PinotFile: 9.39 March 29, 2014
- Adventures on the Pinot Trail: World of Pinot Noir - The Seminars
- Adventures on the Pinot Trail: World of Pinot Noir: The Tastings
- Talisman: 2010 Pinots are a Giant Step Up from the Ordinary
- Pfendler Vineyards: Exceptional Wines in 2012 Honor Peter Pfendler
- Bernardus Winery: Pinot Noir Transcends the Ordinary
- Winter Games: Taste of International Pinot Noir
- Sips of Recently Tasted California Wines
- Sips of Recently Tasted Oregon Wines
- Pinot Briefs
- On The Pinot Trail: Rocking K Vineyard Cottages
Adventures on the Pinot Trail: World of Pinot Noir - The Seminars
On February 27, 2014, I hit the Pinot Trail to attend four major events in California. Like the song, “Sugartime,”
from the 1950s sung by the McGuire Sisters, it was “Sugar (Pinot) in the morning, Sugar (Pinot) in the evening,
Sugar (Pinot) at suppertime. Be my little sugar, And love me (Pinot) all the time.” The trail first led me to Santa
Barbara for the 14th Annual World of Pinot Noir, then to San Francisco for three more memorable events: a
special retrospective tasting of the wines of Ted Lemon titled “30 Years of Winemaking, 20 years of Littorai,” at
Jardiniere restaurant on March 2, Affairs of the Vine Pinot Noir Summit at The Golden Gate Club on March 9,
and the In Pursuit of Balance seminars and tasting at Bluxome Street Winery on March 10.
I will give a full report on each stop along the Pinot Trail in this issue and those to follow, highlighting some of
the special wines I tasted. Some have accused me of being a Pinot pimp and rightfully so. One of my readers
told me when I asked him what he had been drinking, “As far as what I am drinking, it’s Pinot you bastard, and
it’s your damn fault. Now I empty my bank account at wineries nobody has ever heard of, on wines nobody has
ever drank except you, you pr**k. You have ruined me....and I love it.”
The World of Pinot Noir successfully relocated this year from its long-standing home in Shell Beach to the
Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara. The switch was an easy choice because of the many participating
wineries in the Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Maria Valley and the city of Santa Barbara. This was an impressive
upgrade in venue that was thoroughly welcomed by all attendees despite the onslaught of rain throughout the
weekend. Gone were the crowded tents at The Cliffs Resort in Shell Beach, replaced by a magnificent
ballroom that not only provided plenty of space to comfortably visit and chat with the many producers, but lent
an air of hi-collared ambiance that was more fitting for the regal majesty of Pinot Noir. For me, this was the
BEST World of Pinot Noir experience ever!
Each year I attend the World of Pinot Noir where over 225 wineries from around the world participate and offer
wines to attendees at seminars, dinners and walk-around tastings, and I return with renewed admiration for the
dedication of those who craft these marvelous wines. As always, winemakers, winegrowers and winery owners
were in abundance and eager to talk Pinot. The World of Pinot Noir is a convivial festival that unites the
international community, launches and renews friendships, and allows all present to revel in their good fortune.
Seminar: Burgundy & Oregon: Parallels in Latitudes, Part I
Moderator: Katherine Cole, Journalist and Author from Oregon
Panelists: Steve Goff, Colene Clemens Vineyard, Chehalem Mountains AVA
James Frey, Trisaetum Winery, Ribbon Ridge AVA
Lynn Penner-Ash, Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, Dundee Hills AVA
Rebecca Pittock-Shouldis, Ghost Hill Cellars, Yamhill-Carlton District AVA
Robert Brittan, Brittan Vineyards, McMinnville AVA
Isabelle Meunier, Evening Land Vineyards, Eola-Amity Hills AVA
Oregon’s Willamette Valley is located between the Cascade and Coast ranges. More than 100 miles long and
60 miles at its widest point, the region has infrequent freezes and wide diurnal shifts (summer average high is
78ºF and low 52ºF). Acres of vines by variety: Pinot Noir, 11,053, Pinot Gris 2,175, Chardonnay 684, and
Riesling 259. 88 percent of Oregon Pinot Noir comes from the Willamette Valley. Vintage notes: 2011 had a
late start and was the coldest growing season in 50+ years but a warm, sunny and dry autumn made a
November harvest a success resulting in a classic, cool-climate vintage; 2012 had some hail damage but
overall was a warm growing season making for rich, full-bodied and approachable wines that will undoubtedly
receive high scores.
In this seminar, each of the six sub-appellations of the Williamette Valley were discussed and two wines from
each sub-AVA were offered by a representative producer. I sensed that many of the attendees were unfamiliar
with Oregon Pinot Noir and were quite impressed by the wines.
Chehalem Mountains - Colene Clemens
This is the largest of the six sub-AVAs of the Willamette Valley. It is characterized by the highest elevations and
diverse soils including uplifted sedimentary seabeds, basaltic lava flows and Laurelwood loess (wind-blown
silt). The ridge is up to 1,600 feet elevation with most vineyards located 300 to 800 feet elevation on both the
south and north slope of the ridge. Chehalem Mountains has 100 vineyards, 1,600+ acres of vines, and 31+
Colene Clemens is located in the northwestern part of the AVA across the street from the Ribbon Ridge sub-
AVA at 325 to 650 feet elevation. The soils are primarily sedimentary but with substantial basalt (volcanic) rock.
The wines tend to show more of the red spectrum of fruits and are more delicately structured than the wines
from Ribbon Ridge, representing somewhat of a middle ground between the wines from the volcanic soils of
the Dundee Hills and Eola-Amity Hills and the wines from the sedimentary soils of Yamhill-Carlton and Ribbon
Ridge. A total of 40 acres of Pinot Noir were planted (Pommard, Wädenswil, 115, 667 and 777) between 2006
and 2010. The Victoria Cuvée is the winery’s top offering each year, named after Colene Clemens’ daughter.
50% Pommard and 50% clone 777, aged 11.5 months in 40% new French oak. The wine will easily last 10
2011 Colene Clemens Victoria Cuvée Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir 13.5% alc., 294 cases, $58.
Released fall 2013. 100% de-stemmed, aged 11 months in 42% new French oak barrels. Unfined and
unfiltered. Aromas of black cherries, rose petals, and toasty oak. The broad flavors mimic the aromas with
balanced tannins, generous acidity and a long finish. Outstanding.
2012 Colene Clemens Victoria Cuvée Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir 14.5% alc.. More body and density
than the 2011 vintage, with copious amounts of black cherry fruit accented by spice, citrus and tea. Nicely
integrated tannins and a big, fruit-driven finish. Will benefit from more time in the bottle. Outstanding.
Ribbon Ridge - Trisaetum
Ribbon Ridge is the smallest sub-AVA in the Willamette Valley. It is a 3-mile-long, 1! mile-wide ridge with
mostly Willakenzie (sedimentary) soils with some Dupree silt loam. The sub-AVA has 27 vineyards, 500 acres
of vineyards, and 10 wineries.
Trisaetum has 3 estate vineyards: one each in Yamhill-Carlton, Dundee Hills and Ribbon Ridge. The Ribbon
Ridge Estate Vineyard is 28 acres and has a uniform marine-based sedimentary soil type which is very sandy
and drains quickly. The wines from the Estate Vineyard feature darker fruits and a firm tannic structure.
Although the wines are made from early ripening grapes, the wines are the last released because of the tannin
structure. The Trisaetum Ribbon Ridge Estate Pinot Noir is composed of 40% Pommard, 20% 777, 20%
Wädenswil, and small amounts of 667, 115 and Coury “clone.”
2011 Trisaetum Single Vineyard Ribbon Ridge Estate Pinot Noir 12.8% alc., $55. This wine features dark
cherry and cassis aromas with more red fruits showing up on the palate. The very chewy tannins will need
time to resolve. Great acidity. Very good.
2012 Trisaetum Single Vineyard Ribbon Ridge Estate Pinot Noir 14.4% alc.. Similar to the 2011 vintage
with darker berries on the nose and palate showing more depth and very broad tannins. Needs a few years in
bottle. Very good.
Dundee Hills - Penner-Ash Wine Cellars
Dundee Hills was the first sub-AVA planted in the Willamette Valley (1965). It is located in the heart of the
Willamette Valley with predominantly Jory (volcanic, clay, red) over sedimentary sandstone soils starting at 350
feet elevation. The area is protected from weather by the coastal mountains and is something of a banana belt.
Grapes are generally earlier maturing and harvested first. There are 50 vineyards, and 1,700+ acres of vines
and 37+ wineries. Note: Penner-Ash Wine Cellars is located in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA but sources grapes
from the Dundee Hills. The Pinot Noirs from the Dundee Hills feature red fruits such as strawberry and it said
you can almost taste the red soil in the wines.
Lynn has worked with grapes from almost every sub-AVA, but has a long history with fruit from the Dundee
Hills, beginning with her years of making wine at Rex Hill Winery beginning in 1988. Both wines offered have a
base of clone 777 but have Pommard (Èlléve Vineyard) or 115 (Bella Vida Vineyard) added to provide structure
that 777 lacks.
2012 Penner-Ash Èlléve Vineyard Dundee Hills Pinot Noir This wine features sweet, red berry fruits with
hints of dried tea leaves and spice. The acidity is bright and refreshing. Very good.
2012 Penner-Ash Bella Vida Vineyard Dundee Hills Pinot Noir The darker fruits are lush and mouth filling
backed by mature tannins. Rich and long with layers of flavor. Still a bit tight and in need of cellaring.
Yamhill-Carlton District - Ghost Hill Cellars
Some of the oldest marine sedimentary (Willakenzie) soils in the Willamette Valley are found in the Yamhill-
Carlton District. The region’s elevation varies from 200 to 1,000 feet and sits in the Coastal Range shadow.
There are 45 vineyards, 1,200+ acres of vines, and 41 wineries. In general, the AVA features darker fruits
depending on the vintage with broad, supple and silky tannins, exotic spices including clove and cardamom in
warm vintages and minerality.
The Estate Bayless-Bower Vineyard lies on property owned by the Bayless family since 1906. It sits across the
street from Ken Wright’s Abbey-Claim Vineyard and adjacent Tony Soter’s Mineral Springs Ranch. Rebecca
said that Soter was attracted to this area because the wines offered “more than simple fruitiness.” The
Bayless-Bower Vineyard is planted to 5 clones: Pommard, Wädenswil, 114, 115 and 777.
2011 Ghost Hill Cellars Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir More austerity in this vintage but
appealing red fruits, spice, rose petal and earth notes. Very good.
2012 Ghost Hill Cellars Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir More sweet, rich fruitiness with a note
of sassafras and spice. Outstanding.
McMinnville - Brittan Vineyards
The coastal influence in the McMinnville sub-AVA makes for drier, windier conditions. Typically, the soils are
shallow sedimentary and volcanic over basalt. There are 10+ vineyards, 600 acres of vineyards, and 10
wineries. The Pinot Noirs from McMinnville have a very high concentration of phenolics as well as high acidity
and will age extremely well.
Robert Brittan hales from the Napa Valley where he made Cabernet Sauvignon for many years in the Stag’s
Leap District. He has found it considerably more challenging vinifying Pinot Noir in Oregon. He chose his 128-
acre site in McMinnville because it was challenging and had the potential for producing distinctive wines.
Brittan replanted vineyards on the property and added vines and now has 25 acres planted to Pinot Noir,
Chardonnay and Rhone varieties. The vineyard is on the northern edge of the Van Duzer Corridor so although
it is fairly windy, it is less windy and rainy than the Eola-Amity Hills and is drier and cooler than McMinnville in
general. There are 5 to 6 soil types on the property with variable soil depth. A Balsalt Block Pinot Noir is
sourced from parts of the vineyard with the largest concentration of sub-marine basalt and a Gestalt Block
Pinot Noir from originates from primarily shallower soils.
2011 Brittan Vineyards Basalt Block Willamette Valley Pinot Noir From a cool vintage with a long
maturation period. Bright red and black fruits with fine tannins. Very bright and juicy. Outstanding.
2012 Brittan Vineyards Basalt Block Willamette Valley Pinot Noir A warmer, shorter vintage with no rainfall
during the summer. Less fruitier and more earthy, yet possessing richness. Outstanding.
Eola-Amity Hills - Evening Land Vineyards
The Eola-Amity Hills sub-AVA is located in the Van Duzer Corridor so it receives cooling ocean winds, (it is said
to be “windy as hell.”). There are many soil types but predominantly Nekia (shallow, volcanic) and Jory. There
are 52 vineyards, 1,300+ acres of vineyards, and 27 wineries.
