Sips of Recently Tasted California Pinot Noir
Brack Mountain Wine Company, Sebastopol
Brack Mountain Wine Company was founded in 2008 as a family owned and operated winery, producing a
modest 500 cases annually, but has grown in recent years. The winery’s focus is small production, terroirdriven
wines from small, interesting, preferably family owned vineyard sites across Sonoma County, Anderson
Valley and Santa Lucia Highlands, offering a sense of place at accessible prices. All vineyards that the winery
works with are 100% sustainably farmed and the viticulture protocols are closely maintained by vineyard
manager Arturo Robledo.
Brack Mountain’s founding winemaker is Dan Fitzgerald. A Northern California native, he lived in Europe for 13
years and developed an affinity for balanced, lower alcohol wines in the New World tradition. He began his
winemaking career in 2002 in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County, not far from Brack Mountain’s Enos
Estate Vineyards. He worked back-to-back harvests in two hemispheres over three years before earning a
Bachelor of Science degree in Enology from Fresno State University. After graduation, he worked with
winemaker Bob Cabral at Williams Selyem Winery as well as obtaining winemaking experience at James
Halliday’s Coldstream Hills Winery in Australia’s Yarra Valley, and Robert Sinskey Vineyards in Napa Valley.
Before joining Brack Mountain as Partner and Director of Winemaking, Dan was Head Winemaker at Pellegrini
Family Vineyards in the Russian River Valley.
Winemaking involves gravity-flow wine movement, feral primary and secondary fermentations, and minimal
handling and movement of the wines. Stylistically, the goal is earlier pick dates and resultant lower alcohols,
along with well-integrated barrel selections.
The entire lineup of Pinot Noir wines offer solid quality and value, with four of the wines offered at reasonable
prices.They are food-friendly wines that will perform beautifully at the table. The Daniel label offers exceptional
quality at an understandably higher price. Visit www.brackmountainwine.com. Pinot Noir is also offered under
the Barrique and Matia labels.
2014 L’Oliveto Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.64, $26. Sourced from Hurst
Vineyard in the Sebastopol Hills and Cousins Vineyard in the central Russian River Valley. 66% de-stemmed,
with 33% whole cluster added to the bottom of the tank. 5-day cold soak, feral fermentations. Aged 11 months
in French oak barrels, 30% new.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Shy, but pleasant aromas
of cherry and woodshed. Soft and velvety in the mouth with a modestly concentrated core of cherry and
cranberry fruits framed by a woody thread. Easy to drink, with well-concealed tannins and a short finish.
2014 Borne Mile Marker 33.89 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., pH 3.56, TA 0.66, $32.
Sourced from Ferrington and Beaujolais vineyards. 70% de-stemmed with 30% whole cluster added
to the top of de-stemmed fruit. Cold soak, feral primary and malolactic fermentations, aged 11
months in French oak barrels, 30% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A wellappointed
wine with aromas and flavors of cherry, red berry, spice and nutty oak. An elegantly
composed, straight forward wine with redeeming balance.
2014 BENCH Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.68, $24. Sourced primarily from
the Sangiacomo Amaral Ranch Vineyard located north of San Pablo Bay, combined with a small
amount of Vines and Roses Estate Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. 70% de-stemmed, long
cold soak, feral primary and malolactic fermentations, aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 30%
Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Cherry and cranberry fruit are front and center in
this light to mid weighted wine that is pleasantly forward drinking, finishing modestly but with verve.
2014 Cyprus Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
pH 3.54, TA 0.68, 766 cases, $30. Sourced from Hurst
vineyard located in the Sebastopol Hills of the Russian River
Valley. Goldridge soil. Feral primary and malolactic
fermentations. Aged 11 months on the lees in French oak
barrels, 33% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass.
Cordial aromas of red cherry and red berry with a hint of spice
and cola typical of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Nicely composed,
discreetly concentrated and very congenial on the palate with some
length and generosity on the finish.
