More Recently Tasted California Pinot Noir & Chardonnay
Calera, Mt. Harlan
Calera is one of California’s iconic Pinot Noir focused wineries, offering consistency of style each vintage from
its own estate vineyards. Winemaker Mike Waller has been at the helm for more than a decade ensuring that
consistency. The estate vineyard complex in Mt. Harlan has a high elevation, marine climate and limestone-rich
soils and is unlike any other place in California. Founded in 1975 by Josh Jensen in the remote Gavilan
Mountains, today’s 85 certified organic acres spread across six small Pinot Noir vineyards, along with plantings
of Chardonnay and Viognier. The winery is now part of the Duckhorn portfolio. Visit www.CaleraWine.com.
2016 Calera de Villiers Vineyard Mt. Harlan Pinot Noir
13.95% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.67, 1,220 cases, $65.
15.6 acres planted in limestone soil at 2,200 feet in 1996. 1,290 vines per acre, yield 1.09 tons per acre. Calera
selection. Harvest Brix 24.0º. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels, 30% new, 20% second vintage and 50%
Moderate garnet color in the glass. A complex nose offers scents of black cherry, fertile earth and
mushroom. Mid weight flavors of earth-kissed purple and black fruits are charming and infused with only a hint
of oak-driven notes of dark chocolate and vanilla. Silky in the mouth, with a good cut of acidity and a satisfying,
slightly drying finish. More fruity and revealing when tasted the following day from a previously opened and recorked
bottle. Always the boldest and most tannic of the vineyard-designated bottlings.
2016 Calera Reed Vineyard Mt. Harlan Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.63, 375 cases, $75.
5.94 acres planted at 2,200 feet in limestone soils in 1975. 726 vines per acre, yield 1.0 tons per
acre. Calera selection. Harvest Brix 25.4º. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels, 30% new, 20%
second vintage and 50% neutral.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromatically pleasing,
with scents of fresh, dark cherry and boysenberry, spice and modest toasty oak. Dark red cherry
and purple berry fruits are featured in this mid weight styled wine that is sleek in the mouth and
finishes long with waves of sweet strawberry and boysenberry fruit. The wine is exquisitely
balanced with tannins that are more reserved than the de Villiers bottling. Much more engaging when tasted
the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. A superb wine.
2016 Calera Jensen Vineyard Mt. Harlan Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., pH 3.69, TA 0.63, 1,000 cases, $95. 13.6 acres
planted in limestone soils in 1975 at 2,200 feet elevation.
726 vines per acre yield 0.9 tons per acre. Calera
selection. Harvest Brix 24.5º. Aged 17 months in French
oak barrels, 30% new, 20% second vintage and 50%
Moderately light garnet color in the glass.
Engaging aromas of plum, blackest cherry, and sous bois.
Gracious in the mouth, with a mid weight core of black cherry and black
raspberry fruits with deft oak dressing. Firm, but not intrusive tannins
and noticeable cut on the the finish that goes on and on. There are
several features of this wine that make it special including the seductive
texture, the energy imparted by good natural acidity, the purity of fruit
flavor, the subtle savory thread, and the extremely long, grand cru finish. Much more appealing when sampled
the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. An exceptional wine.
2017 Calera Mt. Harlan Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.29, TA 0.66, 1,900 cases, $50. 9.4 acres of ownrooted
vines first planted in limestone in 1984 along with a 1998 newer block. Calera selection, some vines
own-rooted. Yield 2.7 tons per acre. Harvest Brix 24.5º.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Inviting
aromas of white peach, lemon curd, spice and arrowroot. Soft and gracious in the mouth with flavors of yellow
stone fruits, apple, and pineapple. There is some appealing chalkiness with a trace of tannins showing up on
the dry finish.
Minus Tide, Anderson Valley
Minus Tide was founded by Senior Account Executive Miriam Pitt at JAM PR, in collaboration with her fiancé,
co-winemaker Brad Jonas, and their best friend, co-winemaker Kyle Jeffrey - all of whom met while studying at
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. All three are passionate students of wine. Kyle is currently the winemaker for
Campovida in Hopland and consulting winemaker for Bluxome Street Winery in San Francisco. Brad has made
wines in California, New Zealand and Australia and has over 12 harvests under his belt. He is the assistant
winemaker for Toulouse Vineyards.
The winery’s name, Minus Tide, comes from the very low tides that expose hidden gems of the sea, and to
evoke the feeling of the Mendocino Coast.
Minus Tide focuses on cool-climate wines from sustainable and organic vineyards of Mendocino County. The
2017 Mariah Vineyard Chardonnay is the winery’s debut Chardonnay. The vineyard, located in the wind-swept
Mendocino Ridge at an elevation of 2,600 feet, is one of only 18 vineyards in the AVA.