Rajat Parr has only been involved with Evening Land Vineyards for only 3 weeks so his remarks were brief.
Evening Land wines are crafted by Isabelle Meuniere with consulting winemaker from Burgundy, Dominque
Lafon. The wines are from the Seven Springs Vineyard, an east-facing site with Nekia volcanic soils at 300 to
600 feet elevation. Nekia soils are shallower than the volcanic Jory soils in the Dundee Hills. The 120-acre
vineyard was first planted in the 1980s, and is located on the east side of the sub-AVA which is less cool and
windy than the west side. Although Parr has been a proponent of whole cluster inclusion in fermentation, Lafon
is not a fan of stems so there are no stems in the two wines presented at the seminar.
2011 Evening Land Vineyards Seven Springs Estate Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir A blend of the entire
vineyard picked at 19º-20º Brix in mid-October. No tasting notes.
2009 Evening Land Vineyards La Source Seven Springs Estate Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir Picked 5
weeks earlier than the 2011 wines at 25º-26º Brix. Sourced from the heart of the vineyard and aged in 20%
new French oak. No tasting notes.
Seminar: Burgundy & Oregon: Parallels in Latitudes, Part II
Moderator: Katherine Cole, Journalist and Author, Oregon
Featured Burgundy Producer Frédéric Barnier Mason Louis Jadot.
Featured Vineyard Beaune Clos des Ursules
Maison Louis Jadot was founded in 1859 when Louis Henry Denis Jadot set up as a merchant. Vineyard
purchases started with Beaune Clos des Ursules which is featured in the tasting here.
The area covered by the Beaune appellation is vast and complex. The northernmost point is marked by the
Maconnets and the southernmost point by Les Boucherottes (see map). There are over 400 hectares of
planted vineyards, of which 337 hectares are first growths. There are no Grand Cru vineyards but 36 Premier
Crus. Red wines account for 90% of total annual production.
Beaune’s terroirs are based on sedimentary bedrock laid down on the floor of a great ocean during the
Mesozoic era (Jurassic period some 150 to 160 million years ago), and more recent strata formed during the
Quaternary period (the last great ice age). The southern part, where the Clos des Ursules is located, is a
watershed zone with numerous alluvial fans (loam soils with layers of clay on the surface). The vineyards are
on steep slopes of up to 20% to the North and gentler slopes to the South. Most of the vineyards face east-southeast.
The red wines from the central and southern parts are powerful, tannic and deeply colored while those from the
northern area are generally less intensely colored with softer fruit flavors.
The Clos des Ursules is a walled portion of the Beaune 1er Cru Vignes Franches, an area whose vineyards
were exempt from taxes during the middle ages. It owes its name to the religious order of Saint Ursula which
was created in France in 1586. The nuns of this order arrived in Beaune in 1626 and based themselves in the
building that is now the town hall. The order acquired the Clos in 1676 when it was designated as follows: ‘A
walled vineyard within the boundaries of Beaune.’ Louis Henry Jadot bought the vineyard in 1826 and it has
been owned continuously since by the Jadot family.
The most recent plantings date to the mid-1970s, but more than half the vines were planted during the 1950s.
With a total area of little more than 2 hectares, this Clos produces structured wines which are firm and rich.
The aromas are complex and slightly earthy and the finish long and lush. Tannins are firm. These wines age
extremely well over the course of 10 to 15 years with proper cellar conditions.
Fermentation is carried out naturally in open tanks without stems. The wine usually undergoes a fairly long
fermentation of 25 to 33 days to extract color, tannins and aromas. The different lots are vinified separately
and then aged in oak barrels for 15 to 18 months. Blending is performed at the end of vinification.
My general impressions of the wines were as follows. All wines had notable acidity and firm, prominent
tannins. The red fruit was delicate in comparison to the tannins and acidity, with both of the latter standing out.
Some wines had green notes. The 1985, 2005 and 2010 wines had the best balance. The Clos des Ursules
wines are definitely food wines and not terribly appealing on their own in lesser vintages, at least at a relatively young age. The 1985 vintage wine, now nearly 30 years old, revealed the marvelous ability of these wines to age, and showed that these wines need time.
1985 Louis Jadot Beaune Clos des Ursules A very charming, well-preserved wine with moderately deep
color, aromas and flavors of earthy cherry, brown spice and mocha.
1990 Louis Jadot Beaune Clos des Ursules Slightly vegetal in a good way with a long, lush finish showing a
hint of baking spices.
1997 Louis Jadot Beaune Clos des Ursules A rugged wine with dominant tannins, very delicate red cherry
and berry fruits, and an underlying green streak.
2003 Louis Jadot Beaune Clos des Ursules Very dusty and rustic with secondary characters of old book,
caramel and chocolate truffle. Plenty of tannin. Seems to have aged faster than other wines.
2005 Louis Jadot Beaune Clos des Ursules An impressive wine with good richness of black cherry fruit.
The fruits are riper and darker in this vintage with noticeable mid palate fullness and length. The firm tannic
backbone is well proportioned.
2008 Louis Jadot Beaune Clos des Ursules Similar in flavor profile to the 2005 vintage but leaner with more
tannin and prominent citrus-driven acidity.
2009 Louis Jadot Beaune Clos des Ursules Lean and green, reserved and tight, with muscular tannins
overwhelming the submerged fruit. Needs time.
2010 Louis Jadot Beaune Clos des Ursules Remarkably forward with a plethora of pretty cherry fruit
underlain with spice. Very fresh with balanced tannins, bright acidity, and remarkable length on the generous
A Maison Louis Jadot Burgundy Dinner was held Saturday night, March 1, in the Miro Restaurant Wine Cellar
at Bacara Resort.
Seminar: The Insider Wines of the Cote d’Or
Presenter: Donald P. Kinnan, CSS, CWE, Secretary of Society of Wine Educators
I did not attend this seminar but it was recorded for later posting on Grape Radio (www.graperadio.com) and
the World of Pinot Noir website (www.wopn.com). This was a 3-hour presentation focusing on the “insider
wines” of the Cote d’Or. The insider wines are often sought out by knowledgeable Burgundy enthusiasts who
enjoy their value and pleasure, while the more expensive, high-profile wines are saved for special occasions. In
addition, there was a detailed discussion of the mountain of Corton, location of the Cote d’Or’s greatest
expanse of Grand Cru vineyard acreage.
The 12 wines presented and discussed:
2012 Domaine Collotte Marsannay Rose
2010 Domaine Bruno Clair Marsannay “Les Longeroies”
2010 Domaine Pierre Gelin Fixin “Clos Napoleon”
2010 Domaine Jean-Marc et Hugues Pavelot Pernand-Vergelesses
2010 Domaine Simon Bize Savigny-Les-Beaune “Les Narbontons”
2010 Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret Savigny-Les-Beaune “Les Narbontons”
2010 Domaine Jean et Giles Lafouge Auxey-Duresses “La Chapelle”
2010 Domaine Philippe Colin Chassagne-Montrachet “Les Chenes”
2010 Domaine Vincent Girardin Santenay “Les Gravieres”
2006 Domaine Vincent Girardin Corton-Charlemagne
2005 Domaine D’Ardhuy Corton “Clos due Roi”
Eric Anderson and I recorded a conversation with Donald about his career and his personal insight into
Burgundy. This will also appear on Grape Radio and the World of Pinot Noir website.
Seminar: Hollywood & The Vine
Moderator: Sara Schneider, Wine Editor for Sunset Magazine
Panelists: Frank Ostini, Hitching Post II Restaurant & Hitching Post Wines,
Chris Burroughs, Tasting Room at Sanford Winery in Movie ‘Sideways’
DLynn Proctor, Penfolds Winemaking Ambassador
Brian McClintic MS, Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant
This was a highly entertaining seminar that was very informative, yet filled with laughs because the panel was
very animated and unpretentious. Both Proctor and McClintic appeared in the documentary film ‘Somm,’ and
they spoke about their experience. Burroughs was in the popular film ‘Sideways,’ and Ostini owns the
restaurant that was a central focus of the film and where several scenes were shot. They provided
considerable insight into the making of the film and the impact it had on Santa Barbara County wineries. Sara
Schneider did a marvelous job harnessing the lively panel.
The most interesting takeaway from this seminar was an outline provided that detailed how potential master
sommelier candidates evaluate wines blind to arrive at the final determination of wines including grape variety,
country and region of origin, old world versus new world, age of wine, and vintage. Proctor and McClintic were
presented with wines blind and went through the outline in the manner they would follow to identify a wine.
They didn’t guess all the wines, but were remarkably close on ones they missed. One pearl I learned is that the
sensation of sweetness on the palate in a wine comes from three sources: ripeness of fruit, alcohol and oak.
Here is the outline:
Adventures on the Pinot Trail: World of Pinot Noir: The Tastings
The walk-around Grand Tastings at the World of Pinot Noir, like similar tastings at other events, are not a venue
for serious, extensive wine tasting. Admittedly, the best way to critically evaluate or even thoroughly enjoy
Pinot Noir is to taste it over time. As wine writer Eric Asimov said several years ago, “Part of what makes Pinot
Noir so exciting is it’s elusive nature. From one moment to the next, the aromas and flavors of a good Pinot
Noir change in the glass, making it difficult to pin down.” Not infrequently at these tastings, the host pops the
cork on a bottle in front of you and pours you an ounce or so without giving any time for the wine to open up.
That said, evaluating wines in this setting is an acquired skill that enables the experienced taster to develop
lasting impressions gained by brief flings with a wine. It has been said that Pinot Noir is like love, when the
right one comes along, you know it.
The photos below will give you a feel for the Grand Tastings held in the large ballroom at the Bacara Resort. You can sense the buzz in the room.
Some of the wines were available in a quiet setting in a room for members of the media to taste and I took
advantage of this as well. This is not as fun as tasting in the presence of winemakers that you can get to know.
As Tim Atkin MW has said, “The character, ambition and talent of the person who made it is highly relevant to
how that wine tastes. I want to know about these things, just as I want to know about vintage conditions,
personal eccentricities, and a winemaker’s take on the world. All those things make wine different; all these
things make wine special.”
Clearly, I could not taste every wine or even all the offerings of every producer. There were, however, select
wines that grabbed my attention and I have listed them here and in some cases provided brief comments.
These are wines that are worth further exploration. Do not stress if you cannot find a particular wine, and do
not feel that my choices are sacred cows. I have learned at these events by asking others what their favorite
wines were, that more often than not their choices do not match all the wines that I preferred. In spite of the
potential differences in palate preference, I do recommend paying attention to the producer’s name.
Many of the wines tasted are from the glorious 2012 vintage and not released yet. I did not taste wines from
wineries that I review regularly in the PinotFile.
2012 Alma Rosa La Encantada Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir Dependable Richard Sanford tirelessly promotes
his wines and region, and never seems to lack for enthusiasm at the many events at which he pours his wines.
He has put his financial setbacks behind him, and continues to eagerly offer a range of top flight wines at
sensible prices. He knows this vineyard intimately as he originally planted it. Still very young, but offering an
appealing floral nose and a luscious core of earth-kissed red fruits backed by bright acidity. A quintessential
Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir.
2012 Babcock Winery Slice of Heaven Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir From Block 14 at Rita’s Crown Vineyard.
The lengthy story of “Slice of Heaven” is detailed by Brian Babcock on the winery’s website. A cherry bombast
with plenty of likable cherry aroma and flavor with a substantial finish of uncommon length.
2012 BARDEN Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 14.3% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.60, 178 cases, $82. My first experience
with this wine from Margerum Wine Company vinified by winemakers Jason Barrette and Doug Margerum. 30% whole cluster,
natural fermentation, aged in 50% new French oak barrels for 9 months, bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Beautifully balanced with a tasty core of middleweight cherry fruit.
2011 Bernardus Pinot Noirs This excellent wines are detailed in a feature elsewhere in this issue.
2011 Brittan Vineyards Basalt Block McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Sourced from parts of
vineyard that have the heaviest concentration of sub-marine basalt resulting in low yielding vines that produce
intense flavors. Impressive fruit intensity and vividness with a balanced, firm tannic backbone, and a long,
pleasing finish with a spark of citrus.
2011 Brittan Vineyards Gestalt Block McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot
Noir Sourced from the west-facing and most exposed blocks in the vineyard,
resulting in a wine that is transparent to its vintage. A little darker in color than
the Basalt, offering luscious plum and blackberry fruits, substantial tannins, and
a lip smacking, acid-driven finish.
