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Along the Pinot Trail in California: Part 2 - North Coast & Other

Marin County


2010 Couloir Chileno Valley Marin County Pinot Noir

12.8% alc., TA 0.56, 93 cases, $38. The vineyard is situated on the southern border of the Petaluma Gap and is influenced by the Pacific Ocean to the west and San Pablo Bay to the south. Very long growing season. 50% whole cluster. Native yeast fermentation. Aged 10 months in 25% new French oak. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Shy fruit aromas with a prominent floral perfume including jasmine. An austere wine that is light on the palate, offering demure flavors of red cherries and berries with a mineral and vegetal note in the background. The acidity really dominates the finish. Just not enough flavor here to please the California palate and the whole cluster has dealt an unappealing vegetal note to the wine. Decent.

2009 De Loach Vineyards Marin County Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 614 cases, $30. Winemaker Dan Goldfield. Grower Mark Pasternak. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose opens slowly, reaching a peak over 45 minutes in the glass, offering scents of dark red cherries and berries and subtle green herbs. Dark raspberry flavor with an earthy bent on a medium frame with balanced fine-grain tannin and good acidity. Nicely composed with some finishing length, but lacks a statement. A “pretty” wine. Very good.



Carneros


2009 Donum Estate Grown Carneros Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.61. TA 0.65, 400 cases, $65. Soon to be released. A blend of Calera, old Martini and Donum Roederer selections from several blocks on the Donum Ranch. Aged 16 months in 65% new French oak barrels. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherries, dark rose petals, exotic woods and stem. Delicious core of black cherry, black raspberry and raisin flavors with an appealing earthy, soil-driven character. Veers to the ripe fruit side. Moderately rich, with wellbalanced firm tannins. Plush on the palate and welcoming now. Very good.

2009 Donum Estate Grown West Slope Carneros Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.64, 250 cases, $85. From a west-sloping block in the 5.5-acre site at Donum Ranch. Roederer selection. A barrel selection from this single block as a stand-alone wine. 100% de-stemmed, 6-day cold soak, inoculated with RC212, four punch downs per day, extended maceration (total maceration time was three weeks. Aged 16 months in 70% new French oak barrels. Best barrels selected and blended in the summer of 2009. Aged in 70% new French oak (Francois Frerès, Billon and Ermitage). · Dark reddish-purple robe. Intriguing aromas of dark cherries and berries, compost, soil, hops and rose petals. Wow! Hits the mid palate with strikingly plush, spicy dark red and black fruits buffered with ideal oak integration and perfectly balanced tannins and acidity. Ridiculously long and memorable finish. Offers something different with each sip. Like Drew Barrymore - very successful at a young age (much more approachable than previous vintage). Even better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. An amazing wine that is California Pinot at its best and flat out one of the finest Pinots (along with the Donum Thomas) I have reviewed so far this year. Wine Spectator trumpets “94,” I say, “98.” Did I say long finish?

2009 Donum Estate Grown Thomas Carneros Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.34, TA 0.75, 101 cases, $100. Named for Thomas Ferguson, the owner of Ferguson Block, a 1974 planting of Martini selection Pinot Noir. Honors Thomas Ferguson’s 100th birthday. Winegrower Anne Moller-Racke has worked with this vineyard for 28 years, and the Thomas block has always stood out. Every year in blind tastings, it is see as been the best from this vineyard, a true evidence of terroir. 100% de-stemmed, native primary fermentation. Aged 16 months in 1-year-old French Billon oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Brooding aromas of black cherries ripe strawberries, berry reduction sauce and spice. Soft, plush and supple in the mouth, with flavors of perfectly ripe black raspberries, black cherries and black tea that really wake up the mouth. The wine offers pliant tannins and a good cut of acidity on a finish that is eyeopening. The silky texture is outrageous. More approachable than previous vintages. Impeccable balance. Even better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Hard to choose between this wine and the West Slope. You will need a cold shower after drinking this one.

Note: In 2001, the Racke family acquired the former Tula Vista Ranch, now Donum Ranch, the home of The Donum Estate. The name “Donum” means “donation” in Latin and is a reference to grapes as a gift of the land. The Donum Ranch consists of 70 acres of vines (multiple clones including Roederer, Swan, Chalone, and Dijon 115, 667 and 777), 20 acres of the nearby Ferguson Block (primarily old Martini), and the 11-acre Nugent Vineayrd planted to Dijon clones 115 and 667. Kenneth Juhasz (Auteur) has been the winemaker at The Donum Estate since 2002. Anne Moller-Racke oversees the farming of all the estate vineyards. In December, 2011, Racke sold The Donum Estate and Stemmler brand to Winside, Inc, a partnership of Danish investors for an undisclosed amount. The team including Anne Moller-Racke and consulting winemaker Kenneth Juhasz remain in place. Donum’s potential for more estate plantings and bottlings was a consideration in the investment. The winery is not open to the public, but tasting is available by appointment (contact Brooke Gadke, Director of Hospitality, at 707-939-2290.


2009 Garnet Carneros Pinot Noir

13.77% alc., pH 3.67, $20, screw cap. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Fruity aromas of strawberries, red currants and balsam. Has a cooked fruit and porto overtone. Oak-dominated dark plum and black raspberry fruit flavors with hints of dark chocolate and coffee, mild tannins and reasonable acidity. Decent.

