Follow The Prince
twitter icon rss icon

Download &
print (pdf)

Latest Gems from the Russian River Valley

The river flows, it flows to the sea
Wherever that river goes that’s where I want to be

Ballad of Easy Rider, Byrds

The Russia River Valley and River are named for Russian explorers who settled at Fort Ross, just north of Jenner, where the Russian River empties into the Pacific Ocean. The Pomo Indians were the original inhabitants of the Sonoma Coast and the Russian River Valley, and named the Russian River Shabakai or “long snake,” for its many twists and turns. The Russians adopted their own name for the river, Slavianka, or “pretty Russian girl.” By 1867, the Russians had left North America entirely, leaving behind the anglicized names Russian River Valley and Russian River as their legacy.



The Russian River is 105 miles in length, snaking its way from its origins in the coastal mountains near the town of Willits in Mendocino County, progressing through the Alexander Valley, before reaching the Russian River Valley. Just below the town of Healdsburg, the river takes a turn to head west toward the Pacific Ocean. This area is called the Middle Reach of the Valley, a sweet spot for Pinot Noir, and the birthplace of modern Pinot Noir viticulture in the valley.

The defining feature of the Russian River Valley is a single three-letter word: fog. Fog from the Pacific Ocean is the most important single influence on viticulture here and it defines the boundaries of the Russian River Valley appellation which was established in 1983. The fog enters the valley during the growing season from the Southwest through the Petaluma Gap between Pt Reyes and Bodega Bay, with a smaller incursion traveling inward along the Russian River from its exit into the ocean at Jenner on the Sonoma Coast. Plenty of daytime warmth (the Russian River Valley is a Region III climatically on the UC Davis scale) gives way to cool nights and mornings caused by the fog. The result is slowed ripening and extended hang time for grapes. The winegrowers here like to say that they turn fog into Pinot Noir.



I recently tasted a number of excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines from the Russian River Valley from the 2010 and 2011 vintages. There is plenty to be thankful for. A few additional wines are included from other regions where a producer also sources outside the Russian River Valley.

2010 Alysian Floodgate Vineyard Rock Hill Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.3% alc., pH 3.39, TA 0.69, 158 cases, $55. Dijon clone 777. Average Brix at harvest 22.8º. 100% de-stemmed. Combination of wild and cultured yeast fermentation. MLF fermentation in barrel. Aged 10 months in 40% new and 60% one and two-year-old French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Very shy nose initially, opening slowly to reveal aromas of red cherries, cranberries, dried rose petals and grassy oak. The cherry, red berry and red plum stuffing really explodes on the mid palate, finishing with great intensity and nervy acidity that makes the drinker want another sip. Very easy, seamless drinking. The wine gets better over time in the glass - always a good sign - and was even more aromatic and flavorful the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Not the power of the 2009 vintage, but a beautiful reflection of the cooler 2010 vintage. Gary Farrell is a winemaker you can bank on every vintage to make superb wines that are intensely flavorful, yet bright and crisp and very food friendly - just the way Pinot Noir is meant to be.

2010 Alysian Hallberg Vineyard Crossroads Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.39, TA 0.66, 156 cases, $55. Dijon clone 777. Average harvest Brix 23.6º. 100% de-stemmed. Combination of wild and cultured yeast fermentation, MLF fermentation in barrel. Aged 12 months in 40% new and 60% one and two-year-old French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Shy, slowly evolving aromas of dark berry jam and complimentary oak. Mid weight tasty flavors of blackberries, plum sauce and cola, robed in modest dusty tannins, and brought into focus with bright acidity, and finishing with a long dark-fruited finish with a citrus undertone. Very well crafted and reflective of the cool vintage. Even better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. This is a terroir-driven wine displaying the dark fruited character that is the signature of this vineyard. Very good (+).

2008 Alysian Cresta Ridge Vineyard Taurin Block Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.1% alc., pH 3.47, 378 cases, $38. I opened a bottle of this wine recently that was first reviewed in November 2010 and I still find it compelling. 50% MLF in barrel. Aged 10 months in 40% new and 60% one and two-year-old French oak barrels. · Light straw color in the glass. Crisp and flavorful, balanced and refreshing. This wine sings with aromas of citrus fruits and baked pear, echoed on the palate with additions of pale caramel, brown butter and the right touch of oak. Drinking perfectly now and as fresh as it was upon release. Should be good to go for another five years at least.