2014 Daniel Grand Vent Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.64, 90 cases, $60.
Sourced from a 15-acre vineyard located in the Petaluma Gap. A cool maritime climate and cold winds lead to
extended hang times lasting into mid to late October. Feral primary and malolactic fermentations in open-top
stainless steel tanks. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in
the glass. Irresistible aromatic presence featuring scents of black cherry, black raspberry, spice, earth and
mulch. A luscious array of dark stone and berry fruits saturate the mid palate with goodness. A bit of savoriness
displayed by spice, pepper and forest flora add interest. The silky mouthfeel is highly seductive and the
rewarding finish is ornate and persistent.
2014 Daniel Laguna Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.67, 75 cases, $60. This vineyard was planted in 2008
by proprietor and vineyard manager Arturo Robledo and his son, Arturo,
Jr.. Goldridge soil. The vines are trellised a mere 24” off the ground and
are organically farmed. Clones are Calera, Mt. Eden and Martini. 66%
de-stemmed with 33% left whole cluster and added to the bottom of the
tank. 5-day cold soak, feral primary and malolactic fermentations, aged
10 months on the lees in French oak 500 L puncheons, 33% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Inviting aromas of Bing
cherry, raspberry and dried herbs draw you into the glass. A forceful
attack of delicious dark cherry fruit expands in the mouth, carrying over
to a finish with respectable intensity and a burst of acidity.
2014 Daniel Ferrington Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.64, 90 cases, $60.
Feral primary and malolactic fermentations, aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 40% new.
reddish purple color in the glass. A complex wine with an array of ripe fruit aromas and flavors including plum,
blueberry, black cherry and boysenberry. Amazing phenolic ripeness at this low ABV. The wine is blessed with
deft barrel management, integrated ripe tannins and a lip-smacking finish.
Eric Kent Wine Cellars, Santa Rosa
I first learned of Eric Kent Wine Cellars in 2005 when this winery, that began with a modest 375 cases in 2003,
was a new adventure for winemaker Kent Humphrey, who had left behind a successful career in advertising.
He chose to produce Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah since those were the varietals that gave him the most
personal pleasure. Kent and his spouse, Colleen, an accomplished artist, decided one day over a dinner of
hamburgers and Zinfandel, to feature artists on their bottles. The result has been a series of striking labels
designed by deserving, but yet undiscovered talent. Each artist brings a unique vision that compliments the
spirit behind the wine, adding another dimension to the wine by stimulating a discussion with every cork pulled.
The label art by artist V De Montrand on The Pianist below:
Kent has refined his winemaking over the past ten years, adding variety to his stylistic lineup. The 2014 wines I
have reviewed here are among the best he has yet to release and that is saying something since I have
reviewed almost every Pinot Noir Kent has produced.
The wines are sold primarily through a mailing list with limited retail distribution. Visit www.erickentwines.com.
2014 Eric Kent The Pianist Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.62, 95 cases, $52.
Released spring 2016. Winemaker Hanna Chort has worked four harvests at Eric Kent as well as crushes in
Oregon, Australia and Argentina). This is a wine she can call her own creating a special blend each year. The
name reflects here background as an accomplished classical pianist. Sourced from Grand Vent Vineyard (50%)
in the Petaluma Gap and V-C Ranch (50%) in Freestone near Occidental. Clones Pommard (83%), 113 (10%)
and 667 (7%). Aged in French oak barrels, 25% new.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass.
Demure aromas of cherry and woodland forest pick up intensity over time in the glass. Light to mid weight
delicate flavor of red cherry essence has hint of oak. A feminine-styled wine, yet packs plenty of flavor. Bashful
tannins and redeeming balance make for easy enjoyability.
2014 Eric Kent Sascha Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.60, 306 cases, $52. Sourced mainly
from Roberts Road Vineyard located in the eastern Petaluma
Gap region combined with contributions from four other sites.
56% Roberts Road, 16% Stiling, 16% Grand Vent, 8% V-C
Ranch and 4% Rayhill. Clones are 44% Swan, 28% 777, 18%
Pommard, 4.5% 115, 3% 113 and 2.5% 667. Aged in French
oak barrels, 60% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass.
Flirtatious aromas of cherry pie, hazelnut and baking spices. Plenty of
sappy Bing cherry fruit accented with spice. Sleek and forward drinking
in a mid weight plus, generously fruity style that extends enough juicy
acidity for admirable balance. This wine has that charming pinotosity that
is impossible to describe but you know it when you experience it.
