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Small Sips of Pinot

2006 Scott Paul Cuvée Martha Pirrie Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 964 cases, $24, screw cap. This wine is named after the owner’s daughter’s nickname. It is a blended from several top vineyards in several appellations including Ribbon Ridge, Dundee Hills, Yamhill-Carlton, McMinnville and Eola-Amity Hills. · The nose is quite complex and changes frequently in the glass showing grassiness, minerality, barnyard, red fruits, spice, earth and toast. The flavors mirror the aromatics. A lighter, elegant style with brisk acidity.

2006 Landmark Vineyards Grand Detour Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., $35. Landmark is better known for its excellent Chardonnays, but they have been making this fine Pinot Noir for several years. Sourced from several Sonoma Coast vineyards including Kanzler, Keller Estate, Gap’s Crown, Flocchini and Armagh. Aged for 10 months in 33% new French oak. The winemaker is Eric Stern. · There is a noticeable oak bent to the aromas and flavors. Primarily cherry driven, this Pinot has a nice cherry kiss on the finish. There is plenty of overall finesse. It was delicious with a Sicilian pizza which tamed the oak tendencies.

2005 Joseph Faiveley Bourgogne

13% alc., $9. Imported by Wilson Daniels Ltd, St. Helena, CA. · This wine tends toward the dark side with black cherry and blackberry features throughout. A little earthy and oaky as well. The finish is noticeably tart with significant unresolved and drying tannins. I would put this away for a year or two to allow the tannins to settle down.

2005 Hayman & Hill Santa Lucia Highlands Reserve Selection No 41 Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $14. Produced by David Hayman (an Australian winemaker and senior vice president of Pacific Wine Partners) and Dennis Hill (chief winemaker for Blackstone which is part of the Pacific Wine Partners portfolio). Aged 9 months in a mixture of one- and two-year old oak barrels. · This is a light and elegant drinker with pleasing toast and forest floor in the nose and spiced cherries, cranberry and root beer on the palate. A citrus note highlights the tangy finish. Not weighty like many Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noirs. A great value and a perfect back-porch wine.

2005 Lafond Vineyards Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., 3,500 cases, $24. Lafond Winery & Vineyards is one of the Santa Rita Hills oldest wineries, established in 1972. The winery and tasting room is quite picturesque. · The aromas start out with barnyard and hay changing with time to a more mysterious composition of dark red fruits and anise. Sweet Jolly Rancher fruit dominates with cinnamon and chocolate notes. Elegant in style and readily appealing.

2005 Casa Barranca Arroyo Grande Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., 125 cases, $26. William Moses crafts his wines from purchased fruit in a century-old subterranean stone cistern , an original feature of his National Historic Landmark Casa Barranca Estate. He insists on organic farming of his grapes. · Terrific aromatics here with vibrant crushed cherries and oak spice. A light core of red cherry fruit is supplemented by herb and woodsy tastes. Good acid spine. The nose trumps the flavors but still a decent drink.

2005 Portalupi Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $38. I really liked this wine upon release but this revisit was not as special (oh, the vagaries of Pinot Noir). · Cherry and cranberry perfume leading to cherry flavors enhanced by deft oak. A decent wine which is well-made, but I can’t go ga-ga over it.

2005 Cargasacchi Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $39. Peter Cargasacchi represents the fifth generation of his family in California, but the first born in the New World. Peter Angelo Cargasacchi and wife Julia Manucla Cargasacchi farm two vineyards, Cargasacchi (Sta. Rita Hills) and Jalama (Santa Barbara). · Toasty oak aromas coat some lovely red cherry and cassis fruit. Oak and herbs carry through to the finish. Silky textured and light on its feet with lively acidity and fine-grained tannins on the finish.

2005 DuMOL Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $60. Michael Verlander and Kerry Murphy work with winemaker Andy Smith to produce a line of stellar Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. The fruit comes from top-notch vineyards in the Russian River Valley including Widdoes, Dutton, Morrelli, Sundawg Ridge, and Slusser. · An initially floral nose evolves to one of syrupy dark cherries and toast. Very pleasing focused dark cherry and berry flavors with a hint of fennel. Long on the palate, it possesses a full mouth feel and creamy texture. This wine will attract a lot of fans.

2005 Paul Hobbs Lindsay Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.8%, $85. The inaugural release from this estate vineyard by well-known winemaker Paul Hobbs. · Deep indigo in color. A brooding nose needs plenty of time to open up. Black cherry fruit and toasty oak are evident with coaxing and carry through to the finish which has an earthy bent. A big-boned wine packed with fruit trying to get out. Decant or cellar for a year or two.

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