2010 Alysian Westside Farms Clone 4 Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.0% alc., pH 3.38, TA 0.72, 158 cases, $40. 100% barrel fermented, 35% MLF in barrel. Aged 7 months in 35% new and 65% one and two-year-old French oak barrels. · Light straw color in the glass. A nose of interest with aromas of Meyer lemon curd, grilled peach, lychee, cream soda and almond. Green apple and lemon-lime flavors with a complimentary hint of nuttiness and toasty oak. Almost steely with grippy acidity that leaves a high-strung, operatic finish. This acid-driven wine reflects the cool vintage. Can be an excellent food wine, particularly with white fish in a butter or cream sauce or goat cheese. Good.

2011 Castalia Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.55, 300 cases, $55 (6 and 12 bottle lots sold through the website order form). Released February 2013. Twentieth vintage of Castalia Pinot Noir crafted by Rochioli cellarmaster Terry Bering. Yields were 50% of normal in 2011. 50% Rochioli Vineyard River Block and 50% from a 20-year-old block of the West Block clone planted in another vineyard on Westside Road together with some Rochioli Estate wine. Aged 15 months in 20% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Very bright spicy cherry aroma which builds in intensity over time in the glass. Ornate cherry flavor with accents of Chinese five-spice, cola, anise and oak, caressingly soft tannins, finishing with hi-tone cherry presence and a juicy acidity. Also tasted from a bottle opened the previous day and the wine showed more body and nuance suggesting that cellaring for at least a year is advised. Try this wine with Cherry Cordial M&Ms - it really works! Very good.

Coterie Cellars is an urban winery in the San Francisco Bay area. Owner and winemaker Kyler Loudon has studied viticulture and enology at UC Davis. Kyle and his spouse and business partner Shala, were originally part of a coterie of winery workers for two highly regarded wineries in the San Francisco Bay area. They began making wines under the guidance of these and other winemakers while establishing relationships with quality vineyards. The winery is located just south of downtown San Jose. Grapes are sourced from prestigious vineyards in the Russian River Valley and Santa Lucia Highlands. The letterpress labels feature a simple grape cluster and six grape berries as a node to the Gang of Six, with whom they made some of their earliest wines before Coterie Cellars was founded in 2007.

The wines are sold through a mailing list and online through the winery’s website store at www.coteriecellars.com. I found the wines well crafted in a fruit-driven style. The wines are generally juicy with modest tannins and good acidity that is more evident in some bottlings. There is a noticeable oak presence in all wines which benefited from opening and re-tasting the next day. The 2010 wines were released July 8, 2012.

2010 Coterie Cellars Saralee’s Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 174 cases, $38. Clones 113 (50%) and 23 (50%). Aged 11 months sur lie in 48% new French oak with minimal racking. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Initially the nose is quite appealing with bright aromas of black cherry and plum, spice and mesquite, revealing some stem and pungency over time. Medium bodied flavors of darker berries and plum with a thread of green oak, earth and flowers. The wine was more appealing on the nose and in the mouth the following day from a previously opened and recorked bottle, yet still had a noticeable presence of smoky oak in the background. It would be interesting to revisit this wine in a year or two. Good.

2010 Coterie Cellars Trenton Station Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 46 cases, $38. Clone 37 (Mt Eden) from the Old Barn Block. Aged 10 months sur lie in 50% new French oak with minimal racking. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple hue in the glass. Aromas of ripe black cherries with oak-driven scents of straw, tobacco and brioche in the background. Intensely fruity on the palate with a sappy core of black cherry, and red and black berry fruits, caressed by balanced tannins, finishing with a uplifting riff of cherry tempered by a subtle citrus note. Even better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Best to cellar this wine for at least a year to allow better integration of oak and full expression. Good (+).

2010 Coterie Cellars Kirk Williams Ranch Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 113 cases, $35. 50% each Pommard and 667. Aged 10 months sur lies in 50% new French oak barrels with minimal racking. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple in the glass. Scent of dark berry mash, black cherries and a whiff of espresso. Crisp, modest core of dark red and black fruits underlain with hints of coffee-scented oak. Balanced tannins and some length on the finish. Perfectly fine, but too much oak on board. No change the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Good.