The winery’s mentors have included winemaker Michael Fay (formerly of Goldeneye and now of Domaine
Serene), winemaker Web Marquez (of Anthill Farms), and Vern and Maxine Boltz, who owns Toulouse
Vineyards and let Minus Tide craft their wines there.
The lineup of varietals includes Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Carignan, Malbec and Syrah. The wines are meant to
be drunk with food and therefore tend to be high in acid and low in alcohol.
For more information, visit www.minustidewines.com. The wine is sold online through the winery’s website
2017 Minus Tide Mariah Vineyard Mendocino Ridge Chardonnay
13.4% alc., pH 3.30, TA 0.58, 125 cases,
$36. Whole cluster pressed. Native yeast barrel
fermentation in neutral French oak puncheons for 13
months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
golden yellow color in the glass. Alluring scent of apple
pastry, lemon butter, pineapple and flint. Bright and lively in
the mouth, blessed with sound acidity and showing no distracting oak
overlay. Flavors of lemon-lime, green apple, pear, a hint of pineapple
and a saline note are immensely satisfying. The finish is clean and
refreshing. The winemakers have done a commendable job of
balancing acidic verve with enough fruit richness.
Martellotto Winery, Buellton
Martellotto Winery focuses on Bordeaux varietals from the Happy Canyon AVA of Santa Barbara. That said,
Greg Martellotto ’s nearly two decades in the wine business has given him the tools to utilize modern blending
and fermenting techniques to craft Pinot Noir as well. The consultant winemaker is veteran Mike Roth, an
authority in the fields of biodynamics and natural winemaking.
The Martellotto label was designed by Professor John Langdon who is famous for creating Ambigrams and
inspiring Dan Brown to incorporate his graphics in the books and movie around The DaVinci Code. Langdon
has only designed one label and that is for Martellotto Winery. The label features a spiritual totem, symmetrical
For wine availability and more information, visit www.martellotto.com.
Greg also owns Big Hammer Wines, a top California wine retailer. Visit www.bighammerwines.com.
2017 Martellotto Le Bon Temps Roule Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 500 cases, $35. Sourced from the
new and organic Spear Vineyard that is located between
Sea Smoke and Foley and across Hwy 246 from Dierberg.
66% Pommard, 20% 115, 14% Wädenswil 2A. Aged 12
months in French oak barrels. Aged 11 months in French
oak barrels, 10% new.
Light ruby red color in the glass.
Aromas of red cherry and red raspberry combine with pipe smoke and
baking spice aromas to draw you into the glass. Fresh and juicy with a
dark red fruit character in a mid weight style. Elegantly composed, with
good harmony and the slightest hint of friendly oak. My cup of tea.
Tolosa, San Luis Obispo
The winery’s home vineyard, Edna Ranch, is located a mere 5 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The northwest to
the southeast orientation of the transverse Edna Valley allows fog and prevailing winds to funnel into the valley and
vineyards from Morro Bay. A myriad of soil types includes volcanic remnants, calcium-rich sediments from
deposits of tiny shells, and limestone. More information is available at www.tolosawinery.com.
Although these three Pinot Noir wines are vinified with modest amounts of new oak, they all show significant
oak embellishment, even when tasted from a previously opened bottle 24 hours after opening. Some readers
will find this perfectly acceptable and even desirable.
2017 Tolosa 1772 Edna Ranch Edna Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., 902 cases, $68. Released November 5,
2018. A blend of five clones of Pinot Noir from five blocks of Edna Ranch Estate Vineyard. Aged 9 months in
French oak barrels, 30% new.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, sandalwood and
espresso lead to a charming middleweight offering with a tasty core of vivid cherry and raspberry fruits, baking
spices and tobacco. Silky in the mouth, with gracious tannins and a very long cherry-fueled finish. Better oak
integration and more enjoyment when tasted from a bottle a day after opening.
2017 Tolosa Hollister Edna Ranch Edna Valley Pinot Noir
alc., $125. Black label. Released November 5, 2018. Composed
primarily from the Hollister portion of Edna Ranch planted to clone
“828”. Aged 9 months in French oak barrels, 25% new.
garnet color in the glass. Aromas of black fruit reduction, spice, dark
chocolate and fertile earth. Mid weight plus in style, offering rich flavors
of black cherry and blackberry with oak embellishment. A masculine
wine that is deeper and darker flavored than the 1772 bottling with a
bigger tannic backbone. Silken in texture, with nice harmony including
alcohol integration, and a noticeable long and fruity finish. A good steak
wine that would benefit from decanting.
2017 Tolosa Primera Edna Ranch Edna Valley Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., $140. Heavy bottle, wax closure,
metal badge. Released November 5, 2018. A blend of the best of the best. The best of up too 100 small lots
from Edna Ranch are chosen. Aged 9 months in French oak barrels, 25% new.
