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Sips of Recently Tasted Pinot Noir

Briceland Vineyards

Maybe California’s best kept secret for reasonably priced, superbly crafted wines. Located in the tiny town of Briceland in Humboldt County, the winery was founded in 1985 by winemaker Joe Collins and his lifelong partner Maggie Carey. Collins, a graduate of University of California at Davis, pioneered winegrowing in southern Humboldt County and was involved in the planning, establishment and management of practically all early vineyards in the area which is most suited to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Collins stepson, Andrew Morris, has taken on more of the winemaking responsibility of late. See also the reviews of Arneis and Chardonnay from Briceland Vineyards in this issue. Visit www.bricelandvineyards.com.

2011 Briceland Vineyards Ronda’s Vineyard Humboldt County Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., 50 cases, $29. Formerly Le Chien Blanc Vineyard. Located at 1600 feet elevation northwest of Briceland Vineyards. Slowed ripening in this vintage so more acid and less tannin than typical for this site. Aged 18 months in oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose is intoxicating with fresh aromas of racy raspberry, red cherry, spice and sandalwood. Refreshingly crisp on the palate with charming flavors of fresh red raspberries and cherries caressed by supple tannins and framed by mouthwatering acidity. Not a fruit bomb by any means, but plenty of flavor without weight and great pinotosity. Score: 92

2011 Briceland Vineyards Phelps Vineyard Humboldt County Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $27. A relatively warm site in a cool year farmed by Pam and Todd Phelps. Small yields due to poor crop set which also led to less firm tannins and concentration. Aged 12 months in oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Medium reddish-purple hue in the glass. Brooding aromas of dark red berry preserves and forest floor. Real density and intensity of flavor with structured tannins and an amazingly long finish. Dark red cherries and berries are at the core which has a savory undertone. Score: 91

2011 Briceland Vineyards Reserve Humboldt County Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., 25 cases, $45. Inaugural offering. A blend of 2011 vintages from Bosco, Phelps and Ronda’s vineyards. Aged 18 months in oak barrels. · The nose is rather shy, offering only a hint of dark red fruit and oak aromas. The flavor profile is more developed with delicious notes of perfectly ripened black cherries, black raspberries and plum underlain with hints of graham and cardamom spice. The fruit has real presence on the palate and offers layers of pleasure. Beautifully balanced with well-integrated acidity and tannins. Very impressive length on the peacock tail finish. This wine needs more time in the cellar for the nose to catch up to the palate. Score: 95

Dierberg Vineyard

The Dierbergs farm two cool climate estate vineyards: the 160-acre Dierberg Estate Vineyard just outside the town of Santa Maria (two-thirds Pinot Noir) and the newer 7-acre Drum Canyon Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills planted solely to Pinot Noir. The winemaker is Andy Alba. Grapes are sold to several Pinot Noir producers and Pinot Noir is produced under the Dierberg and Three Saints labels. Visit the website at www.dierbergvineyard.com.

2010 Dierberg Drum Canyon Vineyard Estate Grown Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., pH 3.45, $44. Located in the eastern edge of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Planted in 2005 to a mix of heritage clones and low vigor rootstocks. Aged 16 months in used French oak barrels. Lightly fined, unfiltered. · Deep, dark purple color in the glass. Brooding aromas of blackberries and boysenberries with hints of briar, forest floor and espressolaced oak. Earthy, rugged and full-bodied, with a dense core of blackberry, cassis and blueberry fruits. A brute of a wine, yet retains a comfortable mouth feel. A little more expressive and gentle the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 88

Dunstan Wines

A producer of premium Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sourced exclusively from the Ranch House Block at Durell Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast. This Rosé is the first Dunstan release made from vine to bottle by winemaker Kenneth Juhasz and is the only rosé produced from Durell Vineyard. The wine is available through the winery’s wine club and at www.dunstanwines.com.

