PinotFile: 9.45 August 15, 2014
- Broadley Vineyards Scores Big in 2012
- Russian River Valley Neighborhoods
- Recent Sips of California Pinot Noir & Chardonnay
- Recent Sips of Oregon Pinot Noir & Chardonnay
- Recent Sips of Central Otago Pinot Noir
- Demystifying Whole Cluster
- Pinot Briefs
- Winemaker Up Close & Personal: Theresa Heredia
Broadley Vineyards Scores Big in 2012
Broadley Vineyards is a family owned winery established over 30 years in the hills west of the town of Monroe,
Oregon, producing distinguished wines since 1986. Technically, Broadley Vineyards is in the Willamette Valley,
but lies on Highway 99 halfway between Corvallis and Eugene, outside of the more publicized sub-appellations
of the Willamette Valley which are located in the northern Willamette Valley.
Craig and Claudia Broadley launched the winery in 1982, and are now joined by son Morgan, daughter-in-law
Jessica, and two grandchildren Olivia and Savanna. Like so many Oregon vintners, they were from California,
and had developed a likening for Pinot Noir. California vineyard land was too expensive, and Oregon seemed
like the right place to grow Pinot Noir...cheaper. They found a unique site on a hillside in Monroe, established
vines, and by 1994 had earned a reputation for ultrapremium estate Pinot Noir.
Broadley Vineyards is a relatively warm site known as the “banana belt” within a cool climate. The 30 planted
acres offer many different exposures, elevations and soil types leading to different flavor characteristics in the
wines from the different blocks. The grapevines are planted in an unusual eastern and northeastern aspect to
protect the vines from storms that traditionally arrive from the Southwest, and to prevent over ripeness of fruit.
Soils are volcanic with good drainage without excessive vigor. Another unique aspect of the vineyard is the
use of the lyre trellis system, splitting the canopy into two walls of grapes.
The planted clones are diverse. Pommard and Wädenswil were first planted in the early 1980s, but over time a
number of Dijon clones were added.
At the winery, Morgan Broadley’s winemaking is distinguished by partial whole cluster fermentation, significant
fermentation in wood containers, and the absence of rigid fermentation temperature control. The wines are
aged in new and one to two-year-old used French oak barrels and always unfined and unfiltered.
The winery’s 2012 harvest report describes the growing season as dry and a nearly perfect harvest. The crop
was small, but produced wines similar to those from the 2008 vintage in size and depth of flavor.
I have never visited Broadley Vineyards, but based on my tasting of the remarkable 2012 Pinot Noirs, I am
going to make a beeline to the winery on my next Willamette Valley visit. The winery’s tasting room is open
Thanksgiving weekend and a late April open house, otherwise by appointment at 265 S. 5th Street in Monroe.
The website is www.broadleyvineyards.com.
Beyond the wines sampled here, there is a 2012 Jessica Pinot Noir (clones 667 and 115 from a protected
northeastern mid slope of the estate vineyard, $50), and a 2012 Claudia’s Choice Pinot Noir (from the oldest
vines in the estate vineyard, $50).
2012 Broadley Vineyards Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 800 cases, $30. A
blend of Pommard, Wädenswil, 115, 667 and 777 clones. 100% de-stemmed. Wild yeast
fermentation, 12-18 days in stainless steel fermenters, aged 12 months in 15% new and 85% 1 to 2-
year-old Francois Frères barrels. Previously reviewed March 29, 2014 with consistent and even
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Scintillating aromas of black
raspberry, blackberry, boysenberry, spice, violets, oak and a hint of roseate scent. Intensely
flavored and plush on the palate with a full-on charge of sweet boysenberry and red and black
raspberry fruits complimented by oak highlights. Very seamless, with soft tannins and plenty of energy,
finishing with good intensity. Much more expressive now than when previously tasted 5 months ago.
2012 Broadley Vineyards Marcile Lorraine Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 150 cases, $50. A blend of primarily Wädenswil and
some Pommard from a distinct block of the estate vineyard. 30% whole
cluster, wild yeast fermentation in open top oak fermenter for 14-21 days.
Aged 14-18 months 40% new and 60% neutral Taransaud barrels
(tighter-grained, low toast).
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the
glass. Similar aromatic and flavor profile as the Estate bottling but with
more structure, more sophistication and a longer finish. Highly enjoyable
now, with impressive mid palate intensity, defining tannins, juicy acidity,
the slightest oak overlay, and a very long finish filled with plenty of Pinot
2012 Broadley Vineyards Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 50 cases, $59. A
barrel selection consisting of a 50/50 blend of Zenith and Shea vineyards. 30% whole cluster, aged in
30% new French oak barrels.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Intoxicating aromas
of dark berries, spice and floral perfume. A full-bodied charmer that floods the mouth with well-ripened
black cherry and dark berry fruit accented with spice, and supported by firm, balanced tannins. Despite
its fruit load, the wine is bright and refreshing and has the structure to age. A big boy wine that is flat out
2012 Broadley Vineyards Zenith Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 150 cases, $30. A blend of Pommard and Wädenswil clones. Sourced from 2 acres of
the vineyard custom planted for the Broadley Winery on “Block One” of this historic site which dates
back to 1982. 30% whole cluster, fermented in open-top oak fermenter for 14-21 days. Aged 12
months in 30% new and 70% neutral Francois Frères barrels.
Dark reddish purple hue in the glass.
Plenty to like about this wine that has both aromatic and flavor appeal. Scents of dark cherries,
spice and floral goodness lead to a middleweight core of sweet dark cherry and berry fruits
complimented by a hint of cedary oak. Admirable balance and some finishing length complete the picture.
2012 Broadley Vineyards Shea Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc. 250 cases, $50 (sold
out at winery). Clones 777 and Wädenswil from blocks 11 and
19. 100% de-stemmed, wild yeast fermentation in 3-ton open-top
Taransaud wood fermenter for 14-21 days. Aged 12 months in
30% new and 70% neutral Francois Frères barrels.
can’t do this wine justice. Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass.
Alluring aromas of black cherry, plum and exotic spice. Intense and
mouth filling with layers of amazingly pure red and purple fruits, wellspiced,
and matched with fine, mouth coating tannins. Sturdy on the
palate, yet bright, succulent and juicy. The haunting finish is remarkably
long, returning with waves of pleasure. Even better when tasted several
hours later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle indicating long-term potential. Heaven sent.
Russian River Valley Neighborhoods
Rod Berglund, the proprietor and winemaker at Joseph Swan Vineyards in the Russian River Valley, always
includes some informative and even provocative writing in his email newsletters. The Spring Newsletter spoke
to the different Russian River Valley “Neighborhoods.” I would like to paraphrase his commentary since it is so
In recent years, there has been talk of defining the wines from the different sub regions of the Russian River
Valley, and the Russian River Valley Winegrowers Association has started a conversation about defining the
character of the various neighborhoods. Rod points out that the wines from each sub region carry an overall
defining character of the Russian River Valley AVA as a whole, but seem to represent variations on the theme.
The Pinot Noirs from the Middle Reach are generally riper, richer and more powerful fruit-driven wines, those
from the Laguna Ridge are earthy, spicy and red-fruited, while those from the Green Valley have higher acidity
and crisp, bright red fruit.
The boundaries of the specific sub regions have not been clearly delineated, except Green Valley, which is its
own appellation within the Russian River Valley. As many as seven sub regions have been identified, including
Middle Reach, Windsor Hills, Laguna Ridge, Santa Rosa Plains, Sebastopol Hills, Green Valley and Freestone.
The Russian River Valley AVA is defined by the coastal fog influence in varying degrees depending upon
elevation and distance from the Pacific Ocean.
Currently, a large panel of winemakers is being assembled who are skilled in tasting young, unfinished wines
and discerning the attributes that are directly attributable to the characteristics of the fruit from which they were
made. The information will be recorded into a searchable data base and will be tied to vineyard and harvest
data. Over a period of many years, patterns should emerge that define the various neighborhoods or even
lead to the discovery of more neighborhoods.
