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Small Sips of Russian River Valley Pinot

2007 Brogan Cellars Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $40. · Deep, richly perfumed nose featuring black raspberries and Asian spice. Satisfying cherry and berry fruit, subtly oaked and spiced, with a moderate tannic backbone. Light and silky in the mouth. Not as rich on the palate as the nose would suggest but a good drink. A Gold Medal winner at the 2008 Sonoma Harvest Fair Wine Competition.

2007 Dain Wines American Beauty Amber Ridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., $48. · Very shy aromas of black cherry and oak. Black cherry carries over on the palate with notes of cassis, framed by soft tannins and racy acidity. A bit austere now due to the acidity. Improves in the glass over time indicating this wine is quite immature. Be patient with this one.

2006 J. Keverson Labyrinth Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $30. Sourced from the Labyrinth Vineyard farmed by the Masons at EMTU Wines (see feature in this issue). · There is a tasty core of black cherry, raspberry and cassis here but the wine is dominated by oak. Too bad, because the wine has a charming elegance. A Gold Medal winner at the 2008 Sonoma Harvest Fair Wine Competition indicating the wine has fans.

2006 L’Angevin Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

15.1% alc., 400 cases, $44. After de-stemming, whole berries are placed into the fermenter without crushing, cold soaked 4 days, relatively cool fermentations, aged 14 months or until the wine reaches appropriate maturity. Unfined and unfiltered. · Restrained and neutral nose which picks up some interest in the glass offering dark cherries, currants and oak spice. A muscular wine with full-bodied darker fruits, moderately ripe mouth-coating tannins, and an echo of grapefruit in the background. This wine needs time to soften the tannins and release the full expression of the mildly jammy core of fruit.

2006 Chasseur Freestone Station Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 300 barrels, $60. A collaboration between William Hunter and the Dutton Family. · Commendable nose of red cherries, sassafras and oak evolving with time to reveal herbs and toast. Dark red fruited and delicately oaked. Brisk and refreshing with soft dry tannins and a hint of citrus and oak on the bright and polished finish. A harmonious wine of some interest.

2006 Chasseur Umino Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 400 cases, $60. A collaboration between William Hunter and David Umino. · Nicely composed and heady aromatics featuring black cherry, savory herbs and a hint of oak. A saucy and fat core of cherries and berries with bright acidity, a smooth texture, ending with a mildly disagreeable oaky and astringent aftertaste.

2005 Merry Edwards Coopersmith Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.35 alc., $54. This estate vineyard is located on the Laguna Ridge west of Sebastopol on Hwy 116. Composed of California heritage and Dijon clones. · Dark reddish-violet in color. Sage, oak, hay and cola scents are followed in the mouth by shallow dark fruits and an echo of oak smoke. Silky in texture and adequate in acidity, the wine lacks pizazz and the finish is short.

2005 Merry Edwards Klopp Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., $57. The grapes are farmed by noted winegrower Ted Klopp in a cool area featuring Goldridge sandy soils. · Darkly colored. Welcoming nose of oak-kissed black cherries, earth, tea and cola. Full-bodied and deep dark stone fruits and blueberries are well integrated with subtle oak and gentle tannins, finishing with some orange peel citric tang.

2004 Rodney Strong Reserve Jane’s Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., $34. This wine is a barrel selection from the finest blocks in Jane’s Vineyard. · Green pepper and oak overtake the core of red berry and cherry fruit. Unusually plentiful tannins for a four-year-old wine. Lacks richness and nuance. I prefer the regular Rodney Strong Estate bottling at half the price.

2004 Paul Hobbs Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., $45. · Highly unusual perfumed nose, very floral with peculiar lacquer and medicine cabinet scents. Moderately weighted redder fruits veer toward raisin. Slippery tannins and a brisk, slightly citric finish. Tasted twice with similar results.

2003 WesMar Piner Ranch Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $35. · Sturdy on the palate with a tasty core of black cherry and black raspberry fruit highlighted by sweet oak and mint. The tannins are forbidding. Match this wine currently with hearty food.

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