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Results of Exclusive Press Tasting of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir (Mendocino Fairgrounds)

This is an opportunity for press to taste a variety of Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs. Not every Anderson Valley producer submits a wine for tasting and the vintages of wines offered for tasting varied from 2010 to 2015 making comparisons more challenging. Like the ambiance of the Anderson Valley, everything is laid back.

Located at 39 degrees latitude, the Anderson Valley appellation is located in northwestern Mendocino County along Highway 128. As the crow flies, the Anderson Valley is 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean and 15 miles in length, and opens to the Pacific Ocean via the Navarro River.

There are fourteen varieties of wine grapes grown in the Anderson Valley, primarily Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer. Approximately 2,500 acres are planted to wine grapes with 91 vineyard properties having a median vineyard size of 11.5 acres. The climate is mostly Winkler Region I (the coolest). Soils are bedrock Franciscan sandstone.

61 bonded wineries are members of the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association, all using Anderson Valley fruit. There are 28 wineries with tasting rooms in the Anderson Valley.

Stylistically, the Pinot Noirs of Anderson Valley are difficult to get a fix on since the winemaker’s imprint is on many wines and the resultant styles vary from low ABV and minimal to no new oak use, to ripe-fruited, high ABV wines with significant new oak use. Being a cool growing region, bright acidity, particularly if the grapes are harvested at lower Brix, is a prominent feature.



Regarding vintages:

2013 Ideal growing season with moderate temperatures and no rain or heat extremes. Growing season started early and ran about two weeks ahead of most previous years. Water for irrigation was scarce. Acidities were elevated at harvest.

2014 Third drought year in a row. Dry winter (driest on record) and warm spring with some storms, early bud break, early harvest, lower yields.

2015 Early bud break long flowering period during cold, rainy and windy weather reducing yields. Small crop of concentrated fruit. Early harvest in August.

2014 Walt The Corners Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

15.1% alc., $75. Winery is located in Sonoma. Walt also offers Anderson Valley Pinot Noir from Savoy Vineyard, Anderson Valley single vineyard Pinpoint Extreme, and an Anderson Valley AVA blend “Blue Jay.” Winemakers are Megan Gunderson Paredes and Steve Leveque. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 45% new Francois Frères. · Moderate ruby red color in the glass. Reserved aromas of muddled black cherry and oak char. Sappy, oak-infused black fruits saturate the palate. A Caliesque styled wine with a smooth mouthfeel, well integrated alcohol and a fruit driven finish. A no-holds barred, hedonistic Pinot Noir. Score: 89

2014 Waits-Mast Wentzel Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., 120 cases, $47. Released November 2016. Sourced from a 10-acre, organically farmed vineyard located in Philo. Dijon clones harvested at 23.5º from a block situated up a steep hillside benefiting from long afternoon sunlight, tempered by cool offshore breezes. Native yeast fermentation, 25% whole cluster. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Light ruby red color in the glass. Engaging perfume of cherry, strawberry, spice, tobacco and earth. Light to mid weight in style, featuring darker red fruits on the palate. Well-crafted, with juicy acidity, but a bit shallow on the mid palate and lacks finishing purpose. Score: 89

2013 Toulouse Vineyards Weir Vineyard Yorkville Highlands Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.54, 150 cases, $55. Clones are a DRC selection and Wädenswil 2A. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 30% new. · Moderate ruby red color in the glass. Shy, but pleasant aromas of red cherry and sandalwood. Light to mid weight in style, with easy going character, displaying an array of red fruits, a petrol note, modest tannins, and a juicy finish. Score: 87

2013 Roma’s Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., pH 3.92, TA 0.64, $N/A. Vineyard is located at 1,800 feet elevation on Lone Tree Ridge in Boonville and planted in 1992. Harvest yield 1.8 tons per acre. Winemaker Dean Carrell. 33% whole cluster added to bottom of fermentation bins. 15% of juice drained from bottom of bin to concentrate the must. 14-day post fermentation maceration. Basket pressed into French oak barrels and aged on the lees for 18 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate ruby red color in the glass. Comforting in all aspects, with aromas of cherry, rose, brioche and a hint of oak. Nicely balanced, but a bit shallow and flat, featuring an array of red fruits in a middleweight style. Score: 88

2014 Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

No tech sheet available. · Moderately light ruby red color in the glass. Perfumed with delicate aromas of cherry, brown spices and graham. Light to mid weight flavors of red fruits in a simple but pleasing style with a bit of oak in the background. Supportive tannic backbone, with a crisp cherry fueled finish leaving the slightest alcoholic warmth behind. Seems like an afterthought to the outstanding sparkling wines. Score: 87