Rod’s winery and estate vineyard lie in the Laguna Ridge area, a north-south ridge of low-lying hills west of the
Laguna de Santa Rosa and the Santa Rosa Plains area. The Laguna Ridge tends to have earlier bud break,
spring temperatures are higher, summer temperatures are often cooler than the valley floor, and the fog often
hangs later as well. These differences manifest themselves in the wines made from the Laguna Ridge. The
Pinot Noirs tend to have bright, deep red fruit, great acidity, usually some spice and earthy components, as well
as the typical Russian River Valley lush mouthfeel. The wine from the Santa Rosa Plains, in contrast, seems to
be prettier with brighter red fruit and less spice. The Green Valley wines tend to have more acidity and often
more tannin. Rod emphasizes that these are generalities.
In summary, Rod points out, “Perhaps the voyage of discovery that the winegrowers of the Russian River
Valley are about to embark on will give some real weight to defining this and the other neighborhoods on the
similarities expressed in the wines. Or, perhaps there is no there there and the differences are just in our
collective imaginations! Only time will tell. Let the voyage of discovery begin!”
I have reviewed a number of Russian River Valley wines lately, some of which are from newer producers, and
some represent inaugural releases (Della).
2010 Bewitched Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $50 (discounted to $22). Uniquely packaged
with a paper enclosure or wine wrap. From Truett-Hurst Vineyards & Winery.
Moderately light reddish purple
hue in the glass. The nose offers a strong oak scent which overwhelms any fruit. Light to mid weight black
cherry and black raspberry flavor with a very strong tug of oak and tannin, most evident on the short finish.
The packaging is much more impressive than the wine.
Bluxome Street Winery SF
The original California winemaking boom began not in Napa or Sonoma, but in San Francisco - SOMA,
or South of Market, to be exact. At one time, no less than 120 wineries and commercial cellars called
San Francisco home, but the 1906 earthquake ended many of the dreams of wine producers, and
whatever spark remained was eliminated by Prohibition. Until now.
Bluxome Street Winery is open “South of the Slot” in San Francisco as both a working winery and a
place to relax and enjoy a drink or two. Before SOMA, the area was called “South of the Slot,” a term
coined by Jack London referencing the iron fissure running along Market Street upon which the San
Francisco cable cars traveled (and still do).
Bluxome Street Winery produces Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay from Russian River
Valley vineyards. The wines are sold by the flight, glass, bottle or barrel. The winery, at 53 Bluxome
Street, welcomes visitors from noon until 7:00 PM Tuesday through Sunday.
2012 Bluxome Street Winery South of the Slot Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.1% alc., 175 cases,
Moderately light reddish purple hue in the glass. Very flowery nose initially, becoming more serious over
time with scents of black cherry and wood spice. Intriguingly silky on the mid weight palate, featuring fresh
flavors of black cherry and black raspberry with undertones of spice, stem and oak, finishing with modest
2012 Bluxome Street Winery Teac-Mor Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay
175 cases, $38.
Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. This wine really sings with appealing
aromas of lemon curd and apple and bright lemon flavor accented with notes of pear, peach, herbs and
very subtle oak. Very clean and crisp and thoroughly enjoyable, even exceptional.
2012 Cobden Wini Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 100 cases, pH 3.69, TA 0.58, $36. Name of
label pays homage to the middle names of the winemaker’s parents. Label says, “Dog ate tasting notes.” Fruit
sourced from 3 vineyards. Clones 777 and Pommard. Maco-bin fermented, barrel aged sur lie with monthly batonage for 10 months in 33% new French oak. Unfined and unfiltered. Vinified by Mark Davis, assistant
winemaker at O’Brien Estate Winery (Oak Knoll AVA) with previous experience at Twomey Cellars.
reddish purple color in the glass. Shy and mysterious upon opening featuring aromas of dark red and purple
fruits. Earthy and well oaked on the palate with mid weight flavors of black cherry and black raspberry with a
hint of tobacco and spice. Very smoothly textured with a modest finish. Better the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle showing very ripe fruit aromas and flavors, and notes of oak-driven
char, dark chocolate and spice.
2012 Della Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.56, TA 0.62, 200 cases, $60. Aged 15 months
in 47% new French oak.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Plenty of black cherry and raspberry
aromas are matched with smoky, toasted oak. Impressive attack and finish, with a plethora of well-ripened
black cherry, raspberry and plum fruits that demand attention. The tannins are nicely integrated and the wine
drinks easily now. For my taste, there is far too much oak at play, but some will find this enviable and it may
ameliorate over time in the bottle.
2012 Fogline Vineyards Floodgate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., pH 3.50, TA
0.65, 295 cases, $42. Floodgate Vineyard is in the Middle Reach and organically farmed. Clones 667, 777,
115 and Pommard.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Very aromatic with hi-tone scents of
dark cherries, baking spices and dark caramel. Elegant, soft and smooth on the palate featuring a core of
fresh cherry fruit augmented with flavors of spice and oak. Very delicate, although the wine picks up some
intensity over time in the glass. Supple tannins make for easy drinking.
Gracianna Winery is located in the Middle Reach of the Russian River Valley. It!s Mercedes Riverblock
Vineyard, named after a family matriarch, grandmother Mercedes Sordia, is located on the “Miracle Mile”
of Westside Road in Healdsburg. The winery was founded in 2005 by the Amador family of Sonoma
County who have been farming and ranching for generations.
The name of the winery comes from the matriarch of the family, their French Basque great-great-grandmother,
Gracianna Lasaga. A book about her life titled Gracianna was published by Trini Amador in
The 2012 Estate Pinot Noir is the inaugural release from the Mercedes Riverblock Vineyard. The release
coincides with the completion of the Gracianna family estate home, a John Pfleuger design that is inspired
by the architecture of the Renaissance and the Tuscany region of Italy. Gracianna's owners, Trini and Lisi
Amador, have built a tasting room and special spaces for entertaining on the winery grounds as well. The
tasting room, located at 6914 Westside Road, is open daily except Wednesday from 11:00 to 5:00. The
website is www.gracianna.com.
Gracianna has medaled in every wine competition entered over the past five years since their first entry in
2007. The winemaker is Trini Amador.
2012 Gracianna Estate Mercedes River Block Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., 25 cases, $58.
Calera clone. Harvest Brix 24.8º. Aged 11 months in French oak. Unfined and unfiltered.
reddish purple color in the glass. Enticing aromas of strawberry, red cherry, iron, sandalwood and cedary oak.
Light to mid weight flavors of dark red cherry with hints of oak-driven cola, anise and spice. Soft and lush, with
supple tannins. There is a sense of alcohol on the finish. Unchanged the following day from a previously
opened and re-corked bottle.
2012 Gracianna Bacigalupi Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.9% alc. label (15.9% tech sheet),
309 cases, $48. Harvest Brix 25.6º. Aged 11 months in French oak. Unfined and unfiltered.
reddish purple hue in the glass. Shy aromas of Bing cherry, herbs and stem with noticeable volatile acidity.
Mid weight core of dark cherry pie filling with hints of nutmeg, oak and dried herbs. Better integration of alcohol
but a slight bit of heat is still evident. When tasted later in the day, the volatile acidity had largely blown off, but
more oak sheen was evident, and the dry finish was somewhat astringent. The previous three vintages have
been more cohesive.
2012 Pali Wine Co. Windsor Oaks Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., 460 cases, $56.
A large, 250-acre vineyard in the Windsor Hills subregion. Aged 15 months in 50% new French oak.
rately light reddish purple color in the glass. Deep aromas of red cherry, strawberry, sandalwood and
black tea. Middleweight flavors of luscious black cherry accented with cola and oak lead to a modest cherrydriven
finish. Plenty of finesse with a slight sense of alcoholic warmth.