2012 Dunstan Durell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Rosé

12.9% alc., 95 cases, $25. Cellared and bottled by Sand Hill Wines of Sonoma. A true rosé made from grapes grown expressly for this wine from the 8.5-acre Ranch House Block planted in 2005. Pressed immediately to 50% neutral oak barrels and 50% stainless steel tanks. · Pale orange color and clear in the glass. Demure aromas of strawberries, rose petals and seashells. Very delicate flavors of strawberries, orange zest, watermelon and cantaloupe. Crisp, bright and refreshing. Score: 87

Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

An iconic producer which carries the name of pioneering Russian River Valley winemaker Gary Farrell, whose winemaking career dates back to the mid 1970s. Farrell sold his eponymous winery brand and winery to Allied Domecq in 2004 and it was subsequently acquired by its current owner, The Vincraft Group in 2011. Farrell left the winery in 2006 in the hands of winemaker Susan Reed who had worked with him three years before he left, and carried on the Farrell style and level of excellence. In early 2012, Theresa Heredia, formerly of Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards, replaced Reed. The winery has superb vineyard sources acquired through the years by Farrell’s contacts, with the addition of some new equally stellar growers. The wines are consistently excellent in a style with modest extraction and ripeness and good tension and acidity. The stylish tasting room on Westside Road, one of the nicest venues in the Russian River Valley, is open daily. Visit the website at www.garyfarrellwines.com.

2010 Gary Farrell Stiling Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., pH 3.39, TA 0.63, 296 cases, $50. Released February 2013. Originally planted in 1988 by owners Don and Barbara Stiling, this site has well-drained Goldridge soils and has the typical Russian River Valley coastal fog intrusions. Swan clone. 100% de-stemmed, aged 13 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Very typical of a Russian River Valley Pinot Noir in a cool vintage showing more delicacy. Aromas of Bing cherries, strawberries and baking spices. Very silky on the palate with a core of red cherry, red raspberry and cranberry fruit flavors. The oak is beautifully integrated, the tannins are quite reserved, the bright acidity adds freshness and verve, and the whole package is easy to drink. Score: 90

2010 Gary Farrell Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., pH 3.38, TA 0.724, 483 cases, $44. Released May 2012. Sourced from the legendary “Q Block,” considered the most prestigious Pinot Noir block on this famous vineyard. 100% de-stemmed, aged 8 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Shy, but pleasant aromas of black cherry, raspberry and baking spice. Noticeably intense flavor of steaming, fresh black cherry tart fresh out of the oven slathered in French vanilla creme. Finishes with a hint of Hoison sauce, herbs and classy oak. Like all the Gary Farrell Pinot Noirs in this vintage, the balance is spot on, guaranteeing the potential for mid to long-term cellaring. Score: 92

2010 Gary Farrell Hallberg Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., pH 3.41, TA 0.64, 520 cases, $55. Released September 2012. Release September 2013. From the 100-acre Hallberg Vineyard named for its previous owners and managed by wine industry veteran Kirk Lokka. Located on Highway 116 outside of the town of Sebastopol on the southern edge of the Green Valley. 100% de-stemmed, aged 13 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Lively aromas of cherries, blueberries, toast and cardamom spice. Delicious darker fruit array of flavors featuring black cherry, blueberry and pomegranate, with a complimentary hint of new oak. Somewhat lighter in this vintage and very elegant in presentation. The tannins are quite supple and there is a good acid skeleton. Very approachable now but has the balance to hold and even improve over the next five to ten years. Score: 90

2010 Gary Farrell Hallberg Vineyard Dijon Clones Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.41, TA 0.64, 401 cases, $60. Released February 2013. Clones 667 and 777. 100% de-stemmed, aged 13 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Black stone and berry fruits on the nose and palate are punctuated with exotic Indian spices, and earth, floral and forest notes. Moderately rich and full-bodied with a welcoming velvety mouth feel, and a very lengthy finish that displays a good cut of acidity and a touch of heat. Score: 90