2009 Stemmler Estate Grown Carneros Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.62, 784 cases, $42. A limited release from fruit grown on The Donum Estate. A blend of six blocks planted to predominantly heritage selections and comprises Dijon, Martini, Roederer, Calera, Hanzell and Swan. 100% destemmed, hot fermentations lasting 5 to 9 days for maximum extraction. Extended maceration for 2 to 6 days. Each block made and aged separately until the final blend is assembled in the spring and then returned to barrel for 10 months. The blend represents every part of The Donum Estate. Total aging 18 months in 30% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Fragrant with purple stone fruits, black grapes, tea leaves, spice and vanilla. Silky and beautifully balanced, with appealing flavors of blackberries, Hoison, and black currants with oak, tea and mushroom notes in the background. Moderately rich and earthy with well-proportioned tannins. Quintessential Carneros.

2009 Stemmler Ferguson Block Carneros Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.63, 67 cases, $44. To be released soon. Ferguson Block sits less than a mile east of The Donum Estate. It is the oldest vineyard in The Donum Estate, planted in 1974 with an old Martini selection of Pinot Noir on St. George rootstock in gravelly, loamy clay soils. Aged 18 months in once-used French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Evocative nose offering savory and fruity aromas including black cherries, baking spice and herbs. Really wows in the mouth with flat-out delicious core of earthy black cherries accented with complimentary vanillin oak. Satiny in texture with a generous finish that makes you want to take another sip. Nothing like old vine sophistication.



Russian River Valley


2009 Alysian Russian River Valley Selection

13.8% alc., pH 3.41, TA 0.73, 2,231 cases, $40. Multiple vineyard sources (Rochioli, Allen, Floodgate, Starr Ridge and Hallberg). Clones Pommard, 777, Martini, 115, Cruz and 828. 100% de-stemmed, aged 10 months in 40% new French oak barrels. Gary points out, “While we love the vineyard-specific wines for their purity and focused expression of each individual property, the Russian River Selection often displays greater complexity and (to some) is a more complete and satisfying offering.” · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Bright aromas of Bing cherries and strawberries with good volume. Exuberant flavors of black cherries, dark red berries, tea leaf, cola and clove with a slight herbal note contributed by sweet oak. Full-bodied yet not overbearing, with reserved tannins, and admirable length. I agree with Gary that this is his finest Alysian Russian River Valley Selection to date. Exceptional flavor and intensity at a modest alcohol level: the holy grail of Pinot Noir. Very good (+).

2009 Alysian Floodgate Vineyard Origins Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.35, TA 0.73, 240 cases, $55. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Dreamy aromatics with intense and vivid aromas of fresh Bing cherries, raspberries, spice and vanilla. Flavorful, but juicy and easy to drink, offering tastes of red cherries, herbs, sandalwood and graham, picking up intensity over time in the glass. Very elegantly crafted with soft, dry tannins, lively acidity and generous length.

2009 Alysian Floodgate Vineyard Rock Hill Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., pH 3.40,TA 0.71, 159 cases, $55. From an estate property in a sub appellation of the Russian River Valley known as the Middle Reach. Rock Hill is a tiny block planted on one of the rockiest knolls on the property. Dijon clone 777. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose is a fruit wonderland. Intense fragrance of spiced Bing cherries, raspberries and plums. Richly flavored but light on its feet, with alluring flavors of black cherries, black raspberries, herbs and spice. So good you want to bite into it. Refreshing acid spine, gossamer tannins and a memorable finish of uncommon length. Crazy good.

2009 Alysian Hallberg Vineyard Crossroads Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., pH 3.38, TA 0.72, 196 cases, $55. · Moderately light reddish-purple hue in the glass. Inviting array of aromas including dark cherries, dark red berries, pepper and baking spice. Mid weight flavors of dark red cherries and berries with a citrus-imbued cherry finish of noticeable length. More body and structure than the Floodgate bottlings. Perfectly composed with well-proportioned tannins. Again, showing the elegance that is always evident in a Gary Farrell Pinot.

2009 Alysian Rochioli Vineyard Edgewater Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.37, TA 0.71, 240 cases, $65. Clones 115, 777 and Pommard. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Bright aromas of dark red pie berries and spice. Delicious Pinot extract, featuring perfectly ripe flavors of dark cherries, raspberries and strawberries accented with spice cake. Intense mid palate presence and amazing finishing length and intensity. Gorgeous without being overwrought. Perfect balance with supple tannins and juicy acidity. You want to chew on this one.

2009 Alysian Rochioli Vineyard Allen-Rochioli Blocks Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.35, TA 0.68, 122 cases, $65. · Brooding aromas of black cherries and black raspberries with a hint of spice. Intense mid palate attack of delicious black cherry and black plum fruit accented with cola and spice. The most linear and undeveloped of the 2009 Alysian wines, but clearly the one with the most long term potential for greatness. Develops more intensity and interest over time in the glass and was much better two days later from a previously opened and recorked bottle. A pretense to seduction.

Note: If you aren’t familiar with Alysian wines, its time to listen up. Veteran Russian River Valley winemaker Gary Farrell crafts superb Pinot Noir (and Chardonnay) from top notch vineyard sources. His wines show hitone aromatics, soft tannins, juicy acidity and impeccable balance predicting age ability. Oak is never obtrusive. These are among the finest Pinot Noirs currently being produced in the Russian River Valley, if not all of California. Visit www.alysianwines.com.


2010 Anthill Farms Tina Marie Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

12.6% alc., $44. This vineyard is located in the Green Valley and is farmed by owners Ron Black and Stephen Bessone. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose unfolds slowly in the glass, revealing aromas of dark red cherries and raspberries with hints of clove and other spices. Relatively light in weight and somewhat lean in style, with flavorful black cherry fruit caressed by supple tannins, and underlain with tight acidity. Admirable length with welcome freshness and accessibility. Good (+).