2011 Woodenhead Wet Kiss Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., $52. Unfined and unfiltered.
Ritchie Vineyard Martini clone, Cameron Vineyard Martini clone, and River South Vineyard Swan clone.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. A lighter wine with aromas of cherry and oak, and flavors of
cherry, marzipan and brown spice. The tannins are soft and suave, and there is a prominent kick of acid on the
mouthwatering finish. This is one juicy cherry kiss!
2011 Woodenhead Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., $42. Unfined and unfiltered.
light reddish purple color in the glass. Pleasant aromas of Bing cherry, wood spice and tobacco. A lighter
weight wine that is elegant and forward drinking. Flavors of cherry and blueberry fruits are accented with notes
of herbs and tobacco. Nicely balanced, with an appealing cherry and cranberry fueled finish.
2012 Woodenhead Wes Cameron Ranch “Halfshell White” Russian River Valley French Colombard
11.6% alc., 245 cases, $22. French Colombard was once widely planted in the Russian River Valley, but very
little acreage remains.
Pale golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Lively aromas of lemon pie, crème
brûlée, banana and tropical fruits including mango hold up nicely over time in the glass. Light weight flavors of
tropical citrus, lemon and grapefruit drive this refreshing wine, which is crisp and slightly tart due to hi-strung
acidity. A little hollow in the mid palate, but overall a pleasant wine that would be an excellent accompaniment
2009 Woodenhead Méthode Champenoise Russian River Valley Sparkling Wine
212 cases, $46. This is
a rarity: a sparkling wine made from French Colombard grapes. Disgorged March 12, 2012.
Pale yellow color
in the glass. The aromas is leesy, with notes of yellow stone fruits and almonds. Very dry with biting acidity,
this citrus driven wine has subtle notes of pear and tropical fruits. Drinks like a very good blanc de blanc
Champagne at half the price.
Recent Sips of California Pinot Noir & Chardonnay
2012 Belle Glos Oeil De Perdrix Pinot Noir Blanc
12.6% alc., $20. Sourced from Brugioni Vineyard in the
Sonoma Coast. The name is French for “eye of the partridge,” a term for this wine’s color. Whole cluster
pressed, brief exposure to French oak during and after fermentation. A portion of the sales go towards breast
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Aromas of strawberry, dried herbs, blood orange and
cherry. Soft in the mouth with pleasing flavors of cherry, strawberry, lime and blood orange. Best chilled.
2012 Carr Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 333 cases, $35. Released March 2014.
Sourced from vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley. Clones 115, 667, 777,
Pommard and Wädenswil. Aged 12 months in 15% new French oak.
Moderate reddish purple
color in the glass. Fruit-dominated nose featuring black cherry and raspberry with a subtle oak
note. Intensely flavored and fruit-driven, with plenty of dark cherry and raspberry swagger. A bit of
citrus in the background contributes a high note, and a touch of oak adds interest. The tannins are
nicely balanced and the mouthfeel has considerable suavity. Even better several hours later from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2012 Carr Turner Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 195 cases, $50. Released March 2014.
From a 21-acre organically farmed vineyard planted by Ryan Carr in 2000. Clones 113, 777 and Pommard.
Aged 12 months in 15% new French oak.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Both earthy and fruity,
this wine features mid to full-bodied dark red and black stone fruits that were picked at the peak of ripeness.
The inviting mid palate attack is attention-grabbing, the tannins are firm but nicely tucked in, and the finish is
very intense, long, and expansive. The oak contributes seasoning without being imposing. Thoroughly
2012 Della Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.35, TA 0.61, 150 cases, $60. Wente selection
sourced from Charles Ranch. Aged 15 months in 40% new French oak.
Moderate golden yellow color and
clear in the glass. Minty and herbal upon opening with toasty oak evident and very little fruit. The fruit aromas
never arrive over time in the glass and the nose remains nondescript. Moderately rich and plush on the palate
with a creamy mouthfeel. The core of citrus fruits is buried in oak-driven notes of caramel, vanilla and toast.
The heavy oak burden is just not to my taste.
2012 Fogline Vineyards Sun Chase Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.44, TA 0.65, 195
cases, $42. Released October 2013. The 40-acre Sun Chase Vineyard is located where the Petaluma Wind
Gap meets Sonoma Mountain on a southwestern facing hillside. This wine is sourced from hillside blocks
above the fog line at 1200 to 1400 feet. Clones 667, 777. Aged in 33% new French oak.
purple color in the glass. Uplifting aromas of forest floor, black cherry and sweet oak. Full-bodied, with broad
flavors of black cherry and blackberry pulled into line with fine acidity and stout tannins. The fruit is very
expressive, even sassy, and captivates all the way through a finish sporting plenty of drive and persistence.
2012 Fogline Vineyards Hillside Block Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.58, 95 cases,
$65. Released October 2013. The first single vineyard Pinot Noir from the estate Fogline Vineyard located in
the Petaluma Gap region on a ridge on Sonoma Mountain. Elevation is 850 feet and fog runs up to the
boundary of the lowest elevation blocks. Clones 115, Pommard, Swan and Mt. Eden. Aged in 33% new
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Delicate aromas of Bing cherry, spice and rose petal.
Plenty of grip and intensity on the palate that features ripe cherry fruit accented with spice and subtle oak.
Very satisfying, with a smooth texture, good tannic sinew, and a generous finish.
2012 Fogline Vineyards Fogline Neighbors Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., pH 3.50, TA 0.60, 72
cases, $65. Released April 2014. A blend of the Sun Chase Vineyard and Fogline Vineyard, both on western
face of Sonoma Mountain. Clones 667, 777, 115, Pommard, Mt. Eden and Swan.
Moderate reddish purple hue
in the glass. An array of aromas fill the glass including forest floor, black cherry and spicy oak. Vivid and juicy
on the palate with great harmony and presence. The bold flavors of raspberry, cherry, and boysenberry are
accented with a touch of spice and earthbound flora. The toothsome tannins are well integrated and the finish
is long and lush.
2013 Fogline Vineyards Zephyr’s Block Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.3% alc., pH 3.23, TA 0.66, 145
cases, $38. Grapes are from the oldest plantings in Fogline’s Estate Vineyard. Old Wente and Dijon 76
clones. Aged up to 10 months in French oak.
Moderately light golden yellow and clear in the glass. A
California styled Chardonnay with plenty of aromatic and flavor richness. Scents of baked apple, lemon, honey
and sea breeze, lead to a discreetly concentrated palate of apple, pear, lemon and caramelized banana
flavors. Plenty of juicy acidity balances the fruit load. An enjoyable wine, especially for those who prefer
generous oak input.
2012 Lombardi Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.56, TA 0.59, 24 cases, $38. Sourced from Terra
de Promissio Vineyard. Clone 777. Aged 16 months in neutral French oak barrel.
Moderately dark reddish
purple color in the glass. Hi-tone perfume of wild berries, plum, cedary oak and floral blossoms. The
middleweight core of black cherry, dark berry and black currant fruits are nicely integrated with seamless
tannins. Very polished on the palate, with vivid fruit presence. This wine is ready to drink now.
2012 Lombardi Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH
3.35, TA 0.61, 24 cases, $36. Sourced from Charles Ranch.
Wente selection. 100% barrel fermented for 15 months in
neutral French oak.
Moderately light golden yellow color in the
glass. Plenty to like in this wine with an array of aromas
including lemon zest, nectarine, white grape, straw bale and
saline minerality, and flavors of lemon, kumquat, pear and
honey. Very pleasing with a slightly creamy texture.
2012 Owl Ridge Carneros Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 903 cases, $24. 92% Pinot Noir, 5%
Sangiovese, and 3% Syrah. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels.
Moderately light garnet color in
the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of strawberry, red cherry, baking spices, sandalwood and
forest floor. The light to mid weight fruit flavors echo the aromas with added hints of mocha and
tobacco. There is an underlying tangy, citrusy acidity which adds verve, and modest tannins add
structure. A forward drinking and juicy wine that only lacks a bit of finishing intensity.