2014 Eric Kent Small Town Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.62, 150 cases, $50.
Released spring 2016. Sourced from four vineyards all owned by the Cleary family (60% Michael Valentine,
20% Stiling, 10% Cleary Ranch, 10% Roberts Road). Clones are 65% 667, 25% Swan, 5% 115 and 5% 777.
15% whole cluster fermentation. Aged in French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the
glass. A mix of cherry and berry aromas lead off. Engaging flavor and phenolic ripeness despite the low ABV.
A mix of black raspberry and boysenberry fruit offers tantalizing juiciness and the right touch of oak. The tannic
backbone is perfectly integrated, and the startling finish has a captivating intensity that is rarely met with.
Flying Goat Cellars, Lompoc
Veteran winemaker Norm Yost is one of the original garagistes operating out of the Lompoc “wine ghetto.” He
produces ultra premium, small lots of Pinot Noir and sparkling wine from vineyards in Santa Barbara County
and San Luis Obispo County.
The name of the winery bears explanation. While living in Oregon, Norm had trouble keeping the wild
blackberry vines in his backyard under control before a friend suggested he acquire a pair of goats to fend off
the vines. Norm bought two pygmy goats named “Never” and “Epernay,” and in short order found they not only
ate the blackberry vines, they ate everything. They were also a source of comical entertainment with their spiral
loops, flipper turns and straight-legged leaps. When Yost moved to California’s south Central Coast, he started
an unnamed winery. He agonized over a name that would reflect the quality of his wines as well as avoid the
stuffy attitude adopted by many wine producers, so he decided to name his new project after his kids. In this
case, his “kids” were his two goats he brought with him from Oregon, and the name Flying Goat Cellars was
chosen. The Flying goat label is a whimsical rendering of a horned goat flying over a moonlit mountainside
surrounded by a crescent moon with six stars twinkling amidst a red and black checkered border. The labels
have never changed.
Flying Goat Cellars Pinot Noir may seem a bit whimsical, but the wines are seriously outstanding
unencumbered by pretense. They are known to be quite drinkable upon release, yet age magnificently. Many
of Norm’s vineyard sources have been long standing so he has an experienced feel in how to best vinify the
fruit from these sites. Taste for yourself at the Flying Goat Cellars Tasting Room in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto,
Thursday through Monday, or other days by appointment. Visit www.flyinggoatcellars.com.
2012 Flying Goat Cellars Dierberg Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.59,
304 cases, $46. Released October 4, 2014. This 161-acre vineyard was planted in 1997 in mostly sandy loam
soils. Clone 115. Harvest Brix 24.7º.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Intense perfume of oakkissed
berries, cherries and raisin. The mid weight core of dark red and black berries are framed by a nutty oak
overlay that is not oppressive. The tannins are gentle, and there is some length on the finish. A bit too ripe for
my taste, but well crafted in this style.
2012 Flying Goat Cellars Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.71, TA
0.53, 158 cases, $60. Released October 4, 2014. Martini clone from original 1973 own-rooted plantings.
Harvest Brix 23.8º.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass with very slight bricking of the rim. Ultra ripe,
even roasted fruit aromas and flavors. The wine seems older than its years, with the black cherry and black
berry fruits a bit tired and flat. Some tertiary characters are beginning to emerge.
2012 Flying Goat Cellars Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.68, TA
0.66, 201 cases, $42. Released February 7, 2015. Solomon Hills Vineyard was planted in 1999 and is under
the stewardship of the Miller Family who also farm Bien Nacido Vineyard. This wine is 100% Dijon clone 113.
Harvest Brix 24.2º.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. I wish this wine had less oak influence because
otherwise it is perfectly fine. Aromas of cherry, raspberry, sandalwood and toast lead to a middleweight styled
wine with flavors of black cherry and dark red berry framed by gentle tannins. Silky in the mouth with some
finishing intensity marred by a trail of conspicuous oak.
2012 Flying Goat Cellars Rio Vista Vineyard 2A Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., pH 3.74, TA 0.59,
180 cases, $42. Released April 4, 2015. This vineyard is located at the eastern gateway to the Sta. Rita Hills
AVA and is slightly warmer during the growing season than vineyards further west. Wädenswil 2A clone.
