim - www.wineorbit.co.nz. It is interesting that an
article just appeared on January 20, 2016, at www.nzherald.co.nz, “Paid-for wine reviews draw flak.” The latest
code of ethics of the Wine Writers of New Zealand strongly discouraged the practice of paid-for wine reviews,
emphasizing that any minor conflicts “had to be fully disclosed to all interested parties.” University of Otago
associate professor in marketing Lisa McNeill said, “It is naive for people to think the practice of paid reviews
wasn’t common across all industries.” She encouraged wine writers to avoid engaging in accepting payment
from a wine company to review its product. None of the wine writers mentioned here were implicated.
I picked out wines to review that were well regarded by New Zealand wine critics and available for sale in the
USA. There are many stunning wines here and some that combine excellence with value. I believe you will find
these Pinot Noirs are more akin to California brethren in style than Old World, offering plenty of extraction and
ripe phenolics, yet ABV levels that are generally lower than California Pinot Noirs. I found that a number of
wines when tasted two to three days after opening, had lost vibrancy and charm, seemingly bogged down by
the fruit load. The tannins had melded, but the wines lacked acidity. If you look at the acidity levels of the wines
reviewed (where available), they are not particularly high. With a few exceptions, I think these are showy wines
for early drinking, but not long term cellar candidates. They are like noted female actors at the Oscars: primped
and primed for television, but when seen two days later at Starbucks, seem rather ordinary.
Look for these wines at retailers such as K&L Wine Merchants in California, Saratoga Wine Exchange in New
York and other sources listed on www.wine-searcher.com.
2014 Cognizant Marlborough New Zealand Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 112 cases, $16.99 (sold out), screwcap.
Imported by DJK Imports, South San Francisco, CA. Cognizant is a new collaborative project between K&L and
some of New Zealand’s best winemakers. This wine was made from the same grapes as TWR (Te Whare Ra)
2014 Pinot Noir that was Decanter magazine’s Top New Zealand Pinot Noir for 2014. Winemakers are Jason
and Anna Flowerday of TWR. Fruit is from home block in Renwick and a neighboring block in Raiwiri.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Challenging to pull any fruit out of the nose which features
aromas of woodland and roasted almond. Light to mid weight sandalwood-infused flavors of cherry, red and
purple berries, and spice. Easy to drink, with modest tannins, and a cherry-fueled finish.
2014 Rod Easthope Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir
14.0% alc, $11.99
(NakedWines.com Angel Price), screwcap. Imported by nakedwines.com, Napa, CA. Includes a
measured amount of whole cluster.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Nicely perfumed with
aromas of cherry, eldeberry and woodfern. The mid weight core of dark red cherry and berry fruits
framed by silky tannins is easy to like. The intense mid palate fruit attack continues with through the
finish. I like this wine for its open, gregarious personality. A terrific value.
2014 Akitu “A1” Black Label Central Otago Pinot Noir
$29.99, screwcap. Imported by DJK Imports, South San
Francisco, CA. This is the premier wine of the estate.
Vineyard is near the town of Wanaka in one of the highest
and coldest spots in the region with dense schist soils. 71%
Abel, 17% Pommard 5, and 11% 115. 28% whole cluster.
Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 24% new.
dark reddish purple color in the glass. Very complex nose displaying hitone
aromas of black cherry, black raspberry, peppered beef, beef
bouillon, cake spice and a hint of oak. The flavors echo the aromas in a
middleweight format. A very lovely wine with admirable balance and a
finishing burst of fruit that really hangs on.
2014 Felton Road Block 3 Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $69.99. Imported by Young’s Market Co.,
Tustin, CA. 100% organic and biodynamic viticulture since
vineyards first designed beginning in 1991. This wine is taken
from older vines in Block 3 of The Elms Vineyard, one of four
properties farmed by Felton Road in the Bannockburn subregion
of Central Otago. 25% whole clusters, fermented with
indigenous yeast, moderately long maceration on skins, aged 13 months
in French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
purple color in the glass. Engaging aromas of black cherry, sous-bois
and tobacco. Beautifully composed, with a delicious attack of black
cherry fruit accented with sweet oak and well-proportioned tannins. The
finish has remarkable staying power. The oak overlay is not imposing and
should further integrate over time. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked
bottle, the wine was even more appealing. Easy to find superlatives for this gorgeous Pinot.
2013 Felton Road Bannockburn Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $55, screwcap.
Imported by The Country Vintner, Inc., Ashland, VA. A blend of three vineyards: Cornish Point, Calvert and The
Elms. 25% whole clusters, indigenous yeast fermentation, moderately long maceration on skins, aged 11
months in French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass.
Lovely aromas of black cherry, rose petal and Asian 5-spice reflecting some whole cluster inclusion. Luscious,
yet lively, mid weight flavors of black cherry, black raspberry, blueberry and pomegranate, framed by firm, but
balanced tannins. Beautifully composed with the right touch of oak, and a pleasing finish.
2013 TWR (Te Whare Ra) Marlborough New Zealand Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 800 cases, $26.99,
screwcap. Imported by DJK Imports, South San
Francisco, CA. Hand selected from two single blocks,
one in deep alluvial gravel soils and one from heavier
clay soils. Clones 113, 114, 115, 667, 777, 10/5, Abel
and Pommard 5 from TWR Vineyard in the Omaka
Valley. 100% de-stemmed, cold soak, fermented
whole berry, small portion by indigenous yeasts. 17-days on skins, aged
12 months in French oak barrels, 30% new.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. Engaging aromas of black cherry, Asian 5-
spice, sandalwood and fir tree. Delicious core of dark red cherry and
raspberry with a silky entry and exit. Forward and embracing, with
impeccable balance, and an intense cherry-driven finish. A very stylish Pinot Noir that is light on its feet. This
wine really captured my attention, especially at this modest price.
As legend would have it, Maori navigator Kupe abandoned three canoes at the site of Escarpment Winery after
discovering the land now known as New Zealand. Escarpment rests on 60 acres of alluvial gravel in the Te Muna Valley
near Martinborough. The soils are over 75,000 years old and are a nurturing matrix for grapevine roots. The estate!s four
vineyards provide 70 percent of Escarpment!s grape supply.
