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Joseph Swan Vineyards

Owner(s) Rod Bergland
Web site www.swanwinery.com
 
Link to this site

The first vintage of Joseph Swan Pinot Noir was 1973 and was produced with consultation from the legendary Andre Tchelistcheff who was a friend of Joe Swan's. Subsequently, Swan made a string of outstanding Pinot Noirs from his vines. Despite their high quality for the time, Swan was such a perfectionist that he never was satisfied. He traveled to France every year to improve his winemaking techniques. He experimented with whole cluster fermentation, manual punch downs, and the use of new French oak barrels - all techniques that were unusual for California winemakers in the early 1970s. His legacy will include his popularization of the old, Burgundian winemaking methods, his search for better clonal material, and his openness to new idea.

Joseph Swan passed away in 1989, but his legacy and vineyard lives on thanks to the talents of Swan’s son-in-law, Rod Berglund. Rod became a winemaker in 1979, largely due to Swan’s encouragement. Rod married Swan’s daughter, Lynn, in 1986 and help Swan with his last harvest in 1987. He has taken over management and winemaking at Joseph Swan Vineyards and has continued the tradition of excellence that Joseph Swan was known for. 2009 marked 30 vintages for Berglund, the last 21 of which have been at Joseph Swan Vineyards.

The personification of Joe has been retained in the winery’s wine club which is called “Joe’s Drinking Buddies.” Rod has continued Joe’s espirit de core by maintaining the philosophy that “While consumers are demanding that wines deliver flavor, there seems to be a growing number of people who are embracing the concept of wines with food, who understand what it takes for wines to age gracefully, and who are looking for elegance and complexity instead of sheer power. The age of chocolate and vanilla may be coming to an end! Hurray for 57 flavors! It is a thrilling time to be a wine."

Joseph Swan's wife, June, passed away in January, 2010. She had retired from active involvement in the winery she co-founded back in 1969. Her car license plate was SWANPNO.

Rod crafts four consistently fine Pinot Noirs: Cuvee de Trois, Saralee's Vineyard, Trenton View Vineyard (young vines) and Trenton Estate Vineyard (the Joseph Swan estate vineyard). The 2006 vintage from the Trenton Estate Vineyard was the 34th commercial release from these vines. Cuvee de Trois was launched in 1999 as a blend of excess grapes from three vineyards. Today, it accounts for 40 percent of the winery's production. Small lots of several other varietals are produced including old-vine Zinfandel, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.

The winery's Trenton Estate includes some of the oldest Pinot Noir vines in the Russian River Valley. Yields are very low which in part accounts for character of the wines from this vineyard. It is planted largely to the Swan clone, more correctly referred to as the Swan selection. A portion of the newer block planted in 1996 contains six Dijon clones.

Most of the wines are sold through a mailing list with some retail distribution. The tasting room is open on weekends (check website for directions). Tasting and sales are also offered by appointment on Mondays and Fridays (707-573-3747).

Reviewed Wines

2010 Joseph Swan Vineyards Cuvée de Trois Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $29. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Slit reduction upon opening. Aromas of black cherry, oak cask, black tea leaf and stem with more fruit showing up over time. Juicy flavors of black cherries and dark berries that go down easy. A little earthy with a hint of citrus in the background. The flavor picks up intensity and interest over time in the glass. Good. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Joseph Swan Vineyards Trenton Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 310 cases, $55. · Medium reddish-purple hue in the glass. Aromas of dark cherries, wooded forest and rose petals. Slightly lighter in this vintage but very flavorful featuring moderately full-bodied black cherry and plum fruits with signature spice. Restrained but evident tannins, a polished texture, and an exemplary finish. A little heat peaks out at the back end. Very good. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »

2009 Joseph Swan Vineyards Trenton Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 287 cases, $55. 40th anniversary of Joseph Swan Vineyards and the 30th anniversary of Rod Berglund’s first year of making wine. Aged in 66% new French oak. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. The most expressive nose in the lineup showing vibrant aromas of black cherries, dark plums, mushroom, cardamom spice and a hint of vanilla. Delicious earth-kissed core of dark cherries, raspberries and plums. Rich and full-bodied, with balanced tannins and acidity making the wine quite approachable now. Great the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Could drink now because the tannins are not aggressive, but best to hold for at least another five years. Tasted a couple of months ago, but I held the review for this feature. A 2013 All-American for sure. Reviewed January 19, 2013 ARTICLE »

2008 Joseph Swan Vineyards Trenton Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 137 cases, $48. A challenging vintage. A spring frost led to a loss of one-third of the crop. Aged in nearly 75% new French oak. · Moderately dark reddish-purple hue in the glass. Fresh aromas of dark cherries, prune, allspice, sandalwood and forest floor. The cherry core is buried in aggressive tannins with oak evident on the very dry, astringent finish. Relatively dilute compared to other vintages. A little better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. My least favorite of this vertical, but still a solid wine. Hold or drink. Good. Reviewed January 19, 2013 ARTICLE »

2007 Joseph Swan Vineyards Cuvée de Trois Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 1,900 cases, $28. · Moderately deep reddish-purple robe. Great nose that draws you in featuring aromas of Bing cherries, red raspberries, slightest oak and violets, and a big dose of Asian Five Spice. Demure red berry and dried cherry core with an appealing touch of earth and oak. Silky smooth and elegant with the right mix of t n ‘a to bring the fruit into focus. Not a heavyweight, and even a little shallow in the mid-palate, but satisfying. The moderate alcohol adds to the appeal. Very good. Reviewed October 15, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Joseph Swan Vineyards Trenton Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 434 cases, $47. Large crop, yet yields still less than 2.5 tons per acre. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Vibrant aromas of black cherries, spice and marzipan. Rich, fleshy and lush, with flavors of fresh, juicy black cherries and cola with an earthy undercurrent. Strikingly intense, yet has the structure and acidity to match. Tasted the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the tannins had softened, the nose offered intense dark chocolate notes, and the wine was simply great. Hold or decant if drink now. Very good (+). Reviewed January 19, 2013 ARTICLE »

