Recently Tasted Sonoma County Wines
Chappellet Vineyard & Sonoma-Loeb, St. Helena
In 2017, after 50 years of focusing on mountain-grown Bordeaux-variety wines from Napa Valley, the
Chappellet family made its inaugural vintage of the Chappellet Grower Collection, a collection of small-production
wines emphasizing cool-climate Sonoma County Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. Long-time
Chappellet winemaker Phillip Corallo-Titus chose to work with the very best growers. Phillip also crafts the
Sonoma-Loeb lineup of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines. Sonoma-Loeb was acquired by Chappellet in 2011,
but Phillip has crafted the Sonoma-Loeb wines since its debut 1990 vintage.
The wines are modestly priced considering the high quality. I prefer the Chardonnays, as the Pinot Noirs tend
to be very ripe-fruited and somewhat lavishly oaked. Visit www.chappellet.com and www.sonoma-loeb.com.
2017 Chappellet Grower Collection Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.74,
TA 0.58, 1,288 cases, $45. Sourced from some of the most prized sections of Pinot Noir at Dutton Ranch.
Clones 115, 667, 777 and Pommard. Harvest Brix 24.8º.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Plenty of oakdriven
perfume of dark chocolate, toast and vanilla upon opening, but the oak declines over time and
blackberry and black currant aromas come to the front. The luscious core of purple and black fruits is quite
satisfying. Silken in texture, with agreeable tannins, sooty oak in the background and a modest finish.
2017 Chappellet Grower Collection Bateman Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH
3.57, TA 0.67, 273 cases, $60. Vineyard was founded by Paul and Lee Fay Bateman. It is located in the Green
Valley of Russian River Valley. Clones 115 and 777 are planted in Goldridge sandy loam on a sloping eastfacing
hillside that receives abundant morning sunshine but is protected from the afternoon heat. Harvest Brix
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Fresh aromas of boysenberry and blackberry with a hint of oak
and underbrush. A mid weight plus style offering waves of purple and black berry fruits that are mouth filling but
not jammy. The tannins are complimentary, a bit of oak plies the background, and the wine finishes with fruitladen
generosity. A wine for fruit hedonists.
2017 Chappellet Grower Collective Sangiacomo Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay
14.1% alc., pH 3.40, TA
0.68, 1,130 cases, $45. A cool, windswept vineyard bordering San Pablo Bay where the grapes slowly mature.
Roberet Young, Hyde and Caterina clones. Harvest Brix 23.0º.
Light golden yellow color in the glass. Leading
off are aromas of lemon, pineapple, white peach and seashore. Beautifully composed with excellent harmony,
offering fresh flavors of lemon and pear. The wine offers ideal oak integration, bracing acidity, a creamy mouth
feel and some finish that displays a stony grip.
2017 Chappellet Grower Collective El Novillero Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay
14.1% alc., pH 3.35, TA
0.69, 675 cases, $45. Vineyard planted by the Sangiacomo
family. Well-drained rock and gravel soils. One block of
Robert Young clone Chardonnay planted in 1993. Harvest
Brix 24.7º. 100% malolactic fermentation and aged in
French oak barrels, 42% new.
Moderately light golden
yellow color in the glass. Very enticing aromas of lemon oil,
apple and creme caramel. Rich and full-flavored on the palate offering
expansive flavors of lemon, pineapple and pear. Excellent energy, deft
oak accent, and a crunchy, juicy finish. This wine alerts all the senses
and brings one’s attention to bear.
2017 Chappellet Grower Collective Calesa Vineyard Petaluma Gap Chardonnay
14.1% alc., pH 3.35, TA
0.63, 1,646 cases, $45. Vineyard is farmed by acclaimed grower Oscar Renteria. Shallow, gravelly loam soils.
Sourced from five prized hillside blocks. Clones are ENTAV 548, Robert Young, Dijon 809 and Spring
Mountain. Harvest Brix 23.1º.
Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. A complex nose offers aromas
of lemon pith, white flower blossom, paraffin, butter and toast. A beautiful wine that is sleek and vivacious with
energy to spare. Flavors of lemon and white stone fruits have good intention. The wine finishes with the
2017 Sonoma-Loeb Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $36. Grapes sourced from
Sangiacomo, Calesa and Dutton Ranch vineyards. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Slightly confected aromas of dark cherry, baking spice, waffle
cone, warm almonds and vanilla. Noticeable oak embellishment in this full-bodied style with
giving flavors of black cherry fruit framed with notes of dark chocolate and vanilla. Expansive in
the mouth, with a generous black cherry infused finish that also displays a slight bit of alcoholic
2017 Sonoma-Loeb Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.76, TA 0.65, $43.
Clones 667, 777 and 115. Fermented with yeast strains from Burgundy and Germany. Aged 11 months in
French oak barrels.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose is heavily oak-inspired with aromas of toast
and tobacco accompanying fruit aromas of black cherry. Better on the palate, with noticeable grace, softness
and suavity, featuring a mid weight plus essence of black cherry cola flavor with a mantle of oak. The finish is
long, generous and spirited but with a slight sense of alcoholic warmth. When tasted the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle, the nose was still oak-driven, but the oak was better integrated on the
2017 Sonoma-Loeb Sonoma County Chardonnay
14.1% alc., pH 3.40, TA 0.74, $28. Grapes sourced from
Parr Vineyard in Knight’s Valley and Sangiacomo Vineyard. Harvest Brix 23.6º. Minimal malolactic
fermentation, fermented and aged in neutral French oak barrels for 8 months.
Moderately light golden yellow
color in the glass. Aromas of lemon, spice and wine cave hold up over time in the glass. The flavors of lemon,
pear, kiwi, yellow apple and pastry cream are fine, but the wine lacks verve and there is a burnt edge to the
2017 Sonoma-Loeb Private Reserve Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.1% alc., pH 3.44, TA
0.67, $33. Sourced from Sangiacomo and Calesa vineyards. The emphasis is on Wente, Robert
Young and Caterina clones of Chardonnay. Harvest Brix 23.7º. Partial malolactic fermentation,
aged on the lees in French oak barrels, 35% new, for 8 months.
Moderately light golden yellow
color in the glass. Engaging aromas of lemon, butter and friendly toasty oak. Flavors of lemon,
pineapple, yellow peach and apricot keep giving as the wine opens in the glass. A riper-fruited
style with judicious oak and some finishing persistence.
2017 Sonoma-Loeb Envoy Carneros Chardonnay
14.1% alc., pH 3.37, TA 0.60, $40. Harvest
Brix 23.0º-25.0º. Sourced from select blocks of the Sangiacomo Vineyard with which Sonoma-
Loeb has been working for almost 30 years. Focus on Hyde Wente and Robert Young selections
of Chardonnay. Partial malolactic fermentation, aged in French oak barrels for 8 months on the
Light golden yellow color in the glass. Nicely appointed aromas of guava, spiced pear, lemon
and crème brûlée. Crisp, bright and fresh, with flavors of lemon-lime, pear and green apple with
an underlying botanical thread.
Emeritus Vineyards, Sebastopol
The Emeritus story began with a piece of land named Hallberg Ranch located in the cool Green Valley region
of the Russian River Valley. With its Goldridge soil, and a climate shaped by fog and wind off the Pacific,
Hallberg Ranch was originally planted to wine grapes. With Prohibition, the Hallberg family had to replant with
apples and peaches. In the mid-1990s, vintner Brice Cutrer Jones and his vineyard manager Kirk Lokka
became transfixed by the idea of growing Pinot Noir on the 115-acre ranch. Kirk spent three years preparing
and planting Hallberg Ranch. Replanting consisted of close spacing with vines trained and pruned according to
the Burgundy AOC Guyot model. 11 clones were selected to plant, including two field selections from iconic
vineyards in the Côte de Nuits, and a selection from Brice’s friend and famed vintner, Aubert de Villaine. In
2007, they made the decision to dry farm Hallberg Ranch allowing for enhanced root structures.