2010 Castalia Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $55. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Deep, dark aromas of boysenberry jam, plum reduction sauce, spice, oak and tobacco. Enticing middleweight flavors of black cherries and dark berries, displaying the plush, vivid fruit that the Russian River Valley is famous for. Impeccable balance with well use of oak accents, offering restrained tannins, good length, and easy drink ability. Continues in the tradition of consistently excellent wines crafted by Rochioli cellarmaster, Terry Bering. California through and through.

2010 Darms Lane Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 250 cases, $39. Darms Lane Vineyard is located in the southwestern bench lands of the Napa Valley. The 14-acre vineyard was established 26 years ago as a Chardonnay estate, and the name changed from Crichton Estate Vineyard to Darms Lane Vineayrd and replanted in 2002 and 2003 to warm weather varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery is family owned and located in the Oak Knoll District of the Napa Valley. This is the inaugural release of a Russian River Valley Pinot Noir sourced from the Dutton Ranch Barron Vineyard in Green Valley De-stemmed fruit, lees stirring during the first 3 months of barrel aging. Total elevage 10 months in 50% new French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. Winemaker is Brian Mox. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of Bing cherries, oak and mocha java. Oak-kissed, full-on flavors of dark cherries, black plums, dark chocolate and cola. Soft and seamless on the palate. Less oak evident the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Give this wine more time in the bottle so it achieves better oak integration. For now, it is Good.

2010 De Loach Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $18.50. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of black cherries and forest floor. Soft in the mouth, with appealing dark red cherry flavor, displaying good balance and some length on the finish. Good.

2009 De Loach Vineyards OFS Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

15.0% alc., $30. · Dark reddish-purple hue in the glass. This wine has a cooked fruit character. Aromas of dark berries, root beer and grilled fruit. Flavors of currants, raisins, and cassis with notes of tea, tar and oak clothed in balanced dry tannins. Soft in the mouth with a hot finish. Decent.

2009 Donum Estate Grown Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.50, TA 0.65, 400 cases, $65. Blend of Dijon clones 115 and 667. 100% de-stemmed, total maceration 3 weeks. Aged 16 months in 60% new Remond oak barrels. Best bottles selected from each lot and blended in the summer of 2009. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose is rather mesmerizing, offering aromas of very ripe Bing cherries, brandy, brown sugar and spice. Luscious, but light on its feet, with a dense core of black cherry and raspberry fruit, filling the mouth and exploding on the finish. Very smoothly textured with pliant tannins and a refreshing cut of lively acidity on the finish. Very well crafted. Very good (+).

2009 Donum Estate Grown Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.46, TA0.67,80 cases, $85. An inaugural release from an 11-acre vineyard that was planned and planted by Anne Moeller-Racke in the mid 1990s. 100% Dijon clone 667. 100% de-stemmed, total maceration time 3 weeks. Aged 16 months in 67% new French oak barrels. Best barrels selected and blended in the summer of 2009. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. My God! An unbelievably spirited nose of vibrant black cherries. Moderately rich in weight but deeply packed with deep, dark cherry flavor. The fruit is perfectly ripe and accented with the Russian River trademarks of spice and cola. Seamless with tannins that match up to the opulent fruit. This wine has it all and the wine to show someone when searching for an example of a great Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

2009 Emeritus Vineyards Hallberg Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $47. Hallberg Ranch is the home ranch of Emeritus Vineyards lying along the 10-mile Gold Ridge running from Sebastopol to Forestville in the Russian River Valley. Nicolas Cantazcuzene is the winemaker. · Moderately dark reddishpurple color in the glass. Very muted nose initially, opening slowly to reveal delicate aromas of dark berries and plum with oak cask and stem in the background. Soft and smooth on entry, with moderately full-bodied flavors of cassis and black plums underlain with firm, mature tannins. Rather linear now, but enough pleasing fruit to suggest future potential. Good (+) now, but may warrant a higher recommendation in a few years. Very popular in the restaurant marketplace.

2009 Eric Kent Wine Cellars Stiling Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.63, 183 cases, $45 (sold out). Proprietor and winemaker Kent Humphrey was married in 2002 in a wine country ceremony at Stiling Vineyard. The following year, Stilling Vineyard supplied Kent with his first Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fruit and he has been working with them ever since. Grapes are pulled primarily from Hillside Block planted to Swan clone in 1989. 50% new French oak at slightly high toast levels. Grapes are also sourced from Bunkhouse Block, also planted to Swan clone. This block is often fermented with 1/3 whole cluster and produces an earthier, more herbal. It does better with less oak. Label artist is Eliza Frye. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of black cherries, plum sauce and spice. Tasty core of spiced cherries veering to the ripe side. Rich and flavorful, with supple tannins and a seductively soft mouth feel. A fruit-driven wine offering exuberant pleasure. Very good.

Note: Donald Edward Stiling was a well-known winegrower in the Russian River Valley who passed away in March 2012 from complications of Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 83. His early career was with Proctor & Gamble, where he rose through the management ranks. He transformed an old 50-acre apple ranch in Sebastopol off Vine Hill Road in the 1980s into a vineyard and was active on the board of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission. One of his famous clients was Gary Farrell.



2010 Fulcrum Floodgate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 190 cases, $N/A. Clone 667. Barrel aged 16 months in 30% new French (Remond) oak barrels. · Demure aromas of black cherries, black raspberries and baking spice. Lovely fruit core with luscious flavors of black cherries, cola and spice, robed in dry, fine-grain tannins and underlain with modest acidity. Very pleasing finesse with staying power on the lengthy finish. A very distinguished vineyard source that really delivers. One of the most outstanding wines I have had from winemaker David Rossi. Very good (+).