Harvest Brix 26.7º. 100% de-stemmed, aged in French oak barrels, 30% new and 70% neutral.
reddish purple color in the glass. Deeply perfumed with aromas of cherry and rose petal. Very tasty essence of
ripe strawberry and cherry with an enhancing spice note. A very comfortable wine with tannins folded in and
impressive length of finish featuring generous cherry goodness.
2012 Flying Goat Cellars Rancho Santa Rosa Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., pH 3.42, TA
0.67, 151 cases, $48. Released April 4, 2015. Sourced from a vineyard owned by Foley Family Wines located
on Highway 246 between Buellton and Lompoc. Flying Goat has sourced grapes from this vast 225-acre
vineyard since 2002. Clone 667. Harvest Brix 24.0º.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Quite
ripe and dark fruited, with aromas and flavors of blackberry jam and cassis. Full-bodied, with a luscious core of
black fruits accented with exotic spices. Captivating fruit presented in a beautifully balanced wine with good
verve and length.
2012 Flying Goat Cellars Bassi Ranch Vineyard San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., pH 3.67,
TA 0.58, 150 cases, $38. Released February 7, 2015. The Bassi Ranch Vineyard was formerly named
Salisbury Vineyard. It is located two miles from the Pacific Ocean near Avila Beach. Soils are well-drained clay
loam. A very cool site with consistent temperatures throughout the growing period. Clones 667 and 2A. Harvest
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. An exotic nose with generous aromas of cherry,
cardamom spice and wood pile. Sleek and suave in the mouth, with fruit flavors of cherry and cranberry robed
in gentle tannins. The wine is a delight to drink, displaying a cherry-fueled, albeit oak-infused finish.
2013 Flying Goat Cellars Goat Bubbles Santa Barbara County Brut Cuvée Sparkling Wine
pH 3.20, TA 0.82, 207 cases, $42. Released April 4, 2015. In celebration of 10 years of Goat Bubbles, this
inaugural Brut Cuvée was released. A blend of 80% Wädenswil 2A from Rio Vista Vineyard and 20%
Chardonnay clone 15 from Sierra Madre Vineyard. Harvest Brix 20.3º.
Moderate golden yellow color in the
glass. Enticing aromas of green apple, green herbs, roasted nuts and freshly baked bread with a good bead.
Very dry, with a lemon, green apple and vanilla flavor profile. The tight, palate-cleansing finish is ideal.
2013 Flying Goat Cellars Goat Bubbles Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Rosé Sparkling Wine
12.9% alc., pH 3.03, TA 0.98,
271 cases, $42. Released February 7, 2015. Clone 23. Harvest Brix
19.0º. Whole cluster pressed and vinified as if a Rosé still wine. After 10
months aging in neutral French oak barrels, the wine was decanted into
sparkling wine bottles, a tirage of sugar and yeast added, and a crown
cap applied. After 6 months of aging and riddling, the wine was
Moderately light orange color in the glass. Exuberant aromas
of cherry, peach and yeast. Highly pleasing in the mouth, with a
generous offering of blood orange and cranberry flavors. Thoroughly dry,
with the orange thread persisting through the long finish. The most
provocative sparkling wine of the three tasted on this date.
Fogline Vineyards, Fulton
Partners Brent Bessire and Evan Pontoriero launched Fogline Vineyards in 2009 to produce small lots of Pinot
Noir, Zinfandel, Syrah and Chardonnay. The cool-climate Fogline Home Vineyard is at the top of Sonoma
Mountain at 900 feet elevation in the Petaluma Gap region and is planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The
Pinot Noir is a field blended block composed of Mt. Eden, 115 and Pommard clones. Chardonnay is Dijon 76
and Old Wente clone. Pinot Noir is also sourced from Starscape Vineyard (formerly Floodgate Vineyard) in the
Russian River Valley and Sun Chase Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap region of the Sonoma Coast.
A winery and tasting room is located on River Road in Fulton across the street from where the original Williams
Seleym garage winery was located. The Fogline Vineyards building has a long history of winemaking in the
Russian River Valley. Check with the winery regarding tasting room hours. Visit www.foglinevineyards.com.
