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Saxon Brown Winery

Saxon Brown Wines has been around for ten years now. Owner Jeff Gaffner (yes almost the same last name as mine) made 210 cases the first year after leaving Chateau St. Jean where he spent 15 years. Saxon Brown is now thriving, and Jeff has to laugh about the old days. Besides Pinot Noir, he makes a Semillon (from Alexander Valley) several Syrahs (from Sonoma Valley) and Zinfandels (from Sonoma Valley). I had a Saxon Brown Pinot Noir in the late 1990s that I thought was terrific and have kept the winery in my radar ever since. The latest releases are the 2005 Durell Vineyard Hayfield Block Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir ($48) and the 2005 Parmelee-Hill Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir ($38). The two vineyards are very close together and planted at the same time with the same clones and rootstocks, yet the sites and wines have their own personality.

2005 Saxon Brown Durell Vineyard Hayfield Block Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 99 cases, $48. Winemaking is traditional with a three day cold soak, slow fermentation, pressed to barrel after 14 days, racked off of the lees after malolactic fermentation, and returned back to the same barrels for 10 months of additional aging. · There is noticeable oak in the nose and on the finish upon opening, but with air time, the oak merges into the background. Aromas of spicy Bing cherry remind me of good Russian River Valley Pinots. This is a very tasty styled wine with plenty of sweet cherry liquor, tea and soy. The texture is soft as a down pillow. The whole package finishes with a cherry kiss.

Saxon Brown Winery address is PO Box 1832, Sonoma, CA 95476. The phone is 707-939-9530 and the website is www.saxonbrown.com.

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