2010 Gary Farrell Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., pH 3.41, TA 0.72, 291 cases, $65. Released November 2012. This release is from select blocks of the 128-acre Rochioli Vineyard planted in 1974, 1995 and 2000. Some of the fruit is from cuttings taken from the original mother block planted in 1968. 100% destemmed. Aged 13 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Bright aroma of fresh Bing cherry tart and sandalwood. A pretty wine characterized by balance and elegance. Relatively delicate cherry, raspberry and cola flavors with tame tannins, a texture like a velvet-lined glove, and bright acidity. Like fine lingerie, this wine seduces you with laciness and transparency. The winemaking is impeccable and allows the vintage and the vineyard terroir to show through. Score: 95

2010 Gary Farrell Ramal Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.46, TA 0.66, 784 cases, $50. Released December 2012. Twelve different clones among 45 vineyard blocks. 100% de-stemmed, aged 8 months in 40% new French oak barrels. It is a tribute to the fastidious vineyard work and subsequent grape sorting (heat spikes scorched and sunburned many clusters) that this wine turned out so beautifully. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Enchanting nose offering dreamy aromas of fresh cherries, sandalwood and spice. Very soft and satiny in the mouth with a noble cherry core, offering an earthy underbelly so typical of Carneros. Impeccably balanced t n ‘a, while exhibiting oodles of charm, and finishing with a charge of citrus-laced cherries. Ramal-lama-ding-dong. Score: 95

2011 Gary Farrell Toboni Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.45, TA 0.64, 400 cases, $56. Released May 2013. From the Toboni Oakwild Ranch Vineyard planted in 2001 to clones 115, 667, 777 and Pommard on 101-14 rootstock. Located in the Santa Rosa Plain, the site experiences sunny, warm days and morning fog. Soils are clay loam with some mineral and gravel composites. 100% de-stemmed, aged 8 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light red color in the glass. Appealing aromas of alpine strawberries, cherries and redwood forest. Light and straightforward, and well-crafted, but lacks bling. Red and blue fruits are featured backed by oak-driven notes of tea and spice, with very supply tannins. l have had enticing wines from this vineyard in the past, but the site underperformed in this difficult, cool vintage. Score: 88

2011 Gary Farrell Hallberg Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 602 cases, $55. Release September 2013. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Very aromatic with enticing aromas of dark cherries and raspberries and spice. Very tasty with moderately intense flavors of darker stone and berry fruits and cassis, and a very subtle complement of oak and spice. Nicely balanced tannins, well-integrated acidity and a finish with considerable fruit-driven intensity. An impressive wine from a challenging vintage. Score: 91

Fulcrum Wines

David and Christianna Rossi produce small lots of primarily vineyard-designated Pinot Noir from multiple appellations including Anderson Valley, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, Carneros and Chalone. A popular value-priced appellation offering, On Point, is reviewed here. The wines are sold through a mailing list and the website at www.fulcrumwines.com.

2011 On Point Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 69 cases, $35. Clones 115, 667, 777 and Pommard from the Petaluma Gap region of the Sonoma Coast. Aged 16 months in 30% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Uplifting aromas of black raspberry preserves, cassis and spice. Tasty core of dark cherries, black raspberries, and spice. Nicely composed with balanced tannins and a velvety presence in the mouth. A solid, even special, daily drinker. Score: 89

Harper Voit Wines

A fifteen-year veteran of the Oregon wine industry and former Associate Winemaker at Domaine Serene Winery and Winemaker and Vineyard Manager at Shea Wine Cellars, Drew Voit, produces small lots of Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Riesling under his private label. Voit also consults for a number of wineries in the Willamette Valley and operates a custom winemaking operation for small ultra-premium brands (Declan Wine Co. in Newberg). The Assistant Winemaker is Andrew Bandy-Smith. The wines are sold through a mailing list at www.harpervoit.com.