2013 Fogline Vineyards Sun Chase Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.60, 245 cases, $42. This 40-acre,
sustainably-farmed vineyard is located where the Petaluma Gap meets
Sonoma Mountain, perched at 900 to 1,400 feet elevation on a
southwestern facing hillside. Clones 667 and 777. Aged in French oak
barrels, 33% new.
Moderate crimson color in the glass. Aromas of black
cherry, sous-bois and oak lead to a mid weight style wine with enticing
flavors of black cherry, black raspberry, boysenberry and spice with a
deft touch of oak in the background. Charming, with balanced ripe
tannins, and irresistible juicy vibrancy.
2013 Fogline Vineyards Floodgate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., pH 3.60, TA
0.65, 225 cases, $42. This organically certified vineyard is located in the Middle Reach just off River Road.
Beginning in 2014, the name will change to Starscape Vineyard due to an ownership change. Clones 667, 777,
115 and Pommard. Fermented with a commercial strain of malolactic bacteria known to produce low biogenic
amines. Aged in French oak barrels, 30% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Brooding, but
pleasant aromas of Bing cherry, earthy flora and spice. Riper and richer than the Sun Chase bottling, with a
hedonistic core of spiced black cherries accented with a cola note, and framed by structured tannins. Wellcrafted,
with good finishing intensity. My only nit would be that the fruit has a slight roasted, compote character.
Vaughn Duffy Wines, Santa Rosa
Founder and winemaker Vaughn Duffy was a wine salesperson when he fell in love with Pinot Noir. He worked
a harvest at Siduri and launched his professional winemaking career at Vinify, a custom crush winery. In 2009,
together with his spouse, Sarah Vaughn, bought one ton of Pinot Noir grapes and made their first wine under
the Vaughn Duffy Wines label. Another story of first-generation winemaking families taking the plunge. Tastings
are available by appointment in Santa Rosa. If I had to relate the style of the Pinot Noirs, I would say they are
very close to Kosta Browne. Visit www.vaughnduffywines.com.
One added note regarding the label and the orange wax capsule on the bottle. I told Matt that some people love it and others find it weird. He told me the following. "Ahhh, the label… Yes, we have found that some (most) people dig it and some do not. I feel like the response is mostly positive, or at least inquisitive. When I worked at a bottle shop, I learned the importance of getting the bottle to standout and that if the customer picked up the bottle, they usually bought it… So what better to grab attention than a funky label with bright orange wax on top? The label depicts a forklift carrying two barrels of wine. The forklift represents where I was when we made our first wine: working as a cellar rat, driving the forklift around the winery where I worked to make things go, go, go… The two barrels represent our first vintage: 2009 Pinot Noir from Suacci Vineyard. The forklift is also a symbol of the hard work behind the scenes that it takes to make these wonderful wines. As for the rest of the label and the “feeling,” let’s just say that Sara and I are big San Francisco Giants fans and we used to go a lot of shows at the Fillmore when we first met in San Francisco. All those old concert posters must have rubbed off on us."
2015 Vaughn Duffy Wines Sonoma County Rosé of Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.17, TA 0.74,
616 cases, $20. Released March 2016. Saignée method. 80% Pinot Noir, 16% Syrah and 4%
Zinfandel. 80% aged in neutral French oak barrels, 20% in stainless steel. No malolactic
Moderate watermelon color in the glass. Aromas of strawberry, apple, straw and nuts
lead off. More engaging on the palate, with a variety of fruit flavors showing up including cranberry,
watermelon, apple and blood orange augmented nicely by a savory herbal and nutty tone. A good
acid underbelly keeps the wine fresh and vibrant.
2015 Vaughn Duffy Wines Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $36. A blend of several
Dark reddish purple color in the glass. A bit youthful and clumsy, but the potential
is evident. The aromas of black cherry liquor and orange zest are shy and the full-bodied flavors of
black cherry and black raspberry are not as expressive as they will be. Deeply concentrated fruit
with balanced tannins and a vibrant acid backbone. The finish is particularly intense and persistent.
