2008 Esoterica by Kent Rasmussen Carneros Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $17.
Moderately dark reddish-purple
in the glass. Ripe to overripe dark fruits on the nose with tones of earth, sap and red hard candy. Moderately
rich and savory on the palate with a generous offering of earth-kissed plum and black currant fruit with a slight
roasted and herbal quality. Very soft in the mouth and easy to drink. Good.
2008 Cep Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $24. A second label from Peay Vineyards.
Initially the nose
is attractive with aromas of fresh berries, but as the wine sits in the glass, a subtle smokiness comes out. The
medium-weighted core of berry fruit has underpinnings of tar and ash. Silky smooth and tries to please, but the
smoke affectation detracts. Good (-)
2008 Gary Farrell Carneros Selection Chardonnay
14.1% alc., pH 3.41, 933 cases, $32. Released
February 2010. Sourced from unique blocks at Ramal Vineyard. Barrel fermented in 33% new French oak
barrels for 7 months.
Clear and straw colored in the glass. Austere aromas of lemon juice and fresh cut grass.
Well-endowed with moderately rich flavors of canned peaches, honeydew and roasted nuts which linger on the
finish. Nothing out of place. Good.
2008 Navarro Vineyards Deep End Blend Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $38 (futures price).
Moderately dark ruby color in the glass. Nice fruity aromas of plums and blackberry jam with a hint of herbal
oak and smoke. Tasty darker fruit core with a tarry, smoky, ash edge. Nicely crafted with lively acidity and
some grape tannins to shed. One of the better smoke affected 08s from Anderson Valley. Decent. Note:
Navarro made the welcome gesture of sending out a bottle of this wine free to all buyers of previous vintages
(including myself) to allow them to evaluate it and decide if they wanted to buy the wine despite the vintage
2008 Cloud’s Rest “Femme Fatale” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
$40. Estate grown.
Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. The
nose is tres Pinot with fresh black cherry and dark berry aromas. Generous dark
red cherry and berry fruit with a lovely spice accent. The fruit really brings the
palate to attention and persists on the finish. Bright acidity adds to the
drinkability. This wine will find wide appeal. Very good (+).
2008 Guarachi Family Wines Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., $40.
One of the heaviest bottles I have ever lifted!
Moderately dark garnet color.
Alluring perfume of spiced fresh berries with a minty garnish. Tasty and smooth
in the mouth with plenty of dark cherry and berry intensity and a touch of cola, all
wrapped in modest sinewy tannins. The wine’s sensual texture speaks Pinot.
2008 Gary Farrell Carneros Selection Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.50, 932
cases, $45. Released April 2010. Sourced from Ramal Vineyard in Carneros.
Aged in 44% new French oak barrels for 9 months. Clones 667, Pommard 5,
828, 115, Swan.
Needs time in the glass to unfold, revealing attractive scents of
black cherries and blackberries with a well mannered touch of smoky oak.
Earthy, herbal and flush with dark berry fruits, this silky wine aims to please with
a seamless backbone of restrained tannins and a proper grip of acid.
2008 Peay Pomarium Estate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $53. The
name refers to “apple orchard” and is pronounced “po-mare-ee-um,” as a nod to
the days when the hill where the vineyard sits was planted to apples.
reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely composed aromatics with plenty of
fresh cherries and mixed berries accented by forest floor and mountain air.
Hearty and fairly bold attack of berry and black cherry fruit augmented by oak.
Earthy and savory with a faint aftertaste of smoke on the persistent finish. Still
has some tannins to shed and should improve over time, assuming the smoke
affect doesn’t become accentuated. Very good.
2007 Henry of Pelham Family Estate Ontario Canada Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $17. Imported by Beck Wines
& Spirits, San Francisco, CA.
Moderately deep reddish-purple color in the glass. Starts out with marked sulfur
notes of rotten eggs, obscuring the underlying aromas of dark fruits, pine tar and oak char. Robust black
cherry fruit with an underlying earthy note, wrapped in flamboyant sandy tannins. Seems over-sulfured.
Unsatisfactory. This winery was a featured winery at this year’s IPNC, so I suspect this was not a
2007 Clairborne & Churchill Edna Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $20. From a
family winery established in 1983, specializing in Pinot Noir, Riesling and
Moderately intense garnet color. Darker fruits are featured on
the nose along with notes of cherry cola, picking up more oak and funkiness with
time in the glass. Tasty fruit but oak permeates this wine and takes away from
the experience for me. Otherwise it is fine, with good acidity and a tangy
persistence of citrus peel on the back end. Decent.
2007 Fort Ross Fort Ross Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Minty, oaky aromas with alcohol peaking out. Rich and full on the palate
with delicious flavors of black cherries, plums, oak toast and a hint of white
pepper. A disjointed wine now with the flavors trumping the aromas. Worth
visiting in another year. Good (+).
2007 Heart O’ The Mountain Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., pH 3.56, 490 cases,
$48. Clones 777, 667 and Pommard. Aged 18 months in French oak.
Medium garnet color. Deep, dark, very ripe fruit perfume
with hints of forest floor and sawdust. A big gulp of purple fruit (black plums,
elderberries, blackberries) that dances lightly on the palate, drinking easily by
virtue of mild fine-grain tannins. The sweet, velvety mouthful of fruit will find appeal. A faint hint of alcohol peaks out on the finish. Very good.
2007 August West Graham Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., $50.
Medium garnet color in the glass. Charming scent of red
cherries accented by gentle oak toast. Fruity and tasty with a pleasing fullness
on the palate. Harmonious with gossamer tannins and a good grip of acidity. A
solid, but not emoting wine now but should improve over time. Good (+).