More Sips of California Pinot Noir
2009 Anthill Farms Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., $39.
Moderately light reddish-orange color in
the glass. Faint aromas of red berries with a floral and minty oak overtone. Light in weight with flavors of red
cherries and blood oranges, sporting mild slightly grainy tannins, bright acidity and some tartness on the finish.
Disappointing at this price level. Decent.
2009 Anthill Farms Tina Marie Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $50. From a site in the Green Valley farmed by Ron Black and
Moderately deep reddish-purple color in the glass. Opens
with appealing raspberry on jam aromas, fading in the glass. The flavors are
more promising, with a tasty core of Morello cherry and black raspberry, an
herbal note and a good tug of citrus on the hi-wire finish. Good.
2008 Calicaro Split Rock Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.63, 12 cases, $47.
Picked at 27.9º Brix. Aged 11 months in 50% new French oak barrels.
Moderately dark reddish-purple color in
the glass. Opens with appealing aroma of plum reduction sauce, fading into a muddled aroma of leaf and
green garden with absent fruit. Moderately rich and creamy with a very ripe and sweet dark fruit profile with
notes of raisin and green oak in the background. Has the bones to support the generous fruit flavors, but turns
boozy on the finish. Decent (-).
2007 Dierberg Estate Grown Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
2,700 cases, $42. Released January 2011. The Dierberg Vineyard is located at
the southern end of the Santa Maria Valley AVA just 14 miles inland from the
Dark purple in color in the glass. Shy fruit aromas with
prominent smoky oak. A husky, full-bodied wine with generous earth-kissed
black fruits underscored with flavors of tar, earth and anise holding on to the
finish. Muscular with thick, rugged tannins. Should benefit from more time in the
bottle, but will always be a bruiser. Good.
2009 Hahn SLH Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH
3.59, TA 0.62, $35. Aged in 35% new French oak barrels.
purple-red color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, boysenberry, kirsch,
toasted bread and oak char. Moderately rich core of juicy dark red fruits with
thick oak flavors. Decent.
I have been impressed by the La Crema appellation series wines in the past, especially at the under $25 price
point. Recently there seems to be a trend to upgrade the image of these wines. Very heavy bottles are being
used and the prices now are closer to $50 than $20. The two 2009 Pinot Noirs reviewed here were not up to
past standards, despite the apparent upscale trend.
2009 La Crema Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.52,
2,700 cases, $50. Sourced primarily from the Maggy Hawk Vineyard (close to
Navarro) in the deep end of the Anderson Valley. Clones 667, 777, 115, 2A, 23,
Pommard and 828. Aged 9 months in 36% new French oak barrels.
reddish-purple color in the glass. Intensely fruity nose initially displaying aromas
of fruit bin and mixed berries including strawberries with a hint of vanilla fading
over time in the glass. An array of tasty ripe berries is accented by a note of
dark chocolate with a grip of citrus peel on the finish. Welcoming fruit intensity
coats the palate and persists on the finish, but offers no nuance or intrigue.
Smooth and harmonious. Over time, the wine becomes less interesting in the
glass. The flavors trump the nose at this point. Worth revisiting in 6 months. Good.
2009 La Crema Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.72, TA 0.54, 5,800 cases, $40. Clones
667, 777, 115, Martini, 114, 23, 828 and Pommard. Aged 10 months in 51% new French oak barrels.
Moderately intense reddish-purple color in the glass. Shy nose with demure aromas of black cherries, forest
floor, and oak. Moderately rich and weighty black cherry, raspberry, licorice and cola flavors with unbridled
tannins. Slightly hot on the finish. Unchanged the following day from a previously opened and re-corked
bottle. Plenty of fruit, but no finesse or nuance. Decent.
2007 LIOCO Michaud Vineyard Chalone Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.77, TA
0.61, 343 cases, $48. The vineyard is located on a remote hilltop 1600 feet
elevation with huge daily temperature swings. Granite and limestone soils. 10-
day cold soak, native fermentation, aged 12 months in 1, 2 and 3-year-old
French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered.
Moderate reddish-purple color with
slight haze in the glass. Very ripe dark berry fruit aromas augmented by scents
of shoe box, oak, and brier. Very flavorful cherry and red berry fruit under a
thick blanket of tannin, persisting on the lengthy finish. A cola and spice note
add interest. Still drank nicely two days after opening from a re-corked bottle.
A wine with soul and vivid expression of site. Very good.
2009 LIOCO Hirsch Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.76, TA 0.61, $60. 40% whole
cluster, wild yeast 18 day fermentation, aged 12 months in 1, 2 and 3-year-old French oak barrels.
purple-red color in the glass. This wine shows some acetaldehyde (rotten apple core) aromas and flavors after
initially displaying aromas of dark strawberries, Asian Five Spice, and black raspberries. The flavors echoed
the aromas initially but a spiced, oxidized apple flavor developed over time. A flawed bottle. Unsatisfactory.
2009 Sonoma-Loeb Russian River Valley Loeb Family Selection Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $40.
Darkly colored in the glass. Shy and
muted fruit aromas which emerge slowly with swirling. Full-bodied essence of
black cherries and boysenberries with a hint of oak spice. Soft in the mouth with
dry, youthful tannins. A little more expressive the following day from a previously
opened and re-corked bottle. Big bottle, big fruit, big tannin but doesn’t deliver
much interesting flavor or nuance. Decent.
2009 VML Virginia Marie Lambrix Boudreaux Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
15.3% alc., 235 cases, $45.
Moderate reddish-purple color in the
glass. Initially the nose is quite fruity displaying aromas of black cherries, dark
plums, and black raspberries. Over time in the glass, the fruit recedes to the
background and oak takes over. Full-bodied flavors of blueberries and black
cherries which are on the ripe side. Underpinnings of oak spice and oak char
are a bit intrusive. The fruity finish is noticeably dry and tannic leaving some
heat in its wake. Decent.