2012 Pali Wine Co. “Riviera” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 8,005 cases, $21, screwcap.
Sourced from Collins Ranch, Arrowhead, and Champlain Creek vineyards. Vinified and blended to
have consistency from year to year. Aged 10 months in 25% new French oak.
reddish purple color in the glass. Rather bold and dense with a meaty core of black raspberry,
pomegranate and black currant fruit accented with earth-kissed herbs. Fruit-driven and proud of it,
this wine still has enough verve for pleasant drinking. Bigger, bolder and riper than the 2011
version, but in the same vein.
2012 Pali Wine Co. Durell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., 113 cases, $56. Clones 115,
667 and Pommard 5. Aged 15 months in 50% new French oak.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the
glass. Opens over time in the glass to reveal stellar aromas of cherry, strawberry and complimentary oak.
Modest in weight, with a core of earthy dark red and black berry fruits overlain with a prominent oak sheen.
There are notes of stem and savory herbs that might be oak-driven. The finish is a bit sharp and angular.
Tasted the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine showed a prominent oak overlay.
2012 Pali Wine Co. Durell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.5% alc., $50. Aged 16 months in 50%
new French oak.
Light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Attractive scents of apple, lemon pie, peach,
and tropical fruits including pineapple. Citrus-driven flavors on the palate, with a hint of caramel, roasted nuts
and buttery oak. Some fullness on the palate with decent acidity. A California-styled Chardonnay that leaves a
good impression with a delightful finishing grip.
2013 Pali Wine Co. Charm Acres Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.0% alc., 4,360 cases, $21,
screwcap. Sourced from Windsor Oaks, Collins Ranch, Champlain Creek and Sangiacomo Family
vineyards. No malolactic fermentation. Barrel fermented and aged 10 months in 25% new French
Light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Pleasant aromas of nutty lemon, peach,
tropical fruits and toasty oak. Crisp and bright, and quite enjoyable, with flavors of lemon-lime, pear
and white peach with a slight oak overlay, finishing with a burst of citrus-driven refreshment.
2012 Pali Wine Co. Cargasacchi Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 40 cases, $56. Clone 115
from a 16-acre vineyard. Aged 15 months in 50% new French oak.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass.
The aromas pick up interest over time in the glass, revealing blackberry, Hoison sauce and subtle tobacco
notes. The sleek texture is dreamy in this wine but the black fruit core is rather drab, linear and closed with a
beefy, animale, unami character that can be typical of this vineyard. Should benefit from more time in the
2012 Pali Wine Co. Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., 210 cases, $56. From a 140-acre vineyard planted in 1998.
Clones 667, 777, 115 and Pommard. Aged 15 months in 50% new
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Seductively
perfumed with scents of black cherry coulis, rose petal and wood cask.
Mid to full-bodied array of spicy purple and black fruits with corralled
tannins and lively acidity. Luscious, but vivid and soft in the mouth. This
wine is very pretty for a Fiddlestix Pinot Noir. The finish is memorable for
its length. Tasted the next day from a previously opened and re-corked
bottle, this wine still had the most class of the 2012 Pail Pinot Noir lineup.
2012 Pali Wine Co. Rancho La Viña Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., 279 cases, $56. Clone
115. Aged 15 months in 50% new French oak.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. I was really
attracted to the nose which offered seductive aromas of black cherry, black raspberry, anise and vanilla. Very
open and satisfying with a smooth, suave texture and a juicy finish. Tasty flavors of purple fruits are featured
brought to life by generous acidity. Finishes with a good kick of acid and a modest tug of oak.
2011 Peter Michael Le Caprice Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $110 (secondary market). Vineyard is located in the
Ft. Ross-Seaview AVA. Winemaker Nicolas Morlet.
reddish purple hue in the glass. This is a sophisticated, polished
offering that hits all the right notes. The nose picks up interest
over time in the glass exhibiting aromas of black cherry, purple
berries, spice, rose petal and vanilla. Delicious mid palate attack
of fresh black cherry, black raspberry fruits with a hint of spice and aniselaced
oak. There is a nervy minerality in the background which is very
appealing. Silky in the mouth, with modest chalky tannins, this elegant
wine finishes with an enjoyable nutty cherry note that lingers. This
harmonious and almost ephemeral wine drinks so effortlessly, one could
easily polish off a bottle without realizing it.
2012 Schermeister Cellars Paladini Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.60, 120 cases, $47. Inaugural release from
winemaker Robert Schermeister who previously worked as an assistant
to Mark Aubert. Clones 115 and 777. 100%n de-stemmed. Native
fermentation, extended maceration after primary fermentation (28 days
on skins), light press, aged 15 months in 20% new, 40% 1-year-old, and
40% neutral French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered.
red color in the glass. A refined offering that has intrigue. Aromas of
cherry, wooded forest, baby’s breath and mint. Delicious mid to full bodied
core of dark cherry fruit with enticing hints of tea, oak, spice,
earth and mushroom. Admirable harmony with good brightness,
balanced tannins and a juicy finish. Holds up nicely over time in the
2012 The Winery SF North Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $30. From a San Francisco urban
winery located on San Francisco’s historic Treasure island.
Moderate reddish purple color in the
glass. Bright aromas of cherry, strawberry, rose petal and briar initially, fading somewhat over time
in the glass. A cherry jubilee with hints of black raspberry, spice, and savory herbs. The texture is
satiny, the wine is open and giving, the tannins are soft, and the clinging finish satisfies.
2013 The Wonderland Project “The White Queen” Sonoma County Chardonnay
13.2% alc., 2,650 cases, RS
0.02 mg, $26. Robert Young and Wente clones. Harvest Brix
22.5º. Vinified with native yeast fermentation in stainless
steel. Aged 7 months in 1/3 new French oak, 1/3 stainless
steel and 1/3 neutral French oak.
Pale yellow color and clear
in the glass. Inviting aromas of grapefruit, pear and white
peach are replicated in the flavors which add some hints of
nuts, brioche and honey. A very pleasant sipper and excellent food wine
with some discreet richness, bright acidity and appealing edginess.
Reminds me of Pinot Blanc. Better than the very good 2012 vintage of
this wine. A very solid daily table wine.
2011 Willowbrook Kaufman Sunnyslope Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 168 cases,
$42. Released July 2013. From JCO Limited Wine by Joseph C. Otos. Grapes are from a 7-acre high-altitude
vineyard. A mix of Dijon and Mariafeld clones.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The nose is savory
with predominant aromas of dried herbs, bark and tea leaf. Some red cherry and spice shows up over time in
the glass. Juicy and bright, offering light to mid weight flavors of red cherries and berries with an herbal and
oak (tobacco and mocha) underpinning, finishing a bit shallow.
2011 Woodenhead Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 144 cases, $38. Unfined and unfiltered.
reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is spicy and smoky with plenty of black cherry and black raspberry
fruit aromas. Very tasty mid weight core of darker stone and berry fruits with a spice overlay. The wine is juicy
and refreshing, with suave tannins and a good cut of underlying acidity. The finish is crisp and satisfying.
Recent Sips of Oregon Pinot Noir & Chardonnay
2012 Beckham Estate Vineyard Dow’s Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 70 cases, $45-$50.
September or October 2014 release. Since 1857, more than 20 sons in
the Beckham family have carried the name Dow. The wine honors
Andrew Beckham’s father, grandfather and son.From the Beckham
Estate Vineyard, a dry-farmed site with rocky volcanic soils at 412 to 568
feet elevation. Clones are 777 and Pommard. 100% de-stemmed. Aged
15 months in 40% new French oak.
Moderate reddish purple color in the
glass. Aromas of dark cherry, raspberry and earthy flora with a hint of
peppery spice. The rich fruit of the 2012 vintage is on full display
buffered by well-integrated tannins. A mix of ripe cherry and berry
flavors is accented with notes of dark chocolate, a hint of confection, and
an iron-driven minerality. The finish is robust and lingering.
Beckham Estate Amphora Raised Wines
I wrote recently about the experimental work Andrew Beckham is doing using upwards of thirty-five different
terra cotta vessels of varying size and shape from egg to round, as well as variable firing of the pottery to
vinify and age wines. It is a natural extension of his expertise as a potter and his winemaking skills. The
vinification of wine in amphorae dates back to ancient times, but has engaged the curiosity of both Old and
New World vintners over the last two decades.