Emeritus’s second estate vineyard is Pinot Hill located in the cool Sebastopol Hills region. It is located just eight
miles south of the Hallberg Ranch and shares the same Goldridge soil, but it is a totally different vineyard. The
vineyard is exposed to fog when it first penetrates inland from the Pacific Ocean and is the last place that the
fog burns off in the afternoons. As a result, Pinot Hill is 10 degrees cooler than Hallberg Ranch. Vines are closely
spaced, and select Burgundy clones are AOC Guyot Trained and pruned. The vines are dry farmed. The
resultant wines tend to be more savory than those from Hallberg Ranch. Beginning with the 2016 vintage, the father-and-daughter team of Brice and Mari Jones, along with winemaker Dave Lattin, decided to showcase
the differences between the two sides of the Pinot Hill Vineyard.
The wines reviewed here were estate grown, produced and bottled. The wines reflect a steady, moderate
growing season that was the fourth year of drought. Visit www.emeritusvineyards.com for wine availability.
2016 Emeritus Hallberg Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $44. This wine represents the
diversity of the Hallberg Ranch. A blend of about 40 individual lots of Hallberg Pinot Noir. Aged 10 months in
French oak barrels, 32% new. Estate grown, produced and bottled.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. A heavy
imprint of oak is evident on the nose that offers aromas of toast, savory spices, black cherry and clay. A
middleweight plus style with layers of blackberry and black current fruit. Lush in texture with good structure, but
there is a stemmy thread in the background and the wine could use more energy.
2016 Emeritus Wesley’s Reserve Hallberg Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 450 cases, $75. This debut vintage is
made exclusively from a selection of the prized center blocks of
Hallberg Ranch, an area that yields the vineyard’s most robust and
dark-fruited wines. Wesley’s Reserve is named after Brice’s father,
William Wesley Jones, a former Air Force Colonel. Aged 14 months in
French oak barrels, 35% new.
Moderate garnet color in the glass.
Aromas of cherry vanilla cola and savory herbs come to the fore. A
flood of blackest cherry, blackberry and Hoison flavors are framed by a
healthy tannic backbone that keeps the generous fruit in balance. The
wine saturates the mid palate and carries over to a boisterous finish of
deep purple and black fruited goodness.
2016 Emeritus Pinot Hill East Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 300 cases, $75. Aged 10
months in French oak barrels, 50% new. Pinot Hill East is a significantly cooler east side of the vineyard.
Pleasing aromas of black cherry, blueberry, savory herbs and balsam. Similar to the Pinot Hill West bottling but
more appealing aromatics. Mid weight in style and quite earthy in tone, with an array of black fruits. Sleek in
the mouth with modest tannins and a modest finish. Like the Pinot Hill East botttling, this wine also displays a
taste of guaiacol. I have found this flavor in certain vineyards such as Hansen and Bucher in the Russian River
Valley and not everyone finds it unpleasant.
2016 Emeritus Pinot Hill West Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., 225 cases, $75. Aged 10
months in French oak barrels, 42% new. The west side receives more afternoon sun producing more overt fruit
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of burnt tobacco, rose petal and black cherry. A mid
weight style, with oak-infused and ostentatious purple and black fruits. Quite earthy with a noticeable taste of
guaiacol. Unchanged when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery, Jenner
Fort Ross Vineyard is a relatively isolated site on a mountain with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean less
than one mile away. Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery produces estate-grown Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and
Pinotage. Owners Lester and Linda Schwartz began preparing their 52-acre vineyard in 1994 and after four
years of preparation, they began planting. the vines that range in elevation from 1700 down to 1200 feet above
sea level. The first vintage from the Fort Ross Vineyard was 2000.