2010 Harper Voit Old School Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., 50 cases, $55. OId School Vineyard is 800 feet above sea level with exceptionally well-drained and nutrient deficient Bellpine soil. Dry farmed using old school methods (draft horses, compose and natural weed suppression). · Moderate dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of spiced plum, black raspberry, cassis and vanilla picking up interest and intensity over time in the glass. Soft and smooth on the palate with lively flavors of dark plum, blueberry and black raspberry with well-integrated oak in the background. A lively cut of citrus-driven acidity underlies an uplifting finish. Score: 90

2010 Harper Voit Strandline Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., pH 3.60, 125 cases, $35. A vineyard blend from Old School Vineyards and a select parcel from the Ribbon Ridge AVA. 100% de-stemmed, long and steady fermentation over 21-23 days. Aged in 60% new French oak barrels. · Moderate dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with bright aromas of purple grapes, plum sauce, spice and custard. Richly concentrated flavors of boysenberry, black plum, white pepper and spice wrapped in tame, balanced tannins. Very seductive velvety mouth feel. A little more body and spice than the Old School bottling at this young age, but the Old School is more age worthy. Score: 89

J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines

It has been 25 years since J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines released its first wine, a 1987 J. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay. The winery was founded in 1972 by Jerry Lohr who pioneered winegrowing on California’s Central Coast. The 2011 release of the following wine represents a stylistic evolution. According to winemaker Steve Peck, “It is darker and denser than preceding vintages owing to the cool growing conditions in 2011.” 2011, like 2010, was the coolest vintage in the Arroyo Seco appellation in the past decade. Moderate autumn weather allowed flavor development with less sugar accumulation than in most years.

2011 J. Lohr Falcon’s Perch Monterey County Pinot Noir

13.63% alc., pH 3.79, TA 0.54, 19,800 cases, $17. From select vineyards in the Arroyo Seco region. Dijon clones are the backbone. 76% Pinot Noir and 24% Valdiguié (winemaker Steve Peck says Valdiguié goes beautifully with Pinot Noir). After a 3-day cold soak, fermented in 6- ton and 12-ton lots in open-top punch down tanks. Light pump overs with daily punch downs for 5 to 10 days. 100% MLF. Matured in stainless steel with 10% aged in neutral French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Lovely nose with aromas of dark berries, rose petals, and exotic spices that retain interest over time. Delicious and entirely seductive, with flavors of dark cherry and berry with complimentary notes of spice, anise and oak. Soft in the mouth, with mild tannins, commendable balance, and very respectable finishing intensity. The addition of Valdiguié gives this wine a unique flavor profile that is quite interesting. A superlative value priced wine that is widely available in the retail marketplace. Score: 90

Paul Hobbs Winery

Noted veteran winemaker Paul Hobbs started his namesake label in 1991. In 1998, he planted the estate Lindsay Vineyard near Graton and in 2003 built a winery overlooking this vineyard. Besides his own Paul Hobbs Wines, he has several winery clients he consults for in the United States, South America, France Hungary and even Armenia. Paul Hobbs produces about 15,000 cases annually of both appellation-designated and vineyard-designated wines. The wines are largely sold to a mailing list. Visit www.paulhobbs.com.

2011 Paul Hobbs Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $50. Sourced from selected lots of fruit from Katherine Lindsay Estate, Bellflower, Fraenkle, Gap’s Crown, Ulises Valdez and Walker Station vineyards. Clones Beba, Calera, 115, 667 and 777. Yields 1.4 to 3.4 tons per acre. Indigenous fermentation, 2.5% whole cluster, aged 11 months in 45% new French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Black cherries and berries are featured on the nose and palate in a big, bold, dense style with notes of cola, oak, anise, dark chocolate and clove spice. Generous tannins support the concentrated fruit. Finishes with a fruit-driven flourish, leaving a hint of heat in its wake. A Schwarzenegger wine. Score: 86

Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co.

A collaboration between winemaker James Foster and the San Francisco based, Grammy Award-winning rock band - Train. Train guitarist Jimmy Stafford has been a wine lover for many years and often received wine from fans as he performed across the world. He found wine was a great way to connect with fans, and this led to the founding of Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co.. Five California wines are currently offered, including “Drops of Jupiter” California Red Wine, “Calling All Angels” Chardonnay, “California 37” Cabernet Sauvignon, “Hella Fine” Merlot, and the latest addition, “Soul Sister” Pinot Noir. Save Me, San Francisco proudly donates proceeds from its wine sales to support Family House, a non profit organization providing temporary housing to families of seriously ill children while they receive treatment at the University of California Benioff Children’s Hospital.

