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Small Sips of Recently Tasted Pinot Noir

2011 C. Donatiello Winery Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., pH 3.56, TA 0.63, 513 cases, $40. Sourced from multiple vineyard sites throughout the appellation. Aged 10 months in 25% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Oak overwhelms the fruit in this wine which is light and crisp on the palate, featuring red cherry and raspberry fruit flavors with a citrus-imbued finish. Score: 85

2011 C. Donatiello Winery Hervey Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., 101 cases, $60. The 10-acre Hervey Vineyard is located above Atascadero Creek in the hills just south of Sebastopol. Soils are Goldridge. Aged 10 months in 25% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose has some reduction upon opening which disappears by the following day when re-tasted from a previously opened bottle. Ripe black cherry aromas accented by charred, smoky oak. Deep Bing cherry and cola flavor with a firm, but balanced tannic backbone. The wine is underlain with crisp acidity producing a tangy, citrus-driven finale. This wine warrants more time in bottle to better integrate the oak. Score: 87

2011 C. Donatiello Winery Tina Marie Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., pH 3.44, TA 0.62, 126 cases, $55. Aged 10 months in 35% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose offers enticing aromas of black cherry, rose petals, tea, forest floor and cedary oak. The tasty essence of fresh Bing cherries has a hint of spice and conifer in the background. The tannins are supple and the wine sports a citrus-infused, sweet cherry finish. Score: 88

2011 C. Donatiello Winery Riddle Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 52 cases, $N/A, sold out. Aged 10 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. A bright wine with a spring in its step. Aromas and flavors of dark Bing cherry and raspberry with smooth, supportive tannins and a good cut of acidity. Seamless and easy to like. Tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the black cherry fruit had drifted to the ripe side. Score: 89

2011 C. Donatiello Winery Block 15 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., pH 3.45, TA 0.68, 127 cases, $48. A blend of vineyards featuring clone 777. Aged 10 months in 25% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose hits all the high notes with effusive aromas of dark cherries and complimentary seasoned oak. Delicious essence of Bing cherries with a hint of spice and red licorice flavors. The mid palate richness carries through to the sleek, long finish. The wine is beautifully composed with supple tannins and good acidity. Thoroughly satisfying with easy accessibility and my clear favorite of the C. Donatiello Pinot Noirs in 2011. Score: 91

Note: Chris Donatiello originally founded his namesake label with partner Bill Hambrecht in 2008 on Westside Road at the site of the former Belvedere Winery. The wines were quite good, but the classy operation ceased operation at this site and has been reincarnated, still in Healdsburg, with the original winemaker, Webster Marquez who worked at Williams Selyem and is one of a trio of winemakers at Anthill Farms. A tasting room has opened on the plaza on Center Street in downtown Healdsburg.

2011 Carmel Road Panorama Vineyard Arroyo Seco Monterey County Pinot Noir

15.0% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.55, $35. Inaugural vintage. From an estate vineyard that is planted to high density and certified sustainable. Primarily clones 667 and 777 with added 2A and 23. Aged 15 months in 25% new French oak barrels. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of blackberry jam, cardamom spice, forest floor and oak vanillin. Big, ripe and full-bodied with a luscious core of boysenberry, blackberry, black plum, spice, dark chocolate and oak flavors. The high alcohol contributes to the creamy mouth feel. The finish is driven by sappy fruit flavors with a bit of oak and heat lingering on the finish. Score: 87

2011 Gary Farrell Hallberg Vineyard Dijon Clones Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.45, TA 0.57, 400 cases, $60. Released May 2013. 100% de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak in small, open-top tanks. Aged 8 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherries, baking spice, dried rose petals and new oak lead to middleweight, perfectly ripened flavors of dark cherries, black raspberries and oak spice. A spot of cola, sassafras and mushroom earthiness adds interest. Smooth on the palate with supportive tannins and welcoming accessibility. Score: 88

2011 Gary Farrell Hallberg Vineyard Clone 777 7% Whole Cluster Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.52, TA 0.60, 260 cases, $65. Released September 2013. One of a new series of wines called the (Winemaker’s) Inspiration Series for limited release. Inaugural bottling. From Block C at the Hallberg Vineyard, one of the coolest parts of the vineyard planted to clone 777. Aged 13 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose offers the essence of black cherries with accents of cardamom spice, dark red rose petals and oak vanillin. Delicious core of fresh black cherry and red raspberry fruits with a hint of exotic spice, savory herbs and cedary oak. The wine is soft and smooth on the palate with pleasing finesse, and finishes with a well-endowed cherry-driven finish. Score: 91

2011 Twomey Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

12.9% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.58, $54. Released September 14, 2013. From organically farmed hillside plantings including Block N, one of the original 1972 plantings of the Martini clone on its own roots. Aged 13 months sur lie in 58% new and 42% once-used French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. A number of aromas jump out of the glass, including black cherry, black currant, baking spice and toasty oak. Sleek and satiny on the palate, with flavors of red cherries, raspberries, pomegranates, cola and vanilla. The modest fruit concentration is buoyed by gossamer tannins and juicy acidity. Score: 89

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