Charlie Heintz produces less than 1,000 cases of Pinot Noir Rosé, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah from
Heintz Ranch under the Heintz and Dutch Bill Creek labels. The winemaker is veteran Hugh Chapelle. I spent
quite a while talking with Charlie who is extremely passionate about his vineyard and wines. I have always
relished Chardonnays from Heintz Vineyard but the Pinot Noir was a surprise and the Syrah was one of the
most memorable wines I tasted at World of Pinot Noir. Most of Charlie’s fruit is sold to name California
producers including Ceritas Wines, DuMOL, DeLoach Vineyards, Flowers Winery, Freeman Vineyards &
Winery, Littorai, Moone Tsai, Peay Vineyards, Peirson Meyer Wines, Williams Selyem, and Zepaltas Wines.
2012 Charles Heintz Vineyards Heintz Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 143 cases, $45. Aromas of
lemon curd, roasted nuts, and citrus lead to a full-flavored core of rich citrus fruits and chalky minerality.
2012 Charles Heintz Vineyards Heintz Vineyard Sonoma Coast Syrah 200 cases, $46. I wasn’t going to
taste this wine as I rarely drink Syrah, but Charlie insisted and was I glad. This is cool-climate Syrah at its best.
2 acres of Syrah grown with very low yields. Drinks like a Pinot Noir, with a silky texture and
impeccable balance. Enticing flavors of red stone and berry fruits with hints of spice and oak. A flat-out
2012 Cirq Estate Treehouse Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir Winemaker Michael Browne’s own label made from
his own vineyard farmed by partner Charlie Chenoweth. California’s next cult Pinot Noir. Despite being bottled
only two weeks prior, this wine was very forward and giving. Velvety soft tannins caressed the intense core of
plum, blackberry and black raspberry fruits. My notes say, “Drinking great.” Allocated.
2012 Couloir Wines Sebastiano Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 33% whole cluster fermentation. The
bright acidity of the Sta. Rita Hills is on full display bringing the layers of red and black fruits to life. Beautifully
crafted with impeccable balance and a finish that is reluctant to go away.
2012 Couloir Wines Chileno Valley Vineyard Marin County Pinot Noir 13.8% alc., TA 0.68, 193 cases,
$44. 25% whole cluster. Aged in about 15% new French oak barrels, unfined and unfiltered. Relatively light in
color, but packs a wallop of well-spiced red fruits. A very generous wine that ranks among the best I have ever
tasted from this small appellation. Love this!
2012 Couloir Wines Monument Tree Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 14.2% alc., TA 0.50, 197 cases, $46.
Clones 777, 667 and 115, 50% whole cluster, aged 11 months in 35% new French oak barrels. A lovely, but
powerfully flavored wine with plenty of well-ripened red cherries and berries with a hint of spice and oak.
2012 Couloir Wines Campbell Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir This wine has the typical whole cluster
floral display on the nose which I find extremely enticing. Modest in weight, but tasty, with an array of berry
fruits backed by sinewy tannins. Still young, but provocative.
2011 Domaine Carneros La Terre Promise Carneros Pinot Noir 14.5% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.68. Translated
as “The Promised Land,” this bottling features Dijon 667 from La Terre Promise Vineyard. Some of the grapes
from this vineyard go into Domaine Carneros sparkling wines as well. Very soft and smooth on the palate with
a hardy core of sappy fruit, backed by complimentary oak. The tannins are quite suave and the wine is
2012 FEL Savoy Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 14.6% alc., $50. A
new label established in March 2014 by Lede Family Wines in Napa Valley who
purchased the Savoy Vineyard. FEL represents Florence Elsie Lede. The
winemaker is Ryan Hodgins. The winery also offers a special selection of four
barrels of Savoy Vineyard labeled Breggo Spiritus. Glorious aromas of black
cherry pie glaze, spice, earth and oak come together beautifully. The mid weight
earth-kissed dark cherry core is delicious and carries its intensity through a long
finish. Very silky in the mouth, with soft tannins and easy drink ability. One of
the top Pinots I tasted at the World of Pinot Noir. Allocated.
2012 Gary Farrell Hallberg Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Theresa Heredia has now settled in
as winemaker and has put her stamp on the wines. They feature the Gary Farrell style with a little more
structure and aromatic charm. This wine features the luscious fruit this vineyard is known for especially in this
glorious vintage accented with an array of exotic spices. Great.
2012 Gary Farrell Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir A typical Bien Nacido offering with
aromas of violets and herbs, earthy red and black fruits, and an uplifting finish showing a touch of dried herbs.
2010 Ghost Hill Cellars Prospector’s Selection Bayless-Bower Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette
Valley Pinot Noir A bright wine with appealing red cherry and blueberry fruits with seamless balance and a
refreshingly crisp finish. Just now flashing its best stuff.
2010 Gundlach Bundschu Winery Heritage Selection Carneros Pinot Noir $55. The winery’s 153-year-old
estate 320-acre vineyard, Rhinefarm, is located at the southernmost point in Sonoma Valley. This limited
bottling is made from some of the oldest vines on the property dating to 1934. This was a surprise for me as I
had never sampled this Heritage Selection bottling and found it to be a very special wine. Highly aromatic with
scents of black cherries, black plum sauce and floral attaché. Intensely flavored and very complex, yet
polished and refined with soft tannins and an amazingly long finish displaying copious black cherry goodness
accented with oak. Allocated.
2011 Gypsy Canyon Trois Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir No tasting room, a smart beautiful woman on stunning
acreage doing what makes her happy. Deborah Hall pretty much single handedly tamed the large property into
a haven of grapes, rescued dogs and fulfilled dreams. Consistently one of my favorite wines from this AVA, this
three vineyard blend is a special selection of barrels. Each wine is presented in special hand-blown glass
bottles. A very feminine, elegant wine with fresh aromas and flavors of red cherries and baking spice.
Reflective of the vintage in its delicacy, but highly satisfying. Wait List.
2011 Hartford Family Winery Velvet Sisters Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 14.6% alc., pH 3.81, TA 0.52, $65.
The “Velvet Sisters” are local Anderson Valley historical figures who in the language of Boontling lore became
known for wearing plush velvet dresses that they had bought on a trip to British Columbia. Sourced from a
block within the Falk Vineyard planted to Pommard, 115, 667 and 777. Aged 14 months in 50% new French
oak barrels. All the 2011 Hartford Family Pinot Noirs poured at the event were quite special but this one really
stood out for me. Very bright and vivid fruit extract featuring aromas and sappy flavors of black cherries,
boysenberries, and baking spice. Concentrated, yet refined and silky. Gorgeous.
2011 Hartford Family Winery Hailey’s Block Arrendell Vineyard Green Valley of Russian River Valley
Pinot Noir 14.9% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.60, 270 cases, $65. This block, named after Don and Jennifer Hartford’s
daughter, Hailey, was planted in 1996 to Dijon 114 and 777 when Hailey was 6 years old. Unfined and
unfiltered. Hi-tone aromas of red plum and raspberry echoed on the palate with added nuances of spice. The
electric backbone of acidity charges the wine with energy and leads to a mouth watering finish.
2011 Hartford Family Winery Arrendell Vineyard Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 14.5%
alc., pH 3.36, TA 0.67, 235 cases, $90. This vineyard is located in the coldest spot in the Green Valley sub-appellation
of the Russian River Valley AVA. First planted in 1975, it struggles to ripen one ton per acre of
heirloom selections of Pinot Noir. The high natural acidity creates the potential for extended aging. Enticing
aromas of black cherry pie glaze, red raspberry jam and dried herbs. Crisp on the palate with a bright cut of
acidity, bringing to life the core of cherry, blueberry and raspberry fruits. The finish is juicy and long.
2012 Masút Block 6 Estate 115 Mendocino County Pinot Noir Brothers Ben and Jake Fetzer are the
owners, growers and winemakers. They work with several clones of Pinot Noir planted on 35 acres in
Mendocino County’s coastal mountains. Nicely perfumed with aromas of black cherries and black plums with
hints of spice. Dreamy softness on the palate with flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and cola with a
subtle note of supportive oak in the background.
2011 Masút Estate Vineyard Mendocino County Pinot Noir 14.3% alc., $40. Aged 11 months in 35% new
French oak barrels. Highly aromatic with scents of black raspberry preserves, black cherries and toasty
brioche. The flavors echo the aromas with an underlying touch of spice and earth. Mild tannins make for easy
drinking now and the finish is quite generous and memorable.
2012 Pfendler Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and 2012 Pfendler Sonoma Coast Chardonnay - see feature in
this issue. Both are extraordinary wines and the best ever from this producer.
2012 R² Wine Company S&B Sanford & Benedict Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
150 cases, $56. One of the limited quantity Pinot Noirs from the team that
formerly owned Roessler Vineyards. Winemaker is Drew Huffine. A beautiful
wine with highly expressive dark red fruits on the nose and palate, filling the
mouth with pleasure, and exiting with a persistent, earth-toned, fruit-driven finish.
2012 R² Wine Company 3-3-3 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 150 cases, $50. A blend of the three best barrels
of the vintage. Aged in 60% new French oak barrels. A gorgeous wine that exudes charm and elegance,
featuring bright cherry, strawberry and cola aromas and flavors. Harmonious with a generous finish.
2012 Reuling Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 1,000 cases, $70. This
vineyard was planted in 2000 and comprises 12.2 acres of Pinot Noir (Calera
and two Burgundian suitcase selections) and 2.2 acres of Chardonnay
selections from Montrachet Vineyard. After selling fruit to Aubert and Peter
Michael for ten years, owners Tim and Jackie Reuling decided to produce their
own wines with winemaker Matt Taylor. 25% whole cluster. Lovely aromas of
cherries, spice and subtle oak. Mid weight flavors of black cherry with a savory,
spicy undertone and bright supporting acidity.
2012 Reuling Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 14.0% alc., pH 3.46, TA 0.56, 350 cases, $70. Pressed
whole cluster to barrel, barrel fermented, 100% native yeasts, aged 10 months in 50% new and 50% used
French oak barrels. This wine really caught my attention with its aromas of lemon, peach and petrichor (dirt
after rain). The creamy palate featured white stone fruits, lemon curd, and crème brûlée supported by lively
acidity. The finish is long and refreshing. An extraordinary offering.
2009 Sonoma Coast Vineyards Balistreri Family Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 14.4% alc., 50
cases (re-release), $75. Vinified by winemaker Anthony Austin. Harvest ended at the start of November ahead
of the rains. 25% whole cluster. Extended 10-day cold soak, spontaneous wild fermentation. Drinking now in
its prime with rich black cherry and black raspberry fruit complimented by earthy flora notes and spice.
Seamless, with a bombastic finish.
2010 Talisman Wines Adastra Vineyard Los Carneros Pinot Noir 243 cases, $56. Pinotcentric winery with
exquisite Pinot Noirs crafted by Scott Rich. 113, 2A and Pommard. Darkly colored and dark fruit driven with
aromas and flavors of blackberries, boysenberries and subtle oak. Very sleek and soothing on the palate,
finishing with a burst of fruit. Has some bottle age and drinking beautifully now. Check out feature with review
of all 2010 releases in this issue.
2011 Trombetta Family Wines Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 14.2% alc., 530 cases,
$58. Mother and daughter duo Rickey Trombetta Stancliff and Erica Stancliff share a passion for fine Pinot
Noir. This wine is crafted by Erica and consulting winemaker Paul Hobbs. Clones 777, Swan and “828.”
Harvest Brix 25º. Native fermentations, aged 9 months in 50% new French oak barrels. Effusive aromas of
mixed berry preserves with hints of earth and mocha. Bright and lively on the palate with a broad array of berry
fruits accented by spice and vanilla. An elegant, polished wine of great charm.
2012 Twomey Monument Tree Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir A new release and the first Twomey
Pinot Noir with the Monument Tree Vineyard designation. A seamless wine in the Twomey style with juicy
acidity charging the discreetly concentrated dark red cherry and berry fruit. Hedonistic flavor, yet refined in
character. Highly enjoyable.
Wayfarer Pinot Noir was the most exciting find at this year’s World of Pinot Noir. This new label from Jayson
and Cleo Pahlmeyer features estate grown Wayfarer Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The Wayfarer Vineyard is 30 acres of Goldridge soil hidden among the redwoods two coastal ridges from the
Pacific Ocean. Formerly a family owned organic farm known as ‘Wayfarer,’ and just down the mountain road
from Marcassin Vineyard in the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA, Helen Turley declared it destined to be “the La Tache
of California.” Considerable effort was needed to transform the property in the remote Sonoma Coast
wilderness into a world-class vineyard. Viticulturist David Abreu divided the site into 30 one-acre blocks, each
dedicated to a single clone determined to be the best match for the block: 16 clones in all. The Wayfarer fruit
was blended into Pahlmeyer’s Sonoma Coast wines beginning in 2005. I visited the vineyard in 2004 with then
Pahlmeyer winemaker Erin Green (see The PinotFile, Volume 3, Issue 24). The wines are vinified now by
talented winemaker Bibiana González Rave who was trained in viticulture and winemaking in the vineyards of
France. I have been impressed with her talent and drive since our first meeting at the World of Pinot Noir when
I interviewed her for Grape Radio. The scheduled inaugural releases will be in the fall of 2014. My advice is to
get on the mailing list now while you can at www.wayfarervineyard.com.
