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PinotFile 10/11

From Maggy Hawk: Kendall-Jackson’s Crown Jewel of Pinot Noir

2012 Maggy Hawk Afleet Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., pH 3.63, TA 0.59, 156 cases, $66. Pommard clone. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 43% new. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely scent of black cherry mash, spice, rose petal and grilled mushrooms. More sappy and concentrated than the 2011 version, with a bombastic array of redder cherry and berry fruits touched by oak. Deft winemaking here with suave tannins, and bright acidity that flatter the fruit core. Like all the 2012 Maggy Hawk Pinot Noirs, the finish is noteworthy for its generosity and persistence. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 Maggy Hawk Hawkster Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

15.0% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.54, 268 cases, $66. Wädenswil 2A clone. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 63% new. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. A very charming wine that aims to please with inviting scents of dark cherry, spice, rose petal and aniselaced oak. The full-bodied attack of black cherry, black raspberry and blackberry flavors are accented with a hint of spice. The most tannic of the Maggy Hawk Pinot Noirs, but has the fruit concentration to balance. The velvety mouthfeel is very seductive and the head-turning finish ramps up the intensity level a few notches. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 Maggy Hawk Jolie Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.73, TA 0.54, 312 cases, $66. Dijon clone 115. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 64% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is subdued upon opening, but blossoms over time in the glass to reveal aromas of dark cherry liquor, spice, and plenty of floral goodness including violets and roses. The nose was even more captivating the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle and was reminiscent of capturing a whiff of seductive perfume on a beautiful woman. The mid weight plus core of dark cherry and raspberry fruit is incredibly flavorful and reveals many nuances over time including spice, conifer, rosehips tea and just the right touch of oak. Elegant and sleek with amazing length, this wine is the whole package. Compared to the 2011 vintage, this wine is a bit more elegant, more fashionable and shows more adroit oak integration. I have tasted this wine on three other occasions and was blown away each time. An exemplar. Score: 98. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 Maggy Hawk Stormin’ Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.54, 223 cases, $66. Dijon clone 667. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 41% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is more earthy than fruity, with aromas of mulch, mushroom and a hint of blackberry jam. Very soft and silky in the mouth with impressive harmony, this mid weight wine offers layers of sweet dark blackberry, black raspberry and spiced plum flavors accented by complimentary mocha-laced oak. The tannins are satiny and folded in nicely. The fruit intensity builds in the mouth, culminating in an orgasmic finish that never seems to want to go away. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2011 Maggy Hawk Afleet Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.57, 97 cases, $66. Pommard clone. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 34% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of Bing cherry, blackberry, dried herbs and vanilla lead to a mid weight palate of enticing spicy black cherry and raspberry fruit flavors with a thread of herbs and oak vanillin in the background. The tannins are ripe, firm and well-proportioned, the mouthfeel is soft and smooth, and the finish has impressive length. The wine was even better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle with deep cherry flavor and a ridiculously long finish. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2011 Maggy Hawk Hawkster Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

15.0% alc., pH 3.69, TA 0.54, 195 cases, $66. Wädenswil 2A clone. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 39% new. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Very shy aromas of dark cherry and berry with a hint of marzipan and spice. Well-endowed with luscious cherry and berry fruits with a noticeable oak overlay that compliments rather than intrudes. The tannins are modest and supportive, and the finish has a generous richness. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2011 Maggy Hawk Jolie Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.57, 242 cases, $66. Dijon clone 115. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 48% new. · Gorgeous moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. This wine has an “Oh God!” nose offering sexy aromas of Bing cherry, cardamom spice, dark chocolate and vanilla bean. The delicious black cherry core saturates the mid palate, expands in the mouth, and carries over to a finish that seems to last a minute. Suede-like tannins frame the fruit which is accented by oak-driven notes of spice, mocha and vanilla. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and recorked bottle, the aromatic goodness was still in full dress. The only nit I have is that the oak is a little heavyhanded. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2011 Maggy Hawk Unforgettable Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

15.1% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.54, 196 cases, $66. Dijon clone 667. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 26% new. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose leads with effusive aromas of blackberry, boysenberry, cherry, redwood and forest floor. Soft and smooth on the palate with a mid weight array of dark cherry and berry flavors complimented by a savory, “woodsy” tone that is hard to describe but very likable. Oak-driven notes of anise and toast play in the background. Juicy acidity brings the wine on target. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »


From Phelps Creek Vineyards: A Unique Burgundian Collaboration

2014 Phelps Creek Vineyards Fleur de Roy Columbia Gorge Oregon Rosé of Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 120 cases, $26, screwcap. Clone 115. A saignée from estate grapes picked early made in the fashion that winemaker Alexandrine Roy employs for her rosé at home in Gevrey-Chambertain. Fermented in neutral French oak barrels. · Moderately light salmon color in the glass. This is an exceptional rosé that leads with scents of fresh strawberries and peaches that really draw you into the glass. Crisp, with bright flavors of strawberry, pear and apricot, the wine wraps the palate in fresh fruit flavors, and leaves on impression on the uplifting finish. Straight and true, this wine is among the best that Oregon has to offer. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Phelps Creek Vineyards Le Petit Columbia Gorge Oregon Pinot Noir

12.6% alc., TA 0.65, 238 cases, $28, screwcap. Estate grown Pinot Noir. A Cru Beaujolais style wine incorporating whole cluster, carbonic fermentation. Dijon clone 115. Harvest Brix 22.8º. Aged in stainless tank. · Light cherry red color in the glass. Heady scents of strawberry, cherry, cake spice and floral bouquet lead to a light weight, pleasant wine that is easy to like. Spirited by red berry flavor and a cranberry-laced finish, this wine has refreshingly crisp acidity. Serve slightly chilled. Score: 87. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Phelps Creek Vineyards Columbia Gorge Oregon Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., 1,204 cases, $34. Estate grown. Clones are Pommard, Dijon 115 and 777. Harvest Brix 23.7º. Aged in French oak barrels, 10% new Cadus. · Moderate light cherry red color in the glass. Nicely appointed nose with aromas of cherry spice, sousbois and black tea. Soft and smooth in the mouth, with straightforward flavors of cherry and raspberry framed by modest tannins. A solid everyday drinker. Score: 88. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Phelps Creek Vineyards “Regina” Columbia Gorge Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 93 cases, $49. The finest 4 barrels of Pommard clone in the cellar. Oldest plantings of self-rooted vines. Named in honor of owner Robert Morus’ mother. Harvest Brix 23.7º. Aged in French oak barrels, 25% new. · Moderately light reddish purple hue in the glass. Engaging aromas of Bing cherry, dark red rose and spice. Plenty of Pinot singing in this wine with a delicious core of Asian-spiced cherry goodness complimented by subtle oak. Very suave and elegant with a markedly intense and lengthy finish that sports some ripe fruit tannins that offer textural interest. Extremely giving and enjoyable now. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Phelps Creek Vineyards Cuvée Alexandrine Columbia Gorge Oregon Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 244 cases, $54. The winery’s flagship wine consisting of 10 barrels carefully selected from the estate vineyards by winemaker Alexandrine Roy. Pommard and Dijon 115 and 777. Harvest Brix 23.8º. Native yeast fermentation, aged in French oak barrels, 25% new Cadus. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. An earthy, savory nose with hints of black cherry, BBQ spice, tobacco and oak. Quite elegant on the palate with a deep black cherry flavor accented with dried herbs and anise-laced oak. Very charming now, but not fully expressive, and more giving the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. I would cellar a year or two. Do I dare say, “Burgundian?” Score: 92-93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2010 Phelps Creek Vineyards “Beehive” Columbia Gorge Oregon Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., TA 0.62, 80 cases, $54. The Beehive Block is south of the original estate vineyard planting, the site of abandoned commercial beehives on a field when the property was acquired. The clone 777 planted here has extraordinary character in cooler years like 2010. Harvest Brix 23.6º. A 3-barrel selection were aged in once-used French oak barrels for 24 months. · Medium reddish purple color in the glass. Unrelenting aromas of black cherry, spice, and potpourri. Wow! Terrific attack and finish with wondrous harmony and finesse, featuring delicious mid weight flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and spice. A stunning wine that has an earthy vein in the background and is not simply fruity. This wine is currently drinking at is apogee. Score: 95. WINERY » ARTICLE »


From Sips of Recently Tasted California Pinot Noir

2013 Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve California Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.73, TA 0.50, 6,415 cases, $26. 66% Monterey County and 34% Santa Barbara County Jackson Estates fruit. A potpourri of mountain, ridge, hillside and benchland grapes. Crafted from the top 7% of Kendall-Jackson lots. 70% of the wine is from the same vineyard blocks each year ensuring greater consistency. Aged 9 months in predominantly French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Exuberant aromas upon opening of black cherry, strawberry, clove and forest floor which fade a bit over time in the glass. A cherry-themed wine of good richness with a pleasing compliment of spice and oak. A forward, easy drinking wine. Score: 87. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Kendall-Jackson Jackson Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., TA 0.60, 3,445 cases, $30. Released March 2015. Aged 9 months in 71% French oak (40% new) and 29% American oak. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Oak-driven aromas of smoke, mocha and vanilla side with black cherry fruit. Mid weight ripe fruit flavors of black cherry and black raspberry are strongly accented with cola and vanilla. Well-structured, with balancing acidity, and some finishing intensity. Score: 88. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Ryan Cochrane Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay

14.0% alc., 125 cases, $34. Wente clone 4. Native yeast fermentation, 100% malolactic fermentation. Barrel fermented and aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. The nose is very charming, with pleasing aromas of lemon peel, brioche and vanilla pastry creme. Flavors of lemon, Asian pear, white peach and subtle vanilla are accented with a saline minerality. Nicely balanced with adept integration of oak, and thirst-quenching acidity on a finish that has some persistence. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Inman Family Russian River Valley Chardonnay

12.2% alc., 515 cases, $35, screwcap. Sourced from Pratt-Irwin Lane Vineyard. Harvest Brix 21.5º. Whole cluster pressed, cold settled, and sent to a combination of 40% new French oak barrels and 60% to small stainless steel barrels. Lees stirring weekly until malolactic fermentation completed, and monthly thereafter. Native yeast and bacteria fermentations, 100% malolactic fermentation. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. A Chablis-styled wine that shows modesty and restraint. Aromas of lemon, crème brûlée, and almond spread lead to a crisp, clean and uplifting flavors of green apple, lemon, Asian pear and the faintest kiss of oak, finishing with a burst of refreshing, lemon-lime driven flavor that persists. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Ryan Cochrane Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 125 cases, $43. 75% Dijon 115, 25% Pommard 5. 20% whole cluster fermentation. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 20% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. More red-fruited in this vintage, offering scents of strawberry, cherry and sandalwood. Appealing elegance on the palate, with a vibrant array of red cherry and red berry flavors. The tannins are folded in nicely, there is inviting underlying acidity, the oak plays a complimentary role in the background, and the long red cherry finish grabs your attention. A completely different wine than the 2012 vintage offering, but equally enjoyable for its pinot character. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Ryan Cochrane Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 392 cases, $43. 33% Dijon 115, 33% Dijon 667 and 33% Pommard 5. 30% whole cluster fermentation. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. This wine sports a little more concentration, roundness and polish than the 2012 version. Aromas of cherry, red berry and toasty oak become more giving over time in the glass. Smooth and debonair on the palate, with a middleweight core of ripe black cherry fruit that is juicy and persistent. The tannins are supple, their is lively supporting acidity, and the cherry-fueled finish is uplifting. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Olsen Perri Wines L’Apache Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.60, 92 cases, $45. A selection of the best 4 barrels of the 2013 vintage. The name gets its inspiration from a violent but colorful Paris street gang from the late 1800s known as the Apache (“a-posh”). Grapes were sourced from Hilliard Bruce Vineyards, Bassi Ranch and Pence Ranch. Clones 777 and Pommard. Minor stem inclusion, cool native fermentation in small batches, pressed with a basket press and moved to French oak barrels, 50% new, where it was aged for 10 months. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of darker red berries and cherries, green herbs and oak. The fruit flavors of black cherry and black raspberry are overlain with an earthy, herbal tone and plenty of toasty oak. The tannins are nicely folded in and the finish is quite juicy. There is too much oak at play for my personal taste at present, but this may mitigate some over time in bottle. Score: 88. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 Asuncion Ridge Vineyards San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 163 cases, $38. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black raspberry, forest floor and nutty oak unfold slowly in the glass. Delicious mid weight plus core of well-ripened dark berry fruits with a supportive note of oak. The fruit really sparkles with an aggressive mid palate attack and expansive finish. Modest tannins allow for enjoyment now, although this wine was even more enjoyable the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 Ryan Cochrane Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 134 cases, $43. 75% Dijon 115, 25% Pommard 5. 30% whole cluster fermentation. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 20% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A bit brooding initially, reluctantly offering aromas of dark berry fruits, rose petal and oak. The succulent, mid weight plus blackberry and boysenberry fruits flood the mouth with sweet, sappy goodness, carrying over to a luscious finish offering citrus-laced berry fruits. The most concentrated and darkest fruited of the four Pinot Noirs tasted here with the most intensity on the finish. The wine becomes more appealing over time in the glass and showed better oak integration the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Decant if you drink now, but better to give this beauty another year or two in bottle. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 Ryan Cochrane Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 143 cases, $43. 50% Dijon 115, 50% Pommard 5. 30% whole cluster fermentation. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of dark cherry, baking spice and tobacco become more effusive over time in the glass. Very elegant, with mid weight flavors of cherry, Damsel plum, and tobacco at play. Modest tannins, with vivid finishing acidity. This wine charms with finesse. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 Inman Family Thorn Ridge Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., 226 cases, $56, screwcap. Sourced from Ted Klopp’s ranch in the Sebastopol Hills with vines planted in Goldridge soil. Pommard and Dijon 777 clones. Last wine from this vineyard source. Native yeast and bacteria fermentations. 100% de-stemmed, 4-day cold soak, native yeast and bacteria fermentations. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. Gently filtered by crossflow. · Light cherry red color in the glass. Plenty of interest on the nose with scents of black cherry, blackberry, dried herbs, earth, tar and wood cask. The flavors of dark cherries and berries are accented with notes of game and tarry oak. Silky in the mouth, with modest tannins and some noteworthy finishing power. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 Asuncion Ridge Vineyards San Luis Obispo County Barrel Select Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 54 cases, $58. 100% free-run juice from all vineyard clones but mainly Pommard and 115. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Don’t even think about drinking this wine now without decanting. When tasted a day after opening from a decanted bottle, the wine was glorious with hi-tone aromas of dark berries and spice. Robust, yet velvety on the palate, with waves of boysenberry, blackberry, cola and exotic spice flavors that are perfectly complimented by oak. Beautifully balanced, with amazing fruit expression only possible in California. This special wine will excel with even more over time in the cellar. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 Inman Family Olivet Grange Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.51, 825 cases, $63, screwcap. Grapes are from the estate OGV Vineyard that is organically farmed. Clones 114, 115, 667, 777 and “828.” Over 50% whole clusters, native yeast and bacteria fermentations. Aged 22 months in primarily Sirugue French oak barrels sur lie with regular stirring. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The nose brings a pleasing smile with hi-tone aromas of Bing cherry, baking spice, and rose petal. Vigorous on the attack, with delicious flavors of cherry, strawberry, cola, earthy flora, and spice. Silky and elegant on the palate, with modest tannins, balanced acidity, and a finish consumed by intense cherry goodness. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 COBB Emmaline Ann Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

