PinotFile: 10.3 January 22, 2015
- Kutch Wines: 2013 Vintage Provided Compelling & Transparent Wines
- Alexana: Prescription for Pinot with Unlimited Refills
- En Garde: 2012 Pinots Very Promising
- Black Kite Cellars: Outstanding Pinot Noir in 2012
- Dolin Estate: New Central Coast Pinots Offer Exceptional Value
- MacRostie Winery & Vineyards: Evolving to Embrace Quality
- Birichino: A Mischievous Pair Craft Unique Wines at Right Price
- Domaine de la Côte: Whole Cluster Goodness
- Skewis Wines: Pinot from Vineyards with a Pedigree
- DANCIN Vineyards: Rogue Valley Wines of Distinction
- Waxwing: Engaging Pinot from an Urban Winery
- MacPhail Proudly Releases First Estate Pinot Noir
- Sips of Recently Tasted Pinot Noir
- Sips of Recently Tasted White Wines
- Pinot Briefs
Kutch Wines: 2013 Vintage Provided Compelling & Transparent Wines
It was nearly tens years ago when I first profiled winemaker Jamie Kutch in the PinotFile (“Following
Your Pinot Dream,” www.princeofpinot.com/article/1274/). I like to think I had a little role in his
decision to leave a successful Wall Street career to pursue a life’s work as a Pinot Noir vintner. Jamie
admitted that he had read every issue of the PinotFile leading up to his career change. Since 2005, I
have followed the evolution of his wines and applauded his success. After years of crafting wine at
Deerfield Ranch Winery in Sonoma Valley, he proudly moved into his own winemaking facility in 2012.
The new winery gleamed with 30 new tanks including Grenier 4-ton wood tanks from France (the
same as used at Domaine Romanée-Conti).
Jamie has become a strong proponent of whole cluster fermentation, a vinification technique that has
become more en vogue in California and Oregon in recent years. It is not new, for the Burgundians
practiced stem inclusion in the production of Pinot Noir for centuries as historically they had no de-stemmers.
The use of whole cluster fermentation fell out of favor stateside when modern de-stemmers
arrived over fifteen years ago, but a number of vintners such as Jamie have successfully
championed the technique.
Inclusions of whole clusters (intact berries and stems) in fermentation adds an extra dimension to the
structure, texture, sensuality, and aromatic and flavor profile of Pinot Noir. There are potential pitfalls
to this technique such as potential green aromas and flavors, so appropriate vintage, clone and
vineyard site are critical for its success. It is important that grapes are sourced from cooler sites
where sugar ripeness and physiological ripeness occur in tandem and coincide with stem lignification.
Jamie!s vineyard sources in the far west Sonoma Coast satisfy this criteria. When vintage conditions
cooperate, such as in 2013, 100% whole cluster fermentation can produce seductive wines.
All the following wines were 100% whole cluster fermented using native yeasts, underwent native
malolactic fermentation, and were aged sur lie for 10 months without racking. Punch downs were
carried out twice a day by foot. Despite the whole cluster fermentation, which can potentially lead to
relatively unapproachable wines upon release, these wines can be enjoyed now, but should evolve
beautifully in the cellar. All three vineyard-designate Pinot Noirs are distinctive and terroir driven, a
conclusion I reached after tasting, and later was corroborated by Jamie.
Commenting on the 2013 vintage, Jamie said he was pleased with the Pinot Noirs. “They show
welcome freshness and purity, somewhat akin to the 2011 vintage. Yields were down compared to
2012, but still bountiful.” Jamie felt that the wines expressed their sense of place more than any
previous vintage in part due to a higher skill level in the winery and the use of equipment to preserve
the fruit character. His 2013 wines also benefited from his increasing familiarity with his vineyards
with each vintage that allows more precise decisions unique to each site.
What I admire about Jamie is that he is a thinker and innovator, rather than someone who follows the
pack. As Jamie notes, “I will never stop pushing the envelope nor play it safe.” The Sans Soufre Pinot
Noir is a perfect example.
Here is what Jamie told me about this unique wine. “The thought process behind this wine was to
push the boundaries and see if it could be done in California. San Soufre means “without sulfur,” and
none was ever added to this wine during the winemaking process. The results are what I consider to
be the purest expression of Pinot Noir. The grapes had very high natural acidity which was important.
I fermented the wine partially carbonic (100% whole cluster grapes were sealed in a tank while
fermentation continued without punch downs or pump overs). Once the Brix dropped to 10º (half way
through fermentation), I began punching down the grapes by foot. The goal was to capture higher
levels of CO2 and use its preservative qualities in lieu of using sulfur. The wine was aged in old,
neutral barrels and bottled directly from barrel, never racking it to tank. The wine is not the same wine
and not sourced from the same vineyards as the Sonoma Coast bottling. For me it is very special and
a wine I could drink every day and die a happy man.”
2013 Kutch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
12.3% alc., 1,500 cases, $39. 60% Campbell Ranch, 40%
Sonoma Stage and 20% Le Jons vineyards. Aged in 30% new and 70% neutral French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Sumptuous aromas of black raspberry, blackberry and
sous bois are tenacious over time in the glass. The mid weight flavors of blue and black berries and
plum are intense and seductive on the attack, maintaining an earthy presence on the finish which
offers a whisper of oak. The dry tannins are well proportioned and the wine!s overall balance is
commendable. This wine could use a little more time to fully evolve.
2013 Kutch Wines Sans Soufre Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
12.1% alc., 45 cases, $N/A. Restaurant
only release. Vinified without sulfur additions. Harvest Brix 19.5º and pH 2.95. 100% whole cluster
with some carbonic ferment. Aged 11 months in neutral barrels. Unfined and unfiltered.
deep cherry color in the glass. More fragrant than the regular Sonoma Coast bottling with a delightful
perfume of raspberry, exotic spices and rose petal. Noticeable lift, vibrancy and freshness with
copious pure fruit presence similar to a Gamay based Beaujolais wine. Easy to drink with very modest
tannins and electric acidity on the finish.
2013 Kutch Bohan Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
12.3% alc., 150 cases, $49. Vines planted
in 1972 (clone unknown). Own-rooted, dry-farmed, California sprawl trellising, 10' x 8' spacing,
cordon pruned. Aged in 30% new and 70% neutral French oak barrels.
Moderate black cherry color
in the glass. The nose is fresh and very pleasant with aromas of dark cherry pie glaze, spice,
wildflowers, and conifer. The rich core of tasty black cherry, black raspberry and pomegranate fruits
are embellished with a complimentary touch of oak. The tannins are fine-grain and slightly rugged,
but add textural interest. The long and powerful, sweet cherry finish is beguiling.