2012 Philo Ridge Vineyards Marguerite Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.62, 190 cases, $50. This vineyard is located at 1,500 feet elevation and is 40-years-old. Entirely dry farmed, sustainably managed, with naturally mined minerals and amendments added to the soil. Harvest Brix 23.5º average. 100% de-stemmed, 3-day cold soak, feral fermentation. Basket bladder pressed into French oak barrels, 30% new, 70% neutral, where it was aged for 26 months. Racked up to three times before bottling, unfined and unfiltered. Bottled aged 9 months before release. · Light orange red color in the glass. Aged aromas of dried cherry, spice, leather and tobacco. Lighter in weight, with austere fruit and very bright acidity, falling off quickly on the finish. Score: 87

2014 Phillips Hill Cerise Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.62, 75 cases, $52. Released April 20, 2016. Cerise is a 40-acre vineyard located at 800-1200 feet elevation. Soils are sandstone and fractured shale with a shallow gravelly loam topsoil that is marginal and sparse. Dijon 115. Harvest Brix 23.5º. 15% whole cluster, 4-day cold soak, 14 days on skins, native yeast fermentation. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 33% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Light ruby red color in the glass. Aromas of exotic spices, red cherry and smoky oak. Light weight flavors if oak-infused black cherry. Rather earthy and rustic, with good balance. The wine lacks some enthusiasm and interest and the finish lacks persistence. Score: 87

2014 Pennyroyal Farm Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.66, 900 cases, $39. Clone 667. Harvest Brix 26.5º. Estate grown fruit. Aged 10 months in new and 1-year-old French oak barrels. Bottled unfiltered. · Moderate ruby red color in the glass. Shy, but appealing aromas of black cherry and herb garden. Fruit driven and rather monotone, but with good balance and some charm, featuring dark stone and berry fruit flavors. Very modest finish. Score: 88

2015 Navarro Vineyards Deep End Blend Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

No tech sheet. · Aromas of cherry, spice, rose, grass and pennyroyal lead to a light to mid weighted wine offering vibrant red fruits with a compliment of oak. Beautifully balanced and easy to like, with a cherry charged finish. Score: 91

2015 Long Meadow Ranch Winery Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 2,500 cases, $40. Estate grown, organically farmed using sustainable methods. Aged in French oak barrels, 25% new and 75% neutral. Winemaker is Stephane Vivier. · Moderately light ruby red color in the glass. The nose offers a fusion of black cherry and oak aromas, leaning more on leaf and vegetal notes over time. Modest in weight, with savory herb flavor dominating, and a rush of tannins showing up on the finish. Score: 87

2014 Lichen Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.56, 182 cases, $65. Sourced from seven acres of estate vines overlooking Highway 128 on the 203-acre Lichen Estate. Vineyard is farmed organically. Grapes are de-stemmed, 14-17 day fermentation after 5-6-day cold soak, 2-3 day post fermentation extended maceration. Aged 16 months with lees stirring during first 9 months of barrel aging. Total time in French oak barrels was 17 months. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Perfumed and sensuous, with deep aromas of cherry, spice, brier and earthy flora. Lush and satisfying on the mid weight palate, with robust cherry flavor accented with a subtle thread of cola and spicy oak. Beautifully balanced, with silky tannins and a bright, juicy finish. Very classy juice. Score: 93

2015 Lazy Creek Vineyards Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.56, 286 cases, $58. Heritage selections and Dijon clones planted in one of the oldest vineyards in the Anderson Valley. Vineyard is certified California sustainable. Fermented in macro bins and small, open-top tanks. 3-day cold soak, yeast introduced for complexity. Wines racked to barrels and final blend assembled in July and bottled in August. Cooperage was 54% new French oak. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Demonstrative aromas of cherry, spice and earthy flora really entice. Beautifully composed, with a plethora of spiced black cherry and black raspberry fruit flavors framed by ripe tannins and deft oak enhancement. A savory note plies the background of this highly enjoyable wine that finishes with impressive length. Score: 93

2010 Harmonique Delicacé Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 14.1% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.60, $46. 90.
2010 Harmonique Elegancé Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 14.1% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.60, $48. 89.
2010 Harmonique The Noble One Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 14.2% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.63, $39. 91.

Harmonique is unique among California wineries in that its current releases are from the 2010 vintage. Vineyard sources include Ferrington, Conzelman, Klindt and Oppenlander. The three wines offered for tasting at the Grand Tasting progress in extraction from Delicacé, the most elegant and red fruited, to The Noble One, the most concentrated and dark fruited. Veteran Robert Klindt is the winemaker. The wines are just beginning to show tertiary characters yet are still fresh and should maintain another five years at least. Moria Conzelman is a fresh face at every Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival and mans the winery’s tasting room in Boonville. The 2011 vintage wines will be released in the fall 2017.