2012 Wayfarer Estate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 5-7% whole cluster.
2012 Wayfarer Golden Mean Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 25% whole cluster.
2012 Wayfarer The Traveler Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 32% whole cluster. A DRC suitcase selection.
The wines are still a bit tight and thus won’t be released until fall. That said, these were the best Pinot Noirs I
tasted at the World of Pinot Noir. I was so enraptured that I failed to write any tasting notes except “a fiesta in
the mouth: WOW!”
Very Good (86-89)
2012 Alma Rosa Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir $35, screwcap. Very approachable, ideal dinner wine.
2011 Babcock Winery Appellation’s Edge Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir $60 (sold out). Sourced from Radian
Vineyard Blocks 32 (Pommard) and 33 (Dijon 115). Grown at the extreme western edge of the Sta. Rita Hills
2011 Baxter Winery Valenti Vineyard Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir 12.5% alc., $45. Fermented with 30%
whole cluster using native yeast. Aged in all neutral French oak barrels for 20 months and then aged 12
months in bottle.
2012 Bruliam Wines Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir Dijon clones 777 and 115. 100%
de-stemmed. Aged 10 months in 40% new French oak barrels.
2012 Cebada Vineyard Estate Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir $42. Part of Forbidden Fruit Orchards, a
boutique farm and winery located between Buellton and Lompoc, just west of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Clones
2A, 115, Calera and Pommard 4. Aged in about one-third new and two-thirds neutral French oak barrels.
2012 Charles Heintz Vineyards Heintz Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 200 cases, $48.
2013 Charles Heintz Vineyards Heintz Vineyard Sonoma Coast Rosé $19.
2011 Domaine de la Côte Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 12.5% alc., 645 cases, $45. 50% whole cluster.
2012 EnRoute Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Hartford Family Winery Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
2011 Hartford Family Winery McEvoy Vineyard Marin County Pinot Noir
2011 Joseph Jewell Floodgate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
2011 Joseph Jewell Hallberg Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
2011 Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir $55. 59% Pastorale Vineyard and 41%
Quarter Moon Vineyard. 17% whole clusters. Aged 14 months in 40% new and 60% two-to-three-year-old
French oak barrels.
2012 Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir
2011 Kitá Wines Hilliard Bruce Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 13.5% alc., $60. Wines produced by
winemaker Tara Gomez and assistant winemaker Tymari LoRe. Aged in 40% new French oak barrels.
2012 Kitá Wines Hilliard Bruce Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir Unreleased.
2012 Left Coast Cellars Cali’s Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir $24. A blend of grapes from the Left
Coast vineyards, crafted from a wide variety of clonal and rootstock combinations. Dijon clones 115, 667 and
2011 McEvoy Ranch “The Evening Standard” Marin County Pinot Noir 195 cases, $45. Known for olive
oil, but now producing wine under the McEvoy Ranch label. The winemaker is Dr. Maurizio Castelli assisted by
2012 Paul Lato “Atticus” Sebastiano Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir $70. A blend of 115 and Swan selection.
As usual, the Paul Lato booth was swamped with people so I gave a wave and tasted a bit of this wine out of
2012 R² Wine Company Hein Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $48. Limited production.
2011 R² Wine Company Black Pine California Pinot Noir $26. 80% Sonoma Coast fruit.
2012 RN Estate Solomon Hills Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 205 cases, $55. Clones 115, 667 and
Pommard. Aged 10 months in 40% new French oak barrels.
2012 Seagrape Wine Company “Jump Up” Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 192 cases, $40. Produced by Dave
Steinwachs and winemaker Karen Steinwachs, the winemaker for Buttonwood Farm Winery and a long time
board member of World of Pinot Noir. A blend from Rancho la Viña Vineyard (777) and Rancho Santa Rosa
Vineyard (667). 25% whole cluster from Rancho la Viña aged in 15% new French oak and 100% de-stemmed
from Rancho Santa Rosa aged in once-used French oak.
2012 Seagrape Wine Company Rancho La Viña Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 24 cases, $40. From a 1-acre
“Seagrape block” planted to clone 777. 25% whole cluster.
2011 Sonoma Coast Vineyards Bodega Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 14.6% alc., 196 cases,
2012 Twomey Soberanes Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
2011 Wren Hop Vineyards “Wisdom & Chaos” Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 375 cases, $62.
Dijon clones 115 and 667. Raised in 100% new French oak barrels.
Talisman: 2010 Pinots are a Giant Step Up from the Ordinary
I need to do a shout out about the outstanding 2010 Talisman Pinot Noirs. I have been a long time fan of the
wines, but somehow I drifted away and did not taste the lineup of the 2009 wines. I am here to tell you that the
2010 Pinot Noirs are incredibly beautiful wines with impeccable balance and superior age worthiness. The
2010 vintage is the current release for Talisman as winemaker Scott Rich holds the wines back a minimum of
one year since he feels strongly that they benefit from extra time before release. Believe me, they are READY
to drink now. The impeccable balance suggests a long life ahead and I would not hesitate to cellar these wines
for ten years.
Winemaker Scott Rich learned his craft under Tony Soter while working at Etude in Carneros. Along with his
spouse Marta, who is also the National Sales Manager for Calera, they started their own label in 1993. Scott is
a lover of unique terroir and he searches judiciously for vineyards that are challenging and on the edge. He
says, “I like to express terroir and that is the beauty of Pinot Noir. Terroir comes through in the more extreme
Each of his wines are vinified in about 5 barrel lots. I have tasted a number of older vintages and can testify
that they age extremely well. The wines were bottled in July of 2012 and represent both fall 2013 and spring
The winery is in a bare bones warehouse in Sonoma as part of the Eighth Street Wineries. Nothing fancy, just
great wines. The winery is open several times a year during regional and local open house events, and Scott
and Marta pour at many major Pinot Noir festivals including this recent World of Pinot Noir event in Santa
Barbara. Tasting by appointment is available in a building that is over 110 years old in the heart of historic Glen
Ellen. The tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday by appointment. Visit www.talismanwine.com.
I can’t tell you how impressed I was with every Pinot Noir I tasted in the 2010 lineup. They are all outstanding,
so the scores simply reflect my personal taste and critical preferences. In any case, you can’t go wrong with
any of the wines.
2010 Talisman Spring Hill Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 244 cases, $44. Release April
2014. The vineyard is located on a wind-blown ridge west of the town of Petaluma.
Medium reddish purple
color in the glass. The aromas are so appealing one wants to dive into the glass. Scents of red cherry, spice,
herbs and oak in perfect harmony. The cherry core of fruit is complimented by an oak sheen. Lighter in weight
with mild tannins and some finishing intensity and length, offering good lip-smacking acidity. A good example
of how oak brings out the best in Pinot Noir. The most interesting wine I have had from this vineyard.
2010 Talisman Weir Vineyard Yorkville Highlands Pinot Noir
alc., 243 cases, $65. Released October 2013. A unique site with very
cold night time temperatures and gravelly, well-drained soils.
light garnet color in the glass. Shy, but pleasing aromas of cherry,
raspberry, blueberry and dark chocolate. Charming essence of sweet,
dark red cherries and berries with a hint of lovable spice on the palate.
Seamless with integrated tannins and a long, intensely fruited finish. This wine
just speaks class. Everything you like in Pinot Noir from a very special vineyard.
2010 Talisman Wildcat Vineyard Los Carneros Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 242 cases, $44. Release
April 2014. This vineyard has the highest elevation of any vineyard in the Los Carneros AVA. Red,
pebbly clay loam soils born of decomposed volcanic basalt. The site is exposed to a cool air flow from
San Pablo Bay. Clones are Dijon 115, 667, 777 and Swan.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass.
The nose is spectacularly endowed with aromas of boysenberry, wood spice and anise. Soft in the
mouth with a plethora of purple and blue berry flavors underlain with an earthy riff. Very mild fine grain
tannins, perfect integration of oak, and a satisfying, intensely flavored finish. An evocative wine.
2010 Talisman Red Dog Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 241 cases, $52. Released
October 2013. This vineyard is located high above Bennett Valley at 800 feet elevation on the northwestern
side of Sonoma Mountain. A very low-yielding site.
Medium reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas
of red cherries, cinnamon and other spices, and old cask. Round and polished on the palate, featuring flavors
of black cherries with a hint of tobacco and oak in the background. The most rustic, earthy and savory of the
lineup. A noticeable lift of acidity on the finish is refreshing.
2010 Talisman Adastra Vineyard Los Carneros Pinot Noir
alc., 243 cases, $56. Release April 2014. An organically farmed and
certified vineyard tended by Chris Thorpe and his son-in-law Edwin
Richards. Clones are Wädenswil, Swan, 113 and Pommard.
brings you to attention with deeply fragrant notes of Hoison sauce,
black grapes, blackberries and cardamom spice. Very softly textured,
perfectly composed with a judicious use of oak. Typical Los Carneros
flavors of darker berries, black plum, mushroom and damp soil pervade. The
sweet, perfectly ripened fruit attack makes an impression on the front of the
palate, expands its reach across the mid palate like a silk sheet, and finishes
with a flourish. A transcendent, “Oh My God” wine.
Pfendler Vineyards: Exceptional Wines in 2012 Honor Peter Pfendler
I have been following Pfendler Vineyards since it was founded in 2007 by Kimberly Pfendler. Her late spouse
Peter was the first to plant vineyards in the Gap’s Crown region, and today she honors his legacy with
continued dedication to producing premium Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from her estate vineyards in the
Petaluma Gap region of the Sonoma Coast appellation.
Pfendler Vineyards farms Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on four estate vineyards under the direction of viticulturist
and winemaker Greg Björnstad. This unique region in the Petaluma Gap exhibits a combination of foggy
mornings, sunny days and windy afternoons, allowing cool climate grapes to mature through an extended
The 2012 vintage in the Sonoma Coast was described by Greg as a “relief” after two very challenging and low
yielding vintages in 2010 and 2011. The harvested fruit in 2012 was plentiful in contrast, with remarkable
consistency, quality and ideal balance and structure.
The two 2012 wines reviewed here are the best from Pfendler Vineyards to date and Kimberly must have
considerable solace knowing that she has fulfilled Peter’s legacy. Both wines were released in February 2014
and were poured for the first time at the recent World of Pinot Noir.
Pfendler Vineyards wines are sold on the website at www.pfendlervineyards.com and through a mailing list.
2012 Pfendler Vineyards Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
pH 3.58, TA 0.618, 300 cases, $38. Clones 4 and Hyde-Wente. Brix at
harvest 24º 100% barrel fermented and 100% malolactic fermentation.
8 months sur lees aging and 10 months in 40% new French oak
Moderate golden yellow color with a slight haze (unfiltered) in
the glass. An array of appealing aromas emerge over time in the glass
including lemon, grilled grapefruit, fresh brioche, pastry cream and
toffee. Delicious core of discreetly rich lemon, grapefruit and pineapple fruits
accented with a buttery toffee note. Crisp on the palate with a slight creamy
texture and a bright, refreshing finish. The wine became more appealing over
time in the glass to the point that I hated to stop sipping. My wife, who is quite the Chardonnay connoisseur,
loved this wine as well.
2012 Pfendler Vineyards Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH
3.64, TA 0.586, 350 cases, $45. Pommard clone and Swan and Calera
selections. Harvest Brix 23º. 100% de-stemmed, 7-day whole berry
cold soak, 8 months sur lees aging, 11 months in 50% new French oak
Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Alluring
aromas of fresh red cherries, with hints of spice, mushroom and cedar.
Very polished and elegant in the mouth, featuring ripe darker red cherry
and berry flavors accented with spice and earthiness. Impeccably balanced with
gossamer tannins and a bright, persistent, lip-smacking finish. This wine
conveys a special sense of richness, roundness and brightness you don’t find
everyday in Pinot Noir.