2014 Vaughn Duffy Wines Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.53, TA 0.60, 225
cases, $36. Released November 2015. A blend of four vineyards (50% Stori, 33% Desmond, 12%
Wren Hop and 5% Suacci). Clones 115, 777 and 667. Vineyard ages 12-15 years. Soils are
Goldridge. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose
initiates a favorable impression with aromas of black cherry, spice and vanilla. Generously endowed
with black cherry fruit that is accented with flavors of cola and spice. Nicely balanced and forward
drinking, with a sweet cherry cordial finish.
2014 Vaughn Duffy Wines Suacci Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.64, 88
cases, $50. Released March 2015. Sourced from a sustainably-farmed, 6.5-acre vineyard located southwest of
Sebastopol just 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The vineyard was planted in 1993 by Charlie Chenoweth to
clones 115 and 777. Harvest Brix 24.1º (115) and 24.4º (777 and 115). Hill Block (115) 100% de-stemmed.
Apartment Block (115 and 777), co-fermented the two clones, 30% whole cluster. Aged 10 months in French
oak barrels, 33% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Dark reddish purple color in the glass. The aromatics
expand over time in the glass, offering hi-tone scents of black cherry, black raspberry, potpourri and a hint of
peppery spices. The flavors echo the nose with a bit of toasty oak seasoning evident in the background.
Middleweight in style, with integrated tannins, a silky texture and an engaging finish of uncommon length.
2014 Vaughn Duffy Wines Stori Vineyard Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.59, 74 cases, $48.
Released September 2016. The 2.25-acre Stori Vineyard was planted in
2001 to clone 115. Soils are Goldridge. 100% de-stemmed, 6-day cold
soak, feral yeast fermentation. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels. A
selection of the three best barrels out of twelve.
Moderately dark reddish
purple color in the glass. Initially moody, but opening nicely over time in
the glass to revealing engaging aromas of dark stone and berry fruits
and spice. A full-bodied core of charming black cherry, black raspberry
and blueberry fruit flavors back by spice really draw attention.
Impeccable balance, offering both fruit generosity and suavity, finishing
on point. This wine is clearly special.
2014 Carmel Road Monterey Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., TA 0.53, 51,389 cases, $25. Released March
2016. Sourced primarily from the Panorama Vineyard located in the foothills of the Arroyo Seco AVA,
with additional contributions from Rincon Vineyard in Monterey and Clark Vineyard in Arroyo Seco.
All vineyards certified sustainable by SIP since 2008. Aged 8 months in 97% French oak barrels.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. This wine aims to please with ebullient aromas of
cherry, spice and sandalwood and light to mid weight flavors centered on spiced cherry fruit.
Easygoing, with cashmere tannins, a hint of oak seasoning, and a lingering, congenial finish. A great value.
2013 Carmel Road Panorama Vineyard Monterey Pinot Noir
15.0% alc., pH 3.69, TA 0.56, 392 cases, $35.
Released February 2016. This estate vineyard is located in the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains in the
Arroyo Seco AVA. This certified sustainable vineyard is planted to high density spacing. Clones 667 and 777
with a small balance of “828.” 7-day cold soak, fermented in small open top fermenters, and aged 17 months in
French oak barrels, 28% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Very moody nose offering shy
scents of dark fruits and wine cave. A mid weight assortment of well-ripened dark fruits are at the wine’s core,
framed by matched tannins and proper acidity. The high alcohol is well integrated, the oak seasoning is spot
on, but the wine is singing monotone offering nothing more than a sullen load of fruit.
2013 Fog Crest Vineyard Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., $55. Estate bottled.
reddish purple color in the glass. Deep Bing cherry and blackberry aroma with a hint of brewed tea and cola.
Richly appointed and very ripely fruited, with mid weight plus flavors of black cherry, black currant, rhubarb and
cola. Lush on the palate with matching firm tannins, good acidity and generous toasty oak in the background.
The wine finishes with an intense fan of cherry fruit. Well-done in this style.
2014 La Crema Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.57, 10,146 cases, $40. Sourced
from 14 grower and estate vineyards spread across the Russian River Valley AVA including the sub-AVAs of
Chalk Hill and Green Valley. Clones 777, Flowers, Pommard, Wädenswil 2A, 667, “828,” and 23. 100% destemmed
with 70% whole berries in the tank. 3 to 5-day cold soak, fermented in open top tanks. Aged in
French oak barrels, 38% new. No racking out of barrels until blending before bottling.