Moderately light garnet color in
the glass. The nose opens slowly to release heady aromas of cherry, dark rose petal, underbrush, toast and
burnt tobacco. A cherry-fueled mid weighted wine with a noticeable imprint of oak. The tannins are sleek, the
mouthfeel is silky and the wine is quite approachable. This wine is a more feminine offering with redder fruit
and a pleasing, but not persistent finish. Unchanged when tasted a day after opening.
More Enticing Wines
2018 1849 Wine Company Au Jus Monterey County Chardonnay
13.5% alc., pH 3.62, $24.99. Aged 6 months in
French oak barrels.
Light golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of confected lemon, vanilla and dried herbs.
Better on the palate, with flavors of lemon, yellow apple, spice and a subtle herbaceous thread. A lighter, rather austere style that is soft and creamy in texture and has appealing gentleness, but I wanted more acid verve.
2018 Cuvaison Napa Valley Los Carneros Pinot Noir Rosé
13.5% alc., pH 3.40, TA 0.66, $30.
Estate grown, certified sustainable. Grapes grown specifically for Rosé and harvested earlier at
lower Brix. Fermented in stainless steel, aged 5 months on the lees in stainless steel. No MLF.
Light pinkish orange color in the glass. Aromas of macerated strawberries, white peach, blood
orange and vanilla. Elegant and charming, with a silky texture and fresh flavors of red raspberry,
strawberry and apricot. Completely dry, with some finish. A wine of relaxation and cheer.
2017 Duckhorn Napa Valley Chardonnay
14.1% alc., 37,700 cases, $36. Barrel fermented with lees stirring.
Light golden yellow color in the glass. Aromatically fine, offering scents of lemon, pineapple, honey, spice and
vanilla wafer. Straightforward flavors of lemon, grapefruit, honey and vanilla. Slightly creamy with redeeming
balance. A reliable everyday drinker.
2018 Etude Santa Barbara County Rosé
13.2% alc., pH 3.15, TA 0.675,10,800 cases, $22, screw cap.
Primarily Pinot Noir from the estate North Canyon Vineyard in the Sana Maria Valley. Dijon 115, 667, 777 and
113. Grapes grown specifically for Rosé. Fermentation in stainless steel fermenters, no MLF.
color in the glass. Fresh aromas of strawberry, peach and white flower blossoms. Crisp and bright, with flavors
of strawberry, orange flower water, edible flower and dried herbs. The finish is satisfying and quenching,
featuring orange and lemon pith.
2018 Etude Grace Benoist Ranch Carneros Pinot Noir Rosé
13.5% alc., pH 2.19, TA 0.69, RS 0.6 g/L, 798 cases,
$34. Estate grown. Martini, Pommard and 115 clones.
Grapes picked and vinified specifically for this bottling.
Fermented in older French oak barrels, then aged on the
lees for four months with no MLF.
Moderately light pink
color in the glass. Fresh aromas of cherry, strawberry,
watermelon and pastry creme. More body and intensity than the Santa
Barbara Rosé offering, bringing a cordial flavor profile of yellow
nectarine, blood orange and Rainier cherry. A noticeably long finish,
rare for Rosés, features yellow peach. This is always a fine example of
the varietal and a long-time featured wine of this winery.
2017 FEL Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $38. Sourced from the estate Savoy Vineyard
as well as Ferrington and Donnelly Creek vineyards. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 36%
Light ruby red color in the glass. Heady aromas of dark red cherry and berry and cardamom
spice. Light to mid weight styled with a gloriously fresh cherry core. A very friendly wine, with dog’s
paw tannins, a compliment of oak and a juicy finish. An excellent everyday wine.
2016 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 28,000 cases, $58. Primarily estate vineyard fruit.
Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 60% new, 20% second vintage and 20% neutral.
garnet color in the glass. Deep, dark cherry, blueberry-pomegranate and spicy oak aromas. Light to mid weight
in style with heady flavors of black raspberry, blackberry and spice with a toasty oak frame. Forward drinking,
with modest tannins. The most accessible wine in the 2016 Goldeneye lineup.
2016 Goldeneye Gowan Creek Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 1,350 cases, $86.
Vineyard planted in 2000. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 60% new, 20% second vintage and 20%
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Brooding aromas of cherry, ripe strawberry, wine cave, anise, char
and vanilla. A hardy wine with good vibrancy and expressive dark fruits. The tannic backbone is sturdy
revealing some astringency on the finish. Silky in the mouth, finishing with generous blackberry and
pomegranate fruits and the slightest hint of alcoholic warmth.
2016 Goldeneye Confluence Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 521 cases, $86. Vineyard
planted in 1996. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 60% new, 20% second vintage, 20% neutral.
garnet color in the glass. Good aromatic expression of blackberry jam, graham, underbrush and piquant herbs.
