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Sips of California Pinot Noir


Both 2010 and 2011 were cool vintages in California and Oregon. Both regions produced remarkably good Pinot Noir in 2010 considering the daunting challenges. Overall, California outperformed Oregon in 2011.


2010 Alysian Russian River Valley Selection Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.38, TA 0.685, 2,195 cases, $40. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of Bing cherries, baking spice and briar. Light weight core of cherry and cranberry fruits with a leafy, green side note. Reasonably good mid palate flavor with mild tannins and some finish. Forward drinking and a bit on the under ripe side. Good.

2011 Backhouse California Pinot Noir

12.5% alc., $5.99. Occasionally I need to dip into the bargain bin to see what is offered in this price range. Produced by Cecchetti Wine Co. in St. Helena. · Light reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of strawberries, cherries, oak and a pharmaceutical note. Light and simple with decent red cherry and strawberry fruit flavors and very supple tannins. Lacks fire power but won’t disappoint at this meager price point if you just want some quaffable Pinot. One of the better Pinots I have tasted at this price. Decent.

2012 Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., $41.50. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Unmistakably Belle Glos with vibrant aromas of dark cherries and berries, spice, balsam, dark chocolate and violets. Bold, almost syrupy, featuring flavors of dark stone and berry fruits, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla. Seductively plush and velvety on the palate with ripe, soft tannins. A richly layered, fruit driven wine that pushes the decadence envelope and who doesn’t enjoy decadence on occasion? Very good.

2010 Bluxome Street Winery Mariah Vineyard Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 200 cases, $45. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of forest floor, ripe black cherries, and spicy oak. Vibrant plum, black raspberry and black cherry fruits that are backed by lively acidity. There is a bit of the forest mulch in this wine. Oak is a noticeable adjunct but integrates over time in the glass. The fruit is really stunning and hangs on for dear life on the long finish. Very good.

2011 Bluxome Street Winery Weir Vineyard Yorkville Highlands Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 144 cases, $45. · Medium garnet color in the glass. The nose is quite enjoyable, offering scents of briar, red cherries and violets, but the flavors are remarkable. Red and black cherries, red plums and spice coat the mouth and finish with a peacock tail of glorious note. The finish lasts at least a minute, returning several times for an encore. In addition, the wine is seductively soft and smooth on the palate with a good cut of underlying mineral-driven acidity. The whole package.

2011 Cambria Julia’s Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 34,694 cases, pH 3.59, TA 0.63, $25. Released October 2012. Anchored by one of the oldest commercial plantings of Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara County. (1974). An amalgam of different clones and vine ages. Clones Pomard 4, Wädenswil, 23, 667, 12, Pommard 5 and 777. Aged 8.5 months in 20% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Perfume of dark red berry jam, mu shu plum sauce and spice. Lighter in this vintage with delicate flavors of dark red cherries and berries and a hint of spice. Solidly crafted but not exciting, and a bit shallow on the finish. Not up to the level of the past few vintages, but still a good value daily drinker that is widely available. Decent.

2011 Castello di Amorosa Los Carneros Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.57, 1,319 cases, $36. Aged 10 months in Burgundian oak barrels. Winemakers are Brooks Painter and Peter Velleno. Only sold at the winery or by mail order. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Opens slowly in the glass and needs swirling to shed a bit of reduction and oak. In time, welcoming aromas of black cherries and boysenberries emerge. Very rewarding on the palate with an array of dark berry and stone fruit flavors balanced with ripe, dry tannins and a shadow of oak. Drinks easy and smooth, finishing with hi-tone fruit-filled goodness. Showing a little more oak at this stage than I like, but this was less evident the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle so further aging is advised. Very good.

Note: Dario Sattui opened Castello di Amorosa on April 9, 2007. Situated in the hills above Calistoga, the castle-winery was assembled with brick, wood and iron imported from Europe and combined with over 8,000 tons of local Napa Valley stone. The castle-winery is a popular Napa Valley destination and several wine tasting tours and tasting options are offered. Do not let the tourist angle dissuade you from the wines which are top notch.