2009 Coterie Cellars Tondre Grapefield Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $37. Joe Alarid is the grower. 50% each Pommard 4 and 667. Aged 10 months sur lies in 45% new French oak barrels with minimal racking. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple hue in the glass. This wine veers to the very ripe-fruited zone featuring black cherry, blackberry, prune and black current flavors with non intrusive oak in the background, finishing with good acidity and an appealing spiced black cherry riff. Good (+).

2010 Coterie Cellars Tondre Grapefield Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., 147 cases, $37. Pommard 4 and 667. Aged 10 months sur lies in 45% new French oak barrels with minimal racking. Unfined and unfiltered. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose offers a perfume of dark berry jam, plum sauce and oak, becoming more expressive over time in the glass. Dark red berries are the featured theme backed by modest tannins and lively acidity. Oak is nicely integrated. I like this wine for its acid-driven vibrancy. Even better the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Very good.

DuMOL is proudly marking seventeen years with the release of the 2010 vintage wines. Winemaker and viticulturist Andy Smith (pictured below), who marked his fourteenth vintage at DuMOL with these releases, describes the wines as follows: “There’s a great deal of fruit richness and density on offer in all of these wines, but that’s not the vintage’s calling card. It’s the incredible freshness, vibrancy and liveliness they show that really drives the year’s signature.” Andy notes that 2010 was a record cool growing season in the Russian River Valley and a year where considerable attention had to be paid to the vineyards from day one. He gushed about this vintage: “From my perspective, 2010 is our greatest vintage across all vineyards, all varieties and all wines.”

If you are a mailing list customer of DuMOL, you know of the full-color booklet that is published and distributed with each vintage release, carefully and exhaustively composed by Andy with extensive, colorful descriptions of the vintage and detailed information including cellar and tasting notes on each of the individual wines. There is nothing comparable offered by any other California winery.



DuMOL wines are allocated through a mailing list with very limited retail distribution. The wines are all vinified with native yeast and malolactic fermentation and bottled unfiltered. The Chardonnays are all barrel fermented after whole cluster pressing. Harvest Brix for Pinot Noirs ranged from 23.9º to 24.6º and for Chardonnay 22.8º to 23.8º. All the wines are quite aromatic, especially over time in the glass, finish with clarity and purpose, and most importantly, are very food friendly. The best drinking window for these wines is 2013-2020 for Pinot Noir and 2013-2017 for Chardonnay. Visit the website at www.dumol.com.

2010 DuMOL Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 787 cases, $84. Released November 2012. Sourced from DuMOL Estate Vineyard, Calera, Swan, Pommard, 667 and 777. Yield 2.1 tons per acre from 6- year-old vines. Aged 14 months in 55% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Evocatively nuanced aromatic profile offering an array of scents including black cherry, dark berry, forest floor, baking spice, oak cask and old wallet. Moderately rich and very flavorful with intense flavors of black plum and dark berries with an earthy undertone and a hint of spice and vanilla. The attention-getting mid palate attack is followed by a lengthy fruit-driven finish. Well-structured tannins give the wine substance and balance the powerful fruit. Probably the most intensely fruity wine in the 2010 lineup. A muscular ballet dancer. Very good.

2010 DuMOL ryan Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 1,184 cases, $78. Released November 2012. Sourced from Widdoes Vineyard, Martini selection. Yield 2.65 tons per acre from 25-year-old vines. Aged 14 months in 45% new French oak barrels. Aged 14 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Slow to open in the glass, but offers considerable appeal over time. Aromas of fresh blackberry tart, forest floor, rose petal, oak and saddle. Discreetly concentrated core of black raspberry and black plum fruit with a hint of spiced chocolate and vanilla wafer. The tannins and acidity are nicely integrated and the mouth feel is very soft, creamy and sexy. Very good.

2010 DuMOL aidan Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 455 cases, $78. Released November 2012. Sourced from the 3-acre Wildrose Vineyard, 115 and 777. Yield 2.5 tons per acre from 11-yearold vines. Aged 14 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple hue in the glass. Shy, but pleasing aromas of darker cherries and berries with complimentary toasted oak and a floral note. On the palate this wine sings with juiciness and vibrancy, offering delicious blackberry, black cherry and spice flavors. A complete wine with balanced, supple tannins, a seductively soft mouth feel, and a lengthy finish that is bursting with fresh, vivid fruit.

