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Tasting of Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs

I did a rather extensive tasting of Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs over the past two weeks. I purchased all of the wines or pulled them from my cellar. The 40 Pinot Noirs were all tasted blind. I did invite Eric Anderson (Grape-Nutz) to join me in tasting some of the wines (I thought it appropriate to have an Anderson involved) and our notes were closely in agreement.

Heaven Sent

2005 Drew Fog-Eater Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., 225 cases · Outrageous aromatics with bright cherries, cranberries and sandalwood notes. Luscious green tea and cherry jam on toast flavors with suede-like tannins on the persistent finish. A regal wine that is nicely balanced and complete.

2005 La Crema Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc.., $25. · This has to be one of the best Pinot Noirs crafted at this price level. The nose is pure fruit - crushed cherries, raspberries, strawberries. The red fruit flavors linger an eternity on the finish. This is a wine that feels like velvet and revels in its finesse.

2004 Littorai Savoy Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $55, 360 cases. · A beautiful wine filled with pinotosity. Spicy red fruits (cherry and raspberry) compose the aromatics, bright and clean red fruits dance on the palate, and a nice acid lift completes the finish. Perfectly balanced. I liken this one to a fine tapestry where everything is beautifully organized and composed. I re-corked and finished-off this delicious wine the next day.

2004 Londer Vineyards Estate Grown Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

15.5% alc., 432 cases, $46. · This one surprised me as I was skeptical when I looked at the octane level. Given adequate air time, the aromatics open beautifully showing dark fruits, mocha and a hint of earth. This is a rich wine with a prodigious fruit core, fine tannins, a mouth-coating finish and great legs. Teeth staining.

2004 Roessler Savoy Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc, 325 cases, $38. · A rich cherry nose with sweet oak in the background leads to spiced cherry and berry flavors. The texture is as smooth as a baby’s bottom and the tangy finish is clean and refreshing. Maybe the best wine in the entire tasting. Can you say ethereal?

2004 Woodenhead Vintners Wiley Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

15% alc., $45. · The subdued dark red fruits and subtle oak overtones in the nose are overshadowed by cinnamon-infused cherry, cola and baking spices on the palate. Despite the high alcohol, the fruit holds its own, and the whole package very enjoyable. This one grows in your mouth until you are smiling from ear to ear.

Knocking on Heaven’s Door

2005 Breggo Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $35. · A lovely floral- and cherry-driven nose with a rich, long and pure spicy palate. The tannins are dusty on the finish that ends with vitamin and herbal overtones. The balance is right on.

2005 Brogan My Father’s Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., 150 cases, $60. · This is a dark wine brimming with sweet ripe red fruits probably from whole cluster influence. It is juicy, vivid and alive with great richness of flavor. The finish is clean and sports an interesting hint of pink grapefruit. Website: www.brogancellars.com.

2004 Claudia Springs Klindt Vineyard Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., 300 cases, $24. · Appealing aromas of cherries and strawberries with plump midpalate fruit. The wine’s rich Pinot extract is clothed in moderate tannins on the clean finish.

2004 Handley Anderson Valley Reserve Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $52. · This wine is the epitome of softness, grace and elegance, what Mille refers to as “authentic Pinot.” It is red fruit driven with flavors of cherries and cranberries along with herbal notes, a touch of oak, and a little funk.

2004 Husch The Knoll Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 265 cases, $38. · This is a spirited Pinot that wows you with soft, dark fruits, a caressing texture, and sleek tannins. Plenty of style and grace.

2004 Lazy Creek Vineyards Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 640 cases. · Strawberry driven in both the nose and in the flavors, this is a fresh tasting Pinot that has some drying tannins on the finish it needs to shed. I like this wine for its purity of fruit.

2003 Harmonique ‘The Noble One’ Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., $42. · There are intoxicating and elegant arromatics of rich, ripe cherries kissed with spice and orange peel. The wine offers the essence of full-flavored red and black fruits touched with subtle oak nuances.

2004 Harmonique ‘The Noble One’ Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., $42. · This wine has a heady nose of dark raspberries and spice. The vanilla-infused cherry flavors are moderated with healthy tannins which need some time to soften.