It is well known that the traditional oak barrel imparts tastes and tannins to wine. Amphorae are thought to
be rather inert, but wines raised in these vessels are definitely different and may exhibit more “minerality”
among other qualities. Considerable trial and error looms ahead for those interested in this new approach
to discover whether this is a novelty or has real benefits.
When I visited Beckham Estate most recently and tasted with Annedria Beckham, I briefly sampled the
2013 AD Beckham Pinot Noir and the 2013 AD Beckham Pinot Gris. The Pinot Noir was a barrel sample
made with purchased fruit (1 barrel total production). Clones 777 and 115 were cold soaked and fermented
in an amphora for 21 days, then pressed to neutral oak. The wine will be bottled in September unfined and
unfiltered. The Pinot Gris, also 1 barrel, spent 30 days in an amphora on the stems and then aged in
second fill acacia barrel. The wines are definitely unique.
The Pinot Noir was highly aromatic with bright scents of fresh, juicy cherries, baking spices and
sandalwood. With swirling there was a hint of clay or terra cotta. On the palate, the wine displayed light to
mid weight cherry, raspberry and pomegranate flavors backed by fine grain tannins and zippy acidity. There
was a slight earthy, gamey undertone and a slightly tart finish.
The Pinot Gris was light pink in color with aromas of cherry and strawberry and baking spices. The palate
offered more white stone fruits, floral notes, and an iron minerality. The finish was tart with electric acidity.
The AD Beckham amphorae wines will be offered first to the winery!s Wine Club members.
2012 Pali Wine Co. Shea Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 110 cases, $56. Wädenswil
clone. Aged 15 months in 50% new French oak.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Highly perfumed,
featuring bright aromas of violets, black raspberries, ollaliberries and oak-driven notes of tobacco and vanillin.
The full-flavored dark red and black fruits are long and expansive, and wrapped in gritty, husky tannins and
bright acidity. The wine is a bit of a puzzle that has not been put together, but the pedigree of the fruit and the
huge, racy finish indicate superb potential with further cellaring.
2012 Stoller Family Estate Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.60, 7,050
cases, $25, screwcap.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Plenty of oak (wood spice and toast) is evident in this Bing cherry-themed wine. Pleasant and forward drinking, with a seductively soft mouthfeel,
lively acidity, and some finishing intensity and length.
2011 Stoller Family Estate Reserve Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., pH 3.68, TA
0.54, 1,300 cases, $45. Clones are Pommard, Wädenswil, 114, 115, 667 and 777 planted on the 373-acre
estate. Barrel aged in French oak for 10 months.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Forward
aromas of cherry, strawberry, herbs and baking spice. The flavorful mid weight core of cherry, raspberry and
strawberry is supported by modest tannins and generous oak treatment. The finish stands out for its
handsome display of lasting cherry and raspberry fruit aromas. This wine should improve over time.
2012 Stoller Family Estate Reserve Willamette Valley Chardonnay
13.5% alc., pH 3.18, TA 0.79,
1,218 cases, $35. Grapes are from the oldest plantings in the estate vineyard. Aged up to 10
Moderately light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. A little reduction upon opening
resolves over time revealing aromas of lemon zest, pear and peach cobbler. Rather reserved and
graceful, but with nuanced flavors of lemon, pear, white peach and almond. Smooth in the mouth with
a good cut of underlying lemony acidity.
2012 TREOS Estate Founder’s Choice Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
15.5% alc., 195 cases, $48. Clones
667 and 777. Yields 0.8 tons per acre. Intention to create the richest, boldest expression of Pinot Noir that can
make. Aged in Sirugue French oak barrels.
Dark reddish purple color in the glass. The winemaker has
achieved his objective for this is a BIG, weighty, lush wine playing in the realm of Syrah. The aromatics are
muted with demure scents of raw beef, dark berry, vanilla and spearmint. Soft and velvety on the palate, the
sap is intense, brooding and earthy with flavors of purple and black berries, spice and vanilla. The palate is
much more interesting than the nose at this stage. There is plenty of backbone to back up the fruit. The
alcohol is well hidden but still peaks out a skosh on the finish.
2012 TREOS Estate Elegant Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
15.0% alc., 170 cases, $48. Yields 0.75
tons per acre. Five Dijon clones. Aged in Sirugue French oak barrels.
Dark reddish purple color in the glass.
Shy, but pleasing aromas of red cherry, cherry tart and cutting board. Plenty of spring in its step, this wine
trends toward the darker red fruit spectrum. A big wine that is well-structured with good integration of oak and
alcohol. Finishes lively and upbeat with generous fruit.
2013 Jezebel Oregon Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 2,300 cases, $18, screwcap. Second label of Willful Wine Co..
Sourced from several vineyards in the Willamette Valley and Umpqua Valley. Fruit was cropped to one and a
half to three tons per acre and fermented in small lots with a variety of yeasts.
Light reddish purple hue in the
glass. Aromas and flavors of red and blue berries with hints of spice, tar and oak. Light and elegant, with
modest tannins, and bright, citrus-infused berries on the tangy finish. A solid, easy drinker for everyday
2012 Willful Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 411 cases, $35. From a 7-
acre densely planted estate vineyard that includes 12 different clones of Pinot Noir. A blend of
Pommard and Dijon clones. Native yeast fermentation.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass.
A suave, mid weight wine with pleasurable aromas and flavors of black cherry, red berry, and plum
fruits, and complimentary oak seasoning. Easy to like, with lively acidity, mildly firm tannins and
some finishing length.
2012 Willful Winemaker’s Cuvèe Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 200 cases, $45.
A blend of eight select barrels. 100% Pommard clone with 95% from the estate vineyard in the Dundee Hills
and 5% from Northridge Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills. Native yeast fermentation.
Moderate reddish purple
color in the glass. The nose satisfies with bright aromas of berry pie filling, rose petals and toasty oak. Very
tasty on the structured palate featuring an array of dark red, pomegranate, and purple berry flavors enhanced
with subtle oak. Very harmonious and smoothly textured with a racy finish of good intensity. Even better the
next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle when the finish was filled with plenty of sweet cherry
I recently visited Todd Hansen, proprietor and grower of Longplay Wine, at his quaint Newberg, Oregon tasting
room. Todd developed an interest in wine while serving in the American diplomatic corps in France, Chile and
In 2005, Todd bought the 54-acre Lia’s Vineyard (re-named after his daughter Lia) that had formerly been part
of Rex Hill’s Jacob-Hart Vineyard. Rex Hill changed ownership and parts of the Jacob-Hart Vineyard in the
Chehalem Mountains was sold to Todd and Olenik Vineyards, with Rex Hill retaining ownership of some of the
vineyard. Neighboring vineyards include J. Christopher’s Appassionata Vineyard and Adelsheim’s Quarter Mile
Lane Vineyard. The vineyard is about four miles northwest of Newberg.
Lia’s Vineyard plantings originally date to 1990, with subsequent plantings in 1993, 1999-2002 and 2009. The
dry-farmed vines include 25 acres of Pinot Noir (eight clones of Pinot Noir: 114,115, 667, 777, “828,” Pommard,
Wädenswil and Mariafeld), and a little over 2 acres of Wente clone Chardonnay. The original (1990 & 1993)
Pommard, Wädenswil and Wente Chardonnay are own-rooted and subsequent plantings of these clones and
selections were propagated from own-rooted cuttings. Soils are primarily Jory with a transition to sedimentary
around the 400 foot contour. Elevation ranges from 380 to 560 feet.
Longplay is a three-man operation, with Todd doing the marketing, sales, compliance and farming, Javier
Marin, owner of JM Vinegrower LLC, (the long time ex vineyard manager at Shea Vineyard) managing the
vineyard, and winemaker Jay Somers of J. Christopher wines crafting the Longplay wines at his facility across
the street from Lia’s Vineyard. Aron Hess was the winemaker from the inaugural vintage in 2007 until 2010,
replaced by Jay Somers with the 2011 vintage. Somers shepherds the Longplay wines with Todd’s decision
making input, and as such, Longplay wines are distinct from J. Christopher wines.