2013 Kutch Falstaff Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
12.3% alc., 350 cases, $59.
Vineyard planted in 2001 in Goldridge soils. Clones are “828,” 115 and 777. 580 feet
elevation, 8.5 miles inland from the coast. One of the coolest Pinot Noir vineyards in the
North Coast with average mean monthly growing season temperature of 60ºF. VSP trellising,
spur pruned, 8' x 5' spacing. Aged in 100% neutral French oak barrels.
reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is mesmerizing with hi-tone aromas of cherry rock
candy, raspberry coulis, spiced plum and rose petal. Sleek and seductive and seamless in every way,
this wine offers juicy flavors of Bing cherry, raspberry and strawberry robed in modest, soft tannins.
Highly approachable with a refreshing lift of tight, defining acidity. More demure and feminine than the
McDougall bottling. Wow!
2013 Kutch McDougall Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
12.2% alc., 500 cases, $59. Vineyard planted in
1998 in Graywacke and Sandstone soils. Dijon clone
114. VSP trellising, spur pruned, 8' x 5' spacing. 935
feet elevation, 3.4 miles inland from the coast. Aged in
50% new and 50% used French oak barrels.
dark reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely scent of black
cherry, blackberry jam, wilted rose and underbrush. Delicious
mid weight plus flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and
boysenberry supported by firm but balanced tannins and the
slightest hint of oak. The tremendously flavorful attack of sappy
fruit leads to an extraordinarily long and juicy finish. Enjoyable
now, this wine will benefit from more tannin integration over time. This is a wine that brings you to
your knees, makes you turn your eyes to the heavens, and give thanks.
Kutch wines are in limited production and are only sold through a mailing list at www.kutchwines.com.
Two releases a year, in January and July, are offered through email and can be ordered then online.
Consistent buying patterns over time lead to increased amounts of wine offered.
Alexana: Prescription for Pinot with Unlimited Refills
Dr. Medaiah Revana, proprietor of Alexana Winery, was one of the featured Oregon physicians in the
November 2014 article I wrote for Oregon Wine Press: “Prescription for Pinot: Doctors Take Up
Residency Among Oregon’s Noble Red,” www.oregonwinepress.com/doctors-prescription-pinotoregon-
wine. The cover of that issue features a photo by Andrea Johnson of Drs. John O. Bergström
(left) and Madiaiah Revana.
Dr. Revana grew up in rural India near Bangalore where his family has been farming for generations
and this farming heritage led to his instinct for winegrowing. He graduated first in his class from
Mysore Medical College in India and became board certified in cardiology and internal medicine after
serving his residency and fellowship in the United States.
Dr. Revana was first introduced to wine by friends and became fascinated with Bordeaux’s first
growths while practicing cardiology in Houston, Texas. He traveled to the wine regions of Europe and
the United States, and became determined to establish a world class vineyard estate. In 1997, on a
visit to the Napa Valley, he found a small parcel of prime vineyard land in St. Helena. In 1998, he
hired vineyard manager Jim Barbour to plant and maintain a 9-acre vineyard, and started Revana
Family Vineyard, releasing the first vintage in 2001. Noted winemaker Heidi Barrett was the initial
winemaker and later Thomas Rivers Brown.
As many wine connoisseurs do, Dr. Revana developed a love of great Burgundy wines as well. After
enlisting the assistance of noted Oregon winemaker Lynn Penner-Ash of Penner-Ash Wines (I
jokingly refer to her as Lynn Pennoir-Ash), he acquired 80 acres of vineyard land in the Dundee Hills
appellation in 2005, and started Alexana Winery, named after his daughter, Alexander Revana. An
additional 39 acres of Pinot Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay were later added to the existing 16 acres
of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Today, the Revana Vineyard, which has an unusually complex diversity
of soils (18 different types) and exposures, has grown to over 55 acres. There are 10 clones of Pinot
The annual production of 5,000 cases is now directed by Penner-Ash with assistance from winemaker
Bryan Weil. A tasting room in a LEED Certified Gold facility is located on NE Worden Hill Road in
Newberg and is open daily. The wines are also sold on the website at www.alexanawinery.com.
The winery offered 4 Pinot Noirs in 2012: Revana Vineyard Pinot Noir ($48), Signature Pinot Noir
(favorite 10 barrels of Pinot Noir from 2012 vintage, $75, sold out), Black Label Pinot Noir (a wine club
members exclusive, $95), and Best Block Pinot Noir (produced from the finest block of Pinot Noir fruit
in the estate from the 2012 vintage, 120 cases, $125). Magnums and double magnums are available.
Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling are also offered.
2012 Alexana Revana Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $48. Each
cluster triple hand-sorted, individual blocks fermented separately, native yeast fermentation.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Extroverted aromas of black raspberry, blackberry
jam, vanilla and barrique lead to a sweet attack of middleweight fruits including black raspberry and
boysenberry. The fruit is very ripe in this vintage particularly by Oregon standards, and complimented
by spicy oak, and firm, but nearly imperceptible tannins. A rich and sumptuous wine with a very long,
generous and chewy finish.
2012 Alexana Signature Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 250 cases, $75. Favorite 10 barrels
from the 2012 vintage. Aged 11 months in 38% new
French oak barrels and bottle aged for 14 months before
Dark reddish purple color in the glass. The
pleasing nose is relatively shy, offering aromas of dark
fruits and a hint of oak vanillin. Full-bodied, lush and concentrated
on the palate, with layers of dark red and purple fruits. Impeccably
balanced with enough tannic bones to age and a complimentary
whisper of smoky oak, this wine retains a juicy, vibrancy despite its
heft and finishes with uncommon length and purpose. An
impressive wine that emotes.
En Garde: 2012 Pinots Very Promising
In July 2014, I reported on my first exposure to the 2012 wines of Csaba Szakal, the proprietor and
winemaker of En Garde Winery in Sonoma Valley. Csaba launched his winery originally in Livermore
in 2007, but soon quit his day job as a computer programmer, moved to Santa Rosa, and pursued
fruit sources from the Russian River Valley. He began crafting his wines at the Mayo Winery facility in
Sonoma Valley and opened a stylish tasting room nearby on Sonoma Highway.
The first En Garde Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs were released from the 2008 vintage. I visited
Csaba this past summer and tasted some of the 2012 Pinot Noirs from barrel. I recently had the
opportunity to taste the same wines from bottle. The vineyard-designated and reserve wines are still
very young and the aromatics haven’t fully arrived, but the wines are very promising and will show
much better when released in the spring or summer of 2015.
Csaba told me both of his Pinot Noir vineyard sources were picked at about 25º Brix. The different
clones were picked and processed individually over a two week period in early mid-October.