The winemaker is Jeff Pisoni (Pisoni, Lucia). The Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery Tasting Room is located in
Jenner. Visit www.FortRossVineyard.com.
2014 Fort Ross FRV Fort Ross Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 715
cases, $52. Calera, Pommard and Swan clones. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. Bottled
August 2015 unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Really nice aromas of red cherry,
sandalwood and sous-bois. Good drive on the palate, with flavors of cherry and spice. Some tannins and oak
show up over time in the glass. Gracious in texture and juicy with some finishing purpose.
2016 Fort Ross The Terraces Fort Ross Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
alc., 142 cases, $80. 100% Calera selection planted on a terraced block carved out of the rugged hillside that
faces the cool Pacific. With its steep southwestern aspect, this may be one of the most extreme plantings on
the Sonoma Coast. 100% de-stemmed, several day cold soak, native fermentation in 5 and 10-ton stainless
steel tanks. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. Bottled August 2017 unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Deep aromas of cherry, earth and sweet pipe smoke arrive over time
in the glass. A mid weight style, with racy fruit flavors of black cherry and ripe strawberry. The noble tannins
produce a slight bit of astringency on the dry, lengthy finish. Silky in the mouth, with inviting juicy acidity.
2016 Fort Ross Stagecoach Road Fort Ross Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 140 cases, $80. 100% Calera selection. 100% de-stemmed, several day cold soak and fermented
in 5 and 10-ton stainless steel tanks. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 50% new and 50% neutral.
Bottled August 2015 unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. A very savory nose
offers aromas of fertile earthy and herbs. Earth-kissed cherry fruit is framed by sinewy tannins that add textural
interest. Oak plies the background and surfaces on the finish that has some length.
2016 Fort Ross Top of the Land Fort Ross Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 107 cases, $80. Calera and Swan selections. 100% de-stemmed, several day cold soak, aged 10
months in French oak barrels, 35% new and 65% neutral. Bottled August 2015 unfined and unfiltered.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Shy, but pleasant aromas of red and black cherry and graham. A hint of
bruised apple (VA) shows up. Mid weight plus in concentration and rustic in style, with voluptuous blackberry
and black raspberry fruits, finishing with slight astringency.
2018 1849 Wine Company Iris Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.58, $29.99. Released July 2018.
Widely distributed in retail outlets. Striking label that is part of the 1849 Contemporary Art Collection. Aged 10
months in new French and Hungarian oak.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Leading off are aromas of black
cherry and dark berry fruits and toasted oak. The modest, silky tannins are folded in around the mid weight
black cherry fruit core that is imprinted with oak. There is a burnt quality to this wine on both the nose and
palate. Will do in a pinch.
2017 Decoy Sonoma County Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $25. This wine is part of the Duckhorn Portfolio. A
majority of the fruit is sourced from Carneros and the Russian River Valley along with estate-grown grapes
from Decoy’s sister wineries, Migration and Goldeneye. Aged 8 months in French oak barrels, 30% new and
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The nose offers oak-infused, spiced cherry aromas.
Light to mid weight and elegantly styled, with a heavy imprint of oak confining the black cherry fruit flavor. True
to the varietal, with gentle tannins, but lacks spirit. Unchanged when tasted a day later after opening.
2017 ess-eff Keller Estate Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 24 cases, $42. This small San Franciscobased
producer of Sonoma and Russian River Valley varietals strives for approachable, food-friendly wines.
Wines are available only through the winery by special order or through private tastings. 100% clone 115 from
El Coro Vineyard at the Keller Estate. Harvest Brix 25.0º. 2-day cold soak, 7-day fermentation, aged 10 months
in French oak barrels and bottled 7/24/18.
Moderately light ruby red color in the glass. The nose is very savory
showing aromas of stem and wood along with demure fruit flavors of red cherry and berry. Light in weight, in an
easygoing, shallow, elegant style, offering flavors of red cherry, baking spice and caramel oak. The tannins are
restrained and silky and the finish leaves behind some alcoholic warmth.