As a musician who tours most of the year, Stafford has incorporated wine into his touring life, consume a glass or two of red wine before each show while getting ready in the dressing room. Wine has become an important part of his preshow routine. Winemaker James Foster is a graduate of University of California Executive Wine Program. Check the website for retail distribution or to purchase the wines directly: www.savemesanfranciscowinecompany.com.

2011 Save Me, San Francisco Soul Sister California Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.64, 12,000 cases, $12. Released winter 2012. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Very accessible nose with bright aromas of strawberry, cherry, tea leaf and cardamom spice. Relatively light and delicate, but flavorful, with notes of dark red strawberries, cherries, cranberries and a hint of spice. Crisp and easy to drink with very tame tannins and appealing balance. A solid, straightforward, easy summer drink. Score: 88


Talbott’s Sleepy Hollow Vineyard was planted in 1972 and is one of the first vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation. It currently has some of the region’s oldest plantings of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Located on 585 acres of benchland 13 miles south of Monterey, the well-drained vineyard features sparse soils of sand, gravel and granite. The vineyard receives morning sunlight from its east-northeast exposure, and lives much of the time in cool fog and wind from the Pacific Ocean. Sleepy Hollow Vineyard has always had a reputation for great Chardonnay, but since winemaker Dan Karlsen joined Talbott in 2008, he has been producing stellar Pinot Noir from this venerable vineyard as well.

Karlsen has focused on the most sheltered sites in the vineyard so that wind does not unnecessarily toughen the skins of the Pinot Noir grapes. He re-trellised the cordon arms of the vines and eliminated kicker canes to ensure even ripening. In the winery he designed and built a room dedicated to small lot open-top fermentations and built a custom punch down device. No must pumps, crushing of fruit, cold soaks, extended maceration, enzymes, malolactics or fining agents are employed in the vinification of Pinot Noir. Karlsen says, “There are two ingredients in our Pinot Noirs: estate grown grapes and yeast. Other than a little new oak, what you get is the voice of the vineyard.” His efforts really show in the purity and balance of the following wines.

Sleepy Hollow Vineyard has both self-rooted Martini clone vines and newer Dijon clone plantings. Each block is vinified the same regardless of clone and only once he decides which lot will go into Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, Logan and Kali Hart, does he adjust the amount of new oak and length of aging. The Sleepy Hollow Vineyard bottling gets the most new oak (30%) and is aged slightly longer in barrel (11 months). The Kali Hart is the most fruit-driven and approachable, is aged in 10% new oak for 9 months. The Logan strikes a balance between the two Pinot Noirs as far as style and winemaking. All three are superb reflections of a world class vineyard. Visit the website for more information and to acquire the wines: www.talbottvineyards.com.

2011 Talbott Kali Hart Estate Grown Monterey Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.87, TA 0.59, screwcap, $21. Aged 9 months in 10% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Pleasant aromas of raspberry preserves, fennel and graham. Lighter weighted, but flavorful, featuring slightly confected red cherry, cranberry and red raspberry with a complimentary hint of oak. Softly textured and crisp on the palate with supple tannins and bright acidity. Will work beautifully at the dinner table. Score: 88

2011 Talbott Logan Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Estate Grown Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.65, $25. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Lively aromas of fresh black cherries, blueberries and black raspberries with a hint of oak spice. Very smooth on entry and flavorful, offering mid weight tastes that echo the aromas with accents of oak vanillin, black tea and spice. Admirable finesse, with a rousing finish that is quite generous. Score: 92

