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Reviewed Wines from the current Newsletter
PinotFile 11/14

From A Dozen California Wineries Offer Holiday Cheer

2016 Kutch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

12.1% alc., $39. Release January 9, 2018. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Soaring aromas of black raspberry, spice, burnt tobacco and tutti-fruiti. Sleek and eager to please in a forward drinking mid weight style, featuring flavors of black cherry and black raspberry with a tasty spice riff and a carbonic maceration note. Well-structured, with a compliment of oak, taking on more pride with time in the glass. Perfectly fine when tasted up to four days from a previously opened and re-corked bottle indicating good age ability. Drink this wine now and over an extended time of cellaring. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Valerie’s Vineyard One Acre Carneros Pinot Noir

14.1% alc.,100 cases, $40. Three families hand farm this 1-acre vineyard along with vineyard practices guided by Phil Coturri. Produced and bottled by Benziger Family Winery, Glen Ellen (winemaker Jeff McBride). 14th vintage. Aged 12 months in 100% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light ruby red color in the glass. Intoxicating aromas of fresh berries, fertile earth and compost. Gorgeous in every way, featuring a vivid mid weight core of dark red cherry and berry flavors framed by engaging tannins and supported by juicy acidity. The unbelievably intense and persistent finish is a message from heaven. I have tasted almost every vintage of Valerie’s and the wines are consistently fine, but this one is the best ever. Score: 95. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Kutch Bohan Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

11.3% alc., $49. Release January 9, 2018. · Moderately light ruby red color in the glass. A pheromonic nose offering a deep well of fresh cherry, strawberry, and raspberry fruits along with exotic spices including mulling spice. A wine of ethereal refinement, with searching and perfumes flavors of red cherry and berry, spice, tobacco and bacon fat. Very silky mouthfeel with a buried but supportive structure and a refreshing finish that drives another sip. Only Pinot Noir could offer a wine of such delicacy and sensuality while knocking your socks off with flavor. This is a wine to share with your partner for it could easily lead to romance. Score: 97. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Kutch Signal Ridge Vineyard Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir

12.0% alc., $49. Release August 14, 2018. Second vintage from this vineyard. The vineyard is often referred to as an “Island in the Sky” because it is the highest vineyard in all of Sonoma and Mendocino County at 2,800 feet elevation. Located just north of the Sonoma Coast AVA. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Intriguing aromas of exotic floral bouquet, crushed red grapes, spice, and potpourri. Mid weight flavors of blackberry, purple grape, plum and black raspberry entice as does the accents of burnt spice, tobacco a edible flower. Plenty of whole cluster goodness in this wine with integrated tannins, welcome vibrancy and a juicy finish. An adventurous wine that was much better at the two day and four day interval after opening. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Kutch Falstaff Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

12.0% alc., $59. Release January 9, 2018. Vineyard is located 8.2 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Soils are marine quartz sandstone and Goldridge. Vine age is 13+ years. Clones are dijon “828,” 115 and 777 on 101 x 14 rootstock. A very cold site. Planted in 2001 by owners Ron and Judy Lougheed. Very intense and small clusters with berries the size of peas. Yields often less than 1 ton per acre. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Intoxicating nose of pie cherry, pipe smoke and exotic spice. Mouth filling goodness in a mid weight style offering flavors of cherry, raspberry, burnt tobacco and spice. Plenty of tannic backbone for support working in harmony with welcome acidity. The polished mouthfeel is striking as is the extraordinarily long finish. Still exceptional when tasted four days after a bottle was opened and re-corked. This wine shows the most whole cluster character of the wines in the 2016 lineup. Score: 95. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Kutch McDougall Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