Fermentation was whole berry with 10%-25% whole cluster after a 4 to 5-day cold soak. The Pinot
Noirs were aged 10 - 18 months sur lie with battonage over the winter. The wines were bottled
unfined and unfiltered.
2012 En Garde Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 175 cases, $48. Released September
1, 2014. Martini and Pommard clones. Aged 10 months in 28% new French oak barrels.
cherry red color in the glass. Shy aromas of dark cherry with hints of nutty oak. Middleweight flavors
of black cherry, dark raspberry, plum and cola with oak and dried herbs in the background. Very
approachable and easy to drink, with supple tannins and a bright cut of acidity on the dry finish. Two
2012 En Garde Starkey Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 125 cases, $54. Release summer 2015.
25% “828,” 25% Pommard, 50% 23. 35-year-old vines planted in
Goldridge soil and located just outside the Green Valley AVA.
This vineyard is owned by Csaba’s spouse’s best friend.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose opens
slowly in the glass to reveal scents of dusty cherry and
strawberry. A plentiful black cherry attack is augmented with
notes of spice, cola and tea. Nicely crafted with supple tannins, a
good acid underbelly and a lip-smacking, cherry-driven finish.
2012 En Garde Olivet Court Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 100 cases,
$48. Release spring 2015. Martini clone. 40-year-old vines planted in gravelly, clay loam soil located
across from De Loach Winery. Aged 18 months in 50% new Francois Fréres oak barrels.
reddish purple color in the glass. Very shy aromas of cherry and raspberry. Very tasty core of black
cherry and black raspberry with a hint of dark chocolate and spice. Modest in weight with muscular
tannins and a very lengthy finish. The least showy wine in the lineup, but should blossom with more
time in bottle.
2012 En Garde Russian River Valley Reserve Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 150 cases, $60.
Release summer 2015. Clones “828,” 23, Pommard and Martini. Aged 18 months in 80%
new Francois Fréres oak barrels.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass.
Extroverted nose featuring scents of Bing cherry, spice, tea and sous-bois. Delicious flavors
of fresh, perfectly ripened strawberry, cherry and cranberry with harmoniously integrated oak.
Very juicy and charming with plenty of grace, tannins so fine as to be imperceptible, and a
long, powerfully scented finish. Still hitting on all cylinders the following day from a previously opened
and re-corked bottle.
En Garde wines, which including a number of award-winning red varietals other than Pinot Noir, are
sold through a mailing list, the website at www.engardewinery.com, and the tasting room. The tasting
room is open daily from 11:00 to 6:00.
Reservations are recommended for a complete tasting experience, especially enjoyable if the
charismatic Casaba presides over the tasting.
Black Kite Cellars: Outstanding Pinot Noir in 2012
Black Kite Cellars produces small lots of expressive Pinot Noir with a strong sense of place. Whether
from Black Kite’s own Kite’s Rest Vineyard in Anderson Valley, the Soberanes Vineyard in Santa Lucia
Highlands, or Glass House Vineyard in Santa Lucia Highlands, each Black Kite Pinot Noir is treated to
near-identical winemaking by winemaker Jeff Gaffner.
Black Kite Cellars produces less than 3,000 cases annually of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The wines
are sold primarily through the winery mailing list at www.blackkitecellars.com, with limited distribution
to select wine retailers and restaurants.
The Black Kite Cellars Pinot Noirs never disappoint and will appeal to those who like plenty of
concentrated ripe fruit flavor with generous oak backing. The 2012 wines reviewed here are among
the best ever produced at this winery. The “Stony Terrace” and Soberanes Vineyard bottlings will be
2012 Black Kite Cellars “Kite’s Rest” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.59,
898 cases, $48. Released November 2014. Aged 11 months in 100% new French oak barrels, 33%
of which were new.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Flamboyant nose of bright
scents of black raspberry, blackberry, tea and expressive spice. The flavors echo the nose with
added hints of black plum, cola and oak. Juicy, with admirable oak integration, modest tannins, and a
generous cherry-driven finish. A welcoming wine that aims to please.
2012 Black Kite Cellars “Redwoods’ Edge” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.57, 198
cases, $60. Released November 2014. Aged 11 months
in 100% French oak barrels, 66% of which were new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Elevating
aromas of black cherry cordial, baking spice and vanilla.
Perks up the palate upon entry with delicious flavors of black
cherry, black raspberry, plum, Asian 5-spice and vanilla. Very
smoothly textured with hedonistic concentration and a balanced
tannic backbone. Amazingly long finish fueled by bright acidity that
lasts over 30 seconds. This wine really taps the pleasure centers
in the brain.
2012 Black Kite Cellars Glass House Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., pH
3.70, TA 0.57, 145 cases, $48. Released November 2014. Aged 11 months in 100% French oak
barrels, 50% of which were new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed
with aromas of raspberry coulis, violets and chocolate. Dark berry flavors are featured with some
savory undertones of mushroom and earth. Full-bodied with balanced tannins, toasty oak, and a soft
finish featuring a generous, chewy burst of black cherry fruit. The wine was noticeably better with
more integration of oak when tasted two days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
Dolin Estate: New Central Coast Pinots Offer Exceptional Value
Elliott and Lynn Dolin, proprietors of Dolin Malibu Estate Vineyards, introduced a new lineup of
Central Coast Pinot Noirs in late 2014. The inaugural Dolin Estate Pinot Noirs come from the 2012
vintage and include a Central Coast Rosé of Pinot Noir, a Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir and three single-vineyard
Pinot Noir bottlings from Bien Nacido, Talley Rincon and Solomon Hills vineyards.
Dolin Estate was established in 2006 when the Dolins planted 900 Chardonnay vines on their Malibu
property that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Elliott, who was a former studio musician and performer in
The Manhattan Transfer, developed an interest in wine when he fell in with a group of Los Angeles area
wine collectors and began taking wine appreciation classes at UCLA.
Following the release of three vintages of Malibu Estate Chardonnay, the winery planned to expand
its production, adding more Malibu wines from neighboring vineyards in the newly approved Malibu
Coast AVA in 2015. Beyond this, working closely with Central Coast winemaker Kirby Anderson
(there are no wineries in Malibu), and leveraging relationships with top growers, Elliott was able to
secure Pinot Noir fruit from his favorite Central Coast vineyards. Anderson has vinified the Malibu
Estate Chardonnay since 2010 and all the Pinot Noir offerings that began with the current 2012
2012 Dolin Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.35% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.57, 485 cases, $32.