2009 Furthermore Amber Ridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.50, TA 0.57, 99 cases, $40. Clones 115, 667 and 777. Aged 12 months in 33% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Ripe black cherry aromas and flavors in a discreetly rich style, underlain with oak and herbs. Veers to the very ripe fruit side. Firm, ripe tannins with a satiny mouth feel. Still solid the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Good.

2009 Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.49, TA 0.69, $35. Released May 1, 2011. Sourced from multiple vineyards including Rochioli, Allen and Hallberg. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Muted aromas of well-oaked dark cherry and berry fruit. Savory and slight tart, with flavors of red cherries and cranberries, with riffs of herbs and oak. Mild tannins and very brisk acidity. Lacks the lush fruit character that is usually the high point for Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Decent.

2010 Hartford Court Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., $30. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of Bing cherry tart, spice and fennel with some pungency showing up. Moderately rich and deep cherry flavor with hints of cola and spice, wrapped in gentle tannins. An easy user-friendly drinker. Decent (+).

2008 Holdredge Old School Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., $38 · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Slight reduction, but displaying bright aromas of Bing cherries and spice. Shrill and austere with piercing acidity, offering flavors of tart cherries and moderate oak character. Decent.

2009 Honest Weight Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 100 cases, $29.99. Produced by McNeil & Sons, Cloverdale. Secret vineyard source. Wente, Swan clones. Aged in 255 new and 75% once-used French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Reserved aromas of brandied cherries, black currants, and baking spice. Tasty core of very ripe cherry and berry fruits with complimentary toasty oak in the background, finishing with a grilled fruit and hickory character. Elegantly styled. Much better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle showing less oak, more vibrant fruit and more attractive spice notes. Good (+).

2010 Hook & Ladder Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.64, TA 0.67, 2,923 cases, $25. Released spring 2012. From vineyards farmed by Cecil De Loach since 1973 located on the plains off Olivet Road in western Santa Rosa. Native yeast fermentation, aged up to 11 months in 20% new French oak barrels. Winemaker Jason De Loach. · Light reddish-purple color in the glass. Bright aromas of Bing cherries and oak spice. Flavors of cherries, sandalwood and clove. Very smooth on the palate and easy to drink. A lighter, straight forward, solid Pinot, that is lighter, redder fruited and juicier than the Reserve bottling. Good (+).

2010 Hook & Ladder Third Alarm Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $35. Native yeast fermentation. Aged 11 months in 30% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Very expressive nose of ripe dark cherries, cola and spice. Quintessential Russian River Valley Pinot Noir with signature flavors of black cherries, cola and brown spice with a hint of mocha. Fully ripe in fruit character, very smooth on the palate, displaying impeccable balance. Highly approachable now and well worth the tab. Very good (+).

2009 J Vineyards & Winery Barrel 16 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.59, 535 cases, $75. Released January 2012. A selection of 16 barrels from diverse Russian River Valley vineyards. 100% de-stemmed, open-top fermenters, aged 14 months in 35% new French oak barrels, blended, and returned to barrel for 3 months. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Enticing aromas of Bing cherries, sandalwood and oak spice. An hi-collared wine with generous flavors of black cherries, dark red strawberries, cola, graham and clove spice. Aims to please with welcoming elegance, reserved tannins and an aromatic finish steeped in spiced cherry compote. J’s top Pinot delivers.

2009 Jigar Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 465 cases, $32. Name (“jigg-er”) is Urdu/Hindi for symbol of love and affection, courage, heart and one who lives life to the fullest. Proprietor is Jigar and Stephanie Patel. Winemaker is Erik Miller of Kokomo Wines. Inaugural release. Clones 667, 777 and 114. Aged in 25% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose is closed for business and no fruit ever emerges. Flavors of brandied cherries, herbs and cola finishing with a cherry riff, bright acidity and a bit of heat. The medium weighted fruit carries a roasted, confected quality. The wine seems a little disjointed. Decent. (Note: this wine won a Gold at the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Tasting so may not be a representative bottle)

2009 La Rochelle Dutton Ranch Campbell Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 142 cases, $48. Pommard clone. · Moderately deep reddish-purple color in the glass. Bright aromas of dark cherries, sage, spice and potpourri really draw you into the glass. Delicious (written twice in my notes) cherry bombast with subtle accents of edible roses, spice and mocha. Discreetly concentrated mouthful of Pinot with supple tannins and an incredible finish featuring extravagant ripe cherry fruit. In three words, flat out great.

2008 Marimar Estate Don Miguel Vineyard La Masia Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., $30. Estate grown and bottled. From organic grapes grown in western Sonoma County in the Green Valley appellation. Unfiltered. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Revealing aromas of cherries, raspberries and delicate oak. Flavors of very ripe berries and raisin, accentuated with an herbal bent, displaying flamboyant tannins and some heat on the reasonably long finish. Good.

2011 Origine Russian River Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $12, screw cap. Sourced from 3 vineyards. Slow, cold fermentation. Aged on the lees for 2 months and bottled young. · Moderate pink-orange color in the glass. Aromas of fresh strawberries, red raspberries and watermelon leap out of the glass upon opening. Discreet richness with flavors of strawberry, raspberry and red grapefruit with a hint of cherry vanilla. Fresh and spirited. Good (+).