Kupe Estate Vineyard is a high density planting of Abel clone with deep alluvial gravels and own rooted vines. Pahi
comes from McCreanor Vineyard that was first planted by Jack McCreanor in 1986 and is among the oldest Pinot Noir
vineyards in New Zealand. Both grafted and own rooted clone 10/5 vines. (This vineyard was sold after Jack McCreanor!s
passing so the source of this bottling will change) Te Rehua contains multiple clones of Pinot Noir planted in 1990 by
Geoff Bunny and now owned by Tim and Ruth Bartin (Barton Vineyard). Kiwa comes from Cleland Vineyard that was
planted on the Martinborough Terrace alluvial gravels in 1989 by Graham and Gill Cleland and contains a blend of UCD
Davis clones 5, 6 and 13.
The winery buildings are inauspicious, standing watch on the renowned Martinborough River Terraces and overlooking
the river itself. The barrel room is tucked underground and enjoys ideal cellar temperatures below its grassy roof.
Escarpment was established in 1998 as a joint business venture between Robert & Mem Kirby (of Australia!s Village
Roadshow and owners of Yabby Lake Winery in the Mornington Peninsula of Australia) and Larry and Sue McKenna.
Larry McKenna is an iconic New Zealand winemaker who was anointed “The Prince of Martinborough Pinot” by James
Halliday, but his self-anointed title is “Larry McPinot.” Larry was born and raised in Adelaide, South Australia. He
graduated from Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1976, and has nearly three decades of winemaking experience. In
1986 he became CEO and winemaker at Martinborough Vineyard and put the winery on the world map as one of the
preeminent New World Pinot Noir producers. Since 1999, Larry has been director and winemaker for Escarpment.
Escarpment was a featured winery at the 2015 International Pinot Noir Festival (see photo below)
Besides the Escarpment bottling, the four wines in the Martinborough Insight Series (Kupe, Kiwa, Pahi and Te Rehaua),
offer an insight into the terroir of Martinborough. They are particularly inspiring wines, in 2013, and will certainly age for 10
to 15 years with aplomb. A mid price point series of wines is offered under The Edge brand. The winery also offers a
Rose, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Riesling from Escarpment Vineyard.
2013 Escarpment Martinborough New Zealand Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.49, $56, screwcap.
Imported by Meadowbank Estates (a division of Empson USA Inc), Alexandria, VA. Ideal crop that did not
require thinning. Fermented with indigenous yeasts, on skins for 18 days, aged 11 months in French oak
barrels, 30% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Inviting earth-kissed aromas of black
grape, blackberry jam. Impressive fruit expression, with an exhilarating array of juicy purple and black fruits
backed by modestly muscular tannins. The finish embraces with a cornucopia of ripe fruit.
2013 Escarpment Single Vineyard Kiwa Martinborough New Zealand Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.62, TA
0.48, $56. Grapes come from Cleland Vineyard. 24-year-old vines, deep alluvial gravels, clones UCD 5, 6 and
13. Fermented in wooden vats, on the skins 16 days, aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. Bottled
unfined and unfiltered.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The least expressive wine of the three single
vineyards reviewed here, but still offering a peak at impressive potential. Aromas of mixed berries and loamy
soil lead to a gorgeous core of blackberry and black raspberry fruits beautifully accented with spice and oak.
This well-structured, mid weight plus wine has nicely balanced acidity and a finish replete with dark fruited
goodness. A brooding wine that only hints at the 10 to 15 year future. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine was more showy and pleasurable, but still revealed a need for further cellaring to bring the tannins into further harmony.
2013 Escarpment Single Vineyard Pahi Martinborough New Zealand Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.50, $56.
Sourced from McCreanor Vineyard that has vines that are 26-years-old. Clone 10/5. On the skins 19
days, aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
reddish purple color in the glass. Engaging aromas of cherry, strawberry and wilted rose. Impeccable
marriage of black cherry fruit and oak in a mid weight style with suave supporting tannins. Admirable
harmony, with an array of perfectly ripened dark red fruits, finishing with a peacock tail of aromatic
good will. The most “feminine” of three Single Vineyard wines tasted together.
2013 Escarpment Single Vineyard Te Rehua Martinborough New Zealand Pinot Noir
13% alc., pH 3.54, TA 0.51,
$56. Grapes grown on Barton Vineyard that has vines over 22 years old and many clones. Soils are
deep alluvial gravels. Fermented in wooden vats, total vat time 18 days, aged 18 months in French oak
barrels, 40% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass.
The seductive nose is incredibly exotic and intoxicating, with highly expressive aromas of blackberry,
black plum, spice and tobacco humidor. The heavenly fruit core is both savory and succulent, offering
an array of purple and black fruits. A subtle spice and floral note adds intrigue. The wine exudes mouth
watering vigor and fruit expression with well-defined, bold tannins adding substance. More expressive on the
nose than palate now but the divine flavors will catch up over time in the cellar. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the strikingly exotic aromatics persisted, along with a noticeable oak overlay.
2013 Tongue In Groove Clayvin Vineyard Marlborough New Zealand Pinot Noir
$29.99, screwcap. Imported by DJK Imports, South San Francisco, CA. An iconic site in all of New
Zealand sitting at the top of Brancott Valley, one of the first areas in Marlborough recognized for
winegrowing potential. Deep clay soils, high-density planted, organically farmed. Cold soak,
indigenous yeast fermented with 25% whole clusters, high portion of whole berries, 21 to 25-days
on skins, aged 17 months in French oak barrels, 25% new, natural malolactic fermentation.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Little fruit on the nose which features aromas of
underbrush and oak. Mid weight plus flavors of dark red and black fruits with generous power on
the mid palate and finish. Well-matched, muscular tannins. A solid fruit-driven expression of Pinot Noir.
2013 Grey’s Peak (Greystone Wines) Waipara Valley New Zealand Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $24.99,
screwcap. Imported by DJK Imports, South San Francisco, CA. Hand selected by K&L Wines. Vineyard is in
South Island, one hour north of Christchurch, and sits in the rain shadow of the Southern Alps of Lord of Rings
trilogy fame.100% de-stemmed, native yeast fermented, post-fermentation extended maceration up to 3
weeks, aged 12 months in French oak barrels, 25% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass.