Bernardus Winery: Pinot Noir Transcends the Ordinary
Bernardus Winery owner Ben Pon appreciates wine as an art and his wines reflect this aesthetic. Bernardus
was the fifth winery to establish vineyards in the Carmel Valley and currently has 50 acres planted to Cabernet
Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Sauvignon Blanc. Pon’s goal has been to make a red
wine equal to the finest from Bordeaux and the winery’s resulting Marinus Estate Bordeaux-style red wine has
met that goal and is the centerpiece of the winery’s production. Additionally, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and
Sauvignon Blanc are sourced from cool coastal vineyards for vineyard designate wines.
I have had only passing interest and experience with Bernardus Winery Pinot Noir in the past. Recently, the
winery sent me several 2011 Pinot Noirs to review and this was quite an eye-opening experience. Winemaker
Dean De Korth has applied his training and apprenticeship in Burgundy to craft some extraordinary wines that
are consistently stellar across the entire lineup.
De Korth (pictured below) obtained a degree in Viticulture and Enology at the Lycee in Beaune and the
University of Burgundy in Dijon. He worked for Jean-Marc Pavelot in Savigny-les-Beaune, Domaine des
Comtes Lafon in Mersault, and Olivier Leflaive in Puligny Montrachet, before being offered the position of cellar
master with Pierre Morey in Meursault. Upon returning to his native Monterey Bay area to be closer to his
family, he worked as the winemaker for several prestigious Central Coast wineries including Morgan, Talbott
and David Bruce. He is ideally qualified to apply Old World winemaking techniques in the New World setting at
After hand-sorting, the Pinot Noir grapes are de-stemmed and gently pumped to small fermenters retaining as
many whole berries as possible. Each fermenter is hand-punched or pumped-over twice daily until
fermentation is complete. The solids are then pressed and the wine is aged in barrel 10 months before final
blending and bottling. Vineyard sources are at the top end.
2012 Bernardus Santa Lucia Highlands Saignée de Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 569 cases, $24. Made from
fresh pressed Pinot Noir grapes. As the grapes are crushed, a small percentage of the juice is blend off before
it has a chance to absorb much color from the grape skins. The barely colored juice is then cold fermented in
stainless steel in the winery’s coolest cellar to dryness. A blend from multiple Santa Lucia Highlands vineyards
including Pisoni, Rosella’s, Sierra Mar, Soberanes, Tondré Grapefield, Fairview, Highlands and Paraiso.
Magnetic pinkish red color and clear in the glass. Lovely nose perfumed with strawberries, red cherries,
mangoes, redwood and allspice. The wine is fresh, crisp and bright on the palate with flavors of strawberry, red
cherry and cotton candy with a hint of citrus. Drink this wine slightly chilled with sushi for a big smile.
2011 Bernardus Soberanes Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 312 cases, $55. Vineyard farmed by Gary Pisoni and Gary
Franscioni and located adjacent Garys’ Vineyard. Pisoni “clone” and
Dijon 667. Aged 10 months in 40% new French oak barrels.
reddish-purple color in the glass. I really liked the nose on this beauty
featuring bright aromas of black cherry, blackberry jam, cassis, brewed
tea and oak. The delicious fruit including dark cherries and blackberries really
jumps out. Nicely composed with integrated tannins, and a lengthy, intensely
fruity finish. This wine has broad shoulders but is refined.
2011 Bernardus Sierra Mar Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 336 cases, $55. A newer
vineyard planted by Gary Franscioni on a hilltop at the southern end of the Santa Lucia Highlands. Pisoni
“clone” and “828.” Aged 10 months in 40% new French oak barrels.
Medium reddish-purple color in the glass.
Shy, but pleasant aromas of black cherry pie filling, plum reduction sauce and complimentary oak. Intensely
flavored with layers of black cherry, black raspberry and plum fruit with an earthy underpinning. Bright acidity,
balanced tannins and modest finishing length complete the picture.
2011 Bernardus Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 429 cases, $65. This vineyard was planted by Gary
Franscioni and named after his wife. Pisoni “clone” and Dijon 777.
Aged 10 months in 40% new French oak barrels.
hue in the glass. Highly aromatic and intoxicating, with scents of
cherries, dark strawberries and spice. The delicious core of cherry fruit
is accented with hints of cola and oak-driven mocha. Very
approachable with harmonious tannins and a lovable finish. Shows off the
typical red-toned fruits and femininity characteristic of this vineyard. A dancing
2011 Bernardus Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 165 cases, $65. Planted
to the Pisoni “clone” by Gary Pisoni and Gary Franscioni. Aged 10 months in about 40% new French oak
Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. A masculine wine with a notable earthy accent.
Aromas of darker red cherries and berries and some oak spice. Full-bodied, filling the mouth with layers of
deep red cherry and berry fruits, yet has a pleasing soft texture and nicely integrated tannins. The most
extracted and structured wine in the 2011 Bernardus Pinot Noir lineup that will benefit from more cellaring.
2011 Bernardus Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 508 cases, $70. Aged in
50% new French oak barrels.
Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Demure aromas of dark red
and purple stone and berry fruits with some forest floor compliment. The fruit explodes on the palate with
some fervor, yet with more delicacy in this vintage. Very polished and beautifully balanced, with superb fruit
purity. A whiff of alcohol shows up on the finish. A sophisticated offering that is atypical for Pisoni Vineyard but
reflective of the cool vintage: Pisoni unplugged.
The Bernardus tasting room is open daily at 5 West Carmel Valley Road in Carmel Valley. The wines are also
available through the winery’s wine club and online on the website at www.bernardus.com (the 2011 vintage
wines are net available at the online store offering at the time of this publication).
Winter Games: Taste of International Pinot Noir
Winemaker Jeff Fink held an extensive blind tasting of Pinot Noirs from around the world on February 19, 2014.
The lineup included 2009, 2010 and 2011 Pinot Noir from Burgundy, California, Oregon, South Africa, Italy,
Germany, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina. The tasting was conducted in six flights of four wines each
with a seventh flight at the end consisting of the four highest scoring wines judged to determine the consensus
favorite wine of the evening. This final flight was followed by an unmasking of the identities of all the wines.
The tasters consisted of about 30 Pinot Noir enthusiasts who were friends of Jeff (I didn’t know he had that
Oregon’s Pinot Noirs scored highest, as four out of the top six wines were Willamette Valley selections.
Seasmoke was the grand champion for the second year in a row. Not just any Sea Smoke, but the same wine
in both tastings: the 2009 Southing Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir. Hype meets reality!
Here is a list of the wines:
The wines I preferred in each flight were (see the chart below under “RG,” taster #8.
2010 Pierre Gelin Chambertin Clos De Beze (Also the flight winner for the group of tasters)
2009 Sea Smoke Southing Sta. Rita Hills (Also the flight winner for the group of tasters)
2010 Shea Vineyard Estate Block 7 Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley (Also the flight winner for the group)
2010 Bergström Bergström Vineyard Willamette Valley (Also the flight winner for the group of tasters)
2009 Tantara Bien Nacido Vineyard Adobe Santa Maria Valley
2011 Meyer-Nakel Spätburgunder Ahr Germany
My overall favorite wine was the 2009 Sea Smoke Southing Sta. Rita Hills. 14.5% alc., pH 3.33, TA 0.67, $52.
Exclusively Sea Smoke Estate Vineyard.
Sips of Recently Tasted California Wines
The Balverne name was reintroduced by Windsor Oaks Vineyards & Winery in the 2010 vintage. In the
1970s, Balverne was a leading name in artisan wineries in Sonoma County. The inaugural Balverne Pinot
Noir was vinified by the original winemaker for Windsor Oaks, Julie Lumgair. The current winemaker is
Margaret Davenport, who has refined the style, adding elegance and nuance to Pinot Noir from this site.
Balverne’s first winemaker, Doug Nalle, consults on the wines. Owners Bob and Renee Stein bought the
Balverne property in 1992 and renamed it Windsor Oaks Vineyards. It is located just south of Healdsburg
and spans both the Russian River Valley and Chalk Hill AVAs. Wines have been offered under the Windsor
Oaks label since 2005 and three Windsor Oaks wines are reviewed below.
2012 Balverne Estate Grown Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 300 cases, $30.
Moderately light reddish purple hue in the glass. Lovely aromas of ripe cherries, dried stone fruits,
cola and vanilla. The bright cherry core is accented with notes of spice, vanilla and cola, with
supporting dry tannins. Admirable balance with some finishing persistence.
2012 Balverne Estate Grown Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 240 cases, $40.
reddish purple color in the glass. Enticing aromas of Bing cherries and baking spice arrive over time in the
glass. Light to mid weight flavors of cherry, raspberry, spice and cola, finishing with graceful length. Very
polished, elegant and refined with modest tannins. Quite accessible for a reserve wine. Definitely deserving of
the designation “reserve,” although it is not a big, oaky version of the regular Russian River Valley bottling
which is so often the case with reserve wines.
Sometimes a pleasant surprise shows up unannounced in my wine locker. This was the case with
Cosa Obra Pinot Noir, from a producer I was unfamiliar with. The name Cosa (“thing”) Obra (“a
hand-crafted body of work”) refers to the winery’s thing, what they do, their hand-crafted body of
work. Owner Gregory Hayes, with over two decades of experience in the wine industry, has
chosen to produce small amounts of exceptional wines from multiple unique terroirs. The
consulting winemaker is Kent Humphrey (Eric Kent Wines). The winery’s sincle Pinot Noir is
sourced from the best blocks of vineyards in the Russian River Valley and Bennett Valley regions.
2012 Cosa Obra Sonoma County Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH
3.70, TA 0.53, 294 cases, $27. After rigorous hand sorting,
100% de-stemmed with whole berries to tank. A 5 to 7-day
cold soak was followed by fermentation managed with a
combination of delestage and pumpovers. Extended
maceration ranged from 3 to 4 weeks. Aged 12 months in
25% new French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple color
in the glass. Lovely aromas of Bing cherries, raspberry coulis and spice. The
nose is literally intoxicating and persistent in volume even when sampled later in
the day from a previously opened bottle. Bright, refreshing and light on its feet,
with a delicious core of light to mid weight Bing cherry fruit accented with notes of tobacco, mocha, sassafras
and sweet oak. The combination of balance and a light touch is hard to resist in Pinot.
2012 Cutruzulla Vineyards Gloria San Louis Obispo County Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.47, TA 0.59, 290 cases, $40. “Koo-troot-ZOL-a.” The Riven
Rock Vineyard responded to the ideal 2012 growing season by producing its
largest crop to date, but still less than 1 ton-per-acre! The vineyard is located in
a coastal valley just outside the town of Cambria on California’s Central Coast.
5 acres are planted to Pinot Noir and 2 acres ro Riesling. Many of vineyard
blocks contain limestone soils. The winemaker is Stephen Dooley of Stephen
Ross Wine Cellars. Pommard 5, 115, 667, “828,” and 23. Aged 10 months in
30% new French oak barrels.
Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely
perfumed with aromas of black cherry, sarsaparilla, and baking spices including
nutmeg and cola. The medium to full bodied and fully ripened cherry, dark berry and plum fruits fill the mouth
with pleasure. A dash of oak-driven toast and vanilla adds interest. The soft demeanor on the palate is
particularly appealing and the finish is long and pleasurable.
2011 Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.47, TA 0.62,
6,062 cases, $45. Released October 2013. A blend of 8 vineyards in the Russian River Valley. 100% destemmed,
5-day cold soak, aged 8 months in 40% new French oak barrels. The wine was racked and returned
just once out of barrel before final blending and bottling.
Moderately light reddish purple hue in the glass.
Highly aromatic, with bright scents of Bing cherries, baking spice, sassafras and oak. Mid weight flavors of
dark cherries are framed by oak in a crisp, juicy style with pleasing acidity. Easy to drink, and food friendly,
although showing a little more cloak of oak than I like.
2011 Gary Farrell Bacigalupi Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.43, TA 0.62, 143 cases, $60. Release June 2014. Sourced
from one of the newer Bacigalupi vineyards, Frost Ranch bought by the
Bacigalupi family in 1993 and Block 9 is planted entirely to a Wente selection of
Pinot Noir. 100% de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak, aged 13 months in 40% new
French oak barrels. Racked and returned once out of barrel before final
blending and bottling.
Medium reddish purple color in the glass. Appealing
aromas of black cherry, forest floor, spice and rose petal emerge over time in the
glass. The exuberant black cherry and raspberry core provides good richness
on the mid palate, carrying over to a generous and sleek finish replete with
notes of dried herbs and tea leaves. The fine-grain tannins and forward fruit make for easy drinking now.