2013 Husch Knoll Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.60, $40. A limited bottling from vines that were the first planting of Pinot Noir in the Anderson Valley. Many original vines remain. Harvest Brix 25.4º. 20% whole cluster. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. · Moderately light ruby red color in the glass. Muted fruit aromas of cherry and strawberry with added notes of wood and tobacco leaf. A structured wine, with lighter fruit flavors of red berries and cherry. A bit shallow on entry and finish with tannins and alcohol sticking out more than one would like at the end. Score: 87

2014 Handley Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.54, 2,245 cases, $32. Released February 1, 2017. 68% Handley Estate, 17% RSM, 12% Ferrington and 3% Helluva vineyards. Gently destemmed and crushed, retaining about 40% whole berries. 3-day cold soak, proprietary yeast inoculation. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels (25% new) and sterile filtered before bottling. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Lovely perfume of fresh cherry, spice and sandalwood. Easy to like, with a polish demeanor, offering a core of juicy black cherry fruit back by modest tannins. Forward and engaging with solid balance. Score: 92

2014 Greenwood Ridge Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.47, TA 0.65, 100 cases, $30. Native yeast fermentation. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 35% new and bottled unfined. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Alive with flavors of oak-kissed cherry. Flavors of bourbon-soaked cherries, brown spice and graham. Nicely composed with supportive tannins and a brilliant finish that goes on and on. Score: 92

2015 Fulcrum On Point Christina’s Cuvee Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., 198 cases, $36. Pommard, 667, 115, 113. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. Winemaker David Rossi. · Moderate light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of cherry compliment wilted rose notes. Lighter in weight, with appealing flavors of cherry and spice. A bit shallow on the mid palate but tries to satisfy. A firm tannic structure is evident. Score: 89

2015 Ferrari Carano Sky High Ranch Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir

14.5% alc. $55. Sky High Ranch Vineyard is surrounded by towering redwoods and forest above the fog line at 1,600 feet elevation. De-stemmed, fermented in stainless steel open-top and small bins. 3-day cold soak, proprietary yeast strains, aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 53% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Very sexy nose full of pheromones and spice along with fruit scents of black cherry that are knee bending. This wine really emotes, with a core of beautifully ripened black cherry fruit and gently folded in oak. Perfectly balanced with a grand finish that lasts until the next sip. This is a wine I want to spend some time with. Score: 97

2014 Fathers & Daughters Ella’s Reserve Ferrington Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., pH 3.45, TA 0.62,110 cases, $N/A (2013 vintage was $42). Pommard, “828,” and 667. Grapes 70% destemmed, 30% whole cluster. Native yeast fermentation, punch downs for 19 days twice a day. Basket pressed, aged 18 months in neutral French oak barrels. Winemaker Phillip Baxter. · Moderately light ruby red color in the glass. Enticing aromas of cherry, spice and sandalwood draw your nose into the glass. Striking fruit presence with a deft touch of spice and oak. The wine finishes with good generosity. Well-structured for long term drinking. Score: 93

2015 Foursight Wines Charles Vineyard “Clone 05” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.64, TA 0.60, 125 cases, $52. Released May 2017. 100% Pommard 05. 20% whole cluster, 80% de-stemmed. Native yeast fermentation. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. Aged in 60% new French oak barrels. · Light garnet color in the glass. Wealthy aromas of fresh berries, dark rose petal and baking spices. Gorgeous fruit core with some unresolved oak overlay. Noticeable mid palate intensity and finish with commendable balance. Score: 92

2014 Elke Donnelly Creek Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.61, 196 cases, $N/A. 18th vintage under the “Blue Diamond” family label. 20-year-old vines rooted just outside town of Boonville. 100% de-stemmed, brief cold soak, proprietary Burgundy yeast fermentation, aged 11 months in Francois Frères oak barrels, 35% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Light garnet color in the glass. The nose presents scents of purple grape, black raspberry and spice. Light to mid weight in style, with an array of purple fruit flavors encased in supportive tannins, and finishing modestly with good polish. Score: 89

2015 Drew Fashauer Vineyards Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., $50. Anderson Valley and Mendocino Ridge appellation. Clones 115 and 667. Native yeast fermentation, 50% whole cluster, aged in French oak barrels, 30% new. · Moderately light ruby red color in the glass. Shy aromas of cherry, red berry, sous-bois and wooded path. A savory wine with some wildness, offering juicy, mid weight flavors of red fruits. Still young and not full engaged, but loaded with interest. Modest tannins, bright acidity and structured tannins. Score: 93