Todd is a vinyl LP fan and a graphic of a record on a turntable is displayed on his labels. Todd’s philosophy
and analogy between wine and music is explained in detail on his website and reveals the insight into the
label’s name. He emphasizes that his wines take an old school approach, meaning “analog wine for a digital
All Longplay wines are estate grown. Commercial yeasts are avoided with Pinot Noir but used with
Chardonnay, and there are no additives used. Sugar and acid adjustments are employed when necessary.
Chardonnay is fermented in neutral oak barrels and Pinot Noir in 25% or less, usually 15%, new French oak
barrels. 80% of the estate vineyard fruit is sold to other vintners, including White Rose Estate, Seven of
Hearts, J. Christopher and Patricia Green.
Todd staffs the Longplay Tasting Room himself Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 to 5:00. Other
days and times can be arranged by appointment. Special openings and events are listed on the website at
www.longplaywine.com. The wines can also be acquired online through the winery’s website store.
I tasted a number of Longplay wines with Todd from the 2011 and 2012 vintages, two markedly different
growing seasons that resulted in contrasting wines. The Longplay wines are quintessential Willamette Valley in
character, with modest alcohols and extraction, bright acidities, and subtle nuances. The winemaking at least
gives the vineyard a chance to express itself. The wines are modestly priced and are particularly suitable for
accompanying food. The 2012 wines will be released in early 2015.
2011 Longplay “Jory Slope” Lia’s Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Chardonnay
alc., 69 cases, $28. Very late harvest on November 2. 20-year-old Wente selection. Yield 1.04 tons per acre.
Aged in neutral oak. One of three barrels underwent malolactic fermentation.
Pale yellow color and clear in
the glass. Bright aromas of lemon, lemongrass and almond. Light, reserved and crisp, with flavors of lemon,
grapefruit and pear. A high-voltage wine with a soprano, grapefruit-fueled finish accented with slate-driven
minerality. Needs food.
2012 Longplay “Jory Slope” Lia’s Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Chardonnay
13.5% alc., 49
cases, $28. Lower yields in this vintage than 2011. Aged in
neutral oak barrels.
Light yellow color and clear in the glass.
This wine is much more accommodating than the 2011 vintage,
with less emphasis on lemon, and more floral, stone fruit and
tropical fruit nuances. Some richness, and slightly creamy in
texture, with a round, satisfying finish driven by peach and lemon curd
2011 Longplay Lia’s Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 268 cases,
$27. From 3 to 21-year-old vines yielding 1.2 tons per acre. Newest plantings of clones “828,” 23, 114, 777,
Wädenswil and Pommard 5. Harvest October 25 and November 1.
Light reddish purple color in the glass.
Aromatically alive with scents of cherry, cranberry, spice and subtle oak. Light and pleasant on the palate with
flavors of red cherries and berries and a vein of dried herbs. Ripeness was clearly an issue with this wine, but
it is an affable drink.
2011 Longplay “Jory Bench Reserve” Lia’s Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 154 cases, $38. Own-rooted Pommard 5 (75% of this wine), Wädenswil (19%) and 23 (6%). Yield
1.8 tons per acre. Harvest November 1. Aged 10 months in 16% new French oak.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherry and forest floor lead to a palate filled with juicy cherry charm. A
vein of herbs runs through the background. Crisp and bright, with smooth tannins and well integrated acidity.
On the lean side, but satisfying.
2011 Longplay “Hi-Tone” Lia’s Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
72 cases, $45. 21-year-old Wädenswil clone. Yield 1.7 tons per acre. Aged 10 months in neutral oak.
Moderately light reddish purple hue in the glass. Aromatically alive as Wädenswil tends to be with scents of
dark red cherries and berries, spice, rose petal and subtle stem. The most concentrated and flavorful of the
2011 Pinot Noir lineup, with impeccably balanced tannins and acidity. Plenty to like, including the spicecharged
2012 Longplay Lia’s Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Quite aromatic with scents of purple grape, plum,
and boysenberry fanning out in the glass. Light to mid weight flavors of purple fruits with a touch of
spice and savory herbs in the background. Soft in the mouth, showing good fruit intensity on the
finish which leaves a trace of heat in its wake.
2012 Longplay “Experience” Lia’s Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $69. A 3 barrel selection: 1
barrel of 115, 1 barrel of 23, and 1 barrel of both clones together. Aged
in 83% new oak, quite atypical for Todd’s wines.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. The nose is exotic and sexy featuring aromas
of blueberry, pomegranate and spice. Plenty of ripe fruit sap in the
mouth featuring flavors of black raspberry and pomegranate. The
tannins are fine-grain and sturdy, and the finish is replete with hi-tone
acidity. The high percentage of new oak never comes to the front. A
special and unique wine.
Recent Sips of Central Otago Pinot Noir
Although 2013 is being called a “vintage of a lifetime” in New Zealand, the 2012 Pinot Noirs should not be
ignored. Aubert de Villaine from Domaine de la Romanèe-Conti recently visited New Zealand for the 10th
annual Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration. Nick Stock wrote about some of de Villaine’s insights in NZ Dirt -
The Inside Story of New Zealand Wines, an e-newsletter featuring news updates for the United States market.
De Villaine said, “New Zealand is on a latitude that is very similar to Burgundy, but in the southern hemisphere.
It is a climate that is not entirely different and that ‘seed’ of Burgundy has taken hold in New Zealand, it is a
very interesting proposition.”
DeVillaine went on to point out, “New Zealand is a very young country, the wine industry is very young, but with
this idea of making wines of terroir which took in the minds of many vignerons in New Zealand, things will go
much more quickly than they did in Burgundy.” He was impressed by the progress New Zealand has made,
commenting, “There are today a lot of good wines, certainly more than a few years ago. Great progress has
been made, but my general impression is that besides these good wines, there are only a few great wines.”
Perhaps the remarkable 2013 vintage will be able to deliver more great wines.
Periodically, I dip into New Zealand Pinot Noir to sample wines from prominent producers. Here are my latest
2012 Burn Cottage Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir
alc., $55. Estate grown and bottled. Winemaker consultant is Ted Lemon
Medium reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas build
over time in the glass, offering notes of cherry reduction sauce, black
raspberry, forest floor, clay and smoky oak. Ingratiating sweet cherry,
dark berry and plum flavors really satisfy, complimented by well-integrated
oak highlights, tucked in tannins, and a satiny mouthfeel. The
generous dark cherry finish has impressive staying power.
2012 Felton Road Cornish Point Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $50, screwcap.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Effusive aromas of fresh black raspberry and
boysenberry with a compliment of toasty oak. A suave wine with a silky smooth mouthfeel and very likable
dark red berry flavor. The sweet berry fruit builds in intensity on the palate, finishing with a burst of goodness.
Oak plays a favorable seasoning role.
2012 Felton Road Calvert Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $50, screwcap. Biodynamic.
Moderately dark reddish purple
color in the glass. The aromatics are very reserved, even with extensive
swirling, revealing demure aromas of dark red cherries and berries with a
touch of oak. Much more pleasurable on the palate, with a charge of
fresh and juicy black raspberry and black cherry fruits, showing
impressive persistence on the finish. The rather muscular tannins need
more time to integrate, and the aromas have not arrived, but this wine
has superb potential.
2012 Quartz Reef Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $30, screwcap. Estate grown,
Demeter Biodynamic®, Bendigo Vineyard.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas of dark red
cherry and berry accented with oak are pleasant but not distinctive. The core of mid weight dark cherry and
dark red berry fruit is straightforward, and pinned down by copious, very dry tannin.
Demystifying Whole Cluster
Eric Hickey, the winemaker at Laetitia Vineyard & Winery in California’s Central Coast has employed whole
cluster fermentation for about a decade and has crafted some impressive whole cluster fermented Pinot Noirs.