2011 Cinnabar Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.61, 125 cases, $42. Family owned winery established in 1981 that sources from diverse California vineyards. This wine is sourced from Saveria Vineyard near the town of Corralitos. Clones 115 and 667. Whole berry fermentation for twelve days, aged 11 months in 40% new French oak barrels. Final blend determined by judicious barrel selection. Lightly filtered. · Moderate reddishpurple color in the glass. The nose opens nicely over time in the glass to reveal aromas of red cherries, raspberries, oak spice, white pepper, vanilla and red rose petals. Simple and direct initially, picking up nuances and intensity over time in the glass. The flavors echo the aromas with an added hint of mushrooms on the grill, herbs and pleasant oak. Mild tannins and easy drink ability now. This is a wine that grows on you over time. Very good.

2012 CrossBarn by Paul Hobbs Sonoma Coast Rosé of Pinot Noir

12.5% alc., $18, screwcap. · Pale apricot color and clear in the glass. Aromas of fresh strawberries, white stone fruits, lychee and fresh brioche. The flavors echo the nose in a delicately flavored style. Light and easy going, with a good cut of acidity. Will work nicely as a chilled aperitif or an accompaniment to sushi. Good.

2011 Cuvaison Estate Grown Carneros Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.80, TA 0.56, $38. Cuvaison’s flagship Pinot Noir is a blend of wines from 20 distinct blocks in the Cuvaison Estate Vineyard. Average age of vines is 14 years. Each block is vinified separately using open top fermentation, gentle punch downs, basket pressing and French oak aging (11 months in 33% new oak barrels). · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Impressive aromatic intensity offering scents of dark red cherries and berries, sandalwood, balsam and baking spices. Velvety smooth and polished on the palate with a delectable array of vivid fruit flavors including raspberry and plum with accents of anise, mushroom and earth and the right touch of oak. Highly typical of its Carneros origins and an impressive achievement in this challenging vintage. Very good.

Note: Cuvaison Estate Wines has introduced a new logo, labels, packaging and wines for its Cuvaison wine brand. The new design is inspired by Cuvaison’s Tasting Room in Carneros, a contemporary space with floor to ceiling windows offering panoramic views of Cuvaison’s sustainably farmed estate vineyard. The new package better reflects the beauty and light of the Tasting Room. Cuvaison will release a Spire Pinot Noir ($45) this spring which is part of the winery’s limited production Single Block Series, wines sourced from select blocks within the Carneros estate that produce the most intense expression of site.

2011 Easkoot Chileno Valley Vineyard Marin County Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., 350 cases, $39. Vineyard is six miles from the Pacific Ocean and bathed in nightly fog. Harvest Brix 22.5º. Clones 777, 115 and unknown. 20% whole cluster. Indgenous fermentation. Aged in 20% new Marcel Cadet French oak barrels. Winemaker Matt Duffy. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. The aromas are a bit different and interesting with notes of candied cherry, blood orange, spice, lilac and vanilla cream. Medium to full-bodied core of black cherry fruit with impressive mid palate attack and finish. Slightly earthy with hints of cola and oak. More body and structure than many Marin County Pinot Noirs, with commendable harmony, finishing slick and clean. Very good.

2011 Easkoot Foggy Bottom Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 250 cases, $28. Sourced from Keller Estate (El Coro Vineyard) in the Petaluma Gap. Clones 667, “828,” and La Tache. Aged in seasoned oak. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Fresh uplifting aromas of strawberries, red cherries and sandalwood. Light and elegant, yet flavorful and satisfying, with the vivid taste of red cherry, baking spice, and brewed tea. Beautifully integrated tannins and acidity, offering a relaxed drinking experience. I was taken by the finesse in this wine. An entry level wine that sparkles. Very good, even outstanding at this price point.