2014 Donum Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.88, TA 0.55, 459 cases, $72. Pommard, Swan, Martini, David Bruce, 2A, and Dijon 115, 667, 777 and “828.” Aged in French oak barrels, 59% new. Sourced from Angel Camp Vineyard in the “deep-end” of the Anderson Valley north of Philo. A barrel selection from several blocks. Winemaker Dan Fishman. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Shy, but pleasant aromas of black cherry, blackberry, blueberry, spice and bittersweet chocolate. Full-bodied, with a charge of blackberry and prune flavors underlain with healthy oak-driven notes of coffee and dark chocolate. There are noticeable fruit and oak tannins in the Donum style, a certain earthiness, and a slight bit of alcoholic warmth on the finish. Score: 89

2013 Domaine Anderson Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

$39. Sourced from 50 acres of estate vineyards including the newly certified organic and biodynamic Dach Vineyard. Fermented in open-top bins, basket pressed. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 30% new. · rate garnet color in the glass. Lovely perfume of black cherry, black raspberry and warm spices. Admirable balance in a mid weight, harmonious style, with a core of black cherry and blueberry fruit flavors infused with svelte tannins. Score: 90

2013 Champ de Rêves Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.57, 4,995 cases, $45. Sourced from an 85 acre vineyard planted in 2006 at 1,400-1,800 feet elevation in shallow, sandy loam soils. Clones 667, 777 and 115. 100% de-stemmed with 60% whole berries fed by gravity into open-top fermenters. 6 to 7-day cold soak, fermented 14-16 days on skins. Aged 9 months in French oak barrels, 32% new. Winemaker Eric Johannsen. · Moderate ruby red color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, rose and complimentary oak lead to a concentrated presence on the palate of darker fruits, prominent oak notes, some drying tannins, and a sweet fruited finish. Score: 88

2014 Bravium Wiley Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

12.7% alc., pH 3.53, TA 0.63, 960 cases, $39. Vineyard is located in the “deep end” of the Anderson Valley and is one of the coolest sites in the region. Shallow topsoil over Franciscan sandstone (Bearwallow-Wolfey series). Clones are Pommard (planted in 1982), 37, 115, 538, 667 and 777. 15% whole cluster, 5-day cold soak. Feral yeast fermentation in open-top one-ton fermenters, basket pressed and aged 10 months in Francois Frères 4-year, air-dried barrels, 16% new. Winemaker Derek Rohlffs. · Light ruby red color in the glass. The nose is particularly engaging, with hi-tone aromas of cherry, dried rose and burnt tobacco. Lighter in weight, but highly flavorful, with tastes of cherry, cranberry and raspberry. A thread of savory herbs and oak plies the background. The wine sports balanced, unobtrusive tannins, and a bright, slightly tart cherry finish. Score: 91

2014 Baxter Ferrington Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., pH 3.42, 65 cases, $52. Clones 2A, 667, Pommard and “828.” 25% whole cluster, native yeast fermentation. Aged in French oak barrels, 10% new. · Moderately light ruby red color in the glass. Exceptional aromatic presence, with soaring scent of raspberry, strawberry, rose petal and spice. More earthy and rustic on the palate, yet offers vivid fruit flavors of red and purple berries with a mushroom accent. The intensity and appeal builds in appeal over time. The juicy finish really satisfies. Score: 94

2015 Balo Vineyards Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., pH 3.39, TA 0.62, 352 cases, $45. From the 8-acre, family owned vineyard near Philo. Planted in 1998 at a low vigor site. Most of vineyard planted in Perry Gulch loam soil. 60% whole cluster. Aged in French oak barrels, 35% new. · Moderately light ruby red color in the glass. Very shy aromas of red berries and spice. More expressive on the palate, with middleweight flavors of pomegranate, cranberry and strawberry. Juicy and vibrant, with welcome spice accents, good harmony, and a juicy finish. Score: 92



Other wineries participating in the 2017 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival Grand Tasting at Goldeneye Winery: Ardzrooni Family Wines, Artevino/Maple Creek Winery, Black Kite Cellars, Brutocao Cellars, Copain Wines, Expression, FEL Wines, Goldeneye, Halcon Vineyards, Husch Vineyards, La Crema, Littorai Wines, Lula Cellars, MacPhail Wines, Maggy Hawk Vineyard, Maryetta Wines, Navarro Vineyards, Pangloss Cellars, Panthea Winery & Vineyard, Roederer Estate, Scharffenberger Cellars, Smith Story Wine Cellars, Twomey Cellars, Williams Selye, WindRacer Wines, Witching Stick and The Withers Winery.


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