2012 Kessler-Haak Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 425 cases, $38. Estate grown fruit. Vineyard
owned by Dan Kessler and his spouse Ellen Haak Kessler. Winemaker is Dan Kessler. Yield 0.96 tons per
acre. Clones 114, 115, 777 and 2A. Aged 9 months in 40% new French oak barrels.
reddish purple color in the glass. Uplifting aromas of dark berry preserves, cardamom spice and briar. Light in
weight but flavorful, with notes of blackberry, cassis and plum infused with bright, juicy acidity. A vein of savory,
dried herbs and oak is in the background. The tannins are well integrated and the wine is quite open now.
2011 Kessler-Haak Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
13.4% alc., , RS 0.96, 50 cases, $29. Estate grown fruit.
Yield 0.46 tons per acre. Clones 95, 76. Barrel fermented and barrel aged 8 months sur lie in 50% new
French oak, 100% MLF.
Pale golden yellow and clear in the glass. The nose exhibits aromas of lemon rind,
ripe apple, buttered brioche and pavement after rain. Bright flavors of lemon, poached pear, blonde caramel
and vanilla infused with a spark of nervy minerality, complimented by nutty oak in the background.
2012 Kessler-Haak Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
14.6% alc., pH 3.41, TA 0.61, dry. 65 cases, $29. Estate
grown fruit. Yield 1.7 tons per acre. Clones 95, 96, 76. Barrel fermented and barrel aged sur lie for 8 months
in 15% new French oak barrels.
Mild golden yellow color and clear in the glass. The pleasing fruit aromas of
lemon and golden apple are somewhat obscured by a toasty, nutty oak topcoat. Discreetly rich on the palate
with flavors of baked apple, poached pear and citrus peel, finishing with a burst of refreshing citrus. Slightly
creamy in texture. Oak is less intrusive on the palate than on the nose. Improves over time in the glass.
2012 La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
13.5% alc., $23.
Moderate yellow color and clear in the glass.
Scents of lemon zest, green apple, green herbs and oak lead to a light weight palate of lemon and pear flavors
and well-integrated acidity. Delicate and nicely crafted, but nothing stands out.
Les Voleurs is an urban San Francisco winery founded by Matthew Purdon and Keith Crowell. The name,
“Les Voleurs,” is French for “The Thieves.” The winery originated as an underground wine club in San
Francisco in 2008 called the Wine Thieves. The name was chosen because of the club’s liberal use of the
“wine thief,” a glass siphon made for stealing wine out of the barrel for tastings. Purdon developed an interest
in wine in college, undertook winemaking studies at the University of California at Davis, and started a
winemaking club in San Francisco that evolved into Les Voleurs Wines. Crowell has a background in beer,
wine and sake making. This was my first experience with Les Voleurs wines and I was impressed by the
capable winemaking and high quality of the wines. This is a newer winery worth following. A member of a
small group of Pinot Noir producers vinifying their wines in neutral oak barrels. Visit www.lesvoleurswines.com.
2012 Les Voleurs Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.63, 76 cases, $32. A blend of several
vineyards. 100% de-stemmed, native yeast fermentation, aged in neutral French oak barrels with regular lees
Very fragrant array of aromas including strawberries, cherries, leather and spice. Delicate, but
pleasing flavors of strawberry, red cherry, and cranberry caressed by gossamer tannins and finishing with
palate cleansing acidity. An elegant offering that lacks mid palate and finishing intensity but has some charm.
2012 Les Voleurs Rodgers Creek Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., pH 3.40, TA 0.71, 37
cases, $45. Dijon 667 and 777 planted in volcanic ash soils. 5-day cold soak, fermented with 30% whole
clusters using native yeasts over 2 weeks. Aged in neutral French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Deeply perfumed with scents of raspberry, strawberry, rose
petal and vanilla. Delicious ripe strawberry, cherry and plum flavors in a mid weight style with modest tannins,
very bright acidity, and a long finish featuring citrus-infused strawberries. Strawberry lovers will cherish this
2012 Les Voleurs Hurst Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH
3.70, TA 0.65, 46 cases, $45. The vineyard is southwest of Sebastopol. Clones
115 and 777 planted in Goldridge soil. 5-day cold soak, fermented with 30%
whole clusters using native yeasts. Aged in neutral French oak barrels with
regular lees stirring.
Light garnet in color in the glass. Enticing aromas of
cherry, baking spices, sandalwood and flinty minerality. Aims to please with a
seamless presence on the palate, featuring flavors of strawberry, cherry,
Moroccan spices and sandalwood. The tannins are very suave and the acidity
elevates the refreshment level. Even better later in the day when tasted from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2012 Les Voleurs Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.50, TA 0.62, 73 cases, $22. From a
vineyard located a few miles southwest of Sebastopol. 15-year-old vines. One lot fermented with native
yeasts in barrel and underwent 100% MLF. The second lot was fermented using native yeasts in
stainless steel without completing MLF. The wine was blended, received a light fining and was
Very pale yellow color and clear in the glass. Shy, clean aromas of lemon zest,
green apple and petrichor. Soft in the mouth with vivid lemony citrus and tropical fruit flavors and a
hint of nutty oak. Demure and polished leaving a pleasing finish of lemon-lime gusto.
2010 Lula Mendocino Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 400 cases, $42 (sold out). Lula is the winemaker’s maternal
grandmother. Grapes are grown near Comptche 16 miles south east of the coastal village of Mendocino.
Vineyard planted in 1998. 60% Pommard, 35% 115, and 5% 777. Aged 12 months in 50% new French oak.
Aged an additional 6 months in barrel after final blending.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Oak
dominates the nose with appealing ancillary notes of black cherry, blackberry, cola, earthy flora, and spice.
Tasty black cherry and boysenberry fruit offers dramatic mid palate intensity and finish. Mid to full bodied with
balanced tannins and a long finish.
2011 Lula Mendocino Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 700 cases, $42. 65% Pommard, 30% 115 and 5% 777. Aged
14 months in 40% new French oak barrels.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of old
wood, mushroom, fire pit and peat lead to lighter weight flavors of dark cherry and black raspberry with an
earthy undertone. Generous dry tannins arrive with a rush on the crisp, short finish.
2012 Masterpiece Vineyards Estate Grown Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 2,500 cases,
$13.99. A second label from Windsor Oaks Vineyards. Artwork on the label is In The Woods at Giverny by
Claude Monet, 1887.
Light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of red rose petals, honeysuckle and
green herbs. Lighter weight flavors of red cherries, red berries, dried herbs, and edible flowers. Easy to drink,
with modest tannins and some fruit presence on the brief finish.
2011 Pillow Rd. Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., $50. Proprietors are Pat and Anne
Stotesbery, the creators of Ladera Vineyards on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley. The winemaker is Jade
Barrett and consulting winemaker is Karen Culler, both of whom have experience in working in notable Napa
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherries, straw and toasty oak
lead to a light to mid weight core of bright cherry, cranberry and pomegranate flavors accented by savory dried
herbs and spice. The fruit is backed by vibrant acidity and supple, dry tannins, and the soprano finish is flush
with citrus-infused cherries. The wine displays a lack of ripeness reflective of this cool vintage.
2012 Ryan Cochrane Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 143 cases,
$43. 50% clone 115, 50% Pommard 5. 30% whole cluster fermentation. Aged 10 months in 1 new and 5
neutral French oak barrels. Ryan Cochrane trained under Roger Nicolas of RN Estate for four years before
launching his own label.
Light reddish purple color in the glass. Upon opening, the shy nose offers aromas of
cherry, raspberry and sandalwood. Over time in the glass, more oak-driven notes emerge including coffee.
Light to mid weight array of red fruit flavors including strawberry and cherry with a shadow of oak in the
background. Charming and elegant with juicy acidity and balanced tannins. Tasted twice.
2012 Ryan Cochrane Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 134 cases, $43.
75% clone 115, 25% Pommard 5. 30% whole cluster fermentation. Aged 10 months in 1 new and 4 neutral
French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple color and slight haze (unfiltered) in the glass. Demure aromas of
dark red berries and leafy herbs build in intensity over time in the glass. Mid weight core of dark red berry fruits
with a riff of savory herbs in the background and a touch of citrus on the finish. Bright acidity, managed firm
tannins and a graceful presence. Better the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Tasted
2012 The Calling Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
TA 0.65, $37. From the Mill Station Vineyard, one of the coolest sites in the
Russian River Valley. Aged 10 months in 40% new French oak barrels.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is highly expressive
with bright aromas of Bing cherry, spice, cinnamon stick, graham, sassafras and
oak. Luxurious cherry core with accents of cola, anise, spice and oak. Nicely
balanced with great verve and grace, finishing with respectable length.
2012 Windsor Oaks Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., 280 cases, $30.
Clones 777, 667, 115, 114 and 459.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The
appealing nose leads with aromas of raspberries, cherries and damp forest floor. The middleweight
flavors of black cherry and cola are juicy and vivid. Very well crafted with a seamless presence of
oak, acidity and tannins, finishing with plenty of cherry goodness. The potentially lush Russian River
Valley fruit is held in check, making this wine particularly appealing.
2012 Windsor Oaks Vineyards Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 230 cases, $33.75.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass (slightly deeper in color than the regular
RRV bottling). Shy, but pleasant aromas of dark Bing cherries and
spice. Very polished and refined on the palate, with flavors of dark
cherries, fraise du bois, cola and spice pulled into line with fine
acidity. The complimentary oak is not intrusive, and the tannins are
suave and integrated. A graceful interpretation of Russian River Valley Pinot
Noir that is quite evocative.
Sips of Recently Tasted Oregon Wines
2010 1789 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., 185 cases, $48. French
winemaker Isabelle Dutartre’s own label. 1789 marks the year of the French
revolution and the name is a symbol of Dutartre’s family’s revoultion when they
moved from the south of France to Oregon wine country. She is currently the
winemaker for De Ponte Cellars in the Dundee Hills.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. Intriguing nose with aromas of cherry liquor, spice and
a hint of fresh oak. Demure but flavorful on the palate with tastes of cherry,
spice, citrus and oak. Crafted with modest tannins with bright acidity. Pinotosity
at work here.
2010 Amalie Robert Pommard Clone Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., 45 cases, $44. Fermented
with whole clusters and indigenous yeast. Aged a minimum of 12 months in French oak barrels. Unfined and
Light garnet color in the glass. Uplifting aromas of red cherry pie glaze, baking spices, sandalwood
and damp earthy flora. Light in weight and very delicate, with red cherry and raspberry flavors backed by soft
fine-grain tannins and nervy acidity. A hint of dried herbs and spice add interest. An elegant and charming
wine that forces the drinker to search for nuance. Very delicate for a Pommard based wine.
2010 Amalie Robert Wädenswil Clone Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
alc., 45 cases, $44. Estate grown, produced and bottled in Dallas, Oregon.
Fermented with whole clusters and indigenous yeast. Aged a minimum of 12
months in French oak barrels.
Light garnet color in the glass. Enticing aromas
of berry jam, sassafras, nutmeg, perfumed leather glove and a hint of smoky
oak. Delicious light to mid weight core of red cherries and berries with accents
of dried herbs, toasted oak and sassafras. Very delicate but flavorful and juicy
with a good cut of acidity on the finish. May pick up heft over time in the cellar.
2010 Ancient Cellars One Toe Duck Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $30. The inspiration for the
name came from a Mallard duck struck by a car who recovered and thrived with an obvious scar and
namesake. A portion of the sales of the wine go to Benefit Wildlife Rehab.
Moderately light reddish purple
color in the glass. The aromas emerge slowly over time in the glass revealing notes of red cherry, baking
spice, sandalwood and nutty oak. Darker fruits are evident on the palate including black cherry and black
raspberry accented with spice. Good mid palate intensity, balanced tannins, bright acidity and a hi voltage
finish featuring tangy and slightly tart cherry and raspberry fruits.
2011 Ancient Cellars One Toe Duck Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.8% alc., $N/A.
Light garnet color in
the glass. Shy aromas of black cherry hard candy and black raspberry jam with a vinegary note (? acescence)
showing up over time. More pleasant on the palate with light weight fruit flavors of candied cherry, strawberry
and red raspberry with a complimentary hint of cinnamon. The tannins are supple and the acid is vibrant.
Similar to the 2010 vintage, but lighter in weight with redder fruit.
2011 Beaux Frères The Beaux Frères Vineyard Ribbon Ridge Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
1,900 cases, $72. Grown, produced and bottled by Beaux Frères. From estate fruit planted from 1987 to 1991
primarily to Pommard and Wädenswil clones on their own roots. The vineyard has been farmed following the
principals of biodynamics since 2002. Unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass.