2009 Papapietro Perry Leras Family Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.78, TA 0.569, 1000 cases, $54. Vineyard is planted to Pommard clone that is 13 years old as well as newer clones 115, 667 and 777. Aged 11 months in 50% new and 50% 1 and 2-year-old Francois Frères oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of darker red cherries and berries and damp forest floor. Delicious core of deeply flavored red and black cherries accented by subtle notes of earth, minerals, herbs and oak. Mid weight in style with a very sexy, satiny texture and supple tannins. Ready to drink now. Very good (+).

2009 Porter Creek Fiona Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $36. Vineyard established in 1982 by the George Davis family on a steep hillside along Westside Road at the entrance to Porter Creek. Made with biodynamic grapes. · Moderate reddishpurple hue in the glass. An interesting wine made in the French style and quite distinct from many Pinot Noirs currently produced from the Russian River Valley. Aromas of cherries, summer herbs, grass and verbena. Elegant and light in weight, yet offering pleasing cherry flavor with considerable length and intensity on the cherry-driven finish. Unusual spice accents add interest. The wine possesses plenty of svelte tannins for the long haul. A distinctive and interesting wine with a true expression of terroir. Very good (+).

2007 Scherrer Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $36. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Dark cherries are the featured fruit on the nose with hints of balsam, spice and smoky oak. Moderately intense array of black cherry, and black raspberry flavors with supple tannins and some length on the finish which leaves a trace of heat in its wake. This bottle seems a bit tired at this stage. Good.

2008 Scherrer Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 620 cases, $40. Essentially from the Green Valley appellation. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose unfolds slowly in the glass, reaching a crescendo in about 45 minutes, featuring fresh Bing cherries and red berries with a hint of spice. Light on first taste, picking up intensity over time in the glass. Brighter and fresher than the 2007 vintage with more red fruits featured. The tannins are supple making for easy drinking. The wine finishes with a bit of spice and orange peel, and refreshing acidity. Very good.

2010 Sonoma-Loeb Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.83, TA 0.50,, $45. Clones 667 and 777 from one of the Dutton family’s most prized blocks. Long cold soak, indigenous yeasts, unfined and unfiltered. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Richly perfumed with brandied black cherries, spice, and oak-driven aromas of herbs and vanilla. Full-bodied, husky style, with a big heart of black cherry and blackberry fruit and a staccato of cola, and chocolate. Well oaked, with nicely managed tannins. This wine makes a statement. A little too close to Syrah for my comfort, but very well made in its style. Very good.

2009 Stemmler Nugent Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.45, TA 0.63, 606 cases, $42. An 11-acre site in the heart of the Russian River Valley planted with tight spacing in 1997 to Dijon 115 and 667 clones. 100% de-stemmed, hot fermentations, extended maceration and aged 18 months in 20% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Very fruity nose of mixed berry jam aromas with a slight funky note. Soft and velvety on the palate with bright black cherry cola flavor offering some fruitdriven aromatic persistence on the finish. Great balance. I like this wine for its seductive mouthfeel. Very good.

2008 Taft Street Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.60, 1,074 cases, $16. Sourced primarily from Jim Moore Vineyard east of the winery on Occidental Road and Russian River Farms along Eastside Road. Aged 14 months in barrel. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of Bing cherries, sage and pepper. Middleweight flavors of red cherries, raspberries and cranberries wrapped in muscular rainy tannins with a good snap of acidity on the very dry finish. The tannin/fruit balance is tipped toward tannins. Good.

2010 Twomey Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., pH 3.49, TA 0.65, 2,600 cases, $50. Released April 28, 2012. Sourced from the sustainably farmed, estate West Pin Vineyard and sustainably farmed Crinella Vineyard. Aged 15 months sur lie in 50% new and 50% once used French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of fresh Bing cherries, blueberries, spice and floral notes. Delicious core of mouthwatering dark cherry and strawberry flavors with cinnamon and other baking spices, and supportive oak in the background. Very silky in the mouth. Vibrant in character due to uplifting acidity, producing a refreshingly bright finish that lasts and lasts. A beautiful, elegant wine of distinct character that is very food-friendly. Still needs time to reach its apogee and will benefit from decanting if you drink now. This wine will convert you to Pinotholicism.

2009 Waits-Mast Amber Ridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 47 cases, $42. Released September 2011. The vineyard was planted in 2000 with Dijon clones 115, 667, and 777. This wine is predominantly clone 115 (50%). 100% whole berry, inoculated with RC212 yeast, aged 17 months in 30% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Very reserve nose initially, opening slowly over time in the glass to reveal delicate aromas of dark cherries, Asian 5-spice and hibiscus. Delicious core of spiced black cherry and cola flavor with an underpinning of savory herbs. Soft and plush on the palate with modest tannins. A little warmth in the background. A very bold tasting, California style Pinot which will find fans. Very good.



Sonoma Coast


2010 Anthill Farms Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $34 First release of this bottling. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of red plums, crushed red grapes, rose petals, soy and spice with a hint of volatile acidity. The flavors follow in step with an added floral riff, backed by a mouth-puckering, tight, citrusy acidity. The acidity is disarming and the wine is out of balance. Decent (-).

2010 Anthill Farms Campbell Ranch Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., $44 From a vineyard near Annapolis in the fog line at 750 feet. 12 year-old vines. Planted in 2002 and farmed by owner Steve Campbell. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Very muted nose initially, slowly opening over time in the glass to reveal aromas of darker berries and cherries, tea leaf, graham and spice. An elegant, bright and slightly lean wine, with flavors of dark red cherries and berries including cranberries, finishing with citrus-driven acidity adding a lift to the sweet fruit. Good (+).