2011 Talbott Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Estate Grown Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.80, TA 0.60, $42. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Lovely perfume of black cherries, black plum, balsam and spice which grabs your attention. More concentration and structure than the Kali Hart and Logan, but still very approachable and light on its feet. Beguiling flavors of dark stone fruits with a riff of oak vanillin and spice. Admirable balance with seamless tannins and a pleasing finish of extended length. Score: 95

Ten Acre Winery

Ten Acre was founded by Scott and Lynn Adams, who have grown wine grapes for almost 20 years. They are known for producing Zinfandel and Rhone varietals at their other winery, Bella, but they developed a love for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay while living on their 10-acre vineyard in the Russian River Valley. They established Ten Acre to produce Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from vineyards in the cooler parts of the Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast. Ten Acre’s vineyard program is guided by renowned vineyard manager Charlie Chenoweth and the wines are crafted by Michael Zardo, who was the assistant winemaker at Pisoni Vineyards & Winery for almost a decade. Visit the website at www.tenacrewinery.com.

2011 Ten Acre Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.62, 350 cases, $38. Select barrels intended to capture the essence of the Russian River Valley AVA. Sources include Cummings, Jenkins, Stephens and LaCzar vineyards. Various clones, aged in 33% new, 33% 1-year-old, and 33% 2-year-old French oak barrels. Some unspecified whole cluster fermentation. · Medium reddish-purple color and unfiltered appearance in the glass. Scents of black cherries, tobacco oak, forest floor and spice. Middleweight flavors of black cherry, black raspberry, pomegranate and cola. Rich and fruity with balanced tannins. Solid, but not exceptional. Score: 87

2011 Ten Acre Jenkins Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.61, 180 cases, $65. Vineyard located on a hillside outside Sebastopol and planted by Charlie Chenoweth in 2001 in Goldridge and gravely loam soils. Clones 667, 777 and 115.Yields 1.5 to 2 tons per acre. Aged in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Fresh aromas of dark cherries and berries with a subtle complement of oak. Very flavorful in a mid weight style, hitting the mid palate with intensity and finishing with power. The core features perfectly ripened black cherry and blueberry fruit with a good dose of spice. The fruit really grabs your attention. My only nit is the specter of alcohol in the background. Score: 89

2011 Ten Acre Cummings Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.63, TA 0.60, 200 cases, $55. Planted in 2001 by Charlie Chenoweth on a flat land near Santa Rosa. A relatively warm site with sand and clay soils. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Very fruit nose featuring penetrating aromas of boysenberry and plum underpinned with subtle accents of rose petal, sap and sawdust. The core of darker berry and plum fruit is appealing but doesn’t explode on entry like the Jenkins bottling. A hint of grilled mushrooms, cola and oak add interest. Very smooth with silky tannins and some finishing presence. A little heat hangs around in the background. Score: 87

Thomas Fogarty Winery

Dr. Thomas Fogarty and winemaker Michael Martella planted vines and built a small estate winery in the Skyline region of the Santa Cruz Mountains beginning in 1978. The coastal climate, high elevation (2,000 feet above sea level) and thin rocky soils define the site-expressive wines. Today, a new generation continues the founders’ spirited pursuit. Michael Martella, who was the Head Winemaker for 35 years, has stepped down to focus on farming the Fogarty Estate Vineyards. Tom Fogarty, Jr., now runs the estate, and winemaker Nathan Kandler, who has been at Thomas Fogarty since 2004, has assumed the Head Winemaker responsibility and produces distinctive Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from 25 acres of estate vineyards including 8 uniques sites, in the Santa Cruz Mountain appellation.

With the 2011 vintage, new modern labels and packaging are featured. Regarding the 2011 vintage, it was cold and yields were small. Berry size was tiny, many grapes featuring one or no seeds. The skin to juice ratio of the musts was quite high, there were few seeds, and as a result, the tannins were low. Yields were under 1 ton per acre. Visit the website at www.fogartywinery.com.