The nose leads with aromas of toasty oak and pipe smoke. On the palate, the juicy black cherry core has
plenty of oak overlay. Modest tannins and easy drinkability, with a sweet and sour cherry-driven finish.
2013 Valli “Bendigo” Gibbston Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., pH 3.37, TA 0.79, 440 cases, $44.99,
screwcap. Grant Taylor has been making wines in the region
since 1993 and has crafted wines for many iconic Central Otago
wineries as well as his own label. Valli was established in 1998
and named after his great-great grandfather, Giuseppe Valli, who
immigrated to New Zealand. This wine is a single vineyard bottling from
Bendigo. Harvest Brix 25.3º. Clone 777 planted in 2000. 33% whole
cluster, 22 days on skins, aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 34%
Dark reddish purple color in the glass. The perfume of blackberry,
cassis and spice draws you into the glass. On the palate, the fruit
intensity is remarkable, featuring a sensory onslaught of violet and black
fruit and peppery spice flavors. The bodacious fruit sap is matched to daunting tannins which surface with an
astringent charge on the finish. This wine will benefit from several years in the cellar to ameliorate the tannins,
and can certainly last well into a second decade.
2013 Quartz Reef Bendigo Single Vineyard Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir
alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.50, $31.99, screwcap. Imported by Station Imports, San Jose, CA. This winery
is named after New Zealand’s largest quartz rock deposit that underlies the estate’s vineyards at
Bendigo, Central Otago. Winemaker Rudy Bauer is a pioneer in Central Otago. The biodynamic
Demeter® Certified Bendigo Estate Vineyard was planted in 1998 to clones 115, 10/5, 667, 777,
and Abel on various rootstocks. 5 to 7-day cold soak, indigenous yeast fermented, postfermentation
maceration of up to 12 days, aged in 24% new, 33% 1-year and 43% older French
oak barrels. Gently egg fined.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The scent of wild berries,
rose bush and oak lead to a mid weight core of blackberry and boysenberry fruit flavors embellished with
hearty tannins, finishing with a lip-smacking charge of well-ripened and aromatic fruit.
2013 Two Paddocks “The First Paddock” Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $69.99.
Imported by Negociants USA Inc., Napa, CA. A small family winery started by noted actor Sam Neill in 1993
with modest ambitions and 5 acres of Pinot Noir in Gibbston, Central Otago. At the same time, a friend, Roger
Donaldson, planted the land next door (his brand is Sleeping Dogs), hence the name Two Paddocks. The first
vintage from this vineyard (the bottling is named “The First Paddock”) was 1997 and by 2009 was producing
world-class Pinot Noir. The original vineyard has now been augmented by Alex Paddocks, a 7-acre vineyard
planted in 1998. Two Paddocks “The Last Chance” Pinot Noir has been produced from this vineyard since
2002. In 2000, Redbank, a 130-acre farm planted to Dijon clones of Pinot Noir was acquired and forms the
backbone of the Two Paddocks Pinot Noir.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black
cherry and toasted oak lead to a mid weight plus styled wine featuring juicy black cherry and blackberry fruits
with an earthy undertone and a rather marked oak overlay (toast, espresso). The wine is particularly notable for
the intensity of the lingering finish that speaks of liquor-soaked Maraschino cherries. This wine will appeal to
those who prefer their Pinot Noir well-oaked. When tasted two days after opening, the wine still had noticeable
2012 Clos Henri Marlborough New Zealand Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.49, $29.99. Imported by
Chambers & Chambers, San Francisco, CA. This winery was established and originally run by the famous
Sancerre winegrowing family of Henri Bourgeois. Arnaud Bourgeois is the current GM of Clos Henri. Close-planted
vines (twice that of most Marlborough Vineyard) in heavier clay soils of estate vineyard. Clones
Pommard 5, 10/5, 667, 777, 114, 115, and Abel. 8 to 13-year-old vines grown in the Wairau Valley of
Marlborough. 100% de-stemmed, whole berry fermentation, 1-week cold soak, 3-week cuvaison, aged 12
months in French oak barrels, 25% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The oak-themed nose
offers aromas of tobacco, espresso, toast and spice. The lovely core of fresh dark red and black fruits wears a
significant oak imprint. The silky tannins are well integrated, and the wine finishes with good length.
2012 Pegasus Bay Waipara Valley New Zealand Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $34.99, screwcap.
Imported by Empson USA Inc., Alexandria, VA. The Donaldson family, who own and operate this
winery, are pioneers of local winegrowing and winemaking. Ivan Donaldson is a wine writer, wine
judge and viticulturist. His eldest son, Matthew, is a winemaker and 2012 marked his 20th vintage
at Pegasus Bay. A multi-clone blend from vines up to nearly 30-years-old and on their own roots.
Mostly de-stemmed, whole berry fermentation, 10% whole clusters added to vats. Cold soak, postfermentation
cold maceration of 1-2 weeks, aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 30% new.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, spice, underbrush and
barnyard lead to a middleweight styled wine with earthy dark red and black stone and berry fruits underpinned
with a light touch of toasty oak. Inviting elegance, modest tannins, and a very enjoyable finish.
2012 Mount Edward Estate Morrison Vineyard Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 371 cases, $39.99, screwcap. Imported
by DJK Imports, South San Francisco, CA. A small winery in Gibbston
founded in 1997 by one of the pioneers of Central Otago wine, Alan
Brady. The owner has been John Buchanan and winemaker Duncan
Forsyth since 2004. Grapes are sourced from several organically
certified vineyards in the sub regions of Central Otago. The Morrison
Vineyard was planted in 1997 on Wanaka Road. Indigenous yeast
fermented, aged 15 months in French oak barrels and bottled unfined
Medium reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is
flush with earthy black cherry and black berry fruits complimented by
notes of spice and clay pot. The mid weight black cherry, boysenberry
and blackberry fruit is well-ripened and juicy, framed by well-matched
ruddy tannins. Gorgeous harmony, finishing with a burst of lip-smacking dark fruit aromatic goodness. This
beauty definitely has an earthy tone.
2011 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Martinborough New Zealand Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.53, $34.99,
screwcap. Imported by Kobrand Corp., New York, NY.