12.0% alc., $59. Release August 14, 2018. Vineyard is situated 3.5 miles from the Pacific Ocean at 935-1,030 feet elevation. Soils are Graywacke and sandstone. Clones 114 and 115 on 44-53 rootstock planted in 1998. Located 1.7 miles north of Hirsch Vineyards. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Other worldly aromas of crushed black cherry, pine, spice and burnt tobacco. Amazing attack and expansive mouth filling presence of black cherry fruit. A fruit grenade combined with an ephemeral demeanor. This beauty offers exceptional length, vibrant underlying acidity and uncommon finishing intensity. A complete wine that has everything you could ask for in Pinot Noir. Still great when tasted four days after opening the bottle. Ridiculously good. Score: 98. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Chalk Hill Mt. Eden Clone Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.80, TA 0.60, 280 cases, $60. Proprietor is William P. Foley II. Grown, produced and bottled by Chalk Hill Estate Winery, Healdsburg. The Chalk Hill Estate located in the northeastern hills of the Russian River Valley is a bit warm for growing Pinot Noir, but the winery’s Trenton Road Vineyard, located a few miles west is better situated. The vineyard’s 45 acres are planted to Mt. Eden and Pommard clones and Swan selections of Pinot Noir. Average harvest Brix 24.7º. Aged 10 months with monthly lees stirring for 4 months in French oak barrels, 67% new. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of dark berry fruits, toast and cigar box lead to a mid weight plus array of very ripe blackberry and black currant flavors accented with notes of smoke and toast. The high alcohol propels the wine’s lush, velvety structure. The firm tannin structure supports the richly fruited core. The wine lacks some vibrancy and the finish is very modest. The impression is a wine from a warm site with some resemblance to a Syrah. Score: 87. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 La Follette North Coast Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $24, screw cap. The primary source for this wine is the Straquandanio Vineyard, planted in the 1970s. Picked in three passes to capture the essence of the old vines. Bottled unfixed and unfiltered. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Cozy aromas of earthiness, blackberry, wood spice and smoke. Mid weight flavors of black raspberry, boysenberry and blackberry in a forward drinking style with good mid palate richness, fine-grain tannins, bright acidity and a satisfying finish. A terrific value priced wine. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Carmel Road Monterey Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., TA 0.57, $25, screw cap. Aged 9 months in barrel, 16% new French oak. · Moderately light ruby red color in the glass. The nose opens nicely over time in the glass, offering fresh aromas of dark red cherry, spice and dusty oak. Light weighted and easy going, with bright flavors of cherry, strawberry and mocha. Lacy in texture with silky tannins and a cherry-fueled finish. A simple but redeeming wine. Score: 88. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Roth Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 4,310 cases, pH 3.88, TA 0.564, $28. Aged on the lees for 11 months in French and American oak barrels , 30% new. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. The nose opens slowly in the glass to reveal aromas of black cherry, oak spice and toasted almond. Forward drinking mid weight flavors of purple and black fruits and a touch of spice framed by gentle tannins. Oak plies the background, the mouthfeel is genteel and the finish modest. Nothing stands out, but there is little to complain about especially at this price. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Carmel Road Panorama Vineyard Arroyo Seco Monterey Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.54, $35. Clones 23, 667 and 777. Aged 13 months in French oak barrels, 24% new. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The nose is infused with welcoming aromas of black cherry, blackberry, earthy flora and a bit of oak. The black cherry core is quite tasty on the palate, enhanced with an earthy tone. Impressive harmony, with juicy acidity, modest tannins, and a light touch of oak. The satiny mouthfeel is quite seductive. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Sanglier River Tusque Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.56, 124 cases, $36. The name of this wine is French Provencal for “The Old Lands.” Aged 9 months in French oak barrels, 10% new and 90% 1 to 3-year-old. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose is wild and exotic, with aromas of purple berries and complimentary oak notes. Generously endowed in a mid weight plus style, with intense and succulent flavors of boysenberry, pomegranate and blackberry augmented with loads of spice. The wine’s haunting flavors are framed by supporting tannins and an unusually lengthy finish. This wine just has plenty of Pinot speak. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 La Follette Sangiacomo Roberts Road Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.58, 340 cases, $42. This vineyard is located at the base of the eastern foothills of the Sonoma Coast AVA, directly adjacent to Gap’s Crown Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap. Dijon 777 and Swan clones. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 38% new. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Welcome aromas of black cherry, cardamom spice, vanilla, herbs and fertile earth. Impressive attack, length and finish in a silky, refined, mid weight style that is beautifully balanced. Flavors of purple berries and plum linger on the quenching finish. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Pfendler Vineyards Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 250 cases, $45. Estate grown. Bottled by Pfendler Vineyards, Santa Rosa. Winemaker Greg Bjornstad. Clones are Swan, Calera and Pommard. Harvest Brix 23.4º. Extremely small yields in this vintage. 7 to 10-day cold soak, inoculated for primary fermentation. Basket pressed with primary finishing in barrel within two weeks. All native secondary fermentation with some lees stirring. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of black raspberry, blackberry, turned earth and vanilla creme lead to a mid weight plus styled wine with a core of earthy dark berry fruits and a bit of savory tobacco/leafy accent in the background. Beautifully balanced with a modest but pleasing finish. Unchanged when sampled the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Sarah’s Vineyard Estate Santa Clara Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 385 cases, $45. Produced and bottled by Sarah’s Vineyard, Gilroy. Clones 667, 777, 115 and a “DRC” selection from Sarah’s Vineyard. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Engaging aromas of red cherry, raspberry, baking spice and sandalwood. Sleek and polished in the mouth with a very enjoyable core of fresh Bing cherry and red berry fruits in a middleweight style. Lazy tannins, deft oak management and some length on the finish add to the appeal. A lot of Bing cherry singing in this wine. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Black Kite Cellars Kite’s Rest Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., pH 3.50, TA 0.61, 1,362 cases, $50. Dijon 114, 115 and Pommard. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 33% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose leads with aromas of purple grape, pomegranate and nutty oak. Oak-kissed purple and black fruits arrive on the palate with a rush, showing good mid palate presence and finishing persistence. Somewhat burly, unresolved tannins show up on the finish. More appealing when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Black Kite Cellars Sierra Mar Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.60, 91 cases, $50. Pisoni clone. Aged 12 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of blackberry, black raspberry, fertile earth and toasty oak open the way for a mid weight styled wine that is richly appointed with flavors of black cherry, blueberry and pomegranate infused with notes of dark chocolate and toast. Lush in the mouth, with agreeable tannins, and a bombastic cherry finish. This wine needs a little more time to integrate the new oak but it is a hedonistic charmer in the Pisoni mold. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Carmel Road Panorama Vineyard First Row Arroyo Seco Monterey Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.53, $55. Sourced from the vineyard floor. The first row of vines acts like a protective barrier from winds for the other rows. Clones 667 and 777. Aged 13 months in French oak barrels, 20% new. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Lovely perfume of fresh dark berries and baking spices. Silky and elegant on the palate in a middleweight style, this enticing wine shows a pure expression of black cherry fruit with a compliment of spice. Seamless, with tannins in check. Still very enticing when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Carmel Road Panorama Vineyard North Crest Arroyo Seco Monterey Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.73, TA 0.55, $55. Sourced from the north facing slope of the largest knoll within the vineyard that is exposed to gusty winds. Clones 23, 667 and 777. Aged 13 months in French oak barrels, 20% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. The scent of black cherry and bramble leads to a welcome depth of black cherry fruit accented with warm spices, earth tones, and just a thread of oak. Sleek in texture with a substantial tannic backbone. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Carmel Road Panorama Vineyard South Crest Arroyo Seco Monterey Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.55, $55. Sourced from vines located on the south facing slope of the largest knoll in the vineyard protected from afternoon marine breezes. Clones 667 and 777. Aged 13 months in French oak barrels, 20% new. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Shy aromas of ripe dark berries, prune, marzipan and fertile earth. Full-bodied, with a virile core of dark red and black cherry fruit flavors that veer to the very ripe side. Nicely balanced with immersed tannins and some finishing generosity. Re-tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, when the wine continued to show a compote character. Score: 88. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Black Kite Cellars Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.45, TA 0.64, 221 cases, $60. Dijon 777 clone. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Demure aromas of crushed dark red berries and gravelly soil lead to a mid weight plus styled wine of great character with imposing mid palate flavors of black cherry, ollaliberry and spice that hold tight through a juicy finish. Soft and soothing in the mouth, with a supportive structure and bright acidity. Deft oak integration as well. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Black Kite Cellars Redwoods’ Edge Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.50, TA 0.63, 194 cases, $60. Clones 114 and 115. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 66% new. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Engaging aromas of cherry, allspice, bark and cigar box. Soft and plush in the mouth in a light to mid weight style, offering heady flavors of boysenberry, black raspberry and black cherry with a hint of anise. Well-crafted, with balanced tannins and a richlyfruited finish of some note. The lightest and most approachable wine in the 2015 lineup. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Black Kite Cellars River Turn Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.40, TA 0.69, 198 cases $60. Pommard clone. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 66% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose is quite primary initially, opening slowly to reveal aromas of dark berries, spice and plenty of toasty, sweet oak. More expressive and quite charming on the palate, with a broad-shouldered array of black fruits balanced with integrated tannins, juicy acidity and a deft compliment of oak. Very impressive length and intensity on the vivacious finish. This wine will benefit from a year or two in the cellar. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Black Kite Cellars Stony Terrace Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.64, 195 cases, $60. Pommard clone. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 66% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Shy nose initially, opening up slowly to offer aromas of blackberry jam and a waft of oak. Mid weight plus in style, with a generous layer of blueberry, blackberry and pomegranate fruit flavors accented with oak vanillin. Sleek and quite appealing in texture, with impressive length and finishing power. This wine has the most aggressive tannins at present, arriving with a rush on the somewhat astringent finish. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine was more aromatic and the tannins less noticeable. Best to decant if you must drink now. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Sanglier Old Camp Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., pH 3.40, TA 0.66, 159 cases, $60. Release spring 2018. Vineyard planted to Pommard and 667 clones in 2006. by Glenn Alexander. Aged 9 months in French oak barrels, 50% new and 50% 1 to 3-year-old. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Shy, but very pleasant scents of black cherry, crushed purple grapes, spice and earth. Beautifully crafted in a mid weight style with vibrant flavors of black cherry and black raspberry framed by sleek, ripe tannins. A slight floral note chimes in. A notable finish features dark grape aromatics that finish generous and long. Even better when tasted two days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Tongue Dancer Pinot de Ville Putnam Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.59, 125 cases, $65. Released September 6, 2017. Winemaker James MacPhail, produced and bottled by Liquid Vinyl Ltd., Healdsburg. Vineyard is located just 6 miles from the ocean in the town of Annapolis. Clones 115 and 777. Harvest Brix 25.0º. 100% gently de-stemmed and not crushed. 5-day cold soak in 1-ton open-top fermenters. Daily punch downs by hand. Barrel fermented in French oak barrels with batonnage once every other week until primary fermentation finished. Aged 17 months on the lees in French oak barrels, 25% new. Light filtration, no fining at bottling. · Moderately light ruby red color in the glass. Shy, but welcoming aromas of black cherry and earthy flora. Good depth of black cherry and raspberry fruit with notable attack and length. Well-spiced, with a thread of toasty oak in a supportive role and the slightest confected tone. The tannins are quite silky making for easy drinking now yet the balance predicts age ability. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Gary Farrell Fort Ross Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.43, TA 0.73, 341 cases, $70. Released October 2017. Produced and bottled by Gary Farrell, Healdsburg. Inaugural release from this vineyard located on a cool, coastal ridge at 1,200 to 1,700 feet elevation. Clone 777 and a Calera selection. The 777 grapes were gently de-stemmed while the Calera grapes were delivered to tank with 36% whole clusters. 4 to 7-day cold soak, 10 days of post fermentation extended maceration, and aged 16 months on the primary lees in French oak barrels, 40% new. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. The nose is driven by savory notes of dried herbs, timber and clove with shy aromas of cherry. A round mouthful of black cherry fruit is buffered by earth and herbal flavors with some noticeable citric acidity in the background providing juiciness. The tannins have not mollified as yet and show up on the lengthy finish. Interest in this wine will depend on one’s attraction to the savory side of Pinot Noir. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Pisoni Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $85. Produced from tiny yields in this vintage. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of earth, iron, toast and dark fruits predict a serious wine. Full-bodied flavors of boysenberry, blackberry and cassis saturate the palate with goodness. Structured tannins are suave and supportive rather than intrusive. The balance is spot on. The finish is incredibly long, seemingly lasting for a minute or more. I rarely encounter a domestic Pinot Noir with this length of finish. The wine is still relatively young and is more giving when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Easily a 20-year wine. Score: 96. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Carmel Road Drew’s Blend Monterey Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $28. Sourced from Panorama, Rincon and Mission Peak vineyards. Clones 2A, Pommard, 115, 23, 667 and 777. Aged 8 months in barrel, 11% new French oak. · Light ruby red color in the glass. Slight reduction upon opening, transitioning to aromas of cherry and fertile earth. Light to mid weight in style, with a tasty core of red cherry and red berry fruits with a touch of spice. Good brightness and vibrancy, with silky tannins and a modest but satisfying finish. Not too serious, but that’s the point. Score: 88. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Velvet Bee Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.53% al.c, pH 3.53-3.78, 194 cases, $38. Released November 1, 2017. Sourced from Bentrock Vineyard (667, 25%), La Encantada Vineyard (777 and 115, 31%0 and Rancho La Viña (115, 31%). Harvest Brix 23.0º-24.3º. · Moderate ruby red color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of dark berries and nutty oak. Light to mid weight in style, with engaging flavors of red and black berries. Nicely balanced with a supportive oak thread and some envious cherry fruit on the modestly long finish. Score: 88. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Furthermore Sierra Mar Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 202 cases, $45. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry reduction, dried herbs including sage give way to a tasty mid weight plus core of black raspberry and purple grape flavors. Sleek in the mouth with filigree tannins and a modest finish. Much more expressive when tasted the following day from a previously opened and recorked bottle showing both fruit and savory notes competing for attention. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Furthermore Gioia Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.4% all., 177 cases, $50. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. The nose leads off with aromas of black cherry, purple grape and blackberry. Discreetly concentrated flavors echo the aromas with a compliment of spice and toasty oak. The fruit veers to the very ripe side but doesn’t cross the line. Plenty of mouth filling goodness and length, with a silky texture and some finishing persistence. More giving when tasted the following day from a previously opened and recorked bottle. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Furthermore Gloria Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 177 cases, $50. · Light garnet color in the glass. This wine shows a muscular punch of oak along with savory notes of fertile earth and herb garden. The mid weight red cherry core is relegated to the background. Silky in the mouth, with gentle tannins and a juicy, quenching finish. The finish is dominated by oak-driven toast and marzipan. The wine was unchanged when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 88. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Furthermore Eden Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 116 cases, $55. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Sullen red and blue fruits are pushed to the background with aromas of earthy flora and smoky oak. The mid weight essence of black cherry fruit is underpinned with smoky, herbal flavors. A very savory styled wine with silky, nebulous tannins and plenty of oak overlay showing up as burnt tobacco on the finish. Score: 87. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Furthermore Graton Ridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 348 cases, $55. · Light ruby red color in the glass. Intoxicating aroma of spiced Bing cherry with a bit of oak. Light in weight, with a core of robust cherry and raspberry fruit flavors accented with a smoky, herbal tone. Rather simple, but easy to like, with integrated tannins and a modest finish. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Furthermore Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 285 cases, $55. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Attenuated aromas of cherry, cranberry and wild strawberry touched by nutty oak. Light to mid weight engaging flavors of red cherry and red berry with plenty of spice in a seamless and forward drinking style, with some finishing length. A very typical wine from this pedigreed vineyard. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 la pitchoune English Hill Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., pH 3.63, TA 0.58, 98 cases, $58. Second vintage from this vineyard. Dijon clones 115 and 667 and a Vosne-Romanee selection. Harvest Brix 23.7º and 23.2º. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, raspberry and fertile earth are replicated in the mid weight flavors that also add notes of black tea, dried herbs and a smoky oak. Good richness of flavor and fullness on the palate with a frame of suede tannins. The refined texture pleases as does the generous finish. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Rhys Vineyards Family Farm Vineyard San Mateo County Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $59. 6.16 acres of Rhys selection, Swan, 115 and Pommard. Located at 400 feet elevation with a northeast facing exposure. 25% whole cluster, aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose gains traction over time in the glass, offering hi-tone aromas of cherry, spice, floral notes and vanilla. The mid weight flavors of plum, boysenberry and ripe strawberry arrive on the attack with notice. Soft, even mellow in texture over time, with a pleasing grip of acidity on the bright finish. Much more enjoyable when tasted from an opened bottle six hours later. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 la pitchoune Holder Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.58, 98 cases, $68. Second vintage from this family operated, 1.25-acre vineyard. Dijon 115 and 667. Harvest Brix 23.4º and 24.4º. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. The nose arrives slowly over time in the glass, opening to aromas of dark fruits, briar and earth. The mid weight plus flavors of black raspberry, cassis, blackberry and black tea are virile and alive. Very silky, polished and refined with recessed tannins and an impressive finish. This wine has the balance to age beautifully. Still impressive when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Rhys Vineyards Home Vineyard San Mateo County Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., $79. 1.32 acres, mixed field blend clones. 450-500 feet elevation with a southwest facing exposure. 100% whole cluster, aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The most open nose in the lineup, offering a seductive perfume of red berry, dark rose petal, spice and turned earth. Mid weight dark red fruits are featured, framed by raw, expressive tannins. Over time in the glass, well-spiced cherry fruit emerges lifted by juicy acidity. Oak plays a subtle dance in the background. The finish is both savory and fruity along with a little bit of astringency. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Rhys Vineyards Horseshoe Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