2010 DuMOL finn Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 371 cases, $84. Released November 2012. 58% DuMOL Estate and 42% Occidental Road vineyards, multi-clonal field blend. Yield 2.2 tons per acre from vines that are 6 to 16 years old. Aged 14 months in 60% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. The wine bursts from the glass with effusive aromas of fresh Bing cherries, Chambord liqueur, dried cranberry, spice and bay leaf. A delicious wine that brings all your senses to attention. Flavors of ripe strawberry, blackberry jam, and anise with an earthy, mineral-bound underbelly. Juicy, with lively acidity, perfectly integrated oak, and noticeable length on the finish. Very easy to cozy up to.

2010 DuMOL eoin Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 468 cases, $78. Released November 2012. Sourced from Sonoma Stage Vineyard, Calera and Swan selections. Yield 1.95 tons per acre from 10-year-old vines. Aged 14 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of loamy earth, berry pie glaze and dried herbs. A modicum of intensity with flavors of black plum, blackberry, boysenberry and a sidecar of spice. The most savory, earth-bound and tannic Pinot Noir in the lineup, more in the Carneros vein. Very good.

2010 DuMOL eddie’s patch Russian River Valley Syrah

14.2% alc., 1,050 cases, $78. Released June 2012. A 3-vineyard blend from Hoppe-Kelly, Greywacke and Gregori vineyards. Clone 7, 8776, Estrella and Alban. Yield 2.5 tons per acre from vines that are 5 to 13 years old. Harvest Brix 24.4º. Aged 16 months in 33% new French oak. · Dense purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of blackberries, prune, and forest floor. Full-bodied flavors of spicy plum and dark berries with a base of iron-driven minerality and earth. Balanced dry tannins and some persistence on the finish. As a Pinot Noir lover, it doesn’t match up, but is a nicely crafted wine. Good.

2010 DuMOL lia Russian River Valley Viognier

14.7% alc., 375 cases, $50. Released November 2011. A 3-vineyard blend from Dutton-Gregori, Hoppe-Kelly and Trenton Station vineyards. Clone 1. Yield 1.75 tons per acre from vines that are 7, 9 and 12 years old. Whole cluster pressed, barrel fermented in 20% new and 70% neutral French oak barrels, and 10% stainless steel barrels. Aged on lees for 9 months. · Medium straw color and clear in the glass. Quite aromatic, with scents of tropical fruits including dried mango and guava, lemon curd, ginger and brioche. An Alsatian style wine with a delicious core of tropical fruits including grilled pineapple with an appealing sidecar of toast, honey, nuts and vanilla. Slightly creamy in texture, finishing with aplomb and focus. Terrific!

2010 DuMOL Estate Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.3% alc., 460 cases, $60. Inaugural bottling released November 2012. Sourced from the DuMOL Estate Vineyard, Wente “Hyde” selection and Mt Eden selection. Green Valley district of Russian River Valley. Yield 2.5 tons per acre from 5-year-old vines. Complete malolactic fermentation land aging 15 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Light straw color and clear in the glass. Aromas of lemon curd, golden apple, almonds and flint stone. Beautiful marriage of fruit (peach, lemon) and oak (subtle vanilla and nuttiness). Bright, finishing on a refreshing citrus-driven high note that lasts. Very good.

2010 DuMOL isobel Russian River Valley Chardonnay

13.9% alc., 955 cases, $60. Released November 2012. Sourced from Charles Heintz Vineyard, UCD 108. Yield 3.5 tons per acre from wines that are 29 years old. Complete malolactic fermentation and 15 months aging in 40% new French oak barrels. · Light straw color and clear in the glass. Very fresh scent of lemon, grilled peach, pear and savory herbs. Remarkable palate presence with impressive energy and a vibrant lift of acidity on the extended finish. The peach, lemon and nutty flavors are complimented by a touch of caramelized oak and really grab your attention. Very flavorful, but has the balance and restraint to pair beautifully with food. Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay is my paramour.

2010 DuMOL chloe Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.2% alc., 1.130 cases, $60. Released November 2012. Sourced from Ritchie Vineyard, Wente selection. Yield 3 tons per acre from 38- year-old vines. Complete malolactic fermentation and 15 months aging in 50% new French oak barrels. · Light straw color and clear in the glass. Very expressive nose, offering aromas of lemon blossom, tangerine, croissant and almonds. Soft in the mouth, with plenty of pear, white peach and lemon flavor augmented by minerality. Faint toasty oak frames the wine which leaves a lingering impression on the finish. Did I mention the marvelous mouth feel?

