2011 Bruliam Caritas Cuvée Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.1% alc., pH 3.38, TA 0.828, $35. Sourced from
Deer Meadows Vineyard farmed by Rich Savoy. The 2011 crop was plagued by botrytis and harvest was
challenging. Mixture of co-fermented Swan, 777 and Calera. 100% de-stemmed. Aged 10 months in
seasoned French oak and 9 months in bottle before release.
Light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of red
cherries, red hard candy and rose bush. Delicate and pleasant, but rather hollow, offering crisp flavors of red
cherries and red raspberries with a hint of herbs. Decent.
2011 Bruliam Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.46, TA 0.462, $55.
Picking began a day before September rains. Clone 115. 100% de-stemmed. Saignée for a rosé was
followed by minor acid and water additions to replace the volume lost. Aged 10 months in 20% new French
Radoux oak barrels and 80% Radoux seasoned oak barrels. Aged 9 months in bottle before release.
Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose is enchanting, starting out with aromas of black
cherries and evolving to more complexity with scents of sassafras, bark, cola and cinnamon. Elegant and
tasty, with mid weight flavors of black cherries and black raspberries and undertones of oak and anise. The fruit
is well-framed by good acidity and gentle tannins. The finish is fruit-driven and charming. Very good.
2010 Byron Monument Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
pH 3.62, TA 0.57, 225 cases, $60. A small lot wine that is part of the
winery’s experimental approach to winemaking. From Sanford &
Benedict selections. A barrel selection that represents the finest red
wine made each year. Aged 16 months in 100% new French oak
Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. A bit exotic
and highly alluring on the nose with aromas of black cherry pie glaze,
blackberries and spice. Earth-kissed array of darker stone and berry fruits that
gently saturate the palate, finishing with a remarkable kiss of spiced raspberries.
Velvety smooth in the mouth with ripe, balanced tannins and judicious presence
of oak. Not overwrought like so many reserve-type wines. A complete wine that gets better and better over
time in the glass. “Monument” is an appropriate name for this exceptional offering.
2010 Byron Clone 667 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.69, TA 0.53, 50 cases, $45. A small
lot wine that is part of the winery’s experimental approach to winemaking. Sourced from the estate Nielson
Vineyard. 10% whole clusters. Aged 16 months in 100% new French oak barrels.
Dark reddish-purple color in
the glass. Reserved, but pleasant array of darker fruit aromas with a sexy perfume of a fine Prada leather
coat. Earthy and meaty, relatively big, but polished, with a delicious core of well-spiced dark fruits, backed by
firm, but balanced tannins. A very satisfying wine that only falls a tad short on the finishing length. Very good.
2010 Byron Whole Cluster Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.57, 225 cases, $60.
Aged 16 months in 100% new French oak barrels.
Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Bright black cherry
and spice aromas with oak-driven notes of coffee and smoke. Well-endowed with an intensely flavored core of
black cherry fruit balanced with firm but powdery tannins and accented with oak. Has enough acidity to carry
the fruit and tannin load. Soft and silky on the palate. Great potential here, but needs more time for the oak to
integrate. Very good.
2009 Dierberg “Steven” Estate Grown Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
alc., pH 3.62, $65. Dierberg Vineyard is located on top a sandy loam mesa
above the South Bank of the Santa Maria River. “Steven,” named after the
Dierberg’s first grandson, is sourced from areas of loamy clay near the western
edge of the vineyard (“sweet spot”) that produce wines with more power and
structure. Brix at harvest 25.9º. De-stemmed but not crushed. Long maceration
of 21 days with pump over regimen reduced one short mixing per day. Aged 17
months in 100% new Francois Frères oak puncheons. Clarity fined and
Moderately dark purple color in the glass. The nose is reluctant to
reveal itself, slowly offering aromas of black cherries and black berries with
forest floor notes and some smoky oak. Soft, structured and full-bodied on the palate with oak-kissed black
cherry, blackberry, dark chocolate, and earthy, grilled mushroom flavors. The tannins are firm and dry. The
wine is consistent with the Dierberg style from this vineyard, but ramped up a bit in concentration. At present
the fruit is buried in the oak topcoat, but this should largely resolve over time in the bottle. About the same the
following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. A terroir-driven wine that is well crafted in its
style. Very good.
2011 Eric Kent Small Town Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., pH
3.57, TA 0.61, 414 cases,$48. Release Spring 2013. 38% Cleary Ranch
and Michael Valentine, 23% Roberts Road, 23% Kiser/Vella, and Stiling.
Clones 777, Swan, Pommard, 667, 114 and 115.
reddish-purple color in the glass. Enchanting nose offering aromas of
exotically spiced black cherry and plum with a hint of smoky oak.
Elegant and soft on the palate, with juicy flavors of black cherries, black
raspberries and cardamom spice caressed by gentle tannins and ending on a
clean, bright, dark cherry note. One of the most suave Pinots ever from Eric
Kent. I like this wine for its seductive character.
2011 La Crema Monterey Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.52, 30,000 cases, $23. Aged 7
months in 23% new and 77% seasoned French oak barrels. Racked once out of barrel before final
Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Very fragrant with aromas of confected cherries,
ripe strawberries, Indian spices and a subtle saline note. Easy to cozy up to with forward flavors of
black cherries, black raspberries, spice and toffee-laced oak. A subtle, confected (sweet) tone to the
fruit is evident. Very smooth on the palate with gentle tannins. One of California’s best and most
reliable, value-priced and widely available Pinot Noirs. Good.