2003 Littorai Cerise Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $60, 160 cases. · This wine needs some air time to blossom. The aromatics are rich with cassis and sweet oak. Spicy cherry flavors are sleek and the finish echoes with lively acidity. As usual with Littorai wines, the balance is spot on.

2004 Navarro Deep End Blend Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc, $45. · This is a deeply colored Pinot Noir with plenty of vigor. The nose and flavors are very pinotypical and the winemaking here is seamless. The dark, plummy fruit is saucy and lush.

2003 Roessler Blue Jay Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5%, 600 cases, $27. The area west of Philo has a large population of blue jays and the locals refer to the area as Blue Jay in Boontling. · This wine is simple and satisfying and easy to like. The attractive aromas of dark cherry, spice and toast make you want to take another sip. There is a solid dark berry core with a rich and smooth mouth feel. Great with barbecue sausage and a terrific summer go-to Pinot for daily drinking.

Wordly (Decent)

2005 Adrian Fog Savoy Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $75. · The wine has an orange tinge to the rim. The pungent nose features wet leaf and earth. The core of Pinot fruits is just fine and the texture is velvety. The finish is brisk and clean with lively acidity.

2004 Baxter Oppenlander Vineyard Mendocino Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $40. · The nose features super ripe dark cherries and herbs. The straight-forward dark cherry flavors are kissed by citrus. The finish sports fine tannins, lively acidity, a touch of astringency, and a little warmth.

2005 Black Kite Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., 289 cases, $35. · The darkest Pinot in the tasting. The nose is rich with crushed blackberries, a little game and sweet oak. This is an “in-your-face” wine which is BIG. Generous and fruity rather than classy or complex.

2004 Gryphon Larklinn Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., $45. · The nose is stunning with a bright berry onslaught. The wine is fruit-driven with dense and chewy stone fruits, but could use more acid. The finish is marked by massive tannins.

2005 Handley Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $28. · Mocha, cherry, and cinnamon aromas and flavors in a well-composed package. The finish is crisp with herbal and oak overtones.

2005 Lazy Creek Vineyards Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc.,780 cases, · Some nice floral perfume at the start with tasty dark stone fruits and a velvety texture. Oak is evident from start to finish and moderate tannins on the finish need time to integrate.

2004 Londer Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 1949 cases, $30. · A touch warm and herbal (eucalyptus) on the nose. The subtle red fruits are pleasing, the texture is soft and light, and the tannins are supple.

2001 Londer Paraboll Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

15.5% alc., $42. · A very earthy Pinot featuring wet leaf, musroom and stem on the nose. Darker fruit flavors are highlighted with barnyard and citrus notes. A Burgundian’s cup of tea.

2004 Navarro Methode l’Ancienne Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $25. · The first pour offers striking floral and redwood notes in the aromas, but with air the wine moves toward an equally appealing rich dark cherry and toast profile. Cherry, strawberry and rhubarb pie make up the core flavors which have good intensity. The tannins are supple.

2005 MacPhail Toulouse Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

396 cases, $40. · A ripe style with dry red cherries, a hint of oak, and a touch of warmth. A slight bitterness mars an otherwise satisfying finish.

2003 Toulouse Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 1625 cases, $30. · A light-bodied wine with an interesting nose of buttered cinnamon toast. The fruit is accompanied by bread dough flavors. The finish is notable for lingering vanillin oak flavors, mild drying tannins and a little heat.

Other wines sampled

2003 Arista Ferrington Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 14.2% alc., $45.

2004 Baxter Toulouse Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 14.3% alc., $40.

2003 Bink Weir Vineyard Yorkville Highlands Pinot Noir 16.2% alc., 200 cases, $40.

2003 Claudia Springs Klindt Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 14.7% alc., 471 cases, $24.

2002 Demuth Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir (corked - the wine had some interesting root beer, dark beer and cassis flavors. but the nose was unpleasant)

2004 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir (? flawed bottle) 14.5% alc., $55.

2005 Husch Anderson Valley Pinot Noir (corked) 13.9% alc., $17.

2004 Jeriko Mendocino Organic Grapes Pinot Noir 14.3% alc., $20.

2005 MacPhail Ferrington Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 321 cases, $48.

2003 MacPhail Toulous Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 14.5% alc., 312 cases, $35.

2005 Migration Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 14.5% alc., $30.

Wineries in this Article
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