2016 Joseph Jewell Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.57, 540 cases, $40. Release
July 2019. Sourced from five vineyards - Hallberg, Starscape, Bucher, 800 vines and Horse Shoe Bend.
Multiple clones including 777, 114, 115, “828,” Pommard, Martini and Swan. Harvest Brix 25.9º. Aged 11
months in French oak barrels, 20% new.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose is primarily oak-driven
with aromas of toast and smoke overriding the black cherry fruit. Mid weight flavors of blackberry, boysenberry
and black raspberry with generous toasty oak in the background. An unpolished, voluptuously fruity wine with a
2016 Joseph Jewell Hallberg Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.61, 175
cases, $60. Release July 2019. Clones 777 and Pommard 5. Dry farmed. 100% de-stemmed, aged 11 months
in French oak barrels, 33% new.
Dark garnet color in the glass. Pleasant aromas of an array of dark red and
black fruits with a compliment of oak spice. The flavors mimic the aromas in a nicely balanced mid weight
styled wine with gracious tannins and a fruit-driven finish. Silky in the mouth and forward drinking.
2016 Joseph Jewell Bucher Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.58, 100
cases, $50. Release July 2019. Swan and Pommard 5 clones. 100% de-stemmed, aged 11 months in French
oak barrels, 25% new.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Bright cherry aromas arrive in the glass over
time. Lip-smacking fruit flavors of black cherry and ollaliberry with complimentary frame of oak. Easy to drink
and comforting, with suede tannins and an abundance of purple fruits on the very satisfying finish.
2016 Joseph Jewell Starscape Vineyard Martini Clone-Old Girls Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.61, 75
cases, $65. Release June 2019. 100% Martini clone planted in 1971.
Yield 0.9 tons per acre. 100% de-stemmed, aged 18 months in French
oak barrels, 33% new.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass.
Somewhat brooding aromas of blackberry compote, dark chocolate and
forest underbrush lead off. Locked and loaded in the mouth, with a
richly flavored mid weight plus core of blackberry, ollaliberry, black tea
cedary oak and spice flavors. Generously fruited, yet possessing good
energy with an openness that appeals. This wine has a velvety texture,
welcome umami and a finish replete with ollaliberry goodness. A unique
wine that reflects the nature of the Martini clone and will appeal to the
2016 Joseph Jewell Shiloh Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.2% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.62,
125 cases, $42. Release July 2019. Clone 4 (Wente) planted in 1992 in gravelly loam soil. Barrel fermented,
100% MLF, aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 20% new.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Shy,
but pleasant aromas of golden apple, buttery lemon tart, yellow cake and a hint of green flora. Graciously
styled, with flavors of lemon, pear and vanilla. Pleasant enough, but a bit shallow and mundane challenging me
to reach for descriptors.
2016 Ladera Pillow Road Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
4.2% alc., 311 cases, $60. Calera,
Swan, Dijon 777 and Pommard 4 clones. Small amount of whole cluster, 7-day cold soak, drained without
pressing and aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 76% new.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. There is a
whack of new oak on the nose producing aromas of campfire embers and vanilla. Plenty of blackberry,
boysenberry and dried black current fruit is at the core, framed by pain grille flavor and a beefy note. The
tannins are well balanced and the wine strives to please with a plethora of fruit, but it is hard to find a lot of
Pinot character under all the oak.
2016 Ladera Pillow Road Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.2% alc., 139 cases, $50. This
vineyard is located southwest of the city of Sebastopol in an area known as the Sebastopol Hills.Old Wente
and Mt. Eden 809 clones planted Goldridge sandy loam soil. Whole cluster pressed, cold settled, barrel
fermented followed by partial malolactic fermentation. Aged on the lees in French oak barrels, 70% new, for 15
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. The nose leads with aromas of stewed apple, willow bark
and grapefruit. Very richly fruited with a plethora of yellow peach, pineapple and grapefruit flavors underlain
with notable pain grille. Slightly oily in texture, lacking vibrancy and finishing with a buttery note.