2011 Thomas Fogarty Razorback Vineyard Estate Grown Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

12.7% alc., 100 cases, $ pre-release. From a 2-acre vineyard planted in 1986 at 1400 feet elevation to Swan, 115, 667 and 777 clones. Soil is sandstone and shale. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black raspberry, blueberry and tea leaf. Light on its feet and soft in the mouth, with delicate flavors of boysenberry, blueberry and pomegranate backed by an oak-driven tobacco and tar note. The tannins are nicely proportioned, an acidic tang is evident, and there is some finishing interest. Score: 89

2011 Thomas Fogarty Rapley Trail Vineyard Estate Grown Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., 122 cases, pH 3.41, TA 0.63, $65. From a 6-acre estate vineyard planted in 1983 at 1650 feet elevation. 20% Henry Ayrton's Block and 13% M Block. Soils are fractured shale. Swan clone. 30% whole cluster, spontaneous fermentation. Aged 18 months in 40% new French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish-purple hue in the glass. Very lovely aromas leap from the glass filling the air with scents of cherry and rose petal. Wow! Deep cherry, black raspberry, black grape and spice flavors in a mid weight style with a complement of oak in the background. Very suave with more pop than the Razorback bottling, and offering good finishing intensity. I suspect this will improve further over time in the cellar but it is hard to resist now. Score: 93

2011 Thomas Fogarty Rapley Trail Vineyard M Block Estate Grown Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.3% alc., pH 3.45, TA 0.58, 49 cases, $ $80. Martini clone. Yield 0.7 tons per acre. 33% whole cluster, spontaneous fermentation, aged 18 months in 50% new French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Dark purple color in the glass. Deep, penetrating aromas of dark berry jam, black plum, dark purple rose petals and oak spice. On the palate there is real concentration without weight with flavors of dark red and black berries and black plums with a slight flowery note indicating some possible whole cluster. The mouth feel is velvety and the finish is seriously captivating. Impeccable balance. A special wine you can drink now but will age beautifully. Still great the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 95

2011 Thomas Fogarty Rapley Trail Vineyard Henry Ayrton’s Block Estate Grown Santa CruzMountains Pinot Noir

12.8% alc., pH 3.37, TA 0.62, 50 cases, $80. From a 6-acre vineyard planted in 1981. Henry Ayrton's Block was formerly known as the B Block. Martini clone planted in well-drained, very shallow fractured shale soil. 30% whole cluster, spontaneous fermentation. Aged 18 months in once filled 3-year-old air-dried, tight-grained French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose is reserved, offering delicate aromas of spiced berries. Delicious entry and exit featuring middleweight array of blue and black berries with a welcome accent of oak in the background. Not fully giving yet and definitely needs time in the cellar. The fruit really opened up and sang the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle and was the best wine of the three terrific wines from the Rapley Trail stable. Score: 96

Valerie’s Vineyard

A single wine sourced from a 1-acre vineyard in Sonoma Carneros. The vineyard is a group managed affair,the result of a partnership between Sonoma County public relations person Michael Coats, his wife Valerie, her parents Chuck and Jerry Hanson, and Valerie’s sister, Vicki Brown. Each of the partners share equally in the work of the vineyard which is organically farmed and overseen by viticulturist Phil Cotourri. The vineyard was planted in 2000 to a clone from a secret Russian River Valley source. The wine is crafted by B.R. Cohn’s Winery winemaker, Tom Montgomery. Limited Sonoma Valley and New York restaurant distribution. I have enjoyed many vintages of this wine. Visit the website at www.valeriesvineyard.com to acquire.

2011 Valerie’s Vineyard One Acre Carneros Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 90 cases, $40. Ninth vintage. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels. · Moderately light deep red color in the glass. Rather exotically scented, offering aromas of strawberry, cherry, briar, white pepper, rose hips tea and seasoned oak. Mid weight core of tasteful strawberry, raspberry and cherry fruits with a bombastic cherry finish. Seamless, with soft, tame tannins and balancing acidity. Spend some time with this wine and you will discover plenty of spicy nuances come and go. Quite elegant and easy to drink now but will age. Score: 92

Waits-Mast Family Cellars

Brian Mast and Jennifer Waits found the romance of wine exploring California’s wine regions. Pinot Noir kept finding them. In 2005, they embarked on a journey to craft their own Pinot Noir at Crush Pad in San Francisco. They now offer several vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs from stellar sources and the wines have steadily improved in quality as the owners have acquired more winemaking experience. The 2010 wines below are in a big, bold, darkly fruited and well-structured vein. Visit the website to join the mailing list at www.waitsmast.com. There is some retail and restaurant distribution. Check out the winery's blog written by Jennifer at www.valleyfog.wordpress.com.