Business man Terry Peabody established this winery and
engaged Kiwi viticulturist and Master of Wine, Steve Smith,
to become his partner. This winery planted most of its
vineyards in the late 1990s and early 2000s. From the
beginning in 1998, they pursued single vineyard wines and
Craggy Range was the first in the Southern hemisphere to adopt making
single vineyard wines from multiple regions of the country. The 230-acre
Te Muna Road Vineyard was planted largely to Pinot Noir in 1999 in the
Martinborough Terraces subregion of Martinborough. There are eight
clones in more than 40 different parcels. The current winemakers work under the direction of Steve Smith. 10%
whole cluster, inoculated yeast fermentation, aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 27% new. Filtered.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of Bing cherry, rose petal, sandalwood and
toasty oak. An intense charge of cherry fruit greets the palate, carrying its goodness through a pleasurable
finish. A very sleep wine with a silky texture, a deft touch of oak, and a delightful kiss of cherry on the finish.
2010 Dry River Martinborough New Zealand Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.58, RS <2.0g/l, $69.99.
Neil and Dawn McCallum planted a vineyard in one of the oldest Martinborough sheep stations in 1979. The
area has became known as the Martinborough Terrace (and Martinborough Terrace Appellation), a gravelly,
free-draining area within the lowest rainfall zone in the North Island. In 2002, the winery and 30 acres of
vineyards were sold to New York businessperson Julian Robertson and California winegrower Reg Oliver who
owns El Molino Winery in St. Helena, CA. Neil McCallum remained the winemaker until his retirement in 2011
and was replaced by Wilco Lam. Currently, the estate vineyards include Dry River Estate (first plantings 1979),
Craighall Vineyard (first plantings 1983), and Lovat Vineyard (first plantings 1992). Dry River wines are highly
valued, sold primarily by mail order, and only tiny quantities reach the USA retail market. Harvest Brix 23.0º.
Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Intriguing aromas of dark fruits, Mexican-spiced dark chocolate, clay and
damp earth. Mid weight plus core of purple and black fruits accented by notes of spice, espresso and
bittersweet chocolate. Luscious and sappy, but suave and sleek, with mildly firm tannins and vital acidity,
finishing with a charge of sweet blackberry fruit. Trends toward very ripe, even slightly roasted fruit flavors. A
unique and individualistic wine quite distinct from other New Zealand Pinot Noirs tasted for this review.
2010 Terra Sancta “Jackson Block” Bannockburn Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.59, TA
0.58, 350 cases, $29.99, screwcap. Imported by Terrell
Wines, San Francisco, CA. The winery name means “sacred
earth or special place.” Sourced from the 64-acre estate that
contains four vineyards. This block runs along Felton Road
where the vines grow in schist gravels. This bottling is named
after Jackson Barry, who ranged the area telling yearns and seeking
fame and fortune.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass.
Floral, earthy and fruity (black cherry) on the nose. A full-bodied and
delicious attack of blackberry, Hoison sauce, black tea, dark chocolate
and spice flavors saturate the palate. A good grip of dry tannins are in
line with the fruit load in this very suave wine with a velvety mouthfeel that is particularly majestic. A
compliment of oak and a generous, lengthy finish complete the picture.
Cattleya: California Wines with a French and Colombian Accent
I first met Bibiana González Ravez several years ago at the World of Pinot Noir when we were interviewing
young winemakers for a feature on Grape Radio: “A Day in the Sun at the 2011 World of Pinot Noir,”
www.graperadio.com/archives/2012/02/09/a-day-in-the-sun-at-the-2011-world-of-pinot-noir/. Her interview was
the only one of several that I still remember, since her story was unlikely and intriguing. She dreamed of
making wine since the age of 14, growing up in Medellin, Colombia, yet that country had no wine culture at all.
Bibiana would study chemical engineering in Colombia, but go on to work in the vineyards and cellars of
Burgundy, the Rhone Valley, Bordeaux, Alsace and Cognac, and earned a Technician of Viticulture and
Oenology diploma in Angoulême, followed by a Diploma of Oenology with honors from the University of
After an extraordinary experience working at Château Haut-Brion, she moved to Sonoma County in 2004 and
gained winemaking expertise working 14 harvests in California at wineries that included La Crema, Peay
Vineyards, Au Bon Climat and Qupé, before becoming the director of winegrowing and winemaking at Lynmar
Estate in 2009. Bibiana would leave Lynmar Estate in 2011 and become the winemaker for Pahlmeyer’s
Sonoma Coast project, Wayfarer, in 2012. At Wayfarer she has crafted exceptional Pinot Noirs and
Chardonnays that have made my annual All-Americans list. Bibiana was named “2015 Winemaker of the Year”
by The San Francisco Chronicle, and her wines have received considerable praise from the wine press.
Most recently, she launched her own brand, Cattleya (“Cat-LAY-a”), the culmination of a dream that started
more than 20 years ago, offering vineyard-designated Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah. Cattleya is an orchid,
the national flower of Colombia, and is one of the most beautiful and delicate orchids in the world. The wines
are sold through an allocated mailing list at www.cattleyawines.com. They are not inexpensive, but they reflect
passionate and experienced winemaking of the highest standards and are connoisseur’s wines by a
Colombian-born, French-trained, California-based winemaker.
Bibiana has partnered with her spouse, winemaker Jeff Pisoni, to make Shared Notes, a high-end Sauvignon
Blanc producer. She also launched Alma de Cattleya, a value-priced brand of California wines to be distributed
If you have had the good fortune to sample Wayfarer wines, you know that they are rather bold expressions of
Pinot Noir, almost an antithesis of the trend in Sonoma Coast to pick early and offer more delicate wines with
lower alcohol and higher acidity. The Cattleya wines are similar to Wayfarer in character, in that they offer rich,
ripe flavors, yet in a balanced and charismatic style. Three wines were offered from the 2013 vintage, two of
which are reviewed here, and the third is a Syrah from Soberanes Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands.