2010 DuMOL clare Carneros Chardonnay

14.3% alc., 642 cases, $60. Released November 2012. Sourced from Hyde Vineyard, Wente “Hyde” selection. Yield 3 tons per acre from vines that are 16 years old. Partial malolactic fermentation and aging for 15 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Light straw color and clear in the glass. Very shy aromatically, offering demure aromas of white peaches, citrus blossom and fresh brioche. A slightly steely style, with a tasty core of peach and citrus zest, framed by beautifully integrated oak. The mineral-driven, citrus-toned finish is lasting. This wine doesn’t make a huge impression on me, due to a personal stylistic preference, but it is very well crafted and satisfying. Very good.



The 2010 and 2011 vintages of George Wine Company Pinot Noir are sold out. George prefers all lower case on his website and label so it is in reality, george wine company, but he often calls his winery george pinot noir just to keep you alert. Quantities were very limited. No winery in California has more presence on well-regarded restaurant wine lists in the United States than george. Think of Restaurant Guy Savoy, STK and Joel Rubicon in Las Vegas, CUT in Beverly Hills, Gordon Ramsey in West Hollywood, Angelini Osteria in Los Angeles, and Tocqueville, Le Cirque and Jean Georges in New York. See the full list on the website. George Pinot Noir is quite the cult wine and I have been a fan from the beginning. George is one of the few wineries in which I have tasted every wine in every vintage (dating to 2003).

George is basically a one-man show with George Levkoff performing every step of winemaking from sorting to hand numbering every bottle, managing marketing and sales personally and often delivering wine as well. The wines are highly allocated to an eager mailing list with past customers given priority at www.georgewine.com. Some of the 2010 wines were revisited recently and the 2011 vintage wines are reviewed for the first time. 2011 was the coolest summer in memory in the Russian River Valley. George harvested his grapes in late September before the unseasonable premature rains came in early October. He is a disciple of Burt Williams and his wines reflect that homage.

2010 george Vintage VIII Sonoma Coma Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 195 cases, $50. A blend of Ceremonial, Hansen and Leras Vineyards. · Deeply perfumed nose of black cherry pie glaze. Mid weight flavors of black cherries, dark red berries, cola and spice with a moderately firm tannic backbone and some finishing intensity. Has gained some power since last tasted almost a year ago. Good (+).

2010 george Vintage VIII Hansen Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 195 cases, $60. A terroir-driven wine that is quite distinctive. This vineyard sits next to a dairy farm and has a smell and taste of cow waste which many find very appealing, including many sommeliers. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherries, dark chocolate, toasty oak, sweet smoke, and barnyard. The wine has a signature smoky, fecal note in the background with middleweight fruit flavors of dark cherries and raspberries. Well-crafted with mild but adequate tannins and good uplifting acidity. Not my preferred cup of tea but I can respect it for what it is. Good (+).

2011 george Vintage IX Sonoma Coma Russian River Valley Sonoma County Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 299 cases, $50. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Shy cherry aromas with a prominent contribution of smoky, toasty oak. Juicy flavors of raspberries, cherries and cola with a mild tarry, barnyard riff probably reflecting the contribution of Hansen Vineyard. Welcoming balance with easy drink ability, picking up more fruit interest over time in the glass. I prefer the 2010 vintage of this wine. Decent.

2011 george Vintage IX Ceremonial Vineyard Russian River Valley Sonoma County Pinot Noir

13.9% alc.,157 cases, $60. · Medium reddish-purple hue in the glass. Enticing aromatic presence with scents of fresh black cherries, dark currants and spice. Delicious core of moderately rich dark red berry, plum and black cherry flavors with complimentary notes of spice and cola. Well-balanced tannins, focused acidity, and a very appealing crisp and juicy finishing note like biting into a fresh, cold, plump cherry. Very admirable effort in a difficult vintage.

2011 george Vintage IX Leras Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Sonoma County Pinot Noir

13.3% alc.,199 cases, $60. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. A terrific expression of Pinot Noir with hi-tone aromas of fresh, spiced black cherries and a discreetly concentrated core of black cherry and black raspberry flavors. The nose really makes you stop and take notice. Very approachable with gentle tannins and a good cut of acidity on the citrus-hued finish. There is a very slight vegetal note in the background, reflecting some lack of ripeness. Still the wine is a beautiful expression of the vintage and Very good.