12.7% alc., $79. 10.85 acres planted to Rhys selection and two heritage clones at 1450-1610 feet elevation with an east, south and west facing exposure. 10% whole cluster, aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. This wine starts out quite savory with aromas of fertile earth, tobacco leaf and oak. The ebullient blackberry, pomegranate and black cherry fruits have a smoky, tobacco underpinning. The finish is remarkable for its succulence and longevity. Much more enjoyable when tasted six hours later from a previously opened bottle when the savory elements found more balance with the fruit tones. The additional new oak is evident in this wine’s early stage. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Rhys Vineyards Skyline Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.3% alc., $99. 2.12 acres planted to Rhys selection and Swan situated at 2280 to 2315 feet elevation with a southwest and southeast facing exposure. 100% whole cluster, aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 33% new. Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Many aromas show up over time on the nose including black cherry, exotic spice, burnt tobacco and rose petal. On the palate, the sappy purple fruits show uncommon concentration, but are in tune with the broad, energetic tannins and juicy acidity. The result is a beautifully balanced wine. Very exotic, with many varieties of spice showing up over time. There is textural interest from whole cluster inclusion as well. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Many aromas show up over time on the nose including black cherry, exotic spice, burnt tobacco and rose petal. On the palate, the sappy purple fruits show uncommon concentration, but are in tune with the broad, energetic tannins and juicy acidity. The result is a beautifully balanced wine. Very exotic, with many varieties of spice showing up over time. There is textural interest from whole cluster inclusion as well. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Rhys Vineyards Alpine Vineyard Hillside Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $149. 2.25 acres, selection massale, 1600 feet elevation, 6” to 18” of topsoil over soft shale. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Initially, the aromas are brooding with only a hint of black cherry, burnt tobacco and oak. Substantial tannins underlie the prodigious core of sweet black cherry fruit that is augmented with notes of exotic spice, Charcuterie and black raspberry. There is enough lively acidity to invigorate the wine. When tasted the following day and three days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, this savory wine was more aromatic with some mellowing of tannin, but still not entirely friendly (although the fruit remained seductive as did the persistent finish). This wine will require considerable patience (? ten years) in the cellar for full enjoyment. I could be underestimating the final score of this wine but it is challenging to fully evaluate its potential now. Score: 93-94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Velvet Bee Bentrock Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