2013 Cattleya Wines Pratt Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.38, TA 0.69, 101
cases, $70. Pratt Vineyard is one of Sonoma County’s premier Chardonnay vineyards, owned and
farmed by Jim Pratt. The vineyard was planted in 2000, and this wine is sourced from 4 rows of clone
15 (Old Wente selection). Carefully hand sorted, gently pressed, native yeast fermented for 2 months,
followed by 100% malolactic fermentation. Aged 15 months in 50% new French oak barrels.
light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Welcoming aromas of lemon pudding, pineapple and
vanilla creme. Creamy and delicious on the palate, with flavors of pear, kiwi and grilled pineapple
augmented by hints of butterscotch and nutty oak, offering impressive fruit expression, and sliding off the
palate with aplomb at the finish. So beautifully composed, one is tempted to drink it all night.
2013 Cattleya Wines Donum Vineyard Sonoma Carneros Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.65, 88
cases, $70. Roederer clone. 25% whole clusters. 5-day cold soak, fermented on the skins for 18 days, aged 11
months in French oak barrels, 50% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately dark reddish purple hue in
the glass. Nicely perfumed, with aromas of black cherry, blackberry, pomegranate and a deft touch of oak.
Structured and somewhat bold, with earth-kissed flavors of black cherry and blackberry. The firm but polished
tannins are nicely balanced by a laser beam of acidity propelling the finish. A classy wine that is built to age, and a
proper salute to Carneros terroir.
2014 Cattleya Wines Cuvée Number One Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., very limited,
unreleased. Sourced from Lakeview Vineyard in the Green Valley of Russian River Valley. Pommard
and Dijon 115. Named after the successful first of many blending trials between both clones.
reddish purple color in the glass. Intoxicating aromas of black cherry, cassis and bark. Exceptionally
refined in the mouth with a velvety texture, featuring mid weight flavors of black raspberry, blackberry
and plum. Impeccable balance with involved but not intrusive fine-grain tannins. and an intensely
endowed finish. A gregarious and toothsome wine that is meant to please.
Sips of Recently Tasted Pinot Noir
Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery Winemaker Theresia Heredia has been at Gary Farrell a few years now and has familiarized herself with the vineyard sources. The quality of the wines shows it. Visit www.garyfarrellwines.com.
2013 Gary Farrell Bacigalupi Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.64, 588
cases, $60. Released February 2016. Sourced from the Bacigalupi’s Frost Ranch and Block 9 that is planted
entirely to a Wente selection of Pinot Noir. Small % of whole clusters. 5 to 7-day cold soak, both punch downs
and pump overs, 10 to 15-day extended post-fermentation extended maceration, aged 14 months on the
primary lees in French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. I was drawn to this
wine immediately, with its forward aromas of perfectly ripe Bing cherries, cake spices and rose bush. A cherry
bombast on the palate, with uncommon vivid and juicy character, flanked by integrated tannins. I was enamored by the freshness of this wine making it the best
bottling of this vineyard designate to date in my opinion.
2013 Gary Farrell Rochioli-Allen Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.46,
TA 0.70, 414 cases, $70. Released February 2016. Sourced from Rochioli Vineyard and Allen Vineyard
located nearby on opposite sides of Westside Road. Predominantly Pommard from old (1974) and new
(1996) Allen Vineyard plantings with the balance is Pommard from the Rochioli River Block. Small % of
whole clusters, 5 to 7-day cold soak, inoculated fermentations, 10 to 15-day post-fermentation
extended maceration, aged on primary lees for 14 months in French oak barrels, 40% new.
light cherry red color in the glass. Nuances abound in this wine, with aromas of cherries, red rose
petals, spice, earth and woodland. Lovely cherry flavor tip toes on entry, tap dances mid palate, and hip hops
through a boisterous and remarkably sustained finish. A beautifully composed, harmonious wine that will
please now yet enthrall for several years to come.
2013 Gary Farrell Westside Farms Russian River Valley Chardonnay
13.7% alc., pH 3.43, TA 0.68, 747
cases, $50. Released February 2016. David Ramey grows Chardonnay on his 40-acre Westside Farms
Vineyard. Clone 4 was planted in 1989 in deep, river-deposited sandy loam soils. Harvest Brix 22º-23º. Gently
whole cluster pressed, inoculated ferment, aged 8 months on creamy lees in French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderately light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. The lean nose offers demure aromas of cake spice,
lemon-lime and apple. Much more expressive on the palate, with citrus-driven flavors that charm with
brightness and integrate beautifully with a deft touch of oak. Vibrant and clean, with a refreshing lemon-driven
finish, this is a soulful Chardonnay that will be marvelous at the dinner table.
Graton Ridge Cellars A producer of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir located in Sebastopol that was recently
acquired by Furthermore Wines. The purchase included the Graton Ridge Cellars label, tasting room, winery
and estate vineyard. Erica Stancliff will continue as winemaker. Both labels which will be available for tasting in
the new home of Furthermore at 3561 Gravenstein Hwy N in Sebastopol. Visit www.furthermorewines.com and
2013 Graton Ridge Cellars Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $45.
Moderate reddish purple
color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, dried herbs and chalky earthy lead to a mid weight styled wine with flavors
of Bing cherry, red berry, tobacco and oak char. Easy to drink, with silky tannins and a slightly tart cherrydriven
finish which leaves a trail of oak.
2013 Graton Ridge Cellars Paul Family Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $55. Moderately light cherry red color in the glass.
Lovely marriage of Bing cherry, cola and sandalwood aromas.
The delicious core of Bing cherry and strawberry fruits are nicely accented with brioche and baking spice
flavors framed by suave tannins. A very sexy wine that is all satin in the mouth and impeccably balanced.
2013 Graton Ridge Cellars Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 241 cases, $50.
Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Deep cherry pie and pie spice aromas lead to a mid weight core
of attacking Bing cherry, strawberry and baking spice flavors. Beautifully composed, with matching tannins, deft
oak management, and a generous finish. Quintessential Russian River Valley character.