A full-bodied wine with a deep well of fruit yet with balancing tannins and acidity, offering flavors of blueberry,
blackberry and cassis. Fruit-driven, with integrated tannins and inconspicuous oak.
2016 Goldeneye Split Rail Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 360 cases, $86. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels,
60% new, 20% second vintage, 20% neutral.
Moderately dark garnet
color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with vivacious aromas of black
cherry and friendly oak. Welcome charm in this mid weight plus offering
that offers a suave texture that satisfies. The black fruits are well
ripened, accented with oak spice and framed by modest tannins. The
wine has satisfying vibrancy that shows up on the juicy finish. There is
slight alcoholic warmth on the finish.
2016 Goldeneye The Narrows Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 462 cases, $86. Vineyard
planted in the :deep end” of the Anderson Valley with vines dating to 1991. Aged 16 months in French oak
barrels, 60% new, 20% second vintage, 20% neutral.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The nose is
medicinal and woody with shy fruit aromas. Lighter in weight in comparison to other wines in the 2016 lineup,
featuring flavors of dark red fruits and tobacco. The wine seems flat with a modest finish. This bottle could be
corked so I reserve judgment (no second bottle available).
2016 Goldeneye Ten Degrees Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 1,156 cases, $125. The winery’s
finest lots and considered the “pinnacle of the winemaking portfolio.” Aged in 100% new French oak barrels.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of blackest cherry, blackberry and pain grille emerge slowly
over time in the glass. This wine has a strong physique, with loads of black raspberry and blackberry fruit
tangling with muscular tannins. A big boy wine that comes at you with intent. Still compact and unyielding, with
a generous infusion of oak. The finish is mildly astringent and this wine will need more time in bottle to meld the
tannins and integrate the oak. A wine for the cellar.
2016 J. Lohr Highlands Ranch Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.8% alc. pH 3.76, TA 0.56, 585 cases,
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of dark red and black wild berry mash, biscuit and
char. A very ripe array of purple and black berry fruits are composed in a mid weight plus style that has
noticeable sweetness. There is enough acidity and tannins to balance the hedonistic fruits and the alcohol is
submerged, but toasty oak chimes in. Too much sweet fruitiness and not enough acidic verve for my taste.
2017 J. Lohr Fog’s Reach Arroyo Seco Monterey Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.57, RS 0.10 g/100
ml, 1,173 cases, $35. Clones 115 and 777. Harvest Brix 26.7º. Aged 8 months in French oak barrels, 60% new.
Dark garnet color in the glass. Brooding aromas of blackberry and cigar oak. A full-bodied flood of oak infused
blue and black fruits greets the palate. A huge wine, yet maintains some balance. Lacks classic Pinot Noir
character which is subjugated to the sheer volume and ripeness of fruit as well as aggressive oak. The wine
tastes good, but this is a Pinot Noir for Cabernet fans.
2017 Joseph Jewell Eel River Valley Mendocino County Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., pH 3.62, TA
0.61, 125 cases, $36. Sourced from organically farmed Elk Prairie Vineyard (Martini, Pommard
and 115 clones) and Alderpoint Vineyard (Martini clone). Harvest Brix 23.5º-24.4º. 100% destemmed,
aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 33% new.
Moderate garnet color in the glass.
Dark red cherry and berry and spice are featured in the nose and on the palate in a middleweight
style. The wine has a charming personality, is easily accessible and displays superb barrel
2016 Nelson Hill Deep End Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $44. Clones 114, 115, 777
and Pommard. Estate grown.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, sous-bois, and
rose petal. A charge of black cherry fruit and spice greets the palate. Nicely composed with gracious tannins,
finishing with black raspberry goodness and a hint of alcoholic warmth.
2017 Sanglier Tusque Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.62, 444 cases,
$36. Clones 667, 777, 115, “828”, Pommard and Swan. 100% de-stemmed. Aged 10 months in
French oak barrels, 20% new.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of cherry tart and
toasty oak. Richly flavored with black cherry fruit framed by modest tannins. The texture is quite
sensual, there is less oak input on the palate, and the finish is modest but pleasing.
2014 Sea Smoke Sea Spray Sea Smoke Estate Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Sparkling Wine
12.01% alc., pH
3.09, TA 0.75, $80. Released October 2018. A no dosage méthode champenoise blanc de noirs from Pinot
Noir grapes. Sur lie aging in neutral French oak barrels for 12 months, then extended bottle aging for 24
months prior to disgorging, with 10 months under cork prior to release.
Moderate golden yellow color in the
glass. Complex nose offering aromas of pear, pineapple, apple, hay, yeast and pistachio. Completely dry with
an excellent mousse, offering flavors of quince, pear, white peach, green apple and roasted nuts. This
excellent wine is “sparkling” with excellent energy along with some finishing generosity and edgy cut.