2010 Lundeen Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 100 cases, $30. From Genius Loci Wines.
Sourced from Ana Vineyard in the Dundee Hills (40%) and Illahe Vineyards in the Willamette Valley (60%).
Aged 18 months in 25% new French oak barrels.
Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. A little
reduction upon opening blows off revealing aromas of red cherries, raspberries, cranberries and a hint of
tobacco oak. Light red fruits are featured with oak in the background. Gentle tannins and lively acidity make
for easy drinking. Decent.
2008 Okanogan Estate & Vineyards Washington State Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., $19.99. This winery is
located in Oroville, Washington, a turn-of-the-century gold mining town in the Okanogan Valley, five miles south
of British Columbia, Canada. All grapes are grown locally in the Northern Okanogan Valley.
reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherries, black raspberries, oak and soy sauce.
Middleweight flavors of black cherries, plum and a touch of spice with the palate dominated by slightly
astringent tannins. The flavors veer to the very ripe side and a note of prune creeps in. Decent.
2010 Patz & Hall Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., 400 cases, $85. Released
March 2013. A vineyard-designate for Patz & Hall since 1997. Sourced from the vineyard’s Hermanos Block
and famed Old Field. This wine sees more oak than other Patz & Hall Pinot Noirs and receives more bottle
aging before release. Wild and cultured fermentations. 15% whole clusters. Aged in 80% new Burgundian
French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Very ripe fruit
aromas including blackberry jam on toast, plum reduction sauce and prune. Luscious on the palate with mid
weight sappy flavors of blackberries, raspberries, raisins and spice. The oak is beautifully integrated. Modest
tannins make for easy approachability in this vintage. Wears its alcohol well. Long, long finish. On the ripe
side, but the fruit is captivating, and you have to love it. Very good.
2011 Sineann Resonance Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $38.
Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of black cherries with a hint of rose petal and
oak. Relatively lush core of black cherry fruit lashed with tobacco oak and buried in oak tannins. The wine has
a curious sweet and sour finish. This bottling is usually one of my favorites from the Willamette Valley but this
vintage falls short. Decent.
2011 Spell Nichole’s Blend Sonoma County Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., 245 cases, $39.
color in the glass. Very shy, but pleasant nose offering primarily black cherry fruit. A cherry lovers
delight with complimentary hints of cola and spice. Smooth and balanced with soft tannins and some cherry driven
length on the finish. Good.
2011 Spell Marimar Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
90 cases, $72.
Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Wild and exotic on
the nose with aromas of fresh-picked berries, grapes, spice and cut flowers. A
delightful wine that aims to please with appealing black raspberry and black
cherry flavors and a touch of spice. Seamless and polished with gentle tannins
and a cherry cola finish. Very good.
2011 Spell Alder Springs Vineyard Mendocino Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., 100 cases, $50.
color in the glass. Aromas of black cherries, dark berry liquor, spice and an earthy-clay note typical of
this vineyard. Mid weight cherry, berry and plum flavors with firm, balanced tannins, and a mineral-driven note
of iron. Finishes with a zing of citrusy acidity. Very good.
2011 Spell Weir Vineyard Yorkville Highlands Pinot Noir
alc., 90 cases, $50.
Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Highly
fragrant in the glass with aromas of darker berries and cherries, rose
petals, and the inside of a well-perfumed woman's leather glove.
Ambrosial on the palate with layers of flavor including cherry,
raspberry and pomegranate. This wine has the most tannin in the
2011 lineup, but enough fruit to take it on. The good acidity gives the
wine vigor and the finish is ridiculously long. This is one of those wines
that makes you sit back in your chair, smile and exclaim, “Wow!” I have had
several great wines from this vineyard and this one joins the crew.
2011 St. Rose Nunes Vineyard 777 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.68, 54
cases, $44. The Nunes Vineyard is owned and farmed by Fred and Wendy Nunes. 100% clone 777. Harvest
Brix 23.0º. Aged 12 months in new, 1-year and 2-year-old Francois Frères oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered.
Light reddish-purple color in the glass. Delicate aromas of dark red cherries, spice, oak-driven tobacco and
herb notes with a rose petal perfume appearing over time in the glass. Light weight cherry core with slight oak
in the background, finishing with a charge of cherry flavor. Bright acidity and mild tannins make for refreshing
drinking. Atypical for clone 777 which usually produces very dark fruit with good density. This delicate wine
seems to fall short of full ripeness as it veers more to the red fruit spectrum. Good.
2011 St. Rose Nunes Vineyard Ten Block Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.68, 72 cases, $38. Clones 115, 777, 667 and 114.
Favorite three of ten barrels. Aged 12 months in new, 1-year and 2-year-old
Francois Frères oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately light reddishpurple
color in the glass. Very shy and never really opens fully in the glass
offering demure aromas of dark red cherries and berries. Smooth on the palate
with an appealing crispness, offering a tasty core of cherry, cola and spice
flavors with complimentary oak in the background. I would give this wine more
time in the bottle to allow the aromas to arrive. Good (+).
2008 Walnut City Wineworks Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.69, TA
0.56, 650 cases, $30. A barrel selection of the best lots from five vineyards in the Willamette Valley.
Aged 18 months in 10% new French oak barrels and 24 months in bottle.
color in the glass. The nose is well-endowed with aromas of black cherries, black raspberries,
baking spices and toasty oak. Discreetly concentrated flavors of black cherries with complimentary
oak notes of spice and toast, and a citrus-laden underbody. The extended bottle aging has allowed
the tannins to fully meld and the wine is enjoyable now. Good.