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Small Sips of Odds & Ends

Over the last few months I have tasted a number of Pinot Noirs that do not fit neatly into a feature category in the PinotFile. There are some gems in the list so check it out.

2006 A to Z Oregon Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $20, screw cap. This wine is from A to Z Wineworks in Newberg, Oregon, a fast growing negocient that sources and blends juice from all over Oregon. Founded by Sam Tannahill, Cheryl Francis, and Debra and Bill Hatcher. Very popular daily drinker that is widely available. Byline is “Aristocratic wines at democratic prices.” · Pleasant cherry and strawberry fruit in a straightforward style with a likeable smoky accent. Light-bodied and easy to drink, it has decent acidity and is a perfect accompaniment to an Easter ham.

2006 Malm Cellars Anderson Valley Reserve Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., $24. Wax seal. Brendan Malm grew up close to where I live here in Orange County, California and left at an early age for Sonoma to learn winemaking. Note, the label is a peculiar robin’s egg blue, but a retailer told me it really stands out on the shelf and attracts women buyers like flies. · Confected (almost too candied) strawberry, red raspberry and cotton candy scents with a touch of alcohol. Silky, noble and round with lovely strawberry flavors enhanced by spice and graham. Very fine-grain tannins and an appealing soft texture. The flavors trump the aromas.

2006 Summerland Winery Rancho Santa Rosa Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 430 cases, $36. · A nice drink that begins with a complex perfume of red cherries, barnyard and hay. Dried and tart cherry flavors with a hint of cookie dough and grass. Simple and a bit shallow on the back end, but an easy drinker.

2006 Kutch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 287 cases, $39. 60% Kanzler Vineyard and 40% La Jouls Vineyard, both located in the Green Valley sub-AVA of the Russian River Valley. 30% whole cluster. Aged 16 months on its lees. The website is www.kutchwines.com. · Bright and dark reddish-purple color. Reserved aromas of black cherry and oak char. The fruit is shy but tempting with black cherry and blackberry flavors highlighted by herbs and subtle oak. Only recently bottled, the wine is still reticent. The Kutch style is a work in progress and I like his desire to emphasize elegance, texture and power with restraint.

2006 george Vintage IV Nuptial Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., $50. · Light in color and light on the palate. Utterly seductive beginning with sexy cherry, raspberry and new oak aromas and flavors. A healthy acid backbone holds the package together nicely. Very good.

2006 Lynmar Winery Jenkins Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 460 cases, $60. From a 20-acre vineyard planted to Dijon clones 115, 667 and 777 overlooking the town of Sebastopol in the Russian River Valley. Heavy coastal fog and Goldridge soils. Second Lynmar vineyard designate wine from this vineyard. The website is www.lynmarwinery.com. Lynmar wines are world class and highly desirable. · This wine is all about red cherries, fraise de bois as well as black fruits like plums and blackberries. Restrained and delicate, it is finely spiced and beautifully constructed.

2005 Kiara Private Reserve Sylvester Vineyard Paso Robles Pinot Noir

13.5%, $25. From one of the few Pinot Noir vineyards in the Paso Robles appellation. · Charming scents of cherries, red raspberries, spices and oak. Light in weight, with simple and shallow fruit flavors and respectable acidity. An easy drinker for fans of a more elegant presentation of Pinot Noir.

2005 Athair Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 600 cases, $28. I wrote about this wine previously and praised it (PinotFile volume 6, Issue 31). This time around with the same wine I wasn’t as sold. · Attractive bottle with embossed label. Dark red-purple in color. Very nicely composed aroma profile of cherries, earth, and oak. Plenty of luscious dark fruits and spice, but encumbered by a woody aftertaste that persists despite lengthy air time. Very nice acidity for the table.

2005 Gundlach-Bundschu Rhinefarm Vineyard Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 4,900 cases, $38. Clones are Pommard 5 and Dijon 115, average vine age 16 years, yields 1.8 tons/acre. This year the winery is celebrating its 150th anniversary (1858-2008). Website: www.gunbun.com. · A middleweight with a green vegetal note in the nose. Heavily oaked fruit. Decent acidity on the slightly bitter finish.

2005 Neely “Holly’s Cuvee” Spring Ridge Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $39. Dr. Kirk Neely owns the Spring Ridge Vineyard and the wines are made by Varner. Hard to swallow for this tariff. · The nose offers shy fruit with a woody bent and some alcohol peaks out. Light-bodied and elegant with very shallow fruit and flavors of dried cherry, oak and citrus. The best I can say about this wine is that it has some finesse and a silky texture.

2005 Radio-Coteau Alberigi Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 436 cases, $50. Winemaker is Eric Sussman for this small 3,000 case label. · Oak-spiced darker fruits run through this wine which has a healthy tannic backbone. On the palate, there is quite intense and chewy fruit which is well-rounded. A touch awkward now, I have had better bottles of this wine. That said, it was still good.

2005 Red Car Amour Fou Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 273 cases $55. · Deep violet color. Black fruits, cigar box and toast in the nose and a little heat peaks out as well. Heady, concentrated and sweet black cherry fruit with forest floor and earthy accents. Very powerful wine of intriguing nuances with a charming cherry fruit note on the finish.

2005 Ken Wright Shea Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $60. · Terrific nose of brown-spiced cherries, cola and deft oak. A seamless wine which is black cherry driven, but with charming spice and earthy sidecars. This is pure pleasure and silk that is luxurious. I would look for this one every vintage.

2004 Robert Stemmler Ferguson Block Carneros Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 400 cases, $35. This wine is sourced from the oldest portion of the Donum Estate, planted in 1974 to Martini selection on St. George rootstock. Yields are .9 tons/acre. Aged 11 months in 50% new oak. · This is a wine for fans of dirt. Very earthy with a mushroom and woodsy edge. Plums, blackberries and boysenberries make up the fruit profile. A decent, but not extraordinary wine.

2003 WesMar Piner Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $35. · This one comes at you full bore the minute the cork is pulled. Sexy aromas of Bing cherry, Xmas spices, clove, exotic woods and oak char. Beautifully composed and balanced dark berry and cherry fruits that flow over the tongue like Mobil 1. An honor to drink,

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