Helioterra A small, artisan producer of Oregon and Washington wines crafted at Bjornson Vineyard in Salem,
Oregon by winemaker Anne Ebenreiter Hubatch. The name draws on geological inspiration, symbolizing
Heliolite, the Oregon gemstone. Also, Helio and Terra combine the Greek words for sun and earth, natural
partners for grape growing. Anne is a Wisconsin native whose degree in Geology and Environmental Studies
from the University of Wisconsin meant her career path would be connected to the land. Upon moving to
Oregon, she had extensive wine training with Eric Hamacher (Hamacher Wines), David Adelsheim and Dave
Paige (Adelsheim Vineyard), Joe Dobbes (Dobbes Family Estate), and Alfredo Apolloni (Apolloni Vineyards).
Her first vintage under her own Helioterra label was 2009. Multiple varietals are produced including the two
Pinot Noir blends reviewed here. Visit www.helioterrawines.com.
2014 Helioterra Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.57, 531 cases, $30. Five vineyards, multiple Dijon clones and Pommard. Aged 13 months in French oak barrels, 22% new.
Moderately light reddish purple color in
the glass. Demure, but pleasant aromas of black cherry and oak spice. Very tasty juice, featuring ornate flavors
of black cherry, black berry and pomegranate framed by structured tannins, and finishing with a burst of juicy,
dark berry fruit. Supple and polished.
2013 Helioterra Vintner’s Select Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.62, 125 cases, $38. Sourced from five vineyards, multiple Dijon clones and Pommard. Best of the
cellar: vintner's favorite barrel from each of the five vineyards. Native yeast fermentation, aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 32% new.
Light cherry red color in the glass.
Fruity nose offering aromas of red cherry, cranberry and complimentary oak. Silky and charming on the palate,
with a modest attack of red cherry and red berry fruits with savory bent. Well-concealed tannins, good cherry
and oak counter play, finishing with some cherry goodness. A solid offering, but in this vintage lacks engaging
Saffron Fields Vineyard Chemical engineers, Dr. Angela Summers and Sanjeev Lahoti, hail from Houston,
Texas. As they became wine enthusiasts, they visited the Willamette Valley in 2003, met with a realtor and
found a grass seed farm on Laughlin Road in Yamhill near Willakenzie Estate, Lénne Estate and Deux Verts
Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. They developed the property, traveling to the site several times a year,
staying in a small shack on the vineyard. They planted the first 12 acres of Pommard clone Pinot Noir in 2007,
and added 12 more acres in 2009. Today there are 32 acres of Pinot Noir (clones are Pommard, Wädenswil,
115, 667, 777, and “828”) and 3 acres of Chardonnay (clones 76 and 548). The vineyard is dry farmed using
sustainable practices (LIVE certified). Their initial grapes were bought by winemaker Tony Rynders who
became their winemaker. The barn on the property was disassembled and the wood salvaged to be used in a
tasting room constructed on site. The architecturally alluring and serene tasting room opened in 2013 and
contains the owners’ personal collection of contemporary art and houses art exhibits as well. A Japanese-styled
garden, orchard, vegetable garden and sculpture garden were added.
2013 Saffron Fields Vineyard Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., 300 cases, $40. Released September
7, 2015. 39% Yamhill-Carlton, 33% Eola-Amity Hills, 17% Chehalem Mountains, and 11% Ribbon Ridge. Aged
15 months in French oak barrels, 25% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very shy nose, offering
a hint of cherry fruit, but mainly woodland flora. Light to mid weight flavors of cherry, pomegranate, toasty oak
and woody spice. Delicate, with suave tannins, and some uplifting cherry goodness on the finish.
2013 Saffron Fields Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 700 cases, $55.
Released September 7, 2015. Flagship bottling of 4 clones (Pommard, Wädenswil, 115, 777) from Saffron
Fields Vineyard. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 39% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass.
The nose is quite engaging, with aromas of black cherry, blackberry, tea leaves and cassis. Juicy and flavorful,
offering notes of blackberry, black raspberry and blueberry fruits with an earthy underpinning. The fruit is very
expressive and expansive in the mouth, supported by well-concealed, finely ground tannins. The fruit seems to
have been picked at the peak of ripeness.
2013 Saffron Fields Vineyard Heritage Clones Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
501 cases, $50. Released September 7, 2015. 100% Saffron Fields Vineyard. Pommard and Wädenswil
clones. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels, 50% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose
opens slowly to reveal enticing aromas of ripe strawberry, black cherry pie glaze, and dark red rose petal. The
black cherry, black raspberry and mushu plum sauce flavors are front and center in this mid weight plus
offering that combines pleasing extraction with well-honed and balanced tannins. The finish is particularly
notable, with power and length that goes on and on. A charming wine with the guts to age.
Tessier Winery Owner and winemaker Kristie Tacey, CSW, founded her winery in 2009 to focus on small lots
of Pinot Noir, Grenache and Viognier. I have reviewed past vintages with pleasure. Visit
2014 Tessier After Hours California Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 50 cases, $30. A blend of Saveria
(Santa Cruz Mountains) and Morelli Lane (Russian River Valley) vineyards. Aged in neutral French
Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Lovely perfume of fresh cherries,
cranberries and a hint of spicy oak. Light in weight, but flavorful, with a juicy core of cherry fruit
framed by modest tannins. A forward, easy drinking wine that has commendable balance and a
pleasingly silky finish.
2014 Tessier Morelli Lane Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 95 cases, $39. Clones
114 and Pommard. Aged in 25% new French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Deep
aromas of black cherry with a bit of dried herbs. A mid weight complement of black cherry and black raspberry
fruits aims to please, accented with echoes of oak, and backed by ripe fruit tannins that are in sync. The fruit
persists through the mid palate to a vigorous finish of some note.
Wedell Cellars Several Pinot Noir wines from winemaker Maurice Wedell have been reviewed favorably by me in the past year. Visit www.wedellcellars.com.
2011 Wedell Cellars The Row Find Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.28, TA 0.668, 20 cases, $110.
New release. This wine is sourced from a small section of a renowned vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA and
represents the very best barrel from 2011. 100% de-stemmed, 6-day cold soak, fermented in open top micro
bins, gently pressed with a basket press with only free-run juice used. Aged on the lees 30 months in French
oak, 48-month air-dried, second use. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Dark reddish purple color in the glass.
Very ripe fruit aromas including blackest cherry, raisin and black currant. Soft and silky on the palate, with
flavors of dried plum, blackberry and spice and a subtle riff of oak. The wine has the signature Sta. Rita Hills acidity making for
juicy drinking. It can best be described as an individualistic wine with a mature character due to the extended elevage, and has the acidity
to last many years.
