2012 Talisman 20th Vintage Pinot Noir
I always look forward to receiving the Pinot Noirs from Scott and Marta Rich because they never fail to please
me. Scott, who learned his winemaking under Tony Soter when Tony was at Etude in Carneros, launched his
label in 1993. He searches for vineyards that are challenging and expressive since he believes extreme
vineyards are more likely to reveal terroir. Scott tends to use more new oak than many California vintners,
incorporates some whole cluster fermentation, and ages the wines in barrel for an extended time. Decanting is
preferable if you drink them any time soon after their release. They are noteworthy for their age ability.
Talisman wines are sold through the website at www.talismanwine.com, a mailing list, and the quaint tasting
room in a 100-year-old building in downtown Glen Ellen. The five wines reviewed below have been released
and additional 2012 Pinot Noirs will appear this fall and next winter.
NV Talisman Cuvée No. 4 North Coast Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., 242 cases, $38. Released August 1, 2015.
Composed of wines from multiple vineyards and vintages. 25% whole cluster. Wild yeast fermentation. Aged
in 100% French oak barrels, 60% new.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The nose leads with
hi-tone black cherry and toasty oak aromas. The light to mid weight core of cherry fruit is deep and persistent,
backed by significant oak overlay. A satiny texture, modest tannins and a cherry-fueled finish complete the
picture. The oak tends to integrate over time in the glass and is more compatible the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle. This wine should show more balance with additional time in the cellar.
2012 Talisman Badger Black Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.63, 96 cases,
$75. Released July 1, 2015. This vineyard is located on a wind-blown ridge west of the town of Petaluma.
Planted to a suitcase clone in 2001 at 600 feet elevation in Steinbeck loam soil. UCD clone 90. Yield 2.1 tons
per acre. 30% whole cluster. Native fermentation, and extended post-fermentation maceration. Aged 21
months in 100% French oak barrels, 50% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is very
reserved but with coaxing, aromas of dried herbs, stem and mushrooms on the grill appear. The flavors are
similarly savory with notes of herbs and earth highlighting the black cherry and black raspberry fruit. The
tannins are muscular but not imposing and more integrated the following day from a previously opened and re-corked
bottle. This rustic wine has very little fruit personality now, and time will be needed for full fruit
expression and reduction of the tannic edge.
2012 Talisman Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
15.0% alc., pH 3.74, TA 0.60, 173
cases, $52. Released June 1, 2015. This vineyard is the highest in the area, situated at 750 feet elevation on
the southern flank of the mountain range straddling both Los Carneros and Sonoma Coast appellations. It is
exposed to cold and foggy air that arrives through the Petaluma Gap and from San Pablo Bay. Planted in 1998
by Nancy and Tony Lilly and their partner, Steve MacRostie in decomposed volcanic basalt to clones 115, 777
and Pommard. 25% whole cluster. Yield 2.6 tons per acre. Native yeast fermentation, extended postfermentation
maceration. Aged 21 months in 100% French oak barrels, 57% new.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. Lovely perfume of wild berries and macerated cherries with just a hint of oak. Silky
smooth on the palate with a mid weight array of dark raspberry, pomegranate and cherry flavors framed by
refined tannins. There is modest oak seasoning and a healthy tannic backbone that predicts age ability. When
tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the nose was still bright and pleasing
and that silky smooth texture still captivated. My only nit is that a hint of alcoholic warmth creeps in slightly on
2012 Talisman Spring Hill Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., pH 3.78, TA 0.59, 262 cases,
$44. Released June 1, 2015. This vineyard was planted in 2001, 2002 and 2003 at 600 foot elevation in far
western Petaluma. Clones are 777, Pommard, and Calera. Yield 2.5 tons per acre. 30% whole cluster, native
fermentation, extended maceration. Aged 21 months in 100% French oak barrels, 50% new.
purple color in the glass. Shy, but pleasant aromas of black cherry pie glaze and complimentary toasty oak.
The dark cherry core is fresh and rewarding and accented with notes of mocha and savory herbs. The tannins
are modest, the wine is accordingly quite approachable now but was much better the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle when the nose became much more expressive, the texture was notably
soft and mellow, the tannins suave, and the bright cherry fruit nicely complimented by nutty oak. A bit of
alcoholic warmth shows up on the finish.
2012 Talisman Weir Vineyard Yorkville Highlands Pinot Noir
alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.65, 268 cases, $65. Released June 1, 2015.This 15-
acre vineyard was planted in 1992 in loamy clay and gravelly, welldrained
soils at 850 to 1000 foot elevation. Clones are Pommard,
Wädenswil, and selections are from Rochioli and Romanee-Conti
vineyards. 25% whole cluster, native yeast fermentation, and extended
post-fermentation maceration. Aged 201months in 100% French oak
barrels, 64% new.
Moderately light crimson color in the glass. This wine
showed a remarkable transition over night when re-tasted from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle. The nose is très Pinot with
scents of cherry, rose petal and spice. Light to moderate in weight, but
packed with flavors of red cherry, raspberry, and spice. The tannins are
silky, the oak is perfectly integrated, and the overall impression of this
charming wine is elegance. This wine has more zippy acidity than the other Talisman wines reviewed on this
date. Decant if you drink now, or cellar a few years for a special experience.