2010 Anthill Farms Peters Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., $44 This vineyard is located in the hills west of Sebastopol. Farmed by Randy Peters for over 20 years. Pommard and 777. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromatically pleasing with a perfume of dark cherries, savory herbs and seasoned oak. Middleweight flavors of cherries, herbs, grilled mushrooms and vanilla creme with well balanced tannins and acidity. Soft in the mouth with enticing drink ability. Very good.

2010 Bruliam Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $46. 100% de-stemmed, minor acid and water additions to counteract high sugar. Inoculated fermentations. Aged 10 months in 50% new French oak (Remond). Clone 828. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with vivid aromas of dark cherries, plum sauce, grilled beef, wildflower and seasoned oak. Darker cherries and berries are featured on a middleweight frame, with hints of herbs, straw and tobacco, becoming more expressive over time in the glass. Soft, well-tamed mountain tannins, finishing with a flourish of dark berry fruit. Will benefit from more bottle aging. This vineyard pumps out wines of considerable interest year in and year out. Very good (-).

2009 Canihan Exuberance Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.63, TA 0.70, 500 cases, $50. From a dry-farmed, organic. 3.75-acre estate vineyard bordering Los Carneros, planted to Dijon clones 115, 667 and 777 in 1998. Certified organic by CCOF. Yields are less than 2 tons per acre. Aged 22 months in 100% French oak barrels. Gold Medal San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and Pinot Noir Shootout. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Very spicy nose offering enticing aromas of black raspberries, strawberries, deep red rose petals and sweet pipe smoke. I can’t take my nose out of the glass. An aristocratic wine with mouthwatering flavors of dark berries, exotic spice, earthy notes of mushroom and flavor-enhancing savory herbs in the background. Soft in the mouth, with well proportioned ripe, firm tannins. Has a typical Carneros Pinot Noir personality.

2008 Canihan Exuberance Sonoma County Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.76, TA 0.60, 180 cases, $50. A reserve from a dry-farmed, certified organic estate vineyard. Yields 1 ton per acre. Very similar to the 2009 vintage of this wine, except the fruit is riper in 2008. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherries, strawberries, violets, seasoned oak and spice. Broad in the mouth with moderately intense black cherry, blueberry, and strawberry flavors with Asian 5-spice in the background. Mild fine-grain tannins, smoothly textured, with generous length on the bombastic finish. This wine has benefited from further time in the bottle and is better than I recall in past tastings. Very good (+).

2008 Clary Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $40. From an estate vineyard located in the western reaches of the Petaluma Gap. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of dark red fruits, wine cellar and oak. Flavors of earth-kissed black cherries and berries, tar and oak, with a hint of citrus on the crisp finish. A little less ripe and extracted than previous vintages I remember, but more transparent. Good.

2009 Dunstan Durell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.63, 231 cases, $50. Second vintage from Ranch House Block at Durell Vineyard. A blend of 115, 667, 828 clones and Calera and Swan selections. Aged 16 months in 50% new French oak barrels. Placed second out of 460 Pinot Noirs tasted at the 10th Annual Pinot Noir Summit in 2012. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Evocative nose offering aromas of spiced black cherries, black cap raspberries, sassafras and oak, picking up interest and intensity over time in the glass. Offers moderately dense and very ripe flavors of dark cherries and berries with notes of tea and vanilla. Soft in the mouth, almost creamy, with silky tannins and amazing length on the generous finish. Simply delicious. Top notch.

2010 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., $45. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of boysenberries, fruit punch, spice and violets. Darker berry flavors are featured on a middleweight frame, with accents of Asian 5-spice and cola. Juicy and crisp, with impressive fruit purity. Highly approachable with supple tannins. Even better the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, with more striking cherry character. Very good.

2010 Fulcrum Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 189 cases, $56. Clones 667 and 777. Aged 15 months in 33% new Remond French oak. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Brightly perfumed with aromas of black plums, blackberry jam and Chinese Five Spice. Deliciously rich core of blackberry and plum reduction sauce flavors with a very appealing accent of spice. The wines fills the mouth with fruit, grabbing your attention, but is light on its feet due to supple tannins and impeccable balance. A big boy Pinot with black tie class and flat-out terrific.

2009 Furthermore Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., pH 3.53, TA 0.63, 47 cases, $50. Clones 115, 667 and 777. Aged 10 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderate ruby color in the glass. Fragrant array of dark red fruits with a hint of sassafras. Modest richness with pleasing flavors of dark cherries and berries with savory herbs and brown spice in the background. Very smoothly textured and easy to drink. Much better the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, displaying richer fruit flavor. Very good.

2009 J Vineyards & Winery Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $50. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels and lightly fined before bottling. · Medium reddish-purple hue in the glass. Brooding aromas of black fruit leather, black raspberries, violets, oak and spice. Tasty core of moderately rich black raspberry and blackberry fruit with hints of black tea and cola. Soft in the mouth, with firm, dry tannins. Drinking perfectly now. Very good.

2010 Littorai Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.3% alc., $40. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of dark red fruits, damp earth, and wooded forest. Soft and smooth on the palate, with good richness and intensity, offering flavors of dark red cherries and raspberries that have a woodsy, earthy tone. Better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Littorai wines perform better with a few years of cellaring. Good.

2009 MacPhail Sangiacomo Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 325 cases. $49. Clones 115 and Pommard. Aged 11 months sur lies in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderate ruby color in the glass. The nose is closed for business, reluctantly giving up demure aromas of dark stone fruits and toasty oak. Middleweight flavors of plums and black raspberries wrapped in fine-grain tannin, lingering with some appeal. Not particularly broad or giving and may not be a representative bottle. Reserve judgement.