2010 J Vineyards & Winery Estate Grown Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.74, TA 0.56, 9,300 cases, $37. Released September 2012. A blend of grapes drawn from some or all the ten estate vineyards. 100% de-stemmed, aged 15 months in French oak. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherry cordial, raisin (cooked fruit) and vanilla. Middleweight flavors of chocolate-kissed cherries with hints of cola, rhubarb, marzipan and vanilla. Very approachable with mild tannins and plenty of luscious, Russian River fruit character, although some vibrancy is missing from a lack of acidity. Decent.

2011 Rochioli Estate Grown Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $54. Primarily sourced from Sweetwater Vineyard and includes new West Block plantings. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Big, effusive nose of ripe Bing cherries. Medium weight flavors of dark red cherries with accents of cola, oak vanillin and loamy earth in the background. A real crowd pleaser with that signature Middle Reach luscious cherry fruit, but tempered nicely by balanced tannins and acidity to make a complete wine that finishes bright and juicy. Very good.

2011 Rochioli Estate Grown Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.5% alc., $42. 70% Mid 40 and 30% River Block vineyards. 100% MLF. Aged sur lie for 9 months. · Light straw color and clear in the glass. Very shy white peach, Meyer lemon, vanilla wafer and toasty oak aromas. Flavors of lemon curd, pineapple and white peach with a hint of smoky oak in the background. Fresh with a bright cut of underlying acidity. Good.

2010 Shane The Charm Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 225 cases, $45, sold out. Vinified by Shane Finley, the winemaker at Lynmar and former assistant winemaker at Kosta Browne. The Shane wines are sold through a mailing list. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of fresh Bing cherries with a touch of exotic spices. Moderately rich core of perfectly ripened black cherries with complimentary hints of cola, edible flower, earth and oak in the background. The very long and intensely fruity finish lasts at least 30 seconds. Very forward and charming as the name would imply. I really enjoyed drinking this marvelous example of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.

Ten Acre Winery offers limited production cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast. Owners Scott and Lynn Adams acquired their first estate vineyard in 1995, and established Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves specializing in limited production Zinfandel and Rhone wines in 1999. Since 2002, they have lived with their daughters on a 10-acre vineyard in the Middle Reach of the Russian River Valley, just two miles from the vineyards of Rochioli who has been an inspiration for Ten Acre. The vineyard manager for the sites they work with is noted viticulturist Charlie Chenoweth and the winemaker is Pinot Noir and Chardonnay specialist Michael Zardo. He has a degree in enology from Fresno State University, and spent seven years as an assistant winemaker at Pisoni Vineyards & Winery.

2010 Ten Acre Stephens Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.82, TA 0.55, 190 cases, $55. Clones 115, 667, 777 and Pommard from a vineyard planted in 1999 in Goldridge soil. The wine was aged 12 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. A cherry-fruited nose draws you into the glass. Delicious Bing cherry core with complimentary riffs of cola, sassafras and spice. The oak is well integrated, and the copious fruit is tempered nicely by enough ripe fruit tannin to create a mouth-coating experience. Quintessential Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Very good.

2010 Ten Acre Green Acre Hills Sangiacomo Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.3% alc., pH 3.55, 250 cases, $48. Sourced from a vineyard planted in 1991 at a cool, coastal influenced mountain location. Yields 1.5 to 2 tons per acre. Aged 11 months sur lie with barrel stirring in 40% new and 60% neutral French oak barrels, 100% MLF. · Light straw color and clear in the glass. Fresh aromas of lemon zest, baked pear, kiwi, graham and almonds. Very tasty and complex with flavors of lemon tart, pear, toffee, toast and cocoa powder. Slightly creamy with noticeable body and admirable balance. A pleasing wine that can be drunk now and over the next four years. Very good.

2009 Woodenhead Buena Tierra Vineyard Original Planting Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., $53. From old vines planted on Eastside Road across the Russian River from Rochioli Vineyard. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of Bing cherries, baking spices and a dusting of oak. Very soft and seamless in the mouth, with modest, lacy tannins, offering flavors of cherry pie filling and spice with a hint of sandalwood in the background. Elegant, yet with noticeable finishing power. Very good.

Share