2006 Joseph Swan Vineyards Trenton Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 268 cases. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Rather shy bouquet, offering scents of blacker fruits, marzipan, old shoe and brewed tea. On the ripe side with an array of flavors including black cherries, prune, cola, forest floor and spice. Showing some fruit age, yet retaining young tannins. Good acid spine and some length on the fruit-driven finish. Tasted the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine’s sappy fruit veered to the overripe side with a note of sassafras. Hold or drink. Good (+). Reviewed January 19, 2013 ARTICLE »

2006 Joseph Swan Vineyards Cuvée de Trois Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 1,100 cases, $25.50. This wine is a blend of several lots including wine from Trenton Estate and Saralee’s Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. It is meant to be an every day wine and is quite popular on restaurant wine lists. It is not as complex as the Swan vineyard designates. · Fairly light in color. Confected cherry, red licorice, oak, spice and sage scents which build in intensity over time in the glass. Tart red cherry and cranberry fruit with a subtle earthy and wild herbal influence. Soft and light with a cleansing finish. An excellent food wine. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »

2005 Joseph Swan Vineyards Trenton Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 235 cases. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherries, dried roses, and carnations (slight volatile acidity). Plush and saucy black cherry and blackberry fruits with an earthy undertone. Well-structured, with bright acidity, a soft mouth feel, and a refreshing finish. Tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine was still churning out fruit-laden aromas and flavors. Hold or drink. Very good. Reviewed January 19, 2013 ARTICLE »

2005 Joseph Swan Vineyards Trenton Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $47. · Deep, dark ruby color. Terrific rich aromas of black cherry, carnations, and dried roses. Plush black cherry and blackberry fruit that is a bit dusty and herb-tinged. Plenty of joyous fruit, but not jammy or flabby. Good acidity, velvety texture, with some tannin to lose. Thoroughly distinctive and enjoyable. This will only get better with more time in the bottle. One of my All-Americans this year for sure. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »

2004 Joseph Swan Vineyards Trenton Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 327 cases. · Dark black-red color in the glass. Still vigorous with flavor and character, offering a ripe palate of black cherry fruit accented with spice, cola and earth. Well-balanced tannins with a velvety texture and a smooth, fulfilling finish. Tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine was still vibrant. Many years ahead. Hold or drink. Very good. Reviewed January 19, 2013 ARTICLE »

2004 Joseph Swan Vineyards Cuvee da Trois Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., $23. · This Pinot is a real charmer with terrific aromatics of raspberry, tea, and spices. It is a wine of finesse and is light on its feet. No alcohol or tannin onslaught here. You just won’t find a better Pinot Noir for this price anywhere. Reviewed April 30, 2007 ARTICLE »

2003 Joseph Swan Vineyards Trenton Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc.. · Moderate dark reddish-purple hue in the glass. Throwing sediment. Aromas of seasoned oak, leather, wilted flowers, and nail polish remover (volatile acidity). Rich and saucy flavors of sweet red cherries and berries with a hint of spice. Clean and fresh with impressive intensity on the long finish. Tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the volatile acidity had largely subsided. Hold or drink. Very good. Reviewed January 19, 2013 ARTICLE »

2003 Joseph Swan Vineyards Cuvée de Trois Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., $23. This is the most popular wine in the winery’s lineup and sells out quickly after release each year. The first year of production was only 100 cases, but this has gradually been ramped up to 1,100 cases. It is a blend of lots including grapes from the young vines of the estate Trenton Vineyard and other vineyards including Saralee’s Vineyard. It is meant to be an easy drinking Pinot from the time of release and is not as complex as the vineyard designates. · What a nice surprise! Very lovely berry, raspberry tea and spice aromas and flavors. The aromatics are flat-out terrific. Not at all overblown, no alcohol or tannins to spoil the party. Very good acid kick at the end. If you like Pinot Noir, this is your cup of tea. Reviewed February 26, 2007 ARTICLE »

2002 Joseph Swan Vineyards Trenton Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 383 cases. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Lovely bouquet of red cherries, beef, musk, old book and oak. Soft in the mouth with supple tannins, offering flavors of red cherries and berries with an earthy undertone. An elegant and relatively delicate wine showing its age. Fine the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, although the finish brings a little heat. Drink or hold short term. Very good. Reviewed January 19, 2013 ARTICLE »

2002 Joseph Swan Vineyards Trenton Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $40. · Terrific aromatics with a little spicy cherry, cola and toast. Nicely-weighted pure, sweet fruit with a gentle oaky edge and a lively finish uplifted by bright acidity. This wine is not a voluptuous wine in the full-throttle California sense, but it is thorough satisfying and really what Pinot should be but so often falls short. Not surprisingly, it is a winner with food. Reviewed February 26, 2007 ARTICLE »

2001 Joseph Swan Vineyards Trenton Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc.. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, spice, forest floor and old book. Impressive retention of fruit intensity offering tasty notes of dark cherries, dark raspberries, cola, seasoned oak and a hint of white pepper. Soft in the mouth with some length on the slightly astringent finish. Fine the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Drink or hold. Very good. Reviewed January 19, 2013 ARTICLE »