2010 Flowers Moon Select Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., $80. 40% Sea View Ridge and 60% Camp Meeting Ridge vineyards. Swan, Calera, 777, “828,” and heritage selections. Yields 1.97 tons per acre. 40% whole cluster. Aged 17 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose offers interesting aromas of rose petal and tea leaf from the whole cluster as well as an explosion of black cherry fruit. On lighter side with a good cut of underlying acidity, but quite pleasing to the palate with an array of flavors including dark cherries and plums, boysenberries, spice and edible flower. Nicely balanced tannins and well integrated oak. This wine has great interest from an array of contributing clones and the significant whole cluster. Very good (+).

2011 Fulcrum Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 200 cases, $58. Clones 667 and 777. Aged 16 months in 37% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. A little floral, a little tropical, but smelling primarily of sweet Pinot must. Delicate, but satisfying flavors of deep red stone fruits, pomegranates and berries, with bright acidity lifting the fruit’s spirit. Well-seasoned oak shows up in the background. A little shallow upon opening, but tasted the next day from a previously opened and recorked bottle, this wine took on significantly more aromatic and flavor intensity and added a little spice for good measure. Very good.

2011 Fulcrum Brosseau Vineyard Chalone AVA Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 101 cases, $54. Clones 113, 114 and 115. Aged 16 months in 25% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of dark red cherries, raspberries, pomegranates, spice and oak. The flavors replicate the nose and have appeal, but lack intensity. Muscular but not aggressive tannins dictate the texture which is typical of this site. A rather elegant fruit expression of this vineyard reflective of the vintage. About the same the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Good (+).

2011 Fulcrum Wild Cat Mountain Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 99 cases, $54. Clones 115, 667 and Pommard. Aged 16 months in 25% new French oak barrels. · Aromas of black raspberries, spiced plum, briar and a hint of mint. Mid weight sappy flavors of dark berries and plums. Soft and harmonious with restrained tannins. Pleasant, but wants for mid palate intensity and a notable finish. Good.

2010 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 16,293 cases, pH 3.79, TA 0.53, $55. Released November 2012. Estate fruit blended with fruit from independent growers in the Anderson Valley. 7 vineyards and over 200 individually fermented and aged lots. 90% estate grapes including fruit from all four estate vineyards with the core from Gowan Creek Vineyard. Average sugar at harvest 25º Brix. Aged 16 months in 70% new and 30% second vintage French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose offers an appealing marriage of cherry fruit and oak. The tasty, sweet cherry core is complimented by a toasty new oak sheen. Firm tannins balance the rich fruit and the finish has welcome length. A little more obvious oak than I prefer, but I can appreciate the style and the fruit is hard to resist. Very good.

2010 Goldeneye Gowan Creek Vineyard Estate Grown Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

15.2% alc., 800 cases, $80. A barrel selection of some of the best lots from the vintage. Only 8% of the grapes from Gowan Creek made it into this wine. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose opens slowly in the glass to reveal aromas of black cherries, black raspberries and subtle oak. Delicious black cherry core that is sappy and mouth coating, offering a striking impression on the mid palate and generous finish. The tannins are firm and prominent and oak plays a significant role on the palate. This is a husky wine with very charming fruit crafted in the typical Goldeneye manner. Done well in its style. Very good.

2011 Gracianna Bacigalupi Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 375 cases, $48. Released April 2013. Harvest Brix 25.6º. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Plenty to like in this wine with a fiery nose of Bing cherries and oak. Smooth and lacy on the palate with a very tasty core of cherry fruit backed by baking spice and anise-laced oak. Considerably more appealing with more fruit-forward flavor and better integration of oak when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Give this wine a little more time in the cellar and it will become the centerpiece of a special meal. Very good.

Note: A new book has been published, Gracianna, written by Ashley Amador’s father and founding partner of Gracianna Winery, Trini Amador III. This novel, inspired by true events, tells the tale of Gracianna Lasaga, Amador’s great grandmother’s journey to America set against the backdrop of Nazi occupied France. I will report more on this book with a full review in an upcoming issue.