Moderate cherry red
color in the glass. Welcoming aromas of cherry and baking spices. A streamlined style that is both sleek and
suave, with discreetly weighted flavors of cherry and red plum. The tannins are well integrated, the oak adds
the right amount of seasoning, and the delightful finish is blessed with a generous presence of juice cherry fruit.
2013 Papapietro Perry Leras Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.60, 1,275
cases, $58. 13-year-old Pommard clones, and newer vine clones including Beringer Heritage, 115, 667 and
777. Harvest Brix 23.9º. 2-3 day cold soak, several inoculated yeasts cultured specifically for Pinot Noir. Aged
at least 11 months in Francois Frères French oak barrels, 40% new, 40% 1-year-old and 20% 2-year-old.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, rose petal and pine sap lead to a discreetly
concentrated core of red cherry, cranberry and pomegranate fruit flavors accented with plenty of spice and a
thread of oak in the background. The wine is fueled with citrus-driven acidity that is evident on the slightly tart
2014 Tongue Dancer Pinot de Ville Putnam Vineyard Sonoma County Pinot Noir
14.5%, pH 3.73, TA
0.57, RS <1.0 g/L. 70 cases, $65. Released September 6, 2916. Inaugural single-vineyard Pinot Noir release
from Tongue Dancer Wines. This historic 32-acre vineyard was planted in 2005 at 500 feet elevation and is
located in Annapolis on the West Sonoma Coast, just 6 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. The vineyard is
family owned and operated by Cliff and Puanani Putnam. Goldridge and sandy clay loam soils. Clones 115,
777, Pommard, Flowers, Calera. Yield 2.0 tons/acre. 100% de-stemmed after meticulous sorting. 5-day cold
soak, native and inoculated yeast primary fermentation. Once fermentation close to completion, the fermenters
are drained of free-run juice to barrel and barrels are stirred once every other week until primary is completed.
The wine was aged 18 months on the lees in French oak barrels. Light filtration with no fining at bottling.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A vivacious wine with an array of aromas including dark berries,
black cherry, black raspberry, spice and dusty earth. A wild, feral character enhances the mid weight core of
dark red and black berry and spice flavors. Lifted by good acidity, with judiciously integrated oak, and offering a
notably seductive satiny mouthfeel. The wine was more expressive the following day when re-tasted from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2014 Wedell Cellars Sta. Rita Hills Rosé of Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 12 cases, $12. Harvest Brix 24.5º. A
saignée from 14 vineyard blocks and clones from four vineyards that the winery sources grapes from:
Fiddlestix, Sanford & Benedict, La Encantada and Rancho La Vina. Fermented in neutral French oak barrels
for 2 weeks, then aged on lees in these barrels for 15 months. 100% malolactic fermentation. Gently filtered. All
proceeds from sale of this wine go to breast cancer charity.
Moderate pinkish orange color in the glass.
Pungent, with some volatile acidity initially, becoming more pleasing over time in the glass offering aromas of
peach, pastry cream and roasted nuts. Soft and smooth on the palate, with flavors of red berry, pomegranate,
blood orange and strawberry, finishing with a lift of acidity.
2010 Wedell Cellars Hillside Vineyard Edna Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.26, TA 0.67, 90 cases,
$125. The 3-acre Hillside Vineyard was planted in 1995 in the southeastern end of Edna Valley with clones
115, 667 and 777 on low vigor rootstock. It was planted to a vine density of almost 2,000 vines per acre. Yields
in 2010 were under 1.75 tons per acre. Harvest Brix 24.3º. 100% de-stemmed, all free run discarded. 3-day
cold soak, cool fermentation with feral yeast, aged on lees in 48-month air dried, 3 new and 1 neutral French
oak barrels for 21 months. Only racking occurred with bottling in August 2012, unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of blackberry, cassis, dark chocolate and a subtle
char note lead off. The mid weight plus core of black fruits have an earthy tone with an oak-driven note of dark
cocoa contributing. The tannins have melded but are still evident, the oak is supportive, and the velvety
mouthfeel is seductive. This wine has aged nicely and will certainly hold a few more years.