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Pinot Shootout Finals Tasting

I am not a big fan of large competition tastings, preferring to take my time in evaluating a wine. The Pinot Noir Shootout, conducted by Barbara Drady of Affairs of the Vine, is unique in that fewer wines are tasted at one sitting and more time can be devoted to fully sampling each wine in the competition. Recently, I attended the Finals Tasting in San Francisco where 96 out of over 350 wines originally submitted were scored by three groups of judges. The wines were judged independent of origin, price and vintage. Of the 32 wines I tasted during the afternoon, there were many excellent wines and some that really stood out.



Heaven Sent

2009 Coghlan Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

300 cases, $47. · Aromas of oak-kissed red cherry and berry fruit. Delicious oak-imbued fruit with accents of baking spice. Harmoniously composed with impressive length on the finish. A great marriage of fruit and oak.

2008 Costa de Oro Gold Coast Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

1,000 cases, $35. · Flamboyant aromas of cherries, berries, allspice and rose garden that persists in the glass over time. Dark red and purple succulent fruits underlain with an earthy, musky vein. Very smooth on the palate, leaving a lingering impression on the scented finish.

2007 Lucienne Lone Oak Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

700 cases, $45. The top wine of the tasting for me and my panel. · Very enticing aromas of cherries with an underlying minerality. Velvety and delicious with a classy core of silky red and black fruits that have a tremendous breadth in the middle palate and a remarkably persistent aromatic persistence. The mouthfeel is soft and seductive and the wine is beautifully balanced. The whole package.

2007 Mueller Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

500 cases, $29. · Moderate reddish-purple color. Hi-tone cherries, baking spices and sandalwood on the nose. Nicely spiced dark red fruits that attack the mid palate and expand through a juicy finish. Beautifully composed with a satiny mouth feel that is very sexy.



Knocking on Heaven’s Door

2008 Bargetto Regan Estate Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

190 cases, $40. · Pleasing array of Pinot fruits with a yeasty note. A sneaky wine that grows on you over time in the glass. The red-toned fruits are vibrant and the fine grain tannins provide just the right amount of structure.

2008 McIntyre Vineyards Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

390 cases, $36. · Deep perfume of plum reduction sauce, wild berries and a hint of oak. Delicious and plush dark red stone fruits and berries with a substantial tannic backbone and a dry finish that clings to the palate.

2009 PARO Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir

297 cases, $28. · Aromas of black cherry tart and sweet black raspberries. Full-bodied and soft in the mouth, like liquid velvet. Forward and highly drinkable with mouthcoating fruit and tannins lingering on the generous finish.

2007 Scheid Vineyards Reserve Monterey County Pinot Noir

390 cases, $50. · Moderately light rouge color. Veers to the ripe side but the aromas and flavors are intriguing with notes of strawberries, raspberries, red currants and rhubarb with hints of raisin and brioche. Mild dry tannins, soft in the mouth, with some persistence on the finish.

2007 Steele Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

8,000 cases, $22. · Veers to the ripe side but offers a mouth coating load of spicy fruits with accents of brown sugar and root beer. The tannins are reserved and there is a pleasing lift of citric peel acidity on the finish. A good value wine.



Worth a Try

2009 Block Nine Caiden’s Vineyard California Pinot Noir 5,000 cases, $13

2007 Cameron Hughes Lot 110 Los Carneros Pinot Noir 12,000 cases, $18

2008 Cubanismo Vineyards Estate Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 150 cases, $39

2007 David Noyes Wines Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 550 cases, $35

2006 Gloria Ferrer Carneros Pinot Noir 20,155 cases, $22

2008 Lucas & Lewellen Goodchild High 9 Vineyard Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir 593 cases, $28

2008 Nth Degree Arroyo Seco Monterey Pinot Noir 395 cases, $55

2008 Petite Abeille Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 75 cases, $35

2008 Tarras Vineyard The Steppes Central Otago Pinot Noir 1,200 cases, $30

2008 Vine Hill Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir 1,079 cases, $38

2008 Woodworth Vineyards Estate Temecula Valley Pinot Noir 200 cases, $33

2007 Windward Monopole Paso Robles Pinot Noir 1,320 cases, $38

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