Sourced from select vineyards. Clones 115, Pommard 4 and Swan selection. Aged 20
months in French oak barrels, 18% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The
aromas really pop featuring black raspberry, plum, sandalwood and oak spice. This wine
displays dreamy balance with soft tannins, bright acidity, and readily accessible flavors of
very dark cherry, raspberry and plum with hints of cola and mocha. The finish is highly
2012 Dolin Talley Rincon Vineyard Arroyo Grande Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.56, 172
cases, $45. Clones 667 and 777. Aged 20 months in French oak barrels, 30% new.
reddish purple color in the glass. There is plenty of charm in this wine that offers bright scents of
plum, black raspberry, sous-bois and toasty oak. The luscious, rich core of boysenberry and plum
fruits is backed by firm, fine-grain tannins. This is a mouth coating wine that is hedonistic yet angelic,
and offers a very long and richly fruited finish.
2012 Dolin Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.58,
128 cases, $45. Clone 667. Aged 20 months in French oak barrels, 30% new.
purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, loamy earth, underbrush and oak lead to mid
weight, tasty flavors of black raspberry, blueberry and black cherry. Juicy and refreshing with
balanced tannins and a long, sleek finish.
2012 Dolin Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.34% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.61,
140 cases, $45. Clone 777. Aged 19 months in French oak barrels, 30% new.
purple color in the glass. Appealing scents of dark cherry cobbler, cassis and balsam. Plenty of oak-kissed
dark red and purple fruits that satisfy with a noticeable attack and fullness. Silky in the mouth
with modest tannins and some finishing length. This wine has more oak overlay than I prefer, but the
texture is seductive.
The wines are sold on the winery’s website at www.dolinestate.com and through a mailing list. They
are priced right with exceptional quality at the right price. The wines are also on the wine lists of some
of some of Los Angeles’s most prestigious restaurants.
MacRostie Winery & Vineyards: Evolving to Embrace Quality
MacRostie, with a 27-year history of making Sonoma Coast wines, is a defining California winery and
a familiar name to wine enthusiasts. The last several years have seen sweeping changes at
MacRostie that include the sourcing of grapes from some of Sonoma Coast’s most legendary
vineyards and the building of a new winery and MacRostie Estate House on Westside Road in the
Russian River Valley (the photo below shows the new project under construction in December).
The MacRostie Estate House is located on a hill overlooking Westside Road surrounded by the vines
of the 13-acre estate Thale’s Vineyard (named after Steve’s spouse) planted to Pinot Noir. When
completed in early 2015, the MacRostie Estate House will feature multiple indoor and outdoor tasting
venues and an adjacent Pinot Noir focused winery.
Steve began his winemaking career in 1974 at Hacienda Winery at a time most winemakers were
fixated on Cabernet Sauvignon and the Napa Valley. Steve took another path and embraced the
cooler vineyards of Sonoma County, producing exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at Hacienda
during his twelve years at that winery. In 1987, Steve established MacRostie Winery and Vineyards
and began his quest to champion quality in the region. By 1992, Pinot Noir had been added to the
winery’s portfolio, and MacRostie quickly developed a devoted following.
In 1998, Steve planted Wildcat Mountain Vineyard in partnership with Nancy and Tony Lilly. It is
located in the Petaluma Gap region on the border of the Sonoma Coast appellation, and has been the
source of exceptional MacRostie wines. Today, MacRostie works with more than 30 Chardonnay
vineyards and over 15 Pinot Noir sites, representing a remarkable diversity for a small winery.
Since 2011, Steve MacRostie has been working alongside up-and-coming and innovative winemaker
Heidi Bridenhagen to expand the MacRostie vineyard program. Although they both spend
considerable time in all their vineyard sources, in recent years, they have called on viticultural
specialist Allen Holstein (Argyle Winery, Stoller Vineyards and Domaine Drouhin Oregon) to refine the
winery’s farming program.
The core of MacRostie’s winegrowing program are five sites. Wildcat Mountain Vineyard possesses
volcanic soils and is located in a cool, windy and foggy mountainous site resulting in low yields. Both
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are planted here over 18 different blocks spread across five fields with a
diversity of aspect. Dutton Ranch, guided by Steve and Joe Dutton, is a source of both Pinot Noir
and Chardonnay. Sangiacomo Vineyard, located in Sonoma Carneros, was MacRostie’s earliest
source of Chardonnay. The family owned vineyard is located along Sonoma Creek with vines planted
between 1974 and 1994. Goldrock Ridge Vineyard is located near the town of Annapolis in the
West Sonoma Coast region. Four clones of Pinot Noir are planted in Goldridge sandy loam at an
elevation of 780 feet at the boundary of the fog line. The MacRostie Estate Vineyard (Thale’s
Vineyard) consists of young plantings of Pinot Noir in the Middle Reach of the Russian River Valley.
Steve and Heidi have also refined their approach to Chardonnay, and re-imagined the Pinot Noir
program. They work with lots of Pinot Noir as small as 1 ton, doing upwards of 80 individual
fermentations each vintage. Even though MacRostie’s vineyard sources have grown to include some
of Sonoma Coast’s most notable winegrowing families including the Duttons, Sangiacomos,
Martinellis and Bacigalupis, the MacRostie style remains consistent - balanced wines with bright
acidity and judicious use of new French oak.
As evidence that MacRostie is evolving over time to embrace quality, the winery became the first
Sonoma Coast winery to bottle all wines under screwcap.
This was my first opportunity to extensively taste MacRostie wines. They were highly approachable
and elegant, with modest tannins and minimal oak overlay. The wines represent outstanding value
relative to quality and should be sought out. Visit the website at www.macrostiewinery.com to obtain
the wines and plan to visit the new MacRostie Estate House when it opens early this year. In addition
to the wines reviewed here there is a 2012 25th Anniversary Russian River Valley Pinot Noir that
celebrates MacRostie’s 25 years as a Sonoma winery and the opening of the new winery in the
Russian River Valley (a six barrel selection, $54).
2012 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 4,174 cases, $34, screwcap. Sourced from
Champlain Creek and Wildcat Mountain vineyards in the Sonoma Coast, Hellenthal Vineyard in Fort
Ross-Seaview, and Dutton-Hallberg Ranch in the Russian River Valley. 100% de-stemmed,
inoculated yeast fermentation, punch downs and pump overs, aged 10 months in French oak barrels,
30% of which were new.
Moderately light ruby color in the glass. Aromas and flavors of cherry, plum
and huckleberry with a complimentary touch of spice and oak. Soft and smooth in the mouth with
balanced tannins and some finishing fruit presence. Easy to drink.
2012 MacRostie Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 486 cases, $42, screwcap. Sourced
from several vineyards. 100% de-stemmed, punch downs twice a day in 5-ton fermenters, aged in
French oak barrels of which 26% were new, 31% one-year-old and the remaining neutral.
light reddish purple color in the glass. The nose opens with appealing aromas of black cherry and
dark raspberry, but oak-driven scents of char and tobacco smoke take over. More appealing on the
palate where the wine is relatively light in weight with inviting elegance. Forward and easy drinking
with a modest attack of Bing cherry, cola and sassafras flavors backed by lively acidity and mild
tannins, the wine finishes with an array of darker stone and berry fruits.