2009 MacPhail Wildcat Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 325 cases, $49. Clones are Pommard, 115, 667 and 777. Aged 11 months sur lies in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddishpurple color and slightly hazy in the glass. The nose offers plenty of interest, with deep aromas of wild blackberries, rose petals, mocha java and Asian 5-spice. Black cherry and dark berry core well robed in oak with an underpinning of earth, herbs and dark chocolate. Appealingly wild and feral with substantial length on the finish. Could use more time in bottle to fully integrate the oak, but damn good right now.

2008 Paradise View Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., 581 cases, $26. From a vineyard at the intersection of Highways 37 and 121 in the Sonoma Coast appellation owned by winery proprietor Al Brayton. The winemaker is Denis Malbec, who was born at Chateau Latour and learned viticulture and winemaking as at early age as the third generation of his family to work at Latour. He was Cellar Master from 1994 to 2000. Denis joins sommelier May-Britt Malbec as winemaking consultants on this project, joining Paradise View in 2002. 100% de-stemmed, intensive sorting, aged 20 months in 30% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Enjoyable aromas of black cherries and black raspberries with a hint of spice and sweet smoke. Medium weight, bright flavors that echo the nose with complimentary smoky oak support. Silky tannins, finishing juicy with some length. Good (+).

2010 Roadhouse Winery Black Label Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $55. Sourced from the Petaluma Wind Gap. · Expressive nose offering scents of ripe Bing cherries and cola. Rich and flamboyant, with luscious flavors of black cherry pie filling, cherry cola, and sassafras, complimented by toasty oak in the background. Striking flavor expression that will find many fans. Smooth in the mouth with supple tannins and ready drink ability. Very good (+).

2007 Scherrer “Big Brother” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 160 cases, $50. A blend from a vineyard in Annapolis and another in Bodega, the name comes from the generosity of the wine, yet retains a delicacy typical of Pinot Noir. · Medium reddish-purple hue in the glass. Multiple aromas pop up over time including black cherry, spiced plum, sassafras, wine cellar and new oak. Packed with fruit but slinky and easy to cozy up to. Flavors of black cherries, boysenberries, sassafras and smoky oak, supported by silky tannins, finishing smooth and clean. Impeccable balance.

2008 Scherrer Platt Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 185 cases, $75. Released November 2011. Joan and Lew Platt planted this vineyard overlooking the town of Bodega. A very cool site that escaped the summer wildfire issues. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Subdued aromas of dark red cherries with a hint of tea leaf and oak. The fruit really pops on the palate with vibrant exuberance. Flavors of black cherries, blueberries and black raspberries elevated by a lively cut of acidity. Moderately rich and beautifully balanced. Needs time to open in the glass. Built for the long haul (available in magnums which should easily last 15 years).

2009 Senders Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $35. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of super ripe fruit, dominated by pruney, raisiny notes. A well-crafted wine with modest concentration, supple tannins, and a very silky mouthfeel, but regrettably, the black cherry and dark berry fruit is simply too ripe for my taste. Good.

2010 SPELL Nicole’s Blend Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 252 cases, $37. Winemaker Andrew Berge. Sourced from Terra de Promissio Vineyard east of the town of Petaluma and Miron Vineyard in the Sebastopol Hills. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of red pie cherries, baking spices and sandalwood. Middleweight flavors of cherries with a hint of tobacco and herbs, displaying admirable finesse and some finishing strength. Russian River Valley in character. Very good.

2010 SPELL Guidici Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 150 cases, $39. Winemaker Shane Finley. The vineyard is located just outside the small town of Occidental amidst towering redwoods. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Enticing aromas of fresh deep red cherries and strawberries with a hint of spice. Rich and bold in character, with plentiful and attention-grabbing deep red and black fruits backed by muscular tannins and bright acidity. Addictive flavor in this wine. Very good.

2008 Thirty-Seven Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 150 cases, $40. 100% de-stemmed, intensively sorted, extended maceration, aged 11 months in 50% new French oak barrels. Crafted by Denis and May-Britt Malbec. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Strong elements of smoke and ash on the nose and in the mouth with fruit flavors of black cherry and blackberries, wrapped in soft, supple tannins. Seems smoke-tainted, but may be strong oak-driven, heavily toast characters. Either way, I find the wine rather unpleasant to drink. That said, my experience has been that there are a number of wine drinkers who welcome smoky Pinots that I find disagreeable. To each his own. Decent.

2010 Trombetta Family Wines Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 600 cases, $58. Petaluma Gap vineyard location. Clones 777, Swan and 828. Native yeast fermentations, extended maceration, aged 9 months in 50% new and 50% 1-year-old French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Dark plum color in the glass. Super ripe fruit profile. Aromas of crushed black grapes, cassis, blackberries, tea leaf and soy sauce. Full-bodied flavors of sweet black raspberry and black currant fruit, assuming a dried-out character over time in the glass with notes of raisin, hay, grass and tea leaf showing up. Stops just short of syrupy. Some fine-grain tannins and a lingering fruit-driven finish. Pushes the ripeness envelope too far for my taste, but well-made in its style. Decent.

2009 Twomey Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., $50. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas jump out including black cherries, potpourri, spice and charred oak. Medium weight core of fresh dark red and black berries and cherries with well-integrated fine-grain, tawny tannins, and supported by a bright acid spine, finishing with a slightly citrusy, uplifting finish. Very good.



