Download &
print (pdf)

Sips of Wines Tasted Recently


It is a slow time for wine releases, but this short list is packed with “Too Much Good Stuff,” as the ads for Seven-Eleven proclaim.


2012 Alouette Sonoma County Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $24.99, screw cap. Vinified by fifth generation Belle Glos Wines winemaker Joseph Wagner whose family founded Caymus Vineyards. Alouette is the French name for lark, a songbird that is a familiar sight in vineyards along the coast of California. The lark has been romanticized over time and serves as the muse for this wine. 2012 was an exceptional vintage in California and the high quality of the fruit from the coastal regions of Sonoma County show through in this wine. Aged in 60% new French oak barrels for 9 months. · Aromas of red grapes, spice, violets, toast and oak vanillin lead to deeply flavored notes of cherries, strawberries and sarsaparilla with welcome accents of spice and oak. Very soft and silky in the mouth with balanced tannins that make for easy drinking. Similar to the Meiomi bottling by the same producer. A featured wine at Total Wine & More retail chain. Score: 90

2010 B.R. Cohn Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc.,pH 3.60, TA 0.63, 2,400 cases, $40. Sourced from Lera’s and Dutton vineyards. Average vine age 12 to 17 years. Clones 667, 777 and Pommard. Whole berry and whole cluster fermented with natural and Assmanshausen yeasts. Aged 19 months in 64% new and 36% 1-year-old French oak barrels. Winemaker Tom Montgomery. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Very aromatic initially, offering bright aromas of Bing cherries, cola and toasty oak. Discreetly concentrated core of nicely ripened Bing cherry fruit with accents of cola, mocha, brown spice and oak flavors clothed in soft, dry tannins. The immensely appealing velvety mouth feel is a clincher. This wine will have wide appeal. Score: 91

2011 Freeman Ryo-fu Russian River Valley Chardonnay

13.5% alc., 450 cases, $40. A blend of two vineyards with the largest component from Keefer Ranch and a lesser amount from Heintz Vineyard (vines dating to 1982). Aged 14 months sur lies in 21% new and 79% 1, 2 and 3-year-old French oak barrels. · Light yellow color and clear in the glass. Aromas of lemon, apple and slate lead to crisp, vivid flavors of citrus, apple, white peach and oak. Plenty to like with forward fruit flavors reigned in by lively acidity, finishing on a high note with lemon-drop memories. Still fine the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 94

2010 Furthermore Bohemian Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.56, 74 cases, $40, 375 ml $20. Vineyard is 8 miles from the coast in the western reaches of the Russian River Valley. Clones 115, 667 and 777. Harvest Brix 27.3º. Native fermentation, aged 12 months in 33% new French oak barrels. · Dark reddish-purple hue in the glass. A ripe-fruited and full-bodied wine, featuring aromas of black, grilled fruits, peat and fennel and flavors of blackberries and ollaliberries. Dense, concentrated and sappy, but delicious, with a pleasing fruit personality framed by modest tannins, finishing with a burst of citrus-laden fruit. A decadent wine. Score: 90

2010 Furthermore Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.67, 83 cases, $50, 375 ml $25. Vineyard is farmed by Gary Franscioni. Clones “828” and Pisoni. Harvest Brix 24.7º. Native fermentation, aged 14 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of spiced dark red stone fruits with hints of vanilla, nuts and stem. Medium bodied core of dark red cherries with an herbal vein running through and a citrus underpinning. Good crispness and supple tannins, with a bright tag of cherry on the finish. Score: 87

2010 Furthermore Sierra Mar Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., pH 3.47, TA 0.63, 77 cases, $40, 375 ml $20. This vineyard is located at 1,000 feet elevation at the southwestern corner of the AVA. Soils are decomposed granite and gravelly loam. Pisoni clone plus “828.” Harvest Brix 27.7º. Native fermentation, aged 14 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Somewhat brooding on the nose with a roasted dark fruit tone accented by nutty, vanillin oak. Delicious, fullbodied core of fresh dark berries with an earthy undertone. Well-managed tannins with bright acidity and some finishing length. Big and fruity, but everything is in its place. Score: 89



2010 Furthermore La Encantada Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., pH 3.39, TA 0.67, 76 cases, $40, 375 ml $20. Vineyard planted by Richard Sanford. Clones 115, 667 and 777. Harvest Brix 27.5º. Native fermentation, aged 14 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Appealing aromas of blackberries, black raspberries and a dash of toasty oak. Rich and vivid, with plenty of sappy, dark berry and cassis fruit flavors. Smooth in the mouth with discreet tannins and a pleasing hint of oak in the background. The finish is fresh and lively. This wine is woven together nicely and aims to please. Score: 90

2011 Kudos Single Vineyard Series Carabella Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., $30. A product of NW Wine Co. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels. · Light reddish-purple hue in the glass. Evocative perfume of dusty cherries and seasoned oak. Noticeable mid palate attack of fresh cherry and cranberry flavors with a citrus-driven, nervy finish. Straightforward, light, and easy to drink, this wine will work beautifully at the dinner table.