Aromas of red cherries, rose petals and other floral notes, and lacquered wood. Light to mid weight flavors of
cherry and cranberry with a hint of oak. Very pleasant to drinking and charming in character, with modest
tannins and very bright acidity, but a bit shallow on the mid palate and finish. Clearly the wine suffers from
ripeness challenges, but is a commendable effort in a very difficult vintge. About the same the following day
from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2012 Bergström Gregory Ranch Yamhill-Carlton District Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc.,$47.50. From an estate-farmed vineyard
owned by Wine Club members Dr. Kenton and Cindy Gregory. The
vineyard was planted in 2007 to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. 21 acres
with 15 different clonal blocks on a steep hillside. Soils are sandstonebased
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass.
Highly aromatic and alluring with bright aromas of black cherries, black
raspberries, plum reduction sauce and spice. Exuberant and luscious on the
palate with waves of black cherry, boysenberry and black raspberry fruits
accented with spice. Velvety in texture with suave tannins and beautifully
integrated oak. Highly pleasurable, this wine shows up the ripe, forward fruit of Oregon’s 2012 vintage. When
tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine was even more aromatic and
2012 Broadley Vineyards Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $28.
Dark violet color
in the glass. Brooding aromas of dark cherries and berries with a faint note of anise and vanilla.
Rich, deep and concentrated with a hedonistic core of sweet black raspberry, cassis, and spiced
plum flavors with a shadow of oak in the background. Matching tannins and a generous fruit-filled
finish complete the picture. Still very young and slightly awkward, becoming more expressive and
refined with time in the glass. Cellar this wine for a few years.
2012 Plowbuster (Carabella) Oregon Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $20. Second label of Carabella
sourced from several AVAs in Oregon including the Chehalem Mountains. A fruit forward style that is
a popular by-the-glass pour at restaurants in New York, New Jersey and Florida.
purple hue in the glass. Aromas of vanilla-infused plum sauce, blackberries and hard cherry candy.
Intense blackberry, ollaliberry and black plum fruit flavors that bring your palate to attention.
Amazing phenolic ripeness with balanced tannins and a lingering finish. Will have many fans.
2011 Carabella Inchinnan Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 150
cases, $54. A blend of “darker” clones from Carabella Vineyard which was
originally part of the Inchinnan Farm, a hazelnut orchard owned by the
McDonald family. This special cuvée honors their support. The stony soils are
lie on a protected southeastern flank of the Chehalem Mountains. Seven blocks
are fermented separately. Clones 115, 114, Wädenswil, and 777 (first time).
25% whole cluster. Aged 18 months in 40% new French oak barrels. Mike
Medium reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of
cherries, herb garden and bay leaf lead to a light to mid weight core of herbinfused
red cherry and purple grape fruit flavors accented with spice. Elegant
and very enjoyable now with modest tannins and bright acidity. Impressive wine in this challenging vintage.
2012 de Lancellotti Famiglia Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 75 cases, $35. A blend of estate fruit and sourced
fruit all farmed Biodynamic. This wine is the least expensive in
the de Lancellotti lineup, but I thought it was terrific.
reddish purple color in the glass. Delicate aromas of cherry,
spice and oak vanillin. Very smooth and likable on the palate,
with an impressively intense mid palate attack of dark red
cherry and black raspberry flavors with a compliment of cinnamon spice and oak
in the background. Very crisp with a generous and persistent cherry-driven
finish that is mouth watering. An impressive offering that was still pumping out
the pleasure the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. No
need to wait on this beauty.
Mark Tarlov, the former owner of Evening Land Vineyards launched Chapter 24 in 2012. He brought on
Burgundian vigneron Louis Michel Liger-Belair as a consultant to work with winemaker Mike (“Mikey”) D.
Etzel, the son of Beaux Frères winemaker Michael Etzel. The entry level wines are produced under the Two
Messengers label (a joint project with Patricia Green Cellars). The mid-range label is Fire + Flood that
explores the two main soil types in the Willamette Valley, Jory (Fire) and Willakenzie (Flood). The high end
release is Last Chapter, named for the final scene in “The Odyssey,” and priced at $90. Tarlov plans to build
a winery and acquire one or two vineyards in the Willamette Valley while signing long-term contracts with
several other vineyards.
2012 Fire + Flood (Chapter 24) The Flood Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., $60.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass.
Penetrating aromas of darker stone and berry fruits flow from the glass
and hold up over time. Full-bodied and boisterous flavors of Bing
cherries, boysenberries and cassis caress the palate and persist with
uncommon intensity on the very long finish. The wine still has an oak
sheen which will integrate over time in the cellar. The soft texture is
particularly appealing. A very special wine.
2012 Fire + Flood (Chapter 24) The Fire Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., $60.
purple color in the glass. Demure aromas of black cherry, cranberry and spice. Middleweight flavors of black
cherries, raspberries and baking spice with an earthy undertone. Slightly muscular tannins balanced with
vibrant acidity make for a very seamless, polished impression. Much more aromatic and flavorful the following
day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle suggesting good age ability.
2011 Harper Voit Strandline Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., 250 cases, $35. Old School Vineyard
in the far southwest corner of the Willamette Valley and Bieze Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills. Bieze Vineyard
shares its eastern fence with the famed Seven Springs Vineyard. Planted in 2008 in Nekia, Jory and Ritner
volcanic soils, the vineyard is situated at 600 t0 680 feet above sea level. Possibly the best new vineyard in
Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose shows off aromas of blackberry, black
plum reduction sauce, vanilla and smoky oak. Mid to full bodied with a pleasing core of black cherry,
boysenberry and black plum flavors accented by oak vanillin. Impressive fruit ripeness in this vintage with wellintegrated
tannins and some finishing length. Needs more time to shed some oak influence.
2011 Harper Voit Old School Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., 50
cases, $55. Old School Vineyard is situated at 800 feet elevation and the vines
are planted in well-drained and nutrient deficient Bellpine soil. Dry-farmed using
draft horses, compost and natural weed suppression, the vineyard is treated as
a holistic organism. Dijon, Wädenswil and Pommard clones.
This wine drinks
more Old World so the name fits. Shy aromas of dark red berries and cherries
with a dash of smoky oak. Middleweight flavors of darker cherries and
cranberries with a juicy, acid-driven finish of noticeable length. Should improve
over time in the cellar but hard to resist now.
2012 Harper Voit Surlie Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc
13.6% alc., 225 cases, $20. Crannell and
Meredith Mitchell vineyards. Barrel fermented and age sur lie.
Very light golden yellow color and
clear in the glass. Highly aromatic with effusive aromas of baked apple, Limoncello, pear, pastry
cream and lees. Delicious flavors of apple, pear and citrus, finishing long with a bright green apple
note and palate cleansing acidity. Pinot Blanc can be watery and uninspired, but this wine is
everything but, possessing nuance, body and flair. One of the best Pinot Blancs I have experienced
La Crema Releases First Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Jackson Family Wines was a large part of a significant land grab in the Willamette Valley in 2013. They have
become the largest family owned winery possessing property in the Willamette Valley with at least 900 acres
of potential vineyard land. The new acquisitions include Gran Moraine Vineyard and Soléna Estate in the
Yamhill-Carlton District, Zena Crown Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills, and Maple Grove southwest of Eola-
Amity Hills. Jackson Family Wines began making wine for the La Crema label and a new label called Gran
Moraine at Soléna!s former winery. A Zena Crown brand is also planned and possibly a new winery on this
property as well.
Jackson Family Wines is well established in California with large vineyard holdings in the Russian River
Valley, Mendocino County, Carneros and Monterey. The excellence of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and the
relatively less expense to acquire vineyard property in Oregon relative to California led the company to add
another cool-climate Pinot Noir region to their collection.
The 2012 La Crema Willamette Valley Pinot Noir bottling is the inaugural Willamette Valley wine for Jackson
Family Estates, vinified by La Crema winemaker Elizabeth Grant-Douglas. It was fortuitous that the
production of this wine coincided with a beautiful growing season in the Willamette Valley.
2012 La Crema Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.55, 12,224 cases, $30.
A blend of fruit from ten different vineyards including the sub-AVAs of McMinnville, Eola-Amity Hills
and Dundee Hills. 8 different clones (667, 777, 23, Pommard, 2A, 113, 114, 115) and a variety of
climatic and soil profiles. 100% de-stemmed, 3-day cold soak. Aged 9 months in 25% new French
oak barrels with medium to medium-plus toast.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass.
Classy aromas of black cherry, forest floor, rose petal and spice hold up nicely over time in the
glass. Generous and forward in character with a lip-smacking core of dark cherry, raspberry and
pomegranate fruits accented with a hint of mocha and savory dried herbs. Very accommodating, with mild
tannins and a juicy, fruity finish. I sampled this wine against several premium Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs and
it held its own. A solid everyday Pinot that is in wide retail distribution at the right price.
2012 Owen Roe The Kilmore Yamhill-Carlton District Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $42. Winemaker David O’Reilly is one of
the few Irish-born winemakers in the United States. This wine is named
after the Kilmore Doorway which is displayed on the label in a photo.
This Romanesque doorway was a sculpted entrance to the ancient
Trinity Island Abbey in County Cavan, Ireland. Here the great patriot
Owen Roe O’Neill sought solace during his quest for Irish
independence. Pommard, Wädenswil and Dijon clones from vineyards in the
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The
nose offers an array of enticing aromas including raspberry, dried cherry,
sassafras, leather saddle and sandalwood. Modest in weight, but highly flavorful, the wine offers notes of black
cherry, black raspberry, spice, dark chocolate and coffee. Very gracious and easy to drink now, this beauty has
the balance and tannic backbone to age effortlessly in the cellar for 5 to 10 years. I loved the 2010 vintage of
this wine, and this vintage is a hair better.
2011 Phelps Creek Vineyards Cuvée Alexandrine Columbia Gorge Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $50. Fourth generation Burgundian winemaker
Alexandrine Roy joins Phelps Creek in Hood River, Oregon, each fall
after placing her Gevrey-Chambertain wines in barrel. This wine is
made from a selection of estate fruit.
Moderate reddish purple color in
the glass. Elusive aromas upon opening that emerge over time in the
glass to reveal scents of cherry, raspberry and vanilla. Intensely
flavored on the mid palate and finish exhibiting ripe cherry and raspberry fruits
with a little dash of herbs and earth. A striking wine that has the tannins in the
forefront at this young age, but is uniquely interesting. The finish is particularly
noteworthy for its persistence and charm. Even better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. This wine has obvious French breeding and will require patience. Over time, there will be plenty
2010 Siltstone Guadalupe Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
$32. Joel and Louise Myers & Sons of Vinetenders manage this vineyard for owners Jim
Stonebridge and Kathleen Boere.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Haunting aromas of
black cherry, wilted rose, wine cave and wet stones. Plenty of fruit sap, boasting concentrated
flavors of black cherry and black raspberry with an earthy underpinning. Much bigger than the
previous two vintages, filling the mouth with pleasure and departing with a generous amount of fruit
goodness and some dry tannin residue. A bold wine that dances on its toes.
17th Annual Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival There is no better way to spend a in May
than at the annual Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival. I never miss this spectacular event which this year will
be held May 16-18. More than 45 producers will be pouring Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir Blanc, Blanc de Noirs and
Vin Gris of Pinot Noir. On Friday, May 16, is a day-long technical conference aimed at members of the trade
and avid Pinot Noir consumers. Conference topics include viticulture and winemaking in a drought, the
multiple personalities of Pinot Noir, a tasting of Angel Camp Vineyard Pinot Noirs, and a presentation of Clark
Smith on his book, “Postmodern Winemaking.” The conference will be followed by an outdoor barbecue at
Foursight Wines featuring grilled lamb from Bones Roadhouse in Gualala, California and live music. After a
press tasting on Saturday, May 17, in the morning, the Grand Tasting will again take place in the vineyards at
Goldeneye Winery in Philo. A list of participating wineries is on the Anderson Valley Winegrowers website at
www.avwines.com. Saturday evening local wineries will host three winemaker dinners in Anderson Valley. The
weekend concludes on Sunday, May 18, with open houses at Anderson Valley wineries featuring special
tastings, music and food. Tickets for the event are now on sale at www.avwines.com.
Wally’s Napa/Sonoma All-Stars Wine Tasting This event has gotten so big it has been moved
from the store to the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. 100 “All-Star” wineries are pouring on
Sunday, April13, from 1:00 to 4:00 PM. Pinot producers on the list include Belle Glos, Chanin, DuMOL, El
Molino, Etude, Flowers, Freestone, Goldeneye, Hartford Court, LIOCO, Merry Edwards, Reuling Vineyard,
Twomey and WALT. Tickets are $75 at www.wallywine.com.