Recently, Hickey discussed the use of stems in winemaking in a release that I thought should be passed along.
As most readers know, whole cluster fermentation involves the use of the entire bunch or cluster of grapes,
including the stem, in alcoholic fermentation. The winemaker can vary the amount of whole clusters included in
the fermenter. The goal is to tone down fruit characteristics and add another dimension to the wine.
In Burgundy, whole cluster fermentation has been used for centuries, at least in part due to the convenience of
tossing entire bunches into fermenting vessels and the lack of de-stemmers. The hallmark of whole cluster
wines, a signature burnt tobacco note entwined with fruit aromas and flavors, became synonymous with Pinot
Noir from the Old World.
New World winemakers have used this method for many years, but fruit-driven and de-stemmed Pinot Noir
became popular in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, many winemakers are moving away from “pure-fruit” Pinot
Noir by fermenting clusters whole to impart complexity, tannic grip, and a lift on the palate.
Hickey currently uses anywhere from 30% to 70% whole clusters in a given batch with the remainder made up
of de-stemmed grapes. The use of whole cluster fermentation began as an experiment for Hickey, and he
found through trials over the years, that specific clones and sites do best with whole cluster fermentation. In the
2012 vintage, Hickey used clones 115 and 2A for a 100% whole cluster Pinot Noir. He notes that there is an
extra layer of structure in whole cluster fermented Pinot Noir wines, and “when it’s at its best, there is a dusty
chalkiness to the mid palate.”
Hickey leaves the intact bunches to rest in the fermenter rather than crushing them immediately. This
anaerobic environment allows fermentation to begin within each individual berry as yeast penetrates the skin
wall under the pressure of carbon dioxide, a process called carbonic maceration. “When fermentation takes
place inside the berry, you tend to get very high levels of delicate red fruit and floral aromas,” said Hickey. “In
the case of the whole cluster technique, the high fruit tone is a good counter balance to the earthy tobacco
characters the stems provide.”
Consumers have been enamored by whole cluster fermented Pinot Noir. Hickey says, “It usually appeals to
those who prefer a Pinot Noir with more power, structure and less pure red fruit on the nose.
The 2012 Laetitia Whole Cluster Pinot Noir is currently offered at $40. Visit www.laetitiawine.com.
2011 Laetitia Estate Whole Cluster Arroyo Grande Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., 330 cases, $40. 45% whole
cluster during maceration and fermentation.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A captivating nose
alive with scents of rose petals, red plums, cherries, peppery spice and slight stem. The flavors are echoed on
the mid weight palate with hints of conifer, stem and oak vanillin in the background. The fruit is nicely married
to soft tannins and the wine finishes with good generosity.
2012 Laetitia Estate Whole Cluster Arroyo Grande Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.78, TA 0.59, 420
cases, $40. 45% whole cluster maceration and fermentation. Aged 11 months in 50% new French
oak barrels. Previously reviewed April 19, 2014 and notes are from that review.
purple color in the glass. You better be sitting down when you drink this knock out wine. Copious
aromas of black cherry, spice, rose petal and other exotic flower scents. Reminds me of a classy
woman’s perfume. Seamless and sensual on the palate, offering a festival of spice black cherries
and black raspberries with perfectly integrated tannins and acidity, and a long, supple finish that
leaves an impression. Everything good about whole cluster is exemplified in this beauty that has that
magical je ne sais quoi that makes people go ga-ga over some red Burgundies.
MacPhail Opens Tasting Lounge at The Barlow in Sebastopol The opening coincided
with the recent West of West Festival held at The Barlow in Sebastopol. The tasteful design incorporates all
reclaimed woods and steel, in keeping with the theme of The Barlow which once was an apple processing
plant. The interior focal point is artist Richard Von Saal’s 30-foot tall sculpture of welded wagons, his
interpretation of MacPhail wine being poured from a bottle. The Tasting Lounge is open daily from 11:00 to
6:00, and will stay open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until 8:00 offering wines by the glass for The
Barlow’s weekly street fairs. Reservations are suggested (707-824-8400) for the various tasting options. Food
pairing options will be offered soon.
One For All Gabriel-Glas Wine glass producers, namely Riedel, urge consumers to have a different
glass for each varietal. Since I drink almost solely Pinot Noir, sparkling wine and Chardonnay, my preference is
a single glass: the Zalto Burgundy glass. Swiss German wine critic René Gabriel, the man behind the new
“universal” wine glass from the Austrian company Gavriel-Glas, has created a wine glass that is compatible
with every wine, be it white, red, sparkling or dessert wine. Some sommeliers swear by it, saying that it works
with every wine. The Gabriel-Glass is designed with a broader base at the bottom of the glass, giving the wine
more surface to air contact permitting the aromas and flavors to emerge, and a conical shape at the top of the
glass acting as a “bouquet driver.” The Gabriel-Glas is sturdy and dishwasher safe and should be attractive to
restaurants. The lead-free crystal wine glass was first introduced into the United States at the end of 2012.
There are two options: the mouth-blown “Gold Edition” glass that retails for $55 and the molded “StandArt”
glass that retails for $29. The Gabriel-Glas is sold at many retail stores in the United States. I personally have
not tried the wine glass.
Fogline Vineyards Opens New Winery and Tasting Room Proprietor Evan Pontoriero
announced that his winery, Fogline Vineyards, has leased a property at 875 River Road in Fulton, CA, that was
Saralee Knude’s farmery building that had sat empty for 13 years. It was originally built for Fulton Valley
Cellars in 1984 where Rod Berglund was the first winemaker. George Davis of Porter Creek and Bob Mueller
of Mueller Winery made wines there as well. Robert Mondavi eventually acquired the facility but was unable to
get the permits needed to expand the site into a large winery. The new owners, Spring Hill Church, agreed to
lease the property for its original use. Evan said they have renovated the building to incorporate a tasting room
and will have a Bocce court and picnic table out front. The wine production facility will be ready for the 2014
harvest. Fogline Vineyards produces Pinot Noir from the Fogline Estate Vineyard located on Sonoma
Mountain in the Petaluma Gap region of the Sonoma Coast as well as neighboring vineyards in that region.
The 2012 wines are reviewed in this issue and are superb. Visit www.foglinevineyards.com.
Williams Selyem in the News At the recent Central Coast Wine Classic, Blake Brown & Roelanda
Genn of Santa Barbara, who are consummate wine aficionados, and Burt Williams & Rebecca Aff of Montecito,
along with San Ysidro Ranch, offered an auction item that included a four course dinner for six people in the
private dining room at the Old Adobe of the San Ysidro Ranch featuring wines that Burt Williams Crafted at
Williams Selyem. Burt agreed to attend. The wines included 2008 Williams Selyem Blanc de Noir Drake
Estate Vineyard, 1992 Williams Selyem Allen Vineyard Chardonnay (magnum), 1992 Williams Selyem
Ferrington Vineyard Pinot Noir, 1992 Williams Selyem Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 1994 Williams Selyem
Ferrington Vineyard Pinot Noir, 1995 Williams Selyem Allen Vineyard Pinot Noir, 1996 Williams Selyem
Precious Mountain Pinot Noir, 1997 Williams Selyem Ferrington Vineyard Pinot Noir, and 1991 Williams
Selyem Mendocino County Zinfandel. After feverish bidding, the lot sold for $16,000!