2017 Lombardi Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.60, 245 cases, $48. Sourced from
Griffin’s Lair, Spring Hill and Sonoma Stage vineyards. Clones 667, 115, 777 and Calera. Aged 15 months in
French oak barrels, 27% new.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of black
cherry, dark red berry, baking spice and graham. Luscious in the mouth, with waves of well-ripened black
cherry fruit accented by baking spices and toast. A fruit-driven, unapologetic wine with modest tannins and an
ebullient finish. The best Pinot Noir from this producer to date.
2017 Lombardi Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.0% alc., pH 3.31, TA
0.75, 249 cases, $44. Sourced from Orsi Vineyards, Montrachet clone.
Barrel fermented and aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 40% new.
Winemaker is Cabell Coursey.
Moderate golden yellow color in the
glass. Heaven-sent aromas of buttery lemon, yellow flower blossom,
crème brûlée, and a hint of toast. A voluptuous Chardonnay, with a fullthrottle
complement of well-ripened melon, lemon and pineapple
flavors backed by toasty oak. There is enough bracing acidity to bring
the package into balance but you won’t find “minerality” in this wine.
This is an unapologetic mingling of mature fruit and oak, that finishes awash in lemon-pineapple goodness.
2017 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.5% alc., 19,095 cases, $25. Screw cap.
Sourced from Sangiacomo and Hi Vista vineyards in Carneros, Dutton and Martinelli vineyards in
the Russian River Valley, and Steve MacRostie’s Wildcat Mountain Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast
AVA. Whole cluster pressed gently, 85% fermented in French oak Barrels, 20% new, and 15%
fermented and aged in stainless steel. 85% malolactic fermentation.
Moderately light golden yellow
color in the glass. The nose offers a nice mix of lemon, spice, white nectarine, butter and vanilla
aromas. Impressive energy with good oak integration, displaying a range of citrus flavors and the
slightest note of spice and flint. Slightly creamy in texture, with a lip-smacking finish that leaves a vibrant
lemony impression. A terrific value.
2017 MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.6% alc., 1,595 cases, $46. Vineyard
founded by Steve MacRostie and partners Nancy and Tony Lilly in 1998. Sparse volcanic soils. Cool and
challenging, with a fog-shrouded location and exposure to strong winds off the Pacific Ocean most afternoons.
Whole cluster pressed, cold settled, barrel fermented, and aged 10 months in the same French oak barrels,
22% new. 100% MLF.
Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. A complex nose offers aromas of dried
apple, grilled lemon, wheat toast and creme caramel. Nice harmony in an mellow style that offers well-ripened
fruit flavors of lemon, pineapple and tropical fruits. Oak contributes a little nuttiness and pain grille. The wine
has a silky, gossamer finish but I would have wanted more lift from acidity.
2016 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 983 cases, $58. This
vineyard (named after Steve MacRostie’s wife) was added to the winery’s estate program in 2013. Since
acquisition, the Thale’s (Thay-Lee) Vineyard has undergone significant changes to refine the farming under the
direction of viticultural guru Allen Holstein. The vineyard is also home to the MacRostie Estate House. 100%
gently de-stemmed, open-top tank fermentation, inoculated with select yeast strain after a 3-day cold soak,
pump-overs and punch downs, aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 32% new and 20% once-used.
garnet color in the glass. The nose is both fruity (dark red cherry and berry) and savory (mushrooms on the
grill). Light to mid weight in style, with a charming core of black cherry and blueberry fruits. A gentle, demure
Pinot Noiir, with well-managed tannins and deft oak treatment. More feminine in style than most Middle Reach
Pinot Noirs and some may find the juicy finish a tad shallow but I delighted in its delicacy.
