Small Sips of Pinot
2007 Kendric Vineyards Marin County Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 368
cases, $34. Fourth vintage.
Moderately in color. Lovely perfume of
earth-dusted cherries, lavender and pear. Delicious cherry fruit with
a sidecar of sandalwood, oak and root beer. Medium-bodied with
suede tannins and understated acidity. This wine has pinotosity.
Less acidity than the 2006 vintage version with more cajones and the
best yet from this small producer. Definitely worth a look. Very good.
2006 Soquel Vineyards Partner’s Reserve Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $20. A small winery with a low profile that
sells most of its wine to locals. A partnership between Peter and
Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan. The wines tend to be full-bodied in a
bolder style. The 2007 vintage wines won several Gold Medals at
the 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
aromas but appealing ripe black cherry and raspberry scents
complimented by savory oak. Fully ripe core of stone fruits and black currants.
A moderately rich and intense fruit-driven wine with supple tannins. Not a
bashful wine but drinks easy. Very good. Other wines available on the website
at www.soquelvineyards.com (this wine available from klwines.com).
2008 Castalia Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $50. So your not on the coveted Rochioli mailing list and you
want some Rochioli wine. Look no further. Terry Bering, the long time
Cellar Master at Rochioli, crafts superb Pinot Noirs from Rochioli fruit that
you can actually buy. I have raved about the last few vintages in past
issues. This is a no-brainer my friend.
The nose entices with fresh
aromas of cherries and berries with a hint of brier patch and baking spice.
Moderate in weight, this wine flaunts a delicious core of redder fruits with
underpinnings of bread crust and spice. Flawless and harmonious, this silky
beauty really shows off its breeding. A sophisticated wine with a top hat
2007 De La Montanya Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 74 cases, $50. Aged in 50%
new French oak.
Penetrating and vibrant aromas of Bing cherries, summer herbs and oak. Flavorful and
mouth coating cherry essence with reserved tannins and noticeable persistence on the fruity finish. Still
sporting plenty of oak which shows up on the finish over time. Good, but over oaked for me.
2007 Cherry Pie Huckleberry Snodgrass Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $50. Great label! The winemaker behind Hundred Acre and
Layer Cake, Jayson Woodbridge, has joined the crusade for the perfect Pinot
Noir. Also available is a Stanly Ranch Pinot Noir.
Beautifully scented black
raspberry, Bing cherry fruit augmented with oak and spice. Juicy and succulent
red cherries fill the mid palate leading to a dry and lingering finish highlighted by
subtle oak char. The tannins are fine-grained and the overall impression is
seductive. Very good.
2007 32 Winds Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $36. A new wine
company created by Jim Chaffin, Jim Light and David Wilhelm, partners in the
Roaring Fork Club and Sonoma County’s Mayacama Club. The CEO of 32
Winds Wine is Steve Humble, director of wine for Colordao’s Roaring Fork
Club. A blend of 70% Hirsch and 30% Keefer Ranch fruit. The winemaker is
Ehren Jordan (Failla).
Shy aromas require plenty of swirling to bring the
blueberry and cherry fruit out from under the cloak of oak and pine. Darker,
savory stone fruits and berries with the emphasis on savory. Supple tannins
surround the fruit. Decent without being special.
2008 Melville Estate Verna’s Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Fruity and
confected nose of red cherries, hard candy, and lavender. Pleasing
dried cherry, strawberry and cranberry fruits smoothly textured with a
short finish. Moderately light and simple with bright acidity on the
2007 W.H. Smith Maritime Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $44.
Herbal oak dominates the aromas
and carries over in the flavor profile background. Medium weighted dark red fruits with a wild and feral
character backed by savory herbs. Smooth in the mouth. Good without being special.
2007 Etude Estate Grown Carneros Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., $30.
Nuanced aromatic profile
showing baked plum, toasty bread, leather jacket and a little smoke. Typical Carneros flavor profile
of dark stone fruits, cassis and earth. Decent intensity, and soft and smooth on the palate. The
wine grows on you a bit over time in the glass, and I had no complaints, but no superlatives either.
2008 Eric Kent Wine Cellars Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., $35. The artist,
Mike Shine, is on the label.
