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.
Knocking on Heaven’s Door
2005 Drew Fog-Eater Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., 225 cases
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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:
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
2003 Littorai Cerise Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $60, 160 cases.
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.
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.
Other wines sampled
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.
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
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.
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.
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.