On June 19, 2014, at the Kanpai Lounge in the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco, five judges from the San
Francisco International Wine Competition convened to taste a vertical of 8 vintages of Williams Selyem Allen
Vineyard Pinot Noir. Howard Allen, who died in 2013, owned the property on which Williams Selyem made
their wines after their start in a garage in Fulton. Allen Vineyard was planted to Pommard, Dijon 115, and
Wente clones. The vineyard was farmed and managed by Joe Rochioli, Jr.. All bottles were obtained directly
from the Williams Selyem winery. The tasters were Fred Dame, Marcus Garcia, Gregory Walter, Dr. Rowald
Hepp, and Anthony Dias Blue. The results were posted in The SOMM Journal (August/September 2014). The
tasting panel concluded the 2004 Williams Selyem Allen Vineyard Pinot Noir was a “classic.” The wines: 1995,
score 93, Drink now-2017; 1996, score 92, Drink now-2019; 1999, score 88, Drink now-2017, 2002, score 94,
Drink now-2024; 2004, score 97, Drink 2016-2026; 2007, score 91, Drink now-2018; 2009, score 98, Drink
now-2030; 2010, score 95, Drink now-2024. New releases are about $80, with prices on the secondary market
about $150 or more.
Eric Kent Wine Cellars Celebrates 10 Years of Wine & Art You may not read this notice
before the event, and it is too late to RSVP, but you can continue to drink the wines and obtain the book. 2014
marks the release of the 10th vintage of Eric Kent, founded by Kent and Colleen Humphrey. I have known and
followed Kent Humphrey and his Eric Kent Wine Cellars wines since shortly ofter his first release, and I am
very happy to see him achieve his much-deserved success. His wines are in great demand and loved by
critics, and he is now a consulting winemaker for several other small labels as well. On August 16, Kent
Humphrey is hosting a wine tasting and 10-year retrospective art show featuring over 70 pieces of original art
or prints that have graced the Eric Kent labels over the past 10 years. The event is open to trade and media
from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM, and then Eric Kent mailing list members, artists and other VIP guests from 4:00 PM
to 9:00 PM. Kent has published a beautiful new coffee table book, Eric Kent: Celebrating 10 Years of Wine and
Art, which contains not only all of the original art featured on the Eric Kent labels, but the milestones reached at
each vintage set against photographs that tells the story of Eric Kent Wines.
Jason Kesner Appointed New Winemaker at Kistler Vineyards Jason started out as
vineyard manager for Hudson Vineyards where he caught the eye of Steve Kistler, a winemaking legend who
sources fruit from Hudson Vineyards. In 2008, Jason became assistant winemaker at Kistler, and recently was
anointed winemaker there. Jason has made his own wines in tiny quantities for years under the Kesner label.
Erin Miller new Twomey Pinot Noir Winemaker The Duncan family of Silver Oak Cellars and
Twomey Cellars announced in June the appointment of Nate Weis as Winemaker for Silver Oak and Erin Miller
as Pinot Noir Winemaker for Twomey Cellars. Erin, formerly of Evening Land Vineyards, will report to longtime
Silver Oak and Twomey Director of Winemaking Daniel Baron. Erin previously worked for Hartford Family
Winery and Kendall-Jackson’s Vinwood Cellars. She earned her MS from UC Davis. She has a passion for
vineyard-driven winemaking and a reputation for crafting site-specific Pinot Noirs.
Willamette Valley Wineries Pinot in the City. 66 Willamette Valley wineries are on the road from
Oregon to Seattle, Washington September 11, 2014. The wines will be served with hors d/oeuvres from
Herban Feast at their unique Sodo Park venue just south of downtown Seattle. For tickets ($65), visit
24th Annual Oregon Grape Stomp Championship & Harvest Celebration Visitors
from all over the country come to compete in teams of two (stomper and swabbie) for the title and earn a trip to
Santa Rosa, California for the World Championship Grape Stomp. The event will be held Saturday and
Sunday, September 20 and 21, from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM at the Willamette Valley Vineyards Estate Vineyard.
The founder of Willamette Valley Vineyards, Jim Bernau, will be competing with Mrs. Oregon on Sunday at
3:30 PM. Kids are invited to participate. Admission is $10 and includes wine tasting and live music. There is
also a $10 fee per team to stomp. Reserve a stomping time at 1-800-344-9463.
Wally’s Offers Many Cult Pinot Noirs If you are not on the mailing list for cult and highly desirable
Pinot Noirs, you have to turn to the auction or secondary market. Wally’s Wine & Spirits, one of Los Angeles’
top wine retailers, has recent entered the auction market and limited their Pinot Noir wine selection to the hardto-
get labels. You pay dearly to buy them, but it is impossible to find another retailer with such a broad
selection of these special wines. Burgundies too. Consider the labels among the 326 domestic Pinot Noir
offerings: Aubert, Barden, Donum Estate, Eric Kent, DuMOL, GoGi, George, Kistler, Kosta Browne, Littorai,
Marcassin, Morlet, Paul Lato, Peter Michael, Rivers-Marie, Rochioli, Rhys, Sea Smoke, Skywalker Vineyards,
Williams Selyem. Visit www.wallywine.com.
Which States Drink the Most Wine? The Drinks Business (July 30, 2014) reported statistics
released by the Beer Institute and reported by The Washington Post, that indicated New Hampshire consumes
more alcoholic beverages than any other state. This may due to the absence of sales tax and the fact that
about half the state’s alcohol is sold to residents of other states. North Carolina, Montana, Nevada and
Vermont were next in that order considering per capita consumption of booze. Washington D.C. consumes the
most wine with each person drinking an average of over a half of glass of wine per day. New Hampshire again
took second place with Massachusetts and Vermont fighting it out for third and fourth. Utah comes up last in all
categories of alcohol consumption.
King Estate Pushes For Expansion of Willamette Valley AVA King Estate, Oregon’s
largest winery, is located just south of Eugene outside the Willamette Valley AVA boundaries established in
1982. Understandably, King Estate wants to use Willamette Valley in its promotion and marketing materials
rather than simply “Oregon.” The winery is but 50 feet outside the AVA. The new proposal would expand the
Williamette Valley AVA southern boundary by about 5 miles.
Oregon Wine, the App, Version 2.0 Katherine Cole, the wine columnist for The Oregonian
newspaper and MIX, Portland’s Magazine of Food + Drink, has published this app in partnership with Sutro
Media. Designed for both iPhone and iPad, it is available from iTunes for $3.99. The app includes touring and
travel tips, places to sleep and eat in wine country, Cole’s personal impressions of wineries, and her wine
recommendations for bottles to try. The app links to each winery’s web, Facebook and Twitter pages when
available and offers hours and tasting fee information. The latest edition has a number of new iOS bug fixes.
Jackson Family Wines’ Virtual Vintner According to Shanken News Daily, the La Crema brand
has launched an interactive digital program that will allow consumers to participate in a wine development. The
Virtual Vintner allows consumers to vote on winemaking decisions such as varietal, appellation, vineyard
source, barrel management, wine name and label design. The resulting wine is expected to be released in the
fall 2015. This is a clever way to market the brand and attract social media devotees. Sign up at
Winemaker Up Close & Personal: Theresa Heredia
I thought it would be interest to readers to personally get to know Pinot Noir winemakers. After all, they are a
fascinating group of people. We all know their stylistic preferences and vinification techniques, but what kind of
people are they? Do you see any of their character traits in their wines?
Theresa Heredia, Winemaker, Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery
What Pinot Noir made by someone else I am drinking now: 2011 Beaux Frères Vineyard.
My desert island wine would be: Drouhin-Vaudon Chablis. I recently had a 2008 Drohin-Vaudon
Grand Crus Chablis and I imagine it will change delightfully over the course of many years on a desert
My talent that few know about: Hyper concentration. There could be a nuclear war beginning and I
may not notice if I am really focused on something.
The thing I do religiously in my winery: I have to smell the cap, taste the must/wine and feel the
temperature of each fermenter at least twice a day. It helps me to get to know each wine intimately
which is why I’ll never forget any of them.
The clothing item I wear most in my winery: My beloved Asolo boots with Montrail inserts. Best
The wine region other than my own where I would like to make Pinot Noir: Oregon (and of
The music I am listening to: Amy Winehouse’s version of Valerie and Bob Marley’s Trenchtown.
I like to relax by: The beach, the pool, in the river, or any body of water.
If money were no object, I would: Travel the entire world, learn all the languages, and all about the
If I wasn’t a winemaker, I would be: A chemistry professor or a medical doctor.