2017 Migration Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
23,000 cases, $42. Sourced from six vineyards in the
Green Valley, Russian River Valley and Petaluma Gap. A
blend of more than 80 small lots of wine that winemaker
Dana Epperson has to work with. Amazing quality and
value considering the huge production. Aged 10 months in
French oak barrels, 40% new and 60% neutral.
light garnet color in the glass. This wine was really a
pleasant surprise. Outgoing aromas of black cherry, spice and a hint of
toast lead to a gorgeous core of mid weight black cherry fruit framed by
silken tannins and infused with proper acidity. A harmonious construct
makes this wine instantly enjoyable upon opening. This wine has
everything that most consumers welcome in a Pinot Noir and
possesses amazing quality at a very high production level. Easy to find in the marketplace and on restaurant
2017 Migration Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.1% alc., $40. Aged 10 months in French oak
barrels, 35% new and 65% neutral. 75% MLF.
Light golden yellow color in the glass. Demure, but
pleasant aromas of lemon custard, pear, pineapple, butter and complimentary oak. Highly flavorful,
with tastes of lemon, white peach and nutty oak. Slightly viscous, and easy to cozy up to with
enough acidity for proper refreshment.
2016 Sanglier Cellars Emilia’s Cuvée Bennett Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.62,
115 cases, $60. Sourced from the Henry David Vineyard that the winery has farmed since 2005.
Calera and Swan clones. 100% de-stemmed, aged 19 months in French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Savory aromas of stem, dried herbs, dried rose petal and earth
combine with fruity aromas of muddled cherry. Darker fruited on the palate in a middleweight style,
featuring flavors of black cherry, boysenberry and red candy spice. Mouth filling with mid palate
persistence and a special finish of uncommon length. The velvety texture is particularly seductive.
This wine is deserving of the “Reserve” designation.
2018 Tongue Dancer Sonoma Coast Rosé of Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.19, TA 0.82, RS 0.5
g/L, 148 cases, $25. Released March 8, 2019. A saignée with juice left on the skins for two days,
fermented and aged in stainless steel. Fermented with a yeast from the Bandol region of France.
Deep pinkish-orange color in the glass. Clean aromas of cherry, cranberry, dried rose
petal and dried herbs. Adroit in the mouth with appealing flavors of red cherry, apricot and orangetinged
cranberry. Very dry, with the slightest tannins and a silky, apricot-lemon infused finish. Bring
on the pizza!
2017 Tongue Dancer Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.49,
TA 0.62, RS 1 g/L, 328 cases, $49. Released March 8, 2019. Clones
are Pommard, 777, 115, 667, 23 and a secret clone. Sourced from
Placida, Van der Kamp and Putnam vineyards. 100% de-stemmed,
fermented in small open-top tanks, 5-day cold soak, aged 16 months in
French oak barrels, 36% new.
Moderately light garnet color in the
glass. Savory aromas of underbrush and spice combine with fruity
aromas of cherry on the nose. A charming light to mid weight style,
offering elegantly composed fruit flavors of red cherry and berry with
not even a touch of oak. Nice harmony, with congruous tannins and an
uplifting cherry-driven, aromatic finish.
2017 Tongue Dancer Platt Vineyard - Irwin Lane Russian River Valley Chardonnay
13.95% alc., pH 3.38,
TA 0.62, RS 1 g/L, 96 cases, $39. Released March 8, 2019. Pratt Vineyard-Irwin Lane. Inaugural
vintage from this vineyard. Grapes are from a certified organic block farmed by Jim Pratt, one of
the most respected vineyard managers in Sonoma County. Clone 69. Whole cluster pressed to
barrel, barrel fermented with native yeast, 100% MLF, once weekly lees stirring during primary
fermentation, and aged 11 months on the lees in French oak barrels, 25% new. Bottled on July 24,
2018 unfined and lightly filtered.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. A classic Chardonnay
nose offering scents of lemon custard, white nectarine, and cozy oak with a bit of flint showing up as well.
Lovely flavors of lemon, white stone fruits and graphite. Sleek in the mouth with good brightness and appealing
modest, leaner styling. Beautifully balanced with a lemon creme finish.