2012 MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 878 cases,
$48, screwcap. Mostly clones 667 and 777. 100% de-stemmed, inoculated yeast fermentation,
combination of punch downs and punch overs, aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 28% of which
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Alluring scents of cherry, raspberry,
underbrush, spice and subtle oak. Seamless and polished, with mid weight flavors of cherry and red
berries accented with a hint of spice and citrus. Very classy, with soft tannins and a dry, refined finish
with impressive length. A sensual wine with nuance.
2012 MacRostie Goldrock Ridge Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 290 cases, $54,
screwcap. Clones 777 and “828.” 100% de-stemmed, inoculated
yeast fermentation, a combination of pump overs and punch
downs. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 30% of which were
Medium reddish purple color in the glass. Inviting aromas of
black cherry pie glaze, blackberry jam, oak cask and pipe smoke.
Crisp and vibrant, with layers of flavor including dark red and
purple berries, black cherry, anise and black tea. Veers to the riper
side but retains impressive Pinot character. Lively acidity drives
the refreshing and very lengthy finish which is highly satisfying.
2012 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.1% alc., 24,372 cases, $25, screwcap. Sourced
from multiple Sonoma Coast, Sonoma Carneros and Russian River Valley vineyards. Whole cluster
pressed, 100% MLF, aged 6 months on the lees in French oak barrels with occasional battonage,
18% of which were new. A few lots were fermented in stainless steel.
Light golden straw color and
clear in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of lemon, jasmine and toasty oak. Welcoming
flavors of apple, pear and citrus with a hint of nutty oak. Slightly creamy in the mouth with a bright,
citrus-infused finish that urges the drinker to take another sip.
2012 MacRostie Russian River Valley Chardonnay
406 cases, $32, screwcap. The majority of the
grapes were from Keefer Ranch and Dutton-Jewell Ranch, both in the Green Valley of Russian River
Valley. Whole cluster pressed, partial MLF, aged on the lees for 9 months in French oak barrels, 21%
of which were new.
Light golden straw color and clear in the glass. A solid offering featuring aromas
of lemon-lime, fresh-cut apple and mango. Slightly viscous on the palate with flavors of citrus, apple,
brioche and butter toffee, finishing with a wealth of apple flavor.
2012 MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
763 cases, $38. Whole
cluster pressed, 100% MLF, aged 10 months on the lees with
battonage in French oak barrels, 21% of which were new.
golden straw color and clear in the glass. Demure but pleasing
aromas of lemon rind, honey, juniper berry and toasty oak lead to
tightly wound flavors of lemon, butterscotch, vanilla and toast with
a hint of sea spray in the background. Distinctively different from
the other MacRostie Chardonnays, this wine challenges the
senses, and offers the most lingering finish.
2012 MacRostie Sangiacomo Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay
177 cases, $44, screwcap. Whole
cluster pressed, 100% MLF, aged 10 months on the lees in French oak barrels. After assembling the
blend, seven barrels were chosen, two of which were new.
Light golden straw color and clear in the
glass. Plenty to like in this wine with hi-tone aromas of lemon curd, honeysuckle, vanilla and toast.
Plenty of acidic verve compliments and lifts the lemon, pear and biscuit flavors. Good fullness and
creaminess on the palate with a tangy, lemon and pear infused finish.
2012 MacRostie Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Chardonnay
281 cases, $44, screwcap.
Whole cluster pressed, 100% MLF, aged on the lees with occasional battonage for 10 months in
French oak barrels, 25% of which were new.
Light golden straw color and clear in the glass. A
complex offering with plenty of aromatic goodness including scents of white peach, lemon rind,
tangerine and floral bouquet. Very pleasing in the mouth with a slightly viscous texture, beautifully
integrated oak highlights, and pleasing lemon and apple flavors. Great harmony, finishing with
admirable tension and citrus infused delight.
Birichino: A Mischievous Pair Craft Unique Wines at Right Price
Laid back owners and winemakers Alex Krause and John Locke draw on a combined 35 years of
making and selling wine in California, Alsace, Publia, Piemonte and beyond. The name of the winery,
Birichino, pronounced “biro-kino,” is Italian meaning naughty or mischievous.
The winery was originally launched in 2008 to make Malvasia, not a varietal that is well known or in
big demand in California. Malvasia is a group of wine grape varieties of ancient origin, most likely
originating in Greece. Malvesia Bianca is the most well known of the tribe, and is grown widely in
many of the winemaking regions of the world including Italy, the San Joaquin Valley of California, the
Greek Islands and Rioja.
The Birichino Malvasia Biancha is from a limestone and rocky shale site planted with 25-year-old
vines on the Santa Lucia Highlands side of Monterey County. The 2013 vintage of this wine is
remarkable for its floral expression and is one of the best white wines, bar none, I have drank in the
past several years. At $16, it is a crazy value.
Birichino recently introduced the 2013 Pétillant Naturel Malvasia Bianca, an old school version of
sparkling wine. Pétillants naturels (Pét Nats) are the rage among wine hipster cognoscenti. They are
essentially bottle-conditioned wines with the residual carbon dioxide produced by fermentation
creating the bubbles, and the richness and texture imparted by the lees remaining a part of the
finished wine. No sugar or yeast is added to augment the spritz, instead relying on just those that
came in on the grapes from which they are made, and the wine is not disgorged. Each bottle has a
variable amount of gentle fizz and amount of residual sweetness as the wines are not adjusted post
The original pétillant was an 18-bottle lot Alex and John made one afternoon in late 2012 on Alex’s
deck from a little Malvasia and actively fermenting Muscat Canelli. The wine was tucked away in the
garage and turned out to be delicious. In 2013, the same basic protocol was followed drawing on
Malvasia Bianca and a small amount of Muscat Canelli from adjacent 25-year-old blocks in the Santa
Lucia Highlands. Each bottle was filled and capped by hand, and because of the increased
production a hundredfold, the vintners outgrew the space on their deck and made it at a winery.
Soon after the Birichino Winery was launched, the winery’s United Kingdom importer begged for a red
wine, and the owners branched out to produce a wine from 104-year-old, own-rooted and dry-farmed
Grenache grapes. Then, only days before harvest in 2011, they were offered the chance to work with
the 25-year-old Pinot Noir Saint Georges Vineyard owned by the same family that grew the
Grenache. The vineyard is located on the eastern side of the Santa Cruz Mountains and is named
after the owners, father and son, George Besson, Jr., and Sr., whose families have lived on the
property since the 1920s tending the vines. Most of the Pinot Noir had, and still does, go to Calera
A second Pinot Noir source subsequently became available. The 4.5-acre, 12-year-old, Lilo Vineyard
in the Santa Cruz Mountains is located at a very cool, steep site, planted in slate, sandstone and
schist, and sits at the fog line at 600 to 800 feet.