Burgundy Report Extra Launched Extra is a monthly subscription report that runs as part of the
existing Burgundy Report. The first issue concentrates on the 2012 vintage - Bill Nanson’s thoughts on its
intrinsic quality plus what and where you should buy. You can see what it contains and subscribe at
www.burgundy-report.com/01-2014-burgundy-report-extra/. The annual charge is 85 Swiss Francs per year,
converted to your local currency at the prevailing rate. This charge is non-recurring so you can elect to resubscribe
if you like the Extra. The traditional Burgundy Reports, published three times a year will still be
available (sign up for email alerts on the website).
Willamette Valley Vineyards Estate Tasting Room Grand Opening The Grand Opening
of the Estate Tasting Room and Barrel Cellars will be Saturday, May 3, from 11:00 to 6:00. There will be a
progressive wine tasting and tour of the new facility with food pairings. The 2012 Bernau Block Pinot Noir,
sourced from the original Estate plantings will be released to mark the occasion. Club Members and
Shareholders will receive special futures tasting in the new members exclusive Club Room. Admission is $40
per person, $25 for Wine Club Members, Shareholders and their guests. Call 503-588-9463 or email
email@example.com to reserve a tasting and tour time.
Patz & Hall Sonoma House Opened Patz & Hall has announced the opening of its new Sonoma
House at Patz & Hall at 21200 8th Street East, just a few miles south of the Sonoma town square. The
Sonoma House features a luxurious new Tasting Salon where private, by-appointment seated tastings
(Wednesday through Sunday) will be paired with gourmet food complements from Chef Natalie Niksa of La
Saison. The Salon experience is $50 per person and lasts approximately one hour. The new location will also
include by-appointment tastings at the tasting bar Wednesday through Sunday at a cost of $25 per person, a
drop-in tasting bar accommodating guests if space is available, a member-exclusive Reserve Room, and an
expansive patio surrounded by 12 acres of estate vineyards newly planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In
addition, throughout 2014 and 2015, Patz & Hall will be partnering with California Home + Design and 7x7
magazine to host installations by artists and designers featured in both publications. For more information, visit
Zalto Denk’Art Stemware These wine glasses are the new darlings of the sommelier world.
Handblown in Austria, these glasses are light and thin, yet tough enough to put in the dishwasher. The reason
they are tougher is that they are hand blown in one piece from the bowl all the way down to the base of the
stem eliminating the weak point where the stem meets the bowl. The best prices online are now offered by
Collectible Fine Wine, LLC for $53 a stem (minimum of 6) with free shipping. Order the Burgundy stems at
Russian River Valley Winegrower’s Pinot Classic A multi-day series of events will be held
Memorial Day weekend, May 23-26, 2014 including a Paulée Dinner at DeLoach Vineyards on May 24 and
Passport to Pinot barrel tastings on Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 to 4:00. In addition, a special seminar on
the Russian River Valley’s neighborhoods initiative will take place on Saturday, May 24, from 10:00 to 11:30 at
the Fountaingrove Inn. The Paulée Dinner will be special this year with a Pinot-inspired menu prepared by
Michou Cornu, Director of Cuisine and Hospitality at Bosset Family Estates. Host wineries include Arista,
Benovia, DeLoach, Joseph Swan, Hartford Family, Kosta Browne, Merry Edwards, Thomas George, Williams
Selyem and more. A full VIP experience will be offered to 36 ticket holders to include an intimate VIP reception
hosted at Kosta Browne with Russian River Valley winegrowers and producers. For more information and
tickets, visit www.rrvw.org.
Winesong 2014 Charity Auction & Tasting This marks the 30th year of this annual event is
produced by the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation with profits used to enhance equipment, facilities and
services at the Mendocino Coast Hospital. Since 1985, Winesong has raised over $6 million for improvements
in local healthcare. On Friday, September 5, 25 Pinot Noir producers who are members of the Anderson Valley
Winegrowers Association will be pouring at the Little River Inn overlooking the Pacific Ocean (a list of
participating wineries is on the Winesong website). On Saturday, September 6, the Winesong Wine & Food
Tasting will be held in the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, and features food from 50 of Mendocino
County’s finest food purveyors, wines from many highly acclaimed Mendocino County wineries, and music from
9 different music groups. Also on Saturday, September 6, is the Charity Auction featuring both a silent and live
auction. I have donated a Chehalem Mountains trip that includes signed trading cards from 28 members of the
Chehalem Mountains and Ribbon Ridge Winegrowers Association and 28 signed bottles of wine from the
producers. For information and tickets, visit www.winesong.org.
Elk Cove Vineyards Buys Goodrich Vineyard Anna Campbell announced that Elk Cove has
purchased the Goodrich Road Vineyard, a 69-acre property (21 acres of vines, 4 acres of Chardonnay and 17
acres of Pinot Noir) planted with Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris in the heart of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. The
vineyard was planted in 2007 in high-density format. The property has the same marine sediment
(Willakenzie) soil as Elk Cove’s Mount Richmond Vineyard, also located in Yamhill, and is just a few miles from
Elk Cove’s original Estate Vineyard in Gaston. Reserve quality and single-vineyard Pinot Noirs have been
produced from this site by Raptor Ridge, Soter, King Estate and many others. This year marks Elk Cove’s 40th
year growing grapevines in Oregon. Currently, winemaker Adam Campbell sustainably farms over 300 acres of
primarily Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grapes on 6 separate sites in the Northern Willamette Valley: Elk Cove
Estate, Windhill Vineyard, Five Mountain Vineyard, Mount Richmond Vineyard, Clay Court Vineyard, and this
newly acquired Goodrich Road Vineyard. The winery’s website is www.elkcove.com.
New Partners with Evening Land Vineyards Rajat Parr and Sashi Moorman have been
searching for the right opportunity to become a part of the Oregon wine community and consider Evening Land
Vineyards an ideal complement to their portfolio of terroir-driven wines including Sandhi, Domaine de La Côte
and Maison L’Orée.
Alex Sokol Blosser Becomes Winemaker at Sokol Blosser For the first time in the history
of the Oregon wine business, someone with the last name of Sokol Blosser is the head winemaker at Sokol
Blosser Winery in the Dundee Hills. The son of Sokol Blosser founders Bill Blosser and Susan Sokol Blosser,
Alex succeeds Russ Rosner, who retired after 15 years as winemaker at Sokol Blosser. Alex had previously
taken over vineyard operations when his mother retired in 2006. His sister, Alison, is the the director of sales
Malolactic Bacteria’s Proteins Mapped According to www.thedrinksbusiness.com (February 26,
2014), a team of Spanish and Italian scientists have partially genetically mapped a bacterium that causes
malolactic fermentation (MLF) in wine. The bacterium helps convert malic acid in wine to lactic acid to give the
finished wine a smoother, less acidic profile. It is a process to which all Pinot Noir is subjected, as are some
white wines to a greater or lesser extent. The study should be helpful in further research on the biochemistry of
O. oeni ATCC BAA-1163.
Hello Vino Launches New Wine App Hello Vino 3.7.1 is an all-in-one wine app developed for
Apple’s iOS7, combining a wine recommendation engine with label scanner capabilities and personal wine
ratings. This free app recommends the perfect bottle of wine according to meals, special occasions, or
personal taste preferences. The enhanced wine label scanner utilizes image recognition in real-time to deliver
information for a particular bottle of wine. The wine scanner feature adds an innovative fail-safe process,
where an actual person will identify the wine label photo in real-time if the computer-based image recognition
does not find a match. The wine label is then added to a database, enabling the Hello Vino app to identify
millions of wines within thirty seconds or less. The new “vintage 3.7” update is currently featured on Apple’s
“Best New App” and “Great Free Apps” lists in the App Store. Visit www.hellovino.com.
Hello Vino acquired the “Instagram” app of the wine world Corkbin recently. Corkbin is an app that allows ine
enthusiasts to save and post photos of their wines similar to the photo sharing app Instagram. While the Hello
Vino app assists consumers before they buy wine, Corkbin helps the tracking and sharing of wine purchases.
The combining of two mobile apps is the first of its kind in the wine industry.
Human Nose Better Than Previously Thought Online at www.thedrinksbusiness.com (March 21,
2014), a study is reported published in the journal Science that suggests the human nose is capable or
detecting billions more smells than the 10,000 smells previously assumed by scientists. The researchers
believe the result is still an underestimation of the abilities of the human nose, because there are far more
odorous molecules than the 128 studied.
Results of The Pinot Noir Masters 2013 The Drinks Business Global Pinot Noir Masters event
was a judging competition involving almost 300 bottles divided only by price bracket and whether style was
oaked or unoaked. The judges had no sense of where the wines came from, but 16 countries were in the lineup.
Wines scoring over 95 points were awarded the title of Master. New Zealand won the highest proportion of
medals, gaining 25 medals from 27 wines entered. The United States had the sole Master, the competition’s
highest accolade, awarded to the 2011 Schug Winery Carneros Pinot Noir. The United States also dominated
the Gold Medals, gaining 6 of the 11 awarded in total. In total, North America (California and Oregon) gained
27 medals from 32 wines submitted to the competition. Chile got the most accolades overall, achieving 28
medals, but from 44 entries meaning Chile also had a large number of wines which did not receive high scores.
France did not score well because there were few entries from the expensive end.
Update on Sonoma Town Plaza Tasting Rooms As a followup to my article on tasting rooms in
downtown Healdsburg and Sonoma, I should note that the Sonoma City Council voted this week to not limit the
number of wine tasting rooms in the Sonoma Town Plaza area.
Santa Barbara County Vintners Festival Spring Weekend Santa Barbara Vintners present
the Vintners Spring Weekend on April 10-13, 2014. Winemaker lunches and dinners, wine-focused seminars,
winery and tasting room open houses, vineyard walks, a golf tournament, a Farm-to-Table picnic and concert,
and the Grand Tasting where every one of the 100+ member wineries gather to present and sell their wines,
usually poured by the winemakers themselves. Visit www.sbvintnersweekend.com
Most Popular Restaurant Wines The Wine & Spirits 25th Anniversary Restaurant Poll of
sommeliers was published in the April 2014 edition. The average restaurant price for Pinot Noir was $74.31, a
few dollars more than Chardonnay and Merlot and about $24 less than Cabernet Sauvignon. The average
price of a glass of wine has been slowly climbing, reaching $12.94 in 2013. The most popular choices by the
glass were Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. The most popular by the glass Pinot Noirs were
Belle Gloss Clark & Telephone Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir and Meiomi Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (#2 overall
ranking), Decoy Sonoma County Pinot Noir (#5), La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (#26) and La Follette Van
de Kamp North Coast Pinot Noir and La Follette Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (#29). Pinot Noir is the second
most popular varietal selection behind Cabernet Sauvignon. Oregon and California Pinot Noir were about
equally popular. The ten most popular Pinot Noirs were in order: Cristom, Belle Glos, La Crema, Domaine
Serene, Domaine Drouhin, Emeritus, Hirsch Vineyards, Failla, Decoy and Ken Wright Cellars. This issue of the
magazine also reviews 122 exceptional Pinot Noirs. I personally believe Wine & Spirits, along with The Journal
of Fine Wine, are the two best wine periodicals in the marketplace.
Pigs & Pinot Winners The 9th Annual 2014 Pigs & Pinot winners: Pinot Cup - 2010 MacPhail “The
Flyer” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (Runner up was 2011 Twomey Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley
Pinot Noir); Sommelier Smackdown - 2010 Soliste Foret Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (with over 90% of consumer
votes) and 2011 Trombetta Gap’s Crown Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.
On The Pinot Trail: Rocking K Vineyard Cottages
Bobby and Char Kiel own Rocking K Vineyard, located in Sonoma Carneros across the street from Sangiacomo Vineyard and just two miles from the historic
Sonoma Town Plaza. My wife and I recently stayed in one of two
cottages that are for rent on the property and thoroughly enjoyed our time there.
I visited Bobby and Char last year and was enamored with their small production, single vineyard Rocking K
Vineyard Pinot Noir. The reviews of the 2010, 2011 and 2012 vintages are at www.princeofpinot.com/winery/
The location is ideal for exploring the town of Sonoma and its tasting rooms and restaurants, the wineries of
Carneros and Sonoma Valley, and the Eighth Street Wineries of Sonoma. The one bedroom and two bedroom
cottages have been completely updated and decorated, and have all the amenities including a kitchen. They
have vineyard views and large outdoor patios.
Call Char at 415-609-4299 or email her at
firstname.lastname@example.org for information and to
reserve a cottage. Tell her you are a fan of the
PinotFile, and she might give you a discount
depending on the season and availability. Ask her to
show you her classic AMC Pacer which she tools
around Sonoma in drawing plenty of looks.