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Small Sips of Pinot

Here are some notes on Pinot Noirs I have enjoyed sampling recently.

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

13.5% alc., $17. David Hayman (Sr. Vice-President, Blackstone Winery) and Dan Hill (Chief Winemaker, Blackstone Winery) share the winemaking duties for this label which features several different varietals. · Shy but pleasant aromas of forest floor and oak toast. Light and elegant, the flavors of cherry, cranberry, root beer and spice lead to a tangy finish with a citrus note. Much more elegance and less alcohol than many Pinot Noirs from the Santa Lucia Highlands. At this price, no complaints and a good back porch Pinot. Distributed in retail stores.

2005 Kendric Vineyards Marin County Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 160 cases, $30. Winegrower Stewart Johnson (pictured) farms an 8,5 acre Pinot Noir vineyard in northern Marin County and a Syrah vineyard in the Sierra Foothills. 2004 was the first harvest for the Pinot Noir vineyard, leased from the Corda family. Seven clones are planted. Total production of both wines is 600 cases. Some Pinot Noir fruit is sold to Miller Wine Works in Napa. · A very likeable aromatic profile with spice, notably nutmeg, toast and red berries. Light and satiny in texture, the woodsy and herbal accented cherry fruit is shy but pleasing. Kendric Vineyards wines may be ordered on the website.

2005 Verve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 325 cases, $30. Proprietor Jerome Aubin is a barrel broker based in the Bay Area of California who imports barrels from Rousseau in Burgundy, Saint-Martin in Bordeaux, and Balazs in Hungary. In 2001 he started his own label with the assistance of winemaker Fred Scherrer who made the wines from 2001 until 2004. This vintage was made in Oakland by winemaker Loren Tayerle. The word “verve” refers to energy or vitality in expression of artistic ideas. Each label features the work of a special artist. This bottle displays the creation of Gerard Schneider of France. The grapes for this wine include an interesting combination of Swan, Beringer, Jackson and Dijon 115 clones. · Pure red fruit nose with Asian five spice, pepper and a little floral accent. Flavors of confected red fruits are light and simple. There is no intrusion of oak. The texture is soft and welcoming. Easily approachable and quite decent. Aubin Cellars is located at 6050 Colton Blvd., Oakland, CA 94611. 510-339-1070. There are Pinot Noirs available from other California appellations and the Willamette Valley of Oregon as well. Good retail distribution in California and the wine may be ordered on the informative website.

2005 Twin Oaks Cellars Amber Ridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $42. Young winemaker, Mark Weiner, learned his trade from Ed Kurtzman, Bill Brosseau, Brian Loring and Adam Lee. This first vintage was produced at Crush Pad in San Francisco. The clones include the three most popular Dijon varieties, 115, 667 and 777. · Bing cherry, strawberry, toast and Asian spice dominant the appealing aromatics. Red fruit driven, there is a touch of oak and pencil lead on the lively and slightly hot finish. Soft and smooth. A 2006 Amber Ridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and a 2006 Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir are available also. The wines are distributed in fine retail wine stores and may be order from the website.

2005 DuMOL Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $60. This established producer has a stellar lineup of wines including Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay and Viognier. Owners Michael Verlander and Kerry Murphy tend to lead a low profile with very minimal public exposure and let their wines speak for themselves. The winemaker and viticulturist is talented Andy Smith. In addition to the Russian River Valley bottling, there are three special Pinot Noirs called “aiden,” “ryan,” and “finn” each of which contain fruit from a different combination of Russian River and Green Valley vineyards. · This is something special from start to finish. A perfume of violets and lavender gives way in the glass to syrupy dark cherry and toast. Nicely focused flavors of rich dark cherries and berries with a deft hint of oak and fennel. Creamy in texture with a full mouth feel, this wine will find many fans. There is some retail (ie Brown Derby in Missouri, www.brownderby.com) and restaurant distribution, but most of the wine is sold through a mailing list to Pre-release Members. 925-254-8922.

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