Birichino offers wines of character at the right price. Wines offered besides the wines discussed
above include: Old Vines Grenache, Old Vines Zinfandel, Old Vines Chenin Blanc, Old Vines
Cinsault, Vin Gris, and Muscat Canelli. Visit the website at www.birichino.com for more information
and to buy the wines.
2013 Birichino Saint Georges Central Coast Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $21. Primarily Saint Georges Vineyard with a small
amount of young vine fruit from Lilo Vineyard added. 20% whole cluster, native yeast
fermentation, aged in neutral French oak barrels and bottled unfiltered.
reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is highly fragrant with aromas of cherry,
raspberry jam on toast, and sous-bois. Relatively light in weight, but highly flavorful,
offering plenty of well-spiced cherry and raspberry goodness. Soft and delicate in the
mouth with modest tannins and a raspberry-infused finish of some note. Very forward and charming.
2012 Birichino Lilo Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.55, $33. Aged a
little more than a year in old French oak barrels and
Medium reddish purple color in the
glass. Darker fruits are featured in this wine which has
an earthy, woodsy flora bent. Very suave and polished
on the palate with flavors of boysenberry and black plum accented
with spice and tea. Beautifully balanced with well-integrated
tannins. Even better later in the day from a previously opened
bottle. More cajones than the Saint Georges bottling.
Domaine de la Côte: Whole Cluster Goodness
Domaine de la Côte is a French-inspired winery evident from the name and labels that was launched
with the 2011 vintage following the purchase of 40 acres of vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills from
Evening Land Vineyards by sommelier Rajat Parr winemaker Sashi Moorman, and their business
partners. Moorman discovered the site and originally developed the vineyards with Chris King in
The six vineyards are just seven miles from the Pacific Ocean and are planted on a soil base of silex
and diatomaceous earth that is unique to the Sta. Rita Hills. The vineyards are Memorious (3.5
acres), Bloom’s Field (7.5 acres), Siren’s Call (3 acres), Clos Juliet (1 Acre), La Côte (9.5 acres) and
15.5 acres of appellation Sta. Rita Hills. The vineyards are planted entirely to California heritage
selections at extremely high vine densities between 4,000 and 7,000 vines per acre, unprecedented
for the Sta. Rita Hills appellation.
The partners make the unique wines using whole cluster and ambient yeast fermentation, add no
enzymes, and age the wines in no new French oak barrels. The wines are produced in Lompoc,
three miles from the vineyards.
2012 was a classic vintage at the Domaine. Harvest started during the first weeks of September,
preceded by consistently warm afternoons and cool nights and mornings throughout the summer.
Yields were low.
The wines are sold by allocation to mailing list members and select restaurants. Visit the website at
2012 Domaine De La Côte Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., 2,100 cases, $45. 25% of vines are
own-rooted at a vine density of 4,000 vines per acre. 50% whole cluster fermentation, aged in 0%
new French oak barrels.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is replete with
whole cluster goodness including aromas of wilted rose, spice and wet bark. Fresh and juicy with mid
weight flavors of purple berries and spice and a floral note in the background. Easy to approach now
with supple but structured tannins and a tangy finish.
2012 Domaine De La Côte Bloom’s Field Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., 500 cases, $70.
100% whole cluster fermentation, aged in 0% new French oak barrels for 20 months.
dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is similar to the Sta. Rita Hills bottling with rose petal
and spice playing a large role, but the aromas are more penetrating. Round, polished and discreetly
concentrated with upfront flavors of blueberry and black raspberry. Nicely balanced with modest
tannins and plenty of zip and zing.
2012 Domaine De La Côte La Côte Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 300 cases, $90.
From a small section of a 9-acre parcel that is planted in broken shale. The first vineyard
harvested and always produces the most opulent wine. 100% whole cluster fermentation,
aged in 0% new French oak barrels.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass.
Compelling aromas of boysenberry, black raspberry, spice and purple rose. Very smooth and
polished on the palate with layers of purple berry, plum, and spice flavors. Impeccably
balanced with tannins hiding in the background, juicy acidity, and a remarkably intense finish. Still a
little moody and will benefit from more time in bottle. This wine is the epitome of ephemeral.
Skewis Wines: Pinot from Vineyards with a Pedigree
Hank and Maggie Skewis are veterans who have been offering Pinot Noir from the Russian River
Valley, Sonoma Coast and Anderson Valley since 1994. That year, grower Fred Peterson of the
Floodgate Vineyard in Anderson Valley (now owned by Goldeneye and renamed) offered enough
grapes to make 70 cases. Today, Hank crafts less 900 cases annually of Pinot Noir working out of a
shared crush facility.
The emphasis is on low yields from vineyards located in premium growing regions. The average
crops in the vineyards that are contracted yield on average of 2 to 2.5 tons per acre. In the winery,
grapes are de-stemmed, fermented with a significant percentage of whole berries, fermented warm
for maximum extraction of color, phenolics and complexity, then pressed into French oak barrels for
18 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, the wines are aged an additional 6+ months in bottle
before release in October of each year.
Vineyard sources have changed through the years but quality has always remained high. The 2012
Pinot Noir from Wiley Vineyard in the Anderson Valley is the first release by Skewis from this
vineyard. The wines typically age extremely well.
The wines are sold on the winery’s website at www.skewis.com, through a mailing list, and through
limited distribution in Northern California. A quaint tasting room (pictured below) is open Friday
through Sunday at 57 Front Street in the historic Old Roma Station Winery complex in Healdsburg. On Saturdays from 11:00 to 4:30, a complimentary shuttle from the Healdsburg Plaza (across the street from Dry Creek Kitchen) to the Old Roma Station and adjacent Hudson Street Wineries is offered.
Tasting is available on other days by appointment.
2012 Skewis Lingenfelder Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., pH 3.60, 150
cases, $50. Released September 8, 2014. From a 3-acre vineyard west of the town of Fulton.
Huichica loam soil typical of this area. Vineyard planted in 1996 and grafted to the Martini clone.
Harvest Brix 23.3º. Aged 18 months in 25% new French oak barrels.