Mendocino County


2010 Straight Line Wine Mendocino County Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., TA 0.61, 550 cases, $28. A blend from vineyards that go into Couloir Wines single-vineyard designated Pinot Noirs. Fruit from Anderson Valley vineyards make up the majority of the final wine. 40% whole cluster, native fermentation. Aged 11 months in 40% new French oak. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of black cherries, spiced plums, and cut flowers. Discreetly concentrated flavors of dark red berries, black plums and spice with a hint of citrus peel on the refreshing finish. Easy to like, with supple tannins, and reasonably good length on the finish. Very good (-).

2010 Couloir Oppenlander Vineyard Mendocino County Pinot Noir

13.3% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.61, 116 cases, $38. 80% Pommard and 20% Dijon 115 clones. 50% whole cluster. Native yeast fermentation. Aged 10 months in 40% new French oak. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Brooding aromas of earth-kissed dark grapes and berries. Well composed array of middleweight dark red and black fruits with a savory mushroom and earthy bent typical of this vineyard. Perfectly ripened fruit, smoothly textured in the mouth, finishing with admirable length and crispness. Very good.

2009 Waits-Mast Oppenlander Vineyard Mendocino County Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 48 cases, $44. Released September 2011. A vineyard that consistently produces distinctive and stunning wines. Located just outside the town of Comptche, about 8.5 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. The vineyard is owned by the Shandel family, 5th generation owners of the property. The site is very cool and harvest is typically later than in other regions. 100% whole berry, native yeast, aged 17 months in 25% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of wooded forest, wild berries and fresh cherries. Delicious essence of red Pinot fruits with a savory, spicy, herbal edge. Amazing fruit intensity on a rather delicate frame. Very soft in the mouth. A lighter, redder interpretation of Pinot from this vineyard in this vintage. Hint: If you see “Oppenlander Vineyard” on a Pinot wine label, buy it.



Other


2009 De Loach Vineyards California Heritage Reserve Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $10. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Slightly confected, with aromas of strawberries, cherries, and spice. Riper fruit evident on the palate with notes of stewed plum and raisin. Moderately rich with noticeable oak backing, offering some grainy tannins and bright acidity. Becomes less interesting over time in the glass. A suitable daily drinker at the right price. Decent.

NV Deux Terres Red Wine

13.7% alc., $45. 50% French and 50% American grapes. Two French winemakers (Roger and daughter Julie Belland of Domaine Roger Belland) and 1 American winemaker (Jennifer Tensley of Lea Wines) collaboration. Two different terroirs (2009 Lea Turner Vineyard Pinot Noir and 2009 Domaine Roger Belland Santenay-Commes Premier Cru), but two similar winemaking philosophies. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of dark red berries, dried rose petals and balsam with a hint of pungency from volatile acidity. Tasty core of dark red berry and cherry fruit. Earthy and minerally, with complimentary oak, ripe, firm tannins, and a crisp finish tasting of cherries. A unique wine, speaking more of Burgundy than California. Good.

2010 Grey Stack Bennett Valley Cuvée Sonoma County Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 150 cases, $35. Second vintage. Proprietor is Peter Young, winemaker is Pat Sullivan, and vineyard manager is Chris Bowland. From an emerging appellation. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of spiced black cherries, herbs and green garden. Medium weight flavors of dark red cherries and berries with spice and herbal oak in the background. More savory than fruity (not for fruit hedonists). Good.

2010 Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve California Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.53, 50,000 cases, $19. Sourced from cool California coastal Jackson Estates Grown vineyards including Santa Barbara County (54%), Monterey County (41%) and Mendocino County (5%). Aged 8 months in 96% French (19% new) oak barrels. This is always a remarkable wine for me considering the huge production. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of darker cherries and berries with hints of oak and spice and even peppered beef. Wood-kissed black cherry and black raspberry fruit on a light, elegant frame with mild, sandy tannins. Pair with Asian “shakin’ beef.” Consistently one of California’s best value Pinot Noirs, widely available, and often discounted. Good (+).

2011 Montpellier California Pinot Noir

12.5% alc., pH 3.56, TA 0.55, $6. From Bronco Wine Company. 76% Pinot Noir, 17% Syrah, 4% Petite Sirah, 3% Dry red. · Moderately light reddish-purple hue in the glass. Aromas of confected cherries (Maraschino) with notes of forest floor and oak. Light, fruity, and simple, featuring flavors of cherries, raspberries and cranberries in an easy to drink style with some fine-grain tannins and a backing herbal oak sheen. Won’t light your fire, but low in alcohol and user friendly. Decent.

2010 On Point Christinna’s Cuvée North Coast Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 242 cases, $34. From Fulcrum Wines. A blend of Londer, Gap’s Crown and Floodgate vineyards, honoring the winemaker’s wife. Clones 115, 667, 777 and Swan. Barrel aged 15 months in 24% new French (Remond) oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple hue in the glass. Pleasant aromas of dark red cherries, red currants and berries with notes of briar, Dr. Pepper and oak spice. Light, but big on flavor with an array of bright fruits including raspberry, cherry and blueberry. Mild tannins and great uplifting natural acidity. A solid, well-crafted wine and a good value to boot. Very good.

2010 Pink Truck California Red Wine

10.5% alc., $8.99. Artwork by Sonoma artist Dennis Ziemienski. From Red Truck Winery in Sonoma. · Light pinkish-red in color in the glass. Aromas of strawberries, red raspberries and blood oranges. Intensely fruity, with the flavor of strawberry soda and tutti-fruiti. Simple, refreshing without tannin. A medium-bodied rosé style wine which will work with summer grilled dishes, especially over ice. Decent.

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