13.94% alc., 196 cases, pH 3.59, TA 0.542, $38. Released November 1, 2017. Clones 667 and “828.” Harvest Brix 25.1º. Aged 24 months in French oak barrels. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Very shy aromas initially of dark fruits and nutty oak. Mid weight flavors of dark red and black fruits with a touch of spice. Quite forward, with soft tannins, bright acidity and complimentary oak in the background. Much better when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle with more aromatic and fruit expression and finishing generosity. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Velvet Bee La Encantada Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

13.31% alc., pH 3.51, TA 0.557, 125 cases, $38. Released November 1, 2017. Clones 777 and 115 (50% each). Harvest Brix 21.9º. · Moderate ruby red color in the glass. Very little to report aromatically even when checked from an opened bottle on the next day. Light in weight, even shallow, with flavors of red cherry and cranberry. Very elegantly composed with gentle tannins and supportive oak in the background. The fruit seems under ripe and there is not enough savory character to lift interest. Score: 86. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Soliste Forêt Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.7% alc. 123 cases, $85 (magnums $300). Sourced from a vineyard secluded by redwoods near Occidental, just 6 miles from the Pacific Ocean on the western coastal range. 50% whole cluster fermentation. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 22% new. · Moderately light ruby red color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, sous-bois, red berries and nutty oak. Hair-raising attack of black cherry fruit causes the drinker to sit up and take notice. Very polished and elegant, with waves of cherry and spice flavor with the slightest burnt tobacco note. Gossamer tannins with a silky soft mouthfeel and a succulent, cherry-fueled finish. The wine has the balance to age magnificently. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Soliste Sonatera Vineyard T Block Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., 123 cases, $85. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The nose is focused on aromas of spiced black cherries, plum, vanilla and sous-bois. Very elegantly composed, with dark cherry and plum fruits engaging from entry to exit. Glorious flavors with whole cluster nuances, impeccable balance, and a cherry-fueled finish that never gives up. This wine has a spring in its step and is even more enticing when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. This wine will slay any appetite for Burgundian Pinot Noir. Score: 95. WINERY » ARTICLE »


From Recently Tasted Oregon Pinot Noir Delights

2016 Shallow Seas Oregon Rosé

13.5% alc., pH 3.14, RS 2g/L, $18, screw cap. Produced and bottled by Real Nice Winemakers, Dundee, OR. Pinot Noir and Riesling sourced from Domaine Loubejac Vineyard. Harvest Brix 22.4º-24.1º. · Moderate pinkish orange color in the glass. Nicely appointed aromas of blood orange, strawberry, apricot and nectarine. The flavors echo the aromas in a bone dry style with a good grip of finishing acidity. Fresh and pleasing, holding up nicely over time in the glass. A good wine to chill out with. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Walter Scott La Combe Verte Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 1,350 cases, $28. Released September 2017. Primarily sourced from Eola-Amity Hills sources (Hope Well, Justice and Sojourner vineyards) with barrels of Vojtilla and Freedom Hill vineyards added. 15% whole cluster, ambient yeast fermentation, aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 30% new. · Moderate dark garnet color in the glass. The nose offers its pleasures over time in the glass, showing aromas of black cherry, black raspberry, and spice. More expressive on the palate, with a real mouthful of luscious purple and black fruits dressed in matched tannins. The seductively silky texture is embraceable. Well-crafted, with some finishing intensity. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Evening Land Seven Springs Eola-Amity Hills Gamay Noir