Moderately light ruby color in
the glass. Very shy nose with demure aromas of cherry sous-bois and subtle oak. Juicy, mid weight
flavors of ripe strawberries, dark cherries and black raspberries. The finish is bright and pleasingly
long. Much better on the palate over time in the glass and more showy the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2012 Skewis Salzgeber-Chan Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.85, 150
cases, $50. Released September 8, 2014. Harvest Brix 24.4º. This 3-acre vineyard was planted in
1997. Dijon clone 115. Aged 18 months in 25% new French oak barrels.
Moderately light ruby color
in the glass. This wine is a cherry bombast with a modest oak overlay on the nose and palate. Very
flavorful with remarkable persistence on the finish. When tasted the following day from a previously
opened and re-corked bottle, more fruit had emerged, some cola and spice showed up, and the wine
was more pleasing. Best to cellar this wine a year or so.
2012 Skewis Wiley Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.80, 185 cases, $50. This vineyard was first
planted in 1972 in the deep end of the Anderson Valley. Over the
years the plantings have increased to 20 acres of Pinot Noir. This
wine was made from grapes planted in 1982 and 2002; Pommard
and Mt. Eden clones. Harvest Brix 25.0º. Released September 8,
2014. Aged 18 months in 25% new French oak barrels.
reddish purple color in the glass. The nose opens gradually to
reveal inviting aromas of black cherry, sous-bois and
complimentary sweet oak. Very smooth in the mouth with
gossamer tannins, offering a joyous mix of black cherry and black
raspberry flavors that attack the mid palate with purpose and hold on through a generous finish. A
whisper of oak plies the background. Delightful.
DANCIN Vineyards: Rogue Valley Wines of Distinction
There are notable Pinot Noir producers in Oregon that are not in the famed Willamette Valley.
DANCIN Vineyards, located in the western forested foothills of Southern Oregon, is a good example.
Dan and Cindy Marca studied viticulture for ten years and in 2007 they bought a 15-acre property
near Jacksonville in the Rogue Valley. The site is near where pioneer Peter Britt started his first
vineyard nearly 150 years ago, likely the first planting of Pinot Noir in Oregon. They named the estate
DANCIN Vineyards after the first three letters of each of their names.
The three vineyard sites consist of just over 19 acres with 67% planted to Pinot Noir (seven clones)
and the remainder to Chardonnay. The site, situated at varied elevations between 1,700 and nearly 2,000 feet elevation, has a unique
exposure that it is shaded for up to two hours a day at the warmest time of day, making it suitable for
growing Pinot Noir.
The wines since 2010 have been crafted by winemaker Brian Denner, a graduate of California State University at Fresno, who has worked as cellarmaster at Williams Selyem Winery and has made premium wine professionally for 17 years.
A Tuscan-styled tasting room offers views of the Cascade Range and a wine cave houses barreled
and bottled wines. Once all plantings have reached maturity, the expected production of estate Pinot
Noir and Chardonnay (and Syrah and Port) will be 3,000-3,600 cases. Visit the website at
www.dancinvineyards for more information or to buy wines.
2012 DANCIN Vineyards “Élevé” Barrel Select Southern Oregon Pinot Noir
alc., 99 cases, $34. Named after a ballet movement in which you rise up high on to the
balls of your feet relates to the grapes for this wine sourced from the estate’s highest
elevation vineyard at nearly 2,000 feet. A blend of 777, Pommard and 115. 100% destemmed,
fermented in small bins with indigenous yeast, aged 15 months in 40% new
French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black raspberry,
black cherry and cigar box evolve slowly over time in the glass. Ripe-fruited and robust on the palate
with sappy flavors of black cherry and black raspberry framed by firm but felty tannins and juicy
acidity. Some of the black cherry fragrance returns to haunt the lengthy finish.
2012 DANCIN Vineyards “Trata” Southern Oregon Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., 150 cases, $34.
Clones Wädenswil 2A, 114, 667 and “828.” 100% de-stemmed, indigenous yeast fermentation, aged
15 months in 44.44% new French oak barrels.
Moderate light black cherry color in the glass. A bit
shy, but pleasing marriage of underbrush, red cherry, spice and oak aromas. Mid weight flavors of
red cherries and berries with a subtle savory herb note in the background. Unobtrusive tannins,
refreshing acidity and some finishing goodness. Two bottles tasted with consistent results.
2012 DANCIN Vineyards “Chastinelle Reserve” Southern Oregon Chardonnay
13.7% alc., 100 cases,
$30. A blend of five clones (Robert Young, Espiguette
352, Dijon 76, Wente and Draper) grown on the estate
and neighboring Panner-Hanson Vineyard. Indigenous
yeast fermentation, aged sur lie in a blend of neutral
French oak barrels and stainless steel barrels. Weekly
battonage. Aged 7 months.
Light golden straw color and clear in
the glass. The nose is fresh and bright, with inviting aromas of
lemon, peach and tropical fruits. Slightly creamy on the palate with
vibrant flavors of lemon, pear and peach and a subtle accent of
tropical fruits and oak in the background. A superb wine with excellent harmony, a gentle demeanor,
and a good cut of refreshing acidity on the smooth, lemon drop-driven finish.
Waxwing: Engaging Pinot from an Urban Winery
Winemaker Scott Sisemore has a unique story. He is a stay-at-home Dad helping to raise two young
boys while his spouse, Joanne, pursues a successful career in the biotech industry. His boys are
both in school now, so he can devote more time to winemaking. In 2014, he was able to leave his
subleased space in San Carlos south of San Francisco, and rent his own dedicated winemaking
facility in nearby Belmont. He spent much of the year outfitting the new space for wine production.
Thankfully, Scott now has complete control over the winemaking process, something every
winemaker ultimately desires. This last harvest he crushed 17 tons of Pinot Noir, Syrah and Riesling.
Scott has worked with Spring Hill Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap since 2010 and has sourced Pinot
Noir and Syrah from Lester Family Vineyard near Corralitos in the Santa Cruz Mountains since 2012.
He describes the 2013 wines as “easy to make.”
Waxwing wines are sold on the website at www.waxwingwines.com, and distributed to retailers and
restaurants in California.
2013 Waxwing Spring Hill Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 208 cases, $39.
Released late 2014. 75% de-stemmed as whole berries with 25% foot-stomped whole cluster in the
fermenter. 5-day cold soak, punch downs 2 to 3 times a day, and pressed to barrel at end of
fermentation. The wine was aged 11 months in once-used French oak barrels and bottled with no
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose offers demure aromas of cherry and
dried herbs. In the mouth, tannins and oak currently overwhelm the mid weight core of black cherry
fruit which offers promise. The finish is dry and slightly astringent and laced with oak. This wine
needs at least a year or two in bottle for the ruddy tannins to soften and the oak to integrate.
2013 Waxwing Lester Family Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., 123 cases, $39. Vines
planted in 1998 on a sandy loam hillside bordered by
redwoods. Sustainable viticultural practices, careful
canopy management, minimal late season deficit irrigation.
