Sips of Recently Tasted Pinot Noir
2013 Kokomo Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $36.
Moderately light cherry red color in the
glass. The shy perfume of cherry, oak spice and dried herbs is a prelude to a light to mid weight styled wine
featuring a black cherry fruit core with toasty oak in the background. Silky on the palate, with a touch of spice
and balanced acidity. Solid but not special.
2013 LaRue Rice-Spivak Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
alc., 125 cases, $70. Sourced from a 6-acre vineyard south of the town
of Sebastopol. Goldridge sandy loam and volcanic ash soils. Dijon and
Swan clones. Aged 20 months in French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass with an unfiltered appearance.
Intoxicating aromas of sweet cherries, exotic spices and rose petal.
Admirable richness and fullness on the mid palate with saucy flavors of
cherries, spice, smoke and jerky. A floral note lurks in the background.
Melded tannins, vivacious acidity and long on the finish. Amazing
phenolic concentration at this low ABV. Did I mention superb balance?
2013 LaRue Coastlands Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., 50 cases, $75. This iconic
vineyard’s fruit goes primarily into COBB bottlings. The vineyard sits at 900 to 1,200 feet elevation overlooking
the Pacific Ocean. A blend of Pommard, Martini and Wädenswil clones. Aged 20 months in French oak barrels,
Moderate cherry red color in the glass. This wine is a whole cluster wonderland. Aromas of exotic
spices, black cherry and wood sap lead to mid weight styled wine with many nuances including dark red
raspberry, cherry, cranberry, tea leaf, gingerbread spice, bourbon and smoke flavors. Flat-out delicious, with a
silky demeanor, tight acidity, cashmere tannins and welcome finishing interest. There is plenty to ponder in this
elegantly styled wine that will especially appeal to whole cluster fans.
2014 Pfendler Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 400 cases, $45.
Estate grown from Kimberly Pfendler’s family property in the Petaluma
Gap, crafted by winemaker Greg Bjornstad.
Moderate reddish purple
color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of brandy infused black
cherries, baking spices and toast. Enviable attack and mid palate
presence of mid weight black cherry, black raspberry, spice and floral
flavor elements infused with good acidity. Fresh, lively, and satisfying in
every way. Still very appealing the following day from a previously
opened and re-corked bottle predicting good age ability.
2014 Sonoma-Loeb Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $40.
reddish purple color in the glass. Pleasant aromas of blackberry, black raspberry, spice and vanilla fade a bit
over time in the glass. Mid weight plus sappy flavors of darker berries with complimentary oak seasoning.
Suave in the mouth, with matched tannins and a fruit-driven finish.
2014 Sonoma-Loeb Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $27.
Moderately dark reddish purple
color in the glass. Enticing aromas of blueberry-pomegranate, dried rose petal and mulch. A full-on
attack of black cherry fruit saturates the palate but the wine retains a silky, focused touch. Well-structured,
with hints of smoke and toast in the background. Some length on the finish that leaves a
slight sense of warmth in its wake.
2014 Sphere Monterey County Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $6.99. This is a featured wine in the spring Trader
Joe’s Fearless Flyer newsletter. In amongst descriptions of many offerings including whole milk Greek honey
yogurt and dark chocolate covered peaberry coffee beans, you will find this wine highlighted. It is said to have
been crafted for Trader Joe’s Markets by a winemaker with deep roots in California wine country and is 100%
Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Well-perfumed with scents of strawberry, black cherry
and spice. The light weight core of red cherry fruit is accented with complimentary oak and framed by modest
tannins making for easy imbibing. The wine is a bit shallow and lacks much finish, but it is not oaky like so
many value-priced Pinot Noirs and satisfies all the criteria for a Pinot Noir varietal. At this price, it is hard to
complain. This would be a great wedding wine.
Bob Cabral, formerly of Williams Selyem and now the winemaker at Three Sticks has been crafting wine for 35
years and these two wines represent the first of the Three Sticks 2014 wines made along with associate
winemaker Ryan Prichard.
2014 Three Sticks Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 614 cases, $60. 20% whole cluster. Aged 10
months in 100% French oak barrels, 60% new.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. A sleek and
silky wine that offers aromas of Bing cherries, rose petal and sandalwood and mid weight flavors of black
cherry, blueberry, plum sauce, spice and cola. The finish is notable for some sweet cherry intensity and modest
length. Not a “typical” Russian River Valley offering as to lushness of fruit, but enjoyable.
2014 Three Sticks Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 243 Cases, $60. 22%
whole cluster. Aged 10 months in 100% French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the
glass. A mix of aromas including black cherry, black raspberry, floral bouquet, mulch and toasty oak fade a bit
over time in the glass. Silky in the mouth, with mid weight plus flavors of earthy black cherry and Middle
Eastern spices. The immersed tannins and balanced acidity make for easy drinking.
2012 Wind Racer Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 1,007 cases, $50.
Moderate reddish purple color
in the glass. The nose picks up intensity over time in the glass, offering scents of very ripe black raspberry,
ollaliberry and plum with a subtle mushroom note. Lush on the palate, with copious amounts of purple and
black fruits accented with hints of pennyroyal, smoke, tar and vanilla. A ripe, bold style wine with tucked in
tannins, good juiciness and some finishing generosity. A fine wine but the fruit really pushes the ripeness
2012 Wind Racer Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 1,527 cases, $50.
Moderately dark reddish
purple color in the glass. Aromas of ripe Bing cherry and dark strawberry leap from the glass. Full-bodied on
the palate, with flavors of black cherry and cola. Silky and smooth with balanced tannins and a modest finish.
This wine sports the luscious fruit typical of the Russian River Valley, but lacks the juiciness of the Anderson