2011 Grey Stack Bennett Valley Cuvée Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 250 cases, $38. Sourced from three vineyards: 50% Dry Stack, 33% Four Brothers, and 17% Steiner. Harvest Brix 23.8º to 24.5º. Aged in 50% new French oak barrels. · Shallow but pleasant aromas of red cherries, spearmint and redwood. Very approachable with the appealing flavor of red cherry pie filling, plum and baking spices. Discreetly concentrated with supple tannins and some aromatic persistence on the finish which leaves a little heat in its wake. Good.

2007 Harmonique Elegancé Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.65, 247 cases, $36. A blend of fruit from Conzelman, Ferrington, Klindt and Wiley vineyards. Clones are primarily Pommard and Wädenswil. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of cherries, baking spice, sandalwood and a new Prada leather coat. Mid weight flavors of cherries and savory herbs. Juicy, with mild tannins and crisp acidity. Seemingly quite fresh albeit six years old. Very good.

2007 Harmonique Delicacé Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.61, 422 cases, $44. Wädenswil clone from Ferrington Vineyard, 777 from Klindt Vineyard and Pommard from Conzelman Vineyard. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Not as aromatic as the Elegancé, but offering a pleasant array of darker red cherry and berry aromas. A step up in intensity with a hearty core of black cherry fruit complimented by a savory, spicy, chocolaty edge. Very soft in the mouth with a noticeably long finish that sports a bright cut of acidity. Very good.

2007 Harmonique The Noble One Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.59, 434 cases, $39. The core of this wine came from vineyards in the “deep end” of the Anderson Valley including Klindt Vineyard (115, 777 and Pommard) and Wiley Vineyard (115 and Pommard). · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Brooding aromas of black cherries, dark berries and briar initially. Over time the nose opens up considerably to a deep black cherry perfume. The biggest (but not big) of the three Harmonique wines with the most tannic backbone, but also the most satisfying. Beautifully balanced with intense dark stone and berry fruit flavors that make an impression on the mid palate, finishing with one of those peacock tail endings that Pinot Noir is famous for. Fresh as a daisy. All the Harmonique Pinot Noirs are well crafted and notable, but this one emotes.

Note: I have tremendous respect for Moira Conzelman who is a tireless promoter of Harmonique wines. She is the public face of the winery and handles all the marketing. Moira is a very sweet, affable women who reflects the spirit of Harmonique wines. I highly recommend them. The winemaker is veteran Robert Klindt for whom I also have great respect. The Conzelmans believe in releasing their wines after they have received significant bottle age. The 2007 vintage was an ideal year for grape growing in the Anderson Valley. 100% de-stemmed, native yeast fermentations. The three wines were aged 12-19 months in 60% new French oak barrels but you never think of oak when you taste these wines. The wines were released in the spring of 2013. Prices are ridiculous considering that one is obtaining essentially a library wine that has been perfectly cellared for a few years.

2011 J. Lohr Fog’s Reach Arroyo Seco Monterey Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.58, 2,824 cases, $35. Crafted entirely from estate grapes and comes from special blocks of J. Lohr’s Arroyo Seco vineyards. High fraction of clone 667, but also 115, 777 and Pommard 4. Yields 1.7 tons per acre. Harvest Brix 25.8º. J. Lohr has a “winery within a winery” to allow production of Pinot Noir in small lots. 100% de-stemmed, cultured yeast fermentation, Malolactic inoculated in stainless steel and completed in French oak barrels. Aged 8 months in 50% new barrels. · Moderately dark reddishpurple color in the glass. Very appealing nose offering scents of black cherries, wild forest berries and dark chocolate. Juicy and lively, with tasty flavors of dark chocolate coated cherries and berries with complimentary oak in the background. A crowd pleaser with nice balance, well-mannered tannins and a mouth filling presence that doesn’t overreach. Very good.