2012 Wedell Cellars Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.67, 320 cases, $75. New release. A
blend of clones 5, 113, 115, 667 and 777 from Fiddlestix Vineyard. 100% de-stemmed, 3 to 6-day cold soak,14
days on skins, gently basket pressed. The wine is more than 95% free-run juice. Aged on the lees almost 20
months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas and flavors
of black cherry, tea, dark chocolate and toasty oak in a discreetly rich style featuring silky tannins, and a suave
finish with some persistence.
Windrun Vintners & Négociants A Buellton-based négociant offering wines from grapes grown in vineyards
of Santa Barbara County and coastal California, that represent outstanding value. Industry veteran Ken Brown
oversees the purchase, blending, finishing and bottling of these wines that are produced at Terravant Wine Co.
2012 Windrun San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., pH 3.72, TA 0.53, 1,648 cases,
$23. Sourced from Edna Valley vineyards.
Moderately light reddish purple hue in the glass. The
deeply aromatic nose offers a very pleasing marriage of black raspberry, dark cherry and rose petal
scents. Noticeable fruit presence and a deft touch of oak make this cherry-driven offering a delight.
Nicely balanced, with a modest, but gratifying and elegant finish.
2013 Windrun Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.68, 2,530 cases, $23. A blend of
5 clones grown primarily in the Santa Maria Valley. Fermented in stainless steel and aged in new and used
French and American oak barrels for 6 months.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Shy aromas
of cherry, sandalwood, and tobacco lead to a middleweight styled wine with juicy flavors of cherries and purple
berries. Easy to like, with bright acidity, mild tannins and a pleasing cherry-driven finish, although the oak
overlay is a bit heavy-handed.
2013 Windrun Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.67, 479 cases, $33. A blend of
5 clones from the Lafond Vineyard (Pommard, 115, 777, “828,” and 667). 100% de-stemmed,
fermented in open tanks. Aged in neutral 500-liter puncheons for 10 months with complete
malolactic fermentation in barrels.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of
blackberry jam and woodland lead to a full-bodied charge of blackberry and black raspberry fruit
flavors with an earthy undertone. The prodigious fruit is framed by bold tannins that stick out a bit on
the finish. A fruit-driven wine that is a bit one-dimensional, and the wine’s devilish tannins supersede
the acidity. That said, the fruit is ripe and luscious, and the fruit intensity really holds on to the finish.
2013 2013 [Noble Vines] 667 Monterey Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $13.99. Dijon clones.
Moderate reddish purple color in
the glass. The nose is replete of fruit, offering scents of earth, mushroom and organic flora. Light to mid weight
flavors of black cherry and black tea have an earthy underpinning. Forward drinking, with very modest tannins
and a short finish.
2013 Mark West Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $14.99. A Mark West Appellation Series
Moderate dark reddish purple color in the glass. The uplifting aromas of blackberry, dark cherry and
toasty oak hold up nicely over time in the glass. Plenty to like in this wine with mid weight flavors of black
cherry, black tea and dark chocolate clothed in silky tannins. A solid drinker with a reasonable price as well as good
Santa Lucia Highlands character.
2014 Turtle Vines Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., pH 3.90, TA 0.58, $34. 50% Pommard and
50% Dijon 667 clones from an estate vineyard planted in 2010. 5% whole clusters. Aged in 25% new French
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. The nose is flush with earthy flora and savory herb aromas.
The palate is more fruity, offering middleweight spiced cherry flavor with a pinch of smoky oak. Very sleek and
silky with invisible tannins.
Castello di Amorosa acquires Pillow Rd. Vineyard This 9-acre Pinot Noir (clones Pommard
4, 777, Swan and Calera) and Chardonnay vineyard is located in Sonoma county’s Green Valley of Russian
River Valley just west of the town of Sebastopol. Former proprietors Pat and Anne Stotesbery created Ladera
Vineyards on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley and offered Pinot Noir and Chardonnay under the Pillow Rd.
Vineyard label. Dario Sattui, the owner of Castello di Amorosa, also recently bought Burt Williams’ Morning Dew Ranch Pinot Noir Vineyard in
IPNC 2016: Pinot Noir in the Antipodes This year’s 30th Annual International Pinot Noir
Celebration, July 29-31, 2016, will feature a Master Class in Australian Pinot Noir. The Masters of Ceremonies
James Halliday will join presenters Michael Hill Smith and Tom Carson for Master Class: Australia. World-class
Pinot Noir can be found within the vast island of Australia and I have written and reviewed the wines on
occasion in the PinotFile. I have also traveled to the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria and can vouch for the
high quality of the Pinot Noir produced there. James Halladay staked his claim in the Yarra Valley back in 1985
where he founded the now legendary Coldstream Hills. Michael Hill Smith found a niche for Pinot Noir at
Tolpuddle Vineyard in the Coal River Valley in southeastern Tasmania. Tom Carson crafts his Pinot Noir in
Tuerong, located in the northern reach of the Mornington Peninsula. Enjoy an extensive tasting of Australia’s
best Pinot Noirs, most of which seldom reach the United States (the Aussies like to keep it for themselves). For
information and tickets, visit www.ipnc.org.
Experts Decide if Organic Wine Taste Better An article published in the Journal of the
American Association of Wine Economists (No. 190, “Does Organic Wine Taste Better? An Analysis of Experts’
Ratings”). The authors note that little consensus exists whether eco-certified products are better than their
conventional counterparts. This paper used data from three leading wine rating publications to assess quality
for 74,148 wines produced in California between 1998 and 2009. The results indicated that eco-certification is
associated with a statistically significant increase in wine quality rating.
Ship Compliant 2016 Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipping Report Napa wineries
reached an all-time high shipping record in 2015 with over $1 billion worth of wine shipped directly to
consumers. Consumers continued to favor Oregon wine, with its shipments surging by 14.6% in 2015.