Aromas of cherries, anise, spice, eucalyptus and
oak with a hint of alcohol. The nose is quite funky initially but responds to air
and swirling. Tasty light flavors of Bing cherries and strawberries with a sidecar
of baking spices and red hard candy. Fruit flavors veer to the ripe side,
persisting on the fruity finish. Good.
2008 Mark West California Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., pH 3.76. $10.
51% Central Coast, 27% North Coast, 22% other. Fermented in
small tanks with daily punch downs, pressed lightly and aged in
100% French oak (medium and heavy toast) for 8 months. Alex
Cose is the winemaker produceing this singular wine which has
received accolades for consistency and reliability in the under $20
category for the last several years.
Moderately deep color. A fruity
nose that draws interest initially with notes of black cherries, berries and spice.
Over time the wine shed some of its fruity charm, revealing aromas of mint and
pine pitch. An easy drinking wine sporting composite flavors of black cherries,
strawberries and boysenberries with some oak influence, a slight green note, and soft fine-grain tannins. On
the lighter side and rather simple, but true to the varietal. Not a connoisseurs wine, but works as a daily
2008 Loos Family Bohemian Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 25 cases, $40. Clones 115, 667 and 777. Aged in 50% new and
50% neutral French oak. The winemaker is Chris Nelson.
cranberries, cherries, herbs and allspice becoming a little minty over time.
Darker fruits clothed in dusty tannins. Notes of underbrush and savory herbs
add interest. Very smooth and creamy on the palate. Goes down easy. Good.
2007 Kingston Family Vineyards Alazan Casablanca Valley Chile Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $30. Carl John Kingston came to
Chile in the early 1900s looking for gold and five generations later,
his decedents still farm family vineyards in the Casablanca Valley.
The name, Alazan, is inspired by a favorite family horse from years
past. The consulting winemaker is Byron Kosuge.
Deeply colored in
the glass. The nose is somewhat strange offering no fruit but plenty
of smoke, cigar, and oiled wood aromas. The palate is a different story all
together. Luscious core of blue and black berry fruit with smoke and grilled
meat in the background. Nicely proportioned tannins and acidity with a satiny
texture and a pleasing riff of citrus on the clean finish. Love the taste of this
wine and worth a look for its uniqueness. Very good.
The Robert Stemmler Pinot Noirs reviewed below are newly released. The winegrower is Anne Moller-Racke
of The Donum Estate and the winemaker is Kenneth Juhasz. These are solid, well-crafted Pinot Noirs you can
put on the dinner table and be proud of.
2007 Robert Stemmler Estate Grown Carneros Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH
3.70, 3,500 cases, $36. The label is inspired by Le Vendange, a 14th century
tapestry displayed in the Cluny Museum in France. Represents every part of the
Donum Ranch including Dijon, Martini, Roederer, Calera, Hanzell and Swan
selections planted in 1989-1990. 100% de-stemmed, native fermentation and
Burgundian yeast isolate inoculation. Aged in 40% new French oak. Lovely
aromas of red fruits, lemon cola, cherry cobbler and mint.
with a note of chocolate-filled brioche. On the light side with a good spark of
acidity on the short finish. Good.
2007 Robert Stemmler Nugent Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.65, 1,100
cases, $40. 11-acre tightly spaced vineyard planted in 1997 to Dijon clones 115 and 667. 100% de-stemmed.
Aged 11 months in 45% new French oak.
The nose is filled with very ripe cherry fruits complimented by
Provencal herbs and oak. The black cherry and plum core falls just short of overripeness. A hint of oak, tea
and fig adds interest. Nicely crafted and silky textured with a satisfying finish. Good.
2007 Robert Stemmler Ferguson Block Carneros Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH
3.52, $44. From the oldest portion of the Donum Estate planted in 1974 to
Martini selection on St. George rootstock. Yields are one tone per acre. 100%
de-stemmed, native fermentation and Burgundian yeast isolate inoculation. Aged
11 months in 35% new, tight-grain French oak.
Distinctive aromas of cassis,
rose petals, green bean, tar and compost bin. Rustic and earthy with a heart of
black currants and creme de cassis. Silky smooth with balancing tannins and
bright acidity on the finish. Takes on more charm with time in the glass but
remains a man’s wine. Good.