2011 Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards Estate Grown Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.67, 3,385 cases, $55. 59% Pastorale Vineyard and 41% Quarter Moon Vineyard. Aged 13 months in 40% new and 60% two- to three-year-old French oak barrrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Very nicely perfumed with aromas of black cherries, exotic spice and a hint of toasty new oak. Delicious burst of cherry goodness on the palate with an electric cut of acidity in the background. A little spice and a subtle green note are sensed in the background. Silky textured with supple tannins. Not a blockbuster by any means, but impressive for the vintage and wine that whole cluster aficionados will appreciate. Very good.

2011 Longboard Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $33. 100% de-stemmed, 3-day cold soak, aged on the lees in 30% new French oak barrels until late spring. The wines are racked and blended in the spring and aged another 6 months in barrels before bottling in late fall. · Moderate reddish-purple hue in the glass. The nose unfolds slowly over time in the glass, releasing aromas of dark cherries, raspberries, cranberries and toasty oak. Moderately rich and juicy with very ripe cherry flavor emerging over time accented with mocha and cola, showing a bit of tarry oak in the background. The plentiful tannin and oak needs time to integrate. Tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the fruit profile veered quite noticeably to the ripe side. Good.

2011 Mansfield-Dunne Peterson Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., pH 3.72, TA 0.60, 238 cases, $48. Released March 15, 2013. Produced entirely from a family owned estate vineyard. Second vintage. Clones “828,” 667, Pommard 5, 115 and 777. Aged 11 months in 40% new French oak barrels. Winemaker is veteran Ed Kurtzman. · Moderately light reddish-purple hue in the glass. A seductive wine offering bright aromas of fresh strawberries and cherries with a hint of spice and oak. Embraces the mid palate with vivid flavors of cherries, red raspberries, cranberries, nougat and spice. Silky tannins and balanced acidity make for a seamless drinking experience. This wine charms you in many ways. Very good.

2011 Pali Wine Co. “Riviera” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 7,700 cases, $21, screwcap. Multiple vineyard blend. Aged 10 months in 30% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. This is a pleasing drink offering aromas and flavors of black cherries and raspberries and an echo of oak. Easy to drink with lacy tannins, good acidity and a kiss of cherry on the finish. Good (+).

2011 Pali Wine Co. “Bluffs” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 1,100 cases, $22.50, screwcap. Aged 10 months in 30% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Very ripe dark red and black cherries with notes of sassafras and balsamic. A big, showy, concentrated wine with the typical Russian River Valley profile of sweet cherries, cola and spice. A good balancing backbone of fine-grain tannins offers substance. Good.

2011 Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $45. Released September 2012. Sourced frommultiple notable winegrowers including the Duttons, the Martinelli family, Charlie Chenoweth and Steve Hill. The core of fruit comes from Gap’s Crown Vineyard. Wild and cultured yeast fermentation, 100% MLF in barrel. Aged in 50% new French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Very fragrant with hi-tone aromas of blueberry jam, wild raspberries, clove, brewed tea and ‘smores. Modest in weight but full flavored featuring tastes of black raspberries, blueberries, plum, tea and spice. Soft in the mouth and easy to cozy up to, this is an impressive appellation wine from a challenging vintage. Very good.

2009 Portalupi Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.47, TA 0.49, $48. Sourced from Rochioli Vineyard. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels. Winemaker Tim Borges. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Brooding aromas of dark stone fruits with a hint of oak, becoming very ripe in character over time in the glass. Plush core of black cherry fruit and cassis with supportive cola and spice flavors backed by modest tannins, finishing with some intensity and character. The Rochioli Vineyard trait shows up in this wine. Good (+).