Massachusetts consumers ordered $27.5 million worth of wine in the first year of legal direct-to-consumer
shipping. Since 2010, the value of the direct-to-consumer industry has grown by 66%. Very small wineries
(1,000 to 4,999 cases, which includes a large number of Pinot Noir producers) is composed of 40% of all US
wineries and in 2015, these wineries overtook medium sized wineries for second place ranking of dollar value
of wine shipped with a 13.3% growth. 2015 total sales were $445 million. Pinot Noir decreased from 22%
growth in volume to 2% growth in volume from 2014 to 2015.
U.S. Winery Growth Continues Wine Business Monthly and Wines Vines Analytics reported that the
United States now has 8,702 wineries, up 415 fro, 8,287 last year, a 5 percent increase. 7,061 are bonded and
1,641 are virtual wineries. California leads with 4,054 wineries, Washington is second with 671, Oregon third
with 439, and New York fourth with 339.
2016 World of Pinot Noir The 16th Annual World of Pinot Noir has announced dinners and chefs for
the two day event as well as discounted lodging at the host Bacara Resort. Visit www.worldofpinotnoir.com.
Sip McMinnville Wine & Food Classic The 23rd Annual McMinnville Wine & Food Classic will be
held March 11-13, 2016, inside the Evergreen Space Museum. Purchase wine by taste, glass, bottle or case.
Participants include many small wineries featured in the PinotFile: Cardwell Hill Cellars, Hillcrest Vineyards, J
Wrigley Vineyards, Left Coast Cellars, Potter’s Vineyards, Seufert Winery, Willamette Valley Vineyards. Watch
some of area’s best chefs in the Northwest demonstrate their skills. For tickets, visit www.sipclassic.org.
2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition The competition received a record 7,162
entries, the highest number to date. 65 judges chose the best wines. The Red Sweepstakes Winners were
2013 Runquist Nostro Vino Vineyard Amador County Zinfandel and 2013 Sonnet Wine Cellars Tondre’s
Grapefield Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir. Best of Class winners by price category for Pinot Noir: 2014
Navarro Anderson Valley Pinot Noir ($19.50), 2013 SIMI Winery California Pinot Noir ($23.99), 2014 Seven of
Hearts Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($24), 2013 Balletto Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($29), 2014
Enjoy Premiere Vineyard Santa Barbara Pinot Noir ($35), 2012 Bonneau Sangiacomo Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Pinot Noir ($37.99), 2013 Sonnet Tondre’s Grapefield Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir ($40), 2014 Trattoria
Grappolo Santa Barbara Pinot Noir ($45), 2013 Pellegrini Toboni Oakwild Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot
Noir ($50), and 2012 Hyde Hyde Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir ($65) tie with 2014 Westwood Estate Pommard
Clone Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir ($54). I haven’t formally reviewed the Sonnet Tondre’s Grapefield Pinot Noir
since the 2010 vintage, but I loved it then so no surprise that the 2013 vintage won a Sweepstakes and Best of
Fifth Annual Oregon Chardonnay Celebration 48 Oregon Chardonnay producers will be
featured on February 27, 2016, at the Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg, Oregon. Chardonnay has quietly grown to
be highly popular in Oregon and the quality of the wines have gained worldwide recognition. The International
Pinot Noir Celebration is now guiding this event. This year’s seminar will have Elaine Brown directing a focused
tasting of five winemakers’ interpretation of 2014 Durant Vineyard Chardonnay. On the day before, The Cuvée
Stroll will be held also at the Allison Inn & Spa. This unique tasting event will feature a bounty of Oregon
wineries, artisan food makers and beverage purveyors, and will benefit the ¡Salud! Foundation. For tickets to
the Chardonnay event, visit www.picatic.com/oregon/chardonnay ($150 for seminar and tasting, $75 for
tasting). For The Cuvée Stroll, RSVP to email@example.com ($25).
New Generic Top-Level Domaine Website Endings The newest website endings, .WINE
and .VIN gYLDs are now available to the public for general registration through Donuts Inc., the largest registry
for new “not-com” domain names. During the active two month sunrise period more than 1,300 brand owners
and trademark holders registered .WINE and .VIN domains. Not-coms provide a more descriptive and creative
means for domain owners to brand their business, products and services. Donuts is making available a wide
variety of .WINE and .VIN domains such as Boutique.VIN, Sommelier.WINE, WhereToBuy.Wine and
USA.WINE. For more information, visit www.donuts.domains.
Scientists Detail Pinot Noir Grape Aroma Profile as It Ripens A report in the Journal of
Agricultural and Food Chemistry (“Quantitation of Thioprolines in Grape Wine by Isotope Dilution-Liquid
Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry”) may give an option beyond Brix and acidity in determining
quality of grapes at harvest time. Michael C. Qian and Fang Yuan wanted to develop a way to determine
maturity based on aroma. The researchers identified 49 main odor compounds in young and ripe Pinot Noir
grapes from two consecutive years, 2012 and 2013, using gas chromatography mass spectrometry. Four odor
compounds (thioprolines) were consistently found in mature grapes. Unfortunately, the full article is only
available to subscribers.
PinotFile is a Great Resource The PinotFile website is unique and innovative among all wine review
websites for many features that I believe are underutilized. It is probably the largest general Pinot Noir
database on the planet. Let me point out some of the features:
(1) Almost 2500 wineries (primarily North American) are profiled in the Winery Directory. The list is continuously
being updated and new wineries added almost daily. Winery search can be conducted by appellation or
region or by name.
(2) The Vineyard Directory includes detailed profiles of 1554 California and Oregon Pinot Noir vineyards. This
listing is far from complete, but is an ongoing project.
(3) Wine reviews may be searched by newsletter, winery, appellation or vineyard. Say, you like Pinot Noir from
Bien Nacido Vineyard. You can search for all reviews of wines made from this vineyard. Also, “Notable”
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay reviews can be searched (wines with highest scores or recommendations).
(4) Wineries can link any article or review to their own website by following instructions on each winery’s profile
in the Winery Directory.
(5) A full listing of Pinot Noir festivals is available.
(6) The Travel Directory (Pinot Trail Travel) includes recommended wineries to visit, lodging, restaurants,
activities, etc for each of California and Oregon’s major Pinot Noir winegrowing regions. This entry is
continually being updated.
(7) A listing and link to Grape Radio podcasts I have participated in and recordings at events I have attended
over the years since 2006.