12.5% alc. $35., From a 3-acre block of estate Gamay Noir planting that is among some of the oldest Gamay vines in North America. Vinified in the traditional Beaujolaise approach in the cellar. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Pleasant aromas of cherry liquor, strawberry malt, and a leafy/vegetal note. Mid weight flavors of red cherry, cranberry are shot through with a herbaceous tone. Refreshingly crisp, with balanced tannins and a juicy, red cherry-themed finish. Score: 88. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Walter Scott Cuvée Ruth Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 350 cases, $40. Released September 2017. This wine is dedicated to the memory of Ruth and Irv Kantor, the winery’s partner’s parents showing a tribute to partners Sue and Andy who helped Ken and Erica realize their dreams. A combination of select barrels from exceptional vineyards including Seven Springs, Sojourner and Temperance Hill. Grapes from Lewman Vineyard, a site adjacent to the winery, were also blended in. A blend of Pommard, Wädenswil and Dijon clones. Fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 30% new. Bottled unfixed and unfiltered. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Shy aromas of red and purple berries with a whiff of spice. Mid weight plus in style, offering vivid flavors of boysenberry and pomegranate that flood the mouth with goodness. Silky and sleek in the mouth with cashmere tannins and laudatory oak input, finishing with class. This wine wows the palate with virility. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Privé le nord Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $59. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The nose is highly rewarding, featuring hi-tone aromas of fruit jam, spice box, rose petal and toast. Expansive flavors of black cherry, raspberry and Coca-cola with just a touch of toasty oak. A gorgeous wine with impeccable balance and long, black cherry-infused finish. Still exceptional when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle predicting age ability. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Privé le sud Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., $69. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Heady aromas of dark cherry and berry and sous bois. Mid weight plus in style, with more sappy and deeper flavor than le nord. Flavors of blackberry, black cherry, and pomegranate fruits are highlighted with tastes of tobacco and spice. Texturally seductive, with enmeshed tannins and a very generous black-fruited finish. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle the intensity and length of the finish grabbed my attention. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Privé Joie de Vivrie Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $99. 115 of 192 bottles signed by wiinemaker. Etched, heavy bottle. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Brooding aromas of dark berries, fertile earth and oak. Velvety in the mouth in a mid weight plus style with initially reserved flavors of blackberry and cassis. Heavenly texture and balance with an outlandish finish that persists in the mouth for over a minute. Even better and more giving when tasted two and three days from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Don’t even think about drinking this wine for three to five years. A tour de force that unfortunately few will get to drink. Score: 96. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Black Magnolia Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., pH 3.60, $22. Sourced from Hyland Olsen and Domaine Loubejac vineyards. · Light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, vanilla and pain grille lead to a light to mid weight style wine that is heavily oaked. The core of black cherry fruit is rather shallow and oak flavors of char and vanilla predominate. A bit disjointed, with some aggressive oak tannins. Score: 85. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Beckham Estate Vineyard Estate Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir

13.3% alc., $30. A blend from the entire estate vineyard including Pommard, Wädenswil, 115 and 777 clones. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 10% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose opens slowly in the glass to reveal aromas of blackberry, turned earth and oak vanillin. Fruit-driven by a mid weight core of black fruits accented with dark chocolate, spice and toast flavors. Very approachable, with suede tannins, balancing acidity and some finishing generosity. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Soléna Grand Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., pH 3.65, 5,000 cases, $30. Harvest Brix 24.5º. Aged 8 months in French oak barrels. · Light ruby red color in the glass. The nose is both savory and fruity with aromas of black cherry, underbrush, dried herbs and toasty oak. Light to mid weight in style featuring a cherry core with an oak frame. Simple and forward drinking, with decent mid palate presence, juicy acidity, and some cherry-driven finish. An unpretentious, everyday wine. Score: 88. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Beckham Estate Vineyard Sophia’s Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir

13.3% alc., 100 cases, $40. Released April 2017. This wine is named for the Beckham’s eldest daughter Sophia. Dijon 115 (ownrooted). Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 10% new. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. A charming wine with enticing scents of black cherry, woodland, spice and piney oak. Lifted and vivacious, with a tasty core of dark red cherry and berry fruits framed by smart tannins. Impressive harmony, with a driving, extended finish. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 A.D. Beckham Lignum Chehalem Mountains Amphora Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $45. This wine was fermented in handmade terra cotta vessels and 50% aged in 12-year-old French oak barrels and 50% aged in amphorae. Bottled unfiltered. · Dark garnet color in the glass. A totally different wine than the “Creta.” The fruit profile seems riper, showing aromas of fruitcake, prune and marzipan. Full-bodied, with plenty of purple and black fruit sap with a pleasing spice accent. Wellstructured, with a soothing texture and a enviable finish. I was attracted to the spice, balance and texture of this wine. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Beckham Estate Vineyard Dow’s Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir

13.3% alc., 100 cases, $50. Released October 2017. The name of this wine honors Andrew’s son, father, grandfather who carry the name Dow. Pommard and 777 clones. 30% whole cluster fermentation. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Demure aromas of blackberry, cassis and smoke . Masculine in a mid weight plus style, with rich, full flavors of black raspberry and blackberry with a touch of smoke and tobacco. Silky in texture, with a noticeably intense and prolonged finish. More giving when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Soléna Guadalupe Vineyard Dundee Hills Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., pH 3.62, $50. Pommard, Wädenswil, and Dijon clones planted in Willakenzie soil. Harvest Brix 22.0-23.0º. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of dark red cherry and berry, potpourri and herbal oak. Darker fruit flavors in the mouth featuring black cherry and blackberry with accents of clove and earth. Substantial tannic backbone yet silky in texture with uplifting acidity. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Soléna Prince Hill Vineyard Dundee Hills Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.50, 150 cases, $50. Harvest Brix 23.0º-24.3º. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels. Vineyard planted by Dick Earth in 1983. 22 acres of Pinot Noir in Jory soil. · Moderate light garnet color in the glass. A very showy wine from the get-go, with charming aromas of fresh red cherry, strawberry, spice, and sandalwood. Silky smooth in the mouth with seductive mid weight flavors of black cherry black raspberry and spice. Very giving now with modest tannins and unrelenting juiciness as well as a very lengthy finish. This wine reflects its Dundee Hills terroir. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Soléna Zena Crown Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir

14.6% all., pH 3.75, 150 cases, $50. Volcanic Nokia soils. Harvest Brix 26.0º. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose gains traction over time in the glass, revealing black cherry, plum, baking spice, earthy flora and mulch aromas. Middleweight in style, with engaging flavors of well-ripened black cherry, boysenberry, and blackberry fruits, as well as game and Charcuterie. Firm, but integrated tannins and a pleasing thread of oak. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 A.D. Beckham Creta Chehalem Mountains Amphora Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 100 cases, $55. “Creta” is Latin for clay and this wine was fermented and aged in terra cotta. Clones are Pommard, Wädenswil, 115 and 777. 30% whole cluster fermentation. Native yeast fermentation. Bottled unfixed and unfiltered. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Primary aromas of black cherry, earth and white chocolate with a dank note in the background. More appealing on the palate, with mid weight flavors of dark red cherry, cranberry and spice. Lively and bright, with a purity of fruit expression unencumbered with oak. The texture is like fine emery. Similar to a Pinot Noir vinified in neutral oak, but with more richness of fruit flavor and structure. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Soléna Domaine Danielle Laurent Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., pH 3.62, 490 cases, $55. Clones 114, 115, 667, 777, “828,” Pommard and Swan. 80-acre, densely planted in Willakenzie soil. Harvest Brix 24.2º-24.9º. Aged 9 months in French oak barrels. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. A sophisticated, haunting wine with the right combination of spiced, dark red and purple fruits and savory earthen notes in a mid weight style. The tannins and acidity are in step creating a wine of impressive harmony that still needs time to fully express itself. The most backward wine in the 2015 lineup, yet the one that is the most complex and potentially the best. Wines from this vineyard have improved as the vineyard has matured. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Soléna Hyland Vineyard McMinnville Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.65, 340 cases, $55. Coury, Wädenswil and Pommard clones. Vineyard originally planted in 1971. Harvest Brix 23.9º-24.8º. Aged 8 months in French oak barrels. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Lovely aromas of cherry, Herbs de Provence and sweet oak. A cheerful mid weight wine in the mouth that is vibrant and juicy with buried tannins. Flavors of dark cherry and dark red berry along with spice and earth are highly satisfying as is the finish of notable length. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Evening Land Seven Springs La Source Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $75, Dijon clones planted in shallow and rocky soils at the very top of the vineyard. · Moderately light ruby red color in the glass. Welcoming aromas of black cherry, spice, burnt tobacco, mocha and toast maintain over time in the glass. Delicious and seductive, with mid weight flavors of black cherry and black raspberry highlighted by baking spice and sandalwood goodness and underlain with complimentary oak. Rather elegant, with inviting Pinot delicacy, offering more flavor and complexity than the color would dictate. The finish has unusually gratifying length. A memorable wine from an iconic vineyard. Score: 95. WINERY » ARTICLE »


From Recently Tasted Glorious Chardonnays

2016 Soléna Willamette Valley Pinot Gris

13.1% alc., pH 3.24, TA 0.54, RS 1.7 g/L, 1,900 cases, $20, screw cap. Harvest Brix average 23.2º. Very light gold color with a pinkish tinge and slight carbonation upon pouring. · Highly engaging aromas of pear, golden delicious apple, kiwi and spice. Clean, juicy and dry, with uplifting flavors of apple, honey and Asian pear. The pillowy texture is quite charming. A very impressive offering and one of the best Pinot Gris wines I have had in recent memory. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Screen Door Cellars Asern Vineyard Green Valley of Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.2% alc., $25. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. The aromatic profile is somewhat unusual yet attractive, featuring prominent floral scents of white blossoms including jasmine along with honeydew melon, pineapple and French toast. Discreet fullness and weight, with flavors of lemon, tropical fruits and Christmas spices with a hint of caramel. Clean and crisp with a quenching, barely sweetened finish. Not what one usually expects from Chardonnay, but nevertheless quite enjoyable in a free-spirited style. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Walter Scott La Combe Verte Willamette Valley Chardonnay

13.0% alc., 340 cases, $28 (sold out). Released September 2017. Sourced from Clos des Oiseaux, Freedom Hill, Sojourner, X Novo, Vojtilla and Witness Tree vineyards. Lightly fined and filtered. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of lemon oil, grilled peach, grapefruit and slate. Attacking flavors of green apple, lemon-lime, grapefruit and nectarine in a bright, lifted styled wine with a slightly creamy mouthfeel and a citric finish that never gives up. A superb Willamette Valley cuvée. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 La Follette North Coast Chardonnay

14.1% alc., $24, screw cap. A combination of barrel and tank fermentation and aging on the lees. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of lemon, buttery brioche and poached pear leap from the glass upon opening. Bright citrus flavors with hints of honey, pear, persimmon and blonde caramel offer a highly flavorful experience. Commendable balance with a good cut of acidity on the finish. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 La Follette Sangiacomo Vineyards Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.5% alc, $38. Clusters picked earliest date ever (September 14) and pressed straight to barrel without cold settling, with the lees in contact with the wine throughout the aging process. · Light golden yellow color with a tinge of green in the glass. Hitone lemon creme aroma with some reductive slate addition. Pretentious charge of lemon-infused pleasure on entry with a bit of pineapple accent. The fruit really saturates the palate. Slight viscosity with a lemon drop, uplifting finish. This is a wine for fans of boisterous Chardonnay yet there is enough restraint to remind one of a great Meursault. Score: 95. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Pfendler Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.3% alc., 250 cases, $38. Estate grown. Clones 4 and Hyde- Wente. Whole cluster bladder press, inoculated for primary, aggressive lees stirring at the beginning, lightening up and finishing off in January when native secondary finished. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of lemon, cut apple, spice and caramel. Richly fruited, yet bright in demeanor, with flavors of grilled lemon, grapefruit, baked apple and peach. Sound acidity brings the finish up to a quenching climax. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Rhys Bearwallow Vineyard Anderson Valley Chardonnay

12.5% alc., $50 (500 ml). · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. A taut, acid-driven wine, leading off with aromas of apple, slate, lemon creme and a hint of spice. Flavors of lemon, grapefruit and kiwi are lifted by vivacious acidity, leading to a bright finish that offers both refreshing lift and satisfying fruit richness. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Rhys Horseshoe Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay

12.9% alc., $50 (500 ml). · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Soaring aromas of lemon curd, pineapple, marzipan, vanilla creme and steely resolve. Very bright acidity cuts through the lemon-lime, grapefruit, pear and white nectarine flavors like an arrow. The wine finishes with tart, even somewhat puckering acidity as well as a slight herbal note. For acid lovers only. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Tongue Dancer Bacigalupi Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.5% alc., pH 3.49, TA 0.58, RS <1 g/L, $50. Wax top. Inaugural release September 6, 2017. Old Went clone. Harvest Brix 23.2º. Whole cluster pressed to barrel. Native yeast fermentation lees stirring once weekly through primary fermentation only. Barrel fermented and aged 15 months sur lie in French oak barrels, 25% new. Bottled unfixed and unfiltered. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of lemon, chalk, slate and coffee along with subtle burnt match reduction. Richly flavored with lemon, golden apple, honeyed pear and blonde caramel. Lush and creamy mouthfeel with a modest mantle of oak. The heady flavors continue through the finish highlighting salted apple. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Soléna Domaine Danielle Laurent Vineyard Willamette Valley Chardonnay

13.1% alc., pH 3.30, RS, 190 cases, $55. Released September 2017. Harvest Brix 20.0º. Fermented and aged 18 months in French oak barrels. Dijon clones. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of Granny Smith apple, honey, and marzipan. Well-balanced and gracious in a refreshingly styled wine featuring flavors of salted apple, honeycomb, pear and orchard fruits. Slightly creamy in the mouth, with an uplifting, dry finish. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Gary Farrell Durell Vineyard Sonoma Valley Chardonnay

12.7% alc., pH 3.33, TA 0.71, 245 cases, $65. Released October 2017. Old Went selection planted in rocky, volcanic soils. Harvest Brix 21.5º. Whole cluster pressed and transferred to 35% new French oak barrels and 500-L puncheons for native fermentation and 8 months of barrel aging. Racked once off the primary lees just before bottling. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Leading off an impressive offering are aromas of lemon zest, cut apple white nectarine, warm biscuit and slate. Richly flavored and somewhat weighty in the mouth, with flavors of lemon, grapefruit, banana and honey. Crisp in character, with taut acidity on the finish that leaves a fresh citrus impression. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Evening Land La Source Seven Springs Estate Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay

13.0% alc., $75. This wine is a good example of the excitement around Oregon Chardonnay these days. Large once-used puncheons were employed in this vintage that yielded limited quantities. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Flat-out enchanting aromas of green apple, iron, and considerable stony minerality. Crisp flavors of green apple, apple butter, citrus and honey combine to elate the palate. The wine is clean, almost crunchy and quenching like a cold, cut apple. The fruit is enlivened by bright but complimentary acidity that lifts the mouthwatering, lengthy finish. There is plenty of “minerality” to excite even the most finicky Chardonnay connoisseur. Score: 95. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Rhys Alpine Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay

13.0% alc., $79. · Moderately dark golden yellow color in the glass. Slight reduction upon opening with added aromas of circus fruits, lychee and savory earth. A searching, somewhat austere wine that demands the drinker’s attention. Mid weight flavors of lemonlime, pear and white peach are well-balanced by bracing acidity. Clean and spirited, with a cleansing texture. This wine shows the most “minerality” of the three Rhys Chardonnays tasted here. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Velvet Bee Rita’s Crown Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay

14.45% alc., 84 cases, $28. Released November 1, 2017. Dijon clone 76. Harvest Brix 22.4º. Barrel fermented, malolactic fermentation. · Moderately light golden yellow color and apparently unfiltered. Aromas of apple, citrus, slate and salty air emerge on the nose with resolve. Modest creaminess in the mouth, with flavors of lemon, topical fruits (passion fruit) and caramel. Quite sophisticated in a poised, fresh and seamless style. The mouthfeel is particularly appealing. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Rhys Horseshoe Vineyard Santa Cru Mountains Chardonnay

13.6% alc., $50 (500 ml). 3.5 acres planted to Wente, Hyde and Mt. Eden clones. 1,450 to 1,500 feet elevation. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Enviable aromas of grilled lemon, honey, buttery brioche, nut oil and caramelized custard. Rich flavors of lemon, pear, golden baked apple, honey, caramelized nuts and buttered toast. A decadent and ripely fruited offering with a very lengthy finish replete with lemony goodness. A completely different wine than the 2015 version that is much less ripe and more acid driven. I prefer this one where the acidity is fully integrated. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 la pitchoune Pratt Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.1% alc., 50 cases, $58. · Moderate golden yellow with the slightest green caste and the slightest haze in the glass. Strong and persistent aromas of lemon-lime, orchard fruits, buttery brioche and wet stone. Luscious flavors of lemon, pineapple, apple, pear and spice merge in a wondrous melange of pleasure. The wine also sports welcome viscosity, impeccable balance, submissive oak, and a flat-out great finish infused with layers of fruit goodness. This wine is all about California sunshine and the Pratt Vineyard that is fast becoming one of California’s treasured Chardonnay sites. Lovers of lean, hi-acid, mineral-driven Chardonnay should stay away ( leaving more for me). I just had to buy this wine for my cellar. Score: 97. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Velvet Bee Rita’s Crown and Radian Vineyards Star. Rita Hills Chardonnay

13.94% alc., 201 cases, $28. Released November 1, 2015. 64% Rita’s Crown Vineyard (Dijon 76) and 36% Radian Vineyard (Dijon 95). Rita’s Crown: stainless steel ferment, no malolactic fermentation. Radian: French oak barrel fermented, 20% new, 100% malolactic fermentation.Harvest Brix 22.6º (Rita’s Crown) and 25.0º (Radian). · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of citrus, clay, white flower blossom, stony resolve and a hint of nuttiness. Some richness on the palate with refreshing core of citrus, yellow apple, lychee, and caramel flavors with background notes of nuts and salinity. Clean and balanced with a satiny texture. Score: 90. 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.