2010 Roth Estate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.632, $28. Winner of the 2013 Pigs & Pinot Pinot Cup. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Enjoyable aromas of black cherry, black raspberry and spice cabinet. Light in weight with gentle flavors of dark cherries and berries and a hint of citrus peel on the finish. A little smoky oak plays in the background. The tannins are silky and there is some finishing presence. Smooth, with plenty of finesse, this is a pleasant but not exceptional wine. Good (+).

2009 Viandante Del Cielo Skywalker Ranch Marin County Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., $25. · Medium reddishpurple color in the glass. Awkward and strange on the nose, lacking fruit, and offering aromas of spice cabinet, cigar box and oak. Mid weight core of dark red and black berries with some tobacco-laced oak, modest fine-grain tannins, and bright acidity on the finish. Decent.

2010 Skywalker Estate Marin County Pinot Noir

14.5% alc. $70. From George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch in west Marin County farmed by Mark Pasternak. Winemaker Scott McLeod. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of plum sauce, fresh berries, brewed tea and cut flowers. Impressive richness of flavor featuring discreetly concentrated darker stone fruits and berries, balanced dry tannins, and a pleasant sheen of oak. The most impressive feature of this wine, and always a badge of greatness, is the long finish that returns for several encores. Very good.

2010 Sonnet Tondre’s Grapefield Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $20. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Scents of black cherry glaze, plum reduction sauce, exotic woods and redwood forest. Smooth on the palate with tasty flavors of black cherry, plum and prominent spice reflecting the Hungarian oak elevage. Nicely balanced, easy to drink, with a respectable finish, but doesn’t deliver like the stellar 2009 vintage of this wine. Still, a solid value at this discounted price. 87. Score: 87

2009 Stewart Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 402 cases, $50. Sourced from Gibson Vineyard on Ross Station Road. Clone 115. Aged 10 months in 55% new and 45% 1-year-old French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. Consulting winemaker Paul Hobbs. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Ripe, roasted fruit profile on the nose with aromas of cooked berries and cherry pie glaze. Rich and velvety on the palate, even a little too soft, with an extracted core of sweet, sappy and very ripe fruit flavors including stewed plum and cassis, finishing with generous intensity and a little heat. Decent.

2010 The Ojai Vineyards Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $29. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas and flavors of black cherry cola and black raspberry in a mid weight format. Noticeable toasty oak and a green herbal undertone are evident. Surprisingly mundane considering the source. Decent.

2011 Twomey Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., pH 3.52, TA 0.56, $46 (Magnums too, $90). Released April 27, 2013. Sourced from the estate Monument Tree Vineyard and Ferrington Vineyard. · Moderately light reddish-purple hue in the glass. Glorious aromas of fresh black raspberry jam, potpourri and spice. I just love that smell. Really delicious marriage of dark berries and cherries with a subtle mocha note. The ripe fruit really pops, reaching every corner of the mouth, and finishing strong and satisfying. There is an appealing tension and focus to this wine and the satiny texture is captivating. An incredible effort in a difficult vintage and my kudos to winemaker Ben Cane. Still great the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle when my family polished it off. A 2013 All American.

2011 Twomey Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., $50 (Magnums too, $100). Middle reach vineyard sources. · Moderately deep reddish-purple color in the glass. Bing cherry, holiday spice and subtle oak all sing in harmony in this terrific wine that does not have quite the bling of the Anderson Valley bottling but it is just as satisfying. The mid palate attack of cherries and cola nearly brings you to your knees and the silky texture is outrageously seductive. Ripe tasting but not over ripe with just the right tension: Russian River Valley Pinot Noir as it should be.

2010 Westerly Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 304 cases, $45. Clones 777 and 667. Aged 12 months in a combination of new and 2-year-old French oak barrels. Winemaker Adam Henkel. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Very fragrant with aromas of black cherries, black raspberries and red currants. Vivid cherry core that is well spiced and juicy, discreetly concentrated with balanced tannins and a fruit-driven finish. This is an enjoyable wine that delivers more than the price would suggest, and leaves behind a pleasant impression. Very good.

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