2012 Kudos Single Vineyard Series Zena Crown Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Oregon Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., $25. A product of NW Wine Co. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherries, briar and fennel lead to medium bodied flavors of black cherries, black raspberries and a generous cherry-driven finish. Good richness, soft tannins and well-integrated oak. An impressive offering at this modest price. Score: 88

2010 Lachini Vineyards Lachini Family Estate Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir

13.3% alc., pH 3.54, TA 0.731,285 cases, $50, Magnums $115. Multiple clones (667, 777, 113, 114, 115, 2A and suitcase selection) from estate vineyard blocks. Aged 17 months in 26% new and 74% 1 and 2-year-old French oak barrels. Winemakers Mike Primozich and Ron Lachini. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Fragrant with aromas of Bing cherries, blueberries, pomegranates, savory herbs and conifer forest. Light and somewhat lean, but flavorful, offering tastes of red cherries and cranberries framed by supple tannins and bright acidity. This wine offers plenty of finesse for easy drinking, and finishes with a tangy burst of cherry fruit. Very Oregon in style and a good reflection of the vintage. Score: 90

2012 Liberty School Central Coast Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.77, TA 0.69, 39,895 cases, $20. From Hope Family Wines, Austin Hope proprietor. Multiple fruit sources including west Paso Robles, Arroyo Seco section of Monterey, and San Benito County east of Monterey. Aged 6 months in 80% French and 20% American oak barrels. Cross-flow filtered before bottling in April 2013. Jason Diefenderfer winemaker. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Quite showy upon opening, fading some over time and taking on a confected note in the glass. Aromas of purple grapes, cherries and ripe strawberries with a hint of violets. Good fruit intensity on the palate with easy to like flavors of red and black cherries with a hint of spice and dark chocolate. Well-managed fine-grain tannins with a sweet cherry finish. Less appealing over time in the glass. Score: 86

2010 Rhys Alpine Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay

13.2% alc., $69. From 1.73 acres planted to Hyde, Wente and Dijon clones at 1,230 to 1,400 feet elevation. 24” of top soil over soft shale. Grapes are slowly whole cluster pressed for 4 hours. The must is settled overnight and barrels filled in morning. 20-25% new French oak barrels are used. The wine is left undisturbed in cask without stirring to complete native yeast fermentation that sometimes can take an entire year. · Golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Appealing aromas of lemon peel, pineapple, slate and a hint of nutty, buttery oak. Delicious core of yellow apple and lemon flavors with a hint of butter brickle and oak. The fruit really pops in the mouth and hangs on for a very long and glorious finish. Juicy, crisp and thoroughly satisfying in every way. Yum. Held up beautifully in an opened and re-corked bottle finished over two days. One of the best California Chardonnays I have ever tasted. Score: 96

Alpine Vineyard chalky shale underlies the vines:

2010 Rhys Family Farm Vineyard San Mateo County Pinot Noir

12.7% alc., $59. From a 6.16-acre vineyard planted to Swan, 115, Pommard and Rhys selection in alluvial clay loam soil. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Very complex nose offering an array of aromas including black plum, black currant, spice, boot leather and hay bale. Moderately rich black fruit flavors with an added hint of cola and tar. There is so much character in this wine that the drinker is quickly sent back to the glass for another sip, looking to discover the many nuances over time. The finish is extraordinarily generous and long, and the underlying cut of acidity really brings the wine to life. The balance predicates a long life for this wine. Score: 93

2011 ROAR Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.55, 451 cases, $52. Pisoni, 777 and Pommard clones. Aged 11 months in 84% new and 16% 1-year-old French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple hue in the glass. Brightly perfumed with aromas of dark fruits, briar, forest floor and smoky oak. The core of modest tannins is wrapped in layers of dark red cherry and berry fruit with a prominent charred oak accent. Still, the wine is juicy and pleasing with some length on the finish. The delicate fruit essence is currently buried in oak and the wine will benefit from more time in bottle. Score: 88

2011 ROAR Sierra Mar Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.55, 549 cases, $52. Pisoni, Pommard and Swan clones. Aged 11 months in 81% new and 19% 1-year-old French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Everything comes together nicely in this wine featuring enticing aromas of black cherry, black currant, spice, forest floor and subtle oak. A mouthful of delicious black cherry, black raspberry and plum fruit coats the palate and hangs on for a long, generous finish. The fruit really sings in this wine now, but the wine will benefit from more aging to better integrate the tannins and oak. Score: 93

2011 ROAR Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.54, TA 0.61, 278 cases, $60. Pisoni clone. Aged 11 months in 58% new and 42% 1-year-old French oak barrels. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Wondrous aromas of black stone fruits, potpourri, forest floor and oak. Stunning on entry with copious flavors of dark cherries and berries and Hoison sauce that has real grip. The wine has some structural muscle but is approachable now. A very smooth mouth feel and an intense, peacock tail finish complete the experience. A hosanna to the Pisoni family. Score: 95

2011 Vino Vargas Rio Ruso Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $45. Rio Ruso is Spanish for Russian River. Aged in 30% new French oak barrels. Winemaker Pedro Vargas. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry and ripe strawberry with a slight roasted quality. Fruit flavors of black cherry and blackberry push the ripeness envelope, but are quite tasty. A hint of cola and spice add interest. Nicely crafted and very approachable with mild fine grain tannins. Score: 88

Previous article:
Sancerre: Pinot Too
Next article:
Pinot Briefs
Wineries in this Article
Share