2012 Waits-Mast Mendocino County Rosé

14.5% alc., 24 cases, $20. Release April 2013. A saignée from three vineyards in Mendocino County (Deer meadow, Nash Mill and Mariah). Clones 115, 667, 777, Pommard and Swan. Native fermentation, aged 6 months in neutral French oak. · Moderately deep pink-orange color in the glass. Nicely scented with a perfume of fresh strawberries and summer watermelon. Plenty of body and flavor for a rosé featuring tastes that echo the nose and some fruit-driven finishing intensity. Enjoyable, but lacks crispness and delivers a sense of heat on the finish. Will stand up to more substantial summer fare. Score: 85

2010 Waits-Mast Oppenlander Vineyard Mendocino County Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 50 cases, $44. Released April 2013. This vineyard is located outside the town of Comptche about eight and a half miles from the Pacific Ocean as the crow flies. The Shandel family are fifth generation owners of the property. The vineyard sees consistently cool temperatures and harvest is late. Careful sorting was required to remove sunburned grapes, a result of heat spikes in August and late September. Clone 114. 100% de-stemmed. Aged 17 months in 25% new French oak barrels. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of earth-kissed dark berries with a complement of oak. Intensely fruity and I mean intense. Full-bodied flavors of black plum, black currant, boysenberry, black raspberry and brewed tea. A good cut of acidity lifts the fruit and the tannins are balanced. Admirable smoothness on the palate. A typical wine for this clone and vineyard. Score: 90

2010 Waits-Mast Wentzel Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., 50 cases, $45. Released September 2012. This 10-acre vineyard is located about 900 feet above sea level near Philo. Organically farmed within an expansive 300+ acre forested property. Roland and Barbara Wentzel are passionate caretakers of the vineyard. Clones 114, 115, 667 and 777 from a block that is less than an acre, all picked at the same time. Aged 17 months in 25% new French oak barrels. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of black fruits and oak. A full-bodied, concentrated blast of blackberry and cassis flavors hit the mid palate and carry over to the modestly long finish. This is a big wine that is somewhat rugged and shoulders plenty of dry tannin. Should benefit from time in the cellar to allow the aromas to arrive and the tannins to integrate. An unusual amount of extraction for an Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, but appealing in its style. Score: 89

2010 Waits-Mast Londer Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 100 cases, $40. Released May 2012. This vineyard is just west of Philo off Highway 128. The vineyard is surrounded by forests of conifer and benefits from warm days and foggy mornings. Soils are well-drained sandy loam over clay loam. Clones 115 and Swan. 100% de-stemmed. Aged 17 months in 30% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of warm berry tart, spice and forest floor. Relatively full-bodied, with plenty of sappy blackberry and black cherry flavor carrying over to an intense, fruit-driven finish. Very clean and classy fruit balanced with ripe tannins and appealing acidity. Score: 92

2010 Waits-Mast Archer Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 50 cases, $36. Vineyard is situated off Starr Road in Windsor and planted to clones 777, 828 Pommard and Jackson 9. The site is adjacent Copain and about 2 miles from Amber Ridge Vineyard. First wine from this vineyard. 100% destemmed, aged 17 months in 25% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple hue in the glass. The nose is clean and pleasing, with aromas of darker cherries, raspberries, fennel and smoky oak. Modest in weight with flavors of boysenberry, blueberry and raspberry backed by sinewy tannins. A little heat shows up on the finish. Atypical flavors for Russian River Valley. Score: 86

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