12.5% alc., 175 cases, $75. This Freestone Valley vineyard gets the most shade and fog of any of the vineyards winemaker Cobb works with. 30% whole clusters. Aged 22 months in French oak barrels, 30% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. A loud nose of ever-expanding aromas of cherry, raspberry, rose petal, spice and sandalwood. Lighter in weight and quite demure, but very flavorful, with tastes of cherry, strawberry, spice and floral goodness, framed by suave tannins and lifted by a bright spark of acidity. A lengthy finish completes the deal. Even more whole cluster evident the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 COBB Rice-Spivak Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

12.5% alc., 225 cases, $75. Dijon and Swan selection plantings in Goldridge soil. Aged 22 months in French oak barrels, 22% new. · Medium reddish purple color in the glass. Perfumed and sensuous, with aromas of Bing cherry, plum, spice, rose petal and smoky oak. Light to mid weight cornucopia of succulent cherry, strawberry, and blueberry fruits with a vein of citrus in the background and exotic edges to the experience. Exemplary roundness, with supple tannins, a silky mouth feel, and a refreshing grip on the finish which offers flavor and cut. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the aromas were still heavenly, and the finish had picked up steam. Brilliant! Score: 95. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 COBB Diane Cobb: Coastlands Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 225 cases, $85. A cofermentation of 18 to 20 different Pinot Noir selections from Diane Cobb’s nursery block of dry-farmed, own-rooted vines that are among the oldest in the region. Seventh vintage. 40% whole clusters. Aged 22 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Deep, penetrating scents of cherry, black raspberry, spice, rose petal and humid bark. Ever-expanding flavors of black cherry, grenadine, black raspberry, and Asian 5-spice that saturate every nook and cranny in the mouth. Impeccable harmony with supportive fine-grain tannins, and a huge, peacock tail finish that is stunning. I was at a loss for more superlatives the following day when tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle when the arsenal of aromas and flavors were entirely seductive. Score: 97. WINERY » ARTICLE »


Robert Parker’s 100 point wine scoring system, which became popular in 1983 and adopted by the Wine Spectator in 1988, has been a homing beacon for consumers seeking to buy good wine. Currently, a majority of United States based wine critics and magazines use the 100 point scale.

The reality is that the 100 point scale is actually a 10 point scale. MORE»
A Note About Prices

Price shown in a tasting note is either the winery-direct price or the retail price paid by the Prince.