A mix of Dijon and heritage clones including Mt. Eden,
Wädenswil and Mariafeld. 50% of fruit de-stemmed as whole
berries and 50% foot-stomped whole cluster. 5-day cold soak,
native fermentation, aged 11 months in once-used French oak
Moderately light cherry color in the glass. Plenty of lovely
whole cluster spice on the nose along with aromas of cherry, rose
petal and sandalwood. Delicious middleweight flavors of red cherry, red raspberry, spice and
crystallized rose. Bright with good tension and balanced tannins, finishing clean and uplifting. I could
drink this all day.
MacPhail Proudly Releases First Estate Pinot Noir
Proprietor and winemaker James MacPhail has been crafting compelling wines from many Anderson
Valley and Sonoma Coast vineyards for many years. Currently, Pinot Noir is sourced from ten
vineyards, including Toulouse, Frattey Shams, Wightman House, Ferrington, Cerise, and Demuth in
Anderson Valley, and Gap’s Crown, Goodin, Pratt and Sangiacomo in the Sonoma Coast.
The 2012 vintage marks a milestone for MacPhail Family Wines: the release of the inaugural
Mardikian Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir. The vineyard was planted in 2008 in one of the coolest reaches
of the West Sonoma Coast. Working with Jim Pratt, eight clones were selected and planted on
westerly facing slopes that are often layered with tufts of cottony fog in the mornings.
The name of the vineyard, Mardikian, is a family name, associated with the famous Omar-Khayyam's restaurant in San Francisco. Haig Mardikian lives near the vineyard and leased the land to MacPhail.
2012 MacPhail Mardikian Estate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.77, TA 0.56, 283 cases, $85.
Limited release November 2014. Harvest Brix 26.5º-26.7º.
Pommard, Martini, Wädenswil 2A and 114 clones. 100%
de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak, native malolactic
fermentation in barrels, battonage weekly for 3 months,
aged 16 months sur lie in French oak barrels, 50% of which were
new. Unfined and unfiltered.
Moderate reddish purple color in the
glass. The nose shows off a commendable balance between
darker cherry and berry fruits and oak. Delicious mid weight core
of black cherry goodness with hints of spice, cola and mocha and
a whisper of oak. Satiny smooth in the mouth with complimentary tannins and a finish that saturates
the senses. This wine really hits the mark with emphasis.
Sips of Recently Tasted Pinot Noir
Briceland Vineyards, Humboldt County
2013 Briceland Vineyards Humboldt County Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., 212 cases, $31. A
blend from four southern Humboldt County vineyards: Lost Coast, Espey, Elk Prarie and
Phelps. Aged 1 year in a combination of mostly older Virginia and French oak barrels.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The nose has a prominent oak overlay
with clove and vanilla scents dominating the black cherry fruit. Much better on the palate
with a mid weight charge of cherry and raspberry fruit that fills the mouth with plenty of
sweet sap. A mellow wine with plenty of Pinot charm sporting modest tannins and crisp acidity.
Considerably more appealing the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle with
plenty of black cherry and spice presence supported by oak.
2013 Briceland Vineyards Phelps Vineyard Humboldt County Pinot Noir
148 cases, $35. Aged 1 year in a combination of Virginia and French oak barrels of which
about 20% were new. Unfined and unfiltered.
Medium reddish purple hue in the glass. A
cherry-fueled wine with notes of conifer and oak adding a notable contribution. Discreetly
concentrated with juicy acidity and a long, cherry-fueled finish. Much better the following
day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle with better integration of oak.
Clos Saron, Sierra Foothills
The estate Clos Saron Home Vineyard is 2.2-acres containing 4,500 own-rooted vines planted in red
loam and clay topsoil on decomposed granite and volcanic ash subsoil sprinkled with granite rocks,
basalt and quartz. It is located at an elevation of 1,600 feet in the Oregon House Valley in the Sierra
Foothills. The vines are dry farmed, and sustained by combining organic and biodynamic principles.
Every vine is tended to numerous times during the season.
Winemaker Gideon Bienstock vinifies his Home Vineyard Pinot Noir according to the following
protocol. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed within 20 minutes of harvest. The must ferments
in open-top oak fermenters coopered by the Rousseau family in Gevrey Chambertin. Ambient yeast
drive fermentation and there is no malolactic inoculation, acid corrections and no SO2 additions
during barrel aging. The wines are aged sur lie as long as necessary until bottled manually directly
from barrel, unfined and unfiltered.
I have been a fan of the wines because they are unique and distinctly different from Pinot Noir made
in other winegrowing regions of California. The wines are typically concentrated, earthy and tannic,
and reward long cellaring. Visit the website at www.clossaron.com.
2011 Clos Saron Home Vineyard Sierra Foothills Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., 119 cases, $60.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is reluctant to offer its charms, showing
primarily aromas of wine cave and oak. More expressive the following day from a previously opened
and re-corked bottle with blackberry and black currant fruit aromas showing up. Rich and sappy,
rugged but not harsh, with mouth coating black raspberry and black cherry fruit backed by muscular
tannins. The palate was also more appealing the following day. Cellar this wine for at least three
2011 Clos Saron Home Vineyard Lower Block Sierra Foothills Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., 48 cases,
$65. From the coolest microclimate of the Home Vineyard. Vines planted in 1999.
purple color in the glass. The fruit never shows up on the nose, even the next day, offering only
aromas of underbrush, cardamom spice and iron. More expressive on the palate with a very tasty
core of blueberry and boysenberry fruits backed by proportional dry tannins and lively acidity. The
finish is particularly notable for its persistence compared to the other 2012 Home Vineyard Pinot
Noirs. More sweet boysenberry fruit showed up the following day from a previously opened and recorked
bottle. Still tight and needs a few years in the cellar.
2011 Clos Saron Home Vineyard Old Block Sierra Foothills Pinot Noir
$75. From the oldest .5-acre section of the Home Vineyard. Own-rooted vines planted in 1980.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Generous aromas of black cherry, cassis and
sous-bois. Very refined and balanced with mouth filling flavors of black cherry and black raspberry.
Powerful, but sleek, with cleansing acidity and a very appealing, long and sweet cherry finish.
Considerably more giving and interesting the following day from a previously opened and re-corked
2007 Clos Saron Home Vineyard Sierra Foothills Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., 82 cases.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the
glass. Hi-tone aromas of blackberry, black currant, Prada leather
coat and oak vanillin rise from the glass. Generously fruited with
sappy flavors of black raspberry, and blackberry. Firm, but
balanced tannins, and a big finish plush with fruit goodness. I
really liked this wine best among the older vintages tasted together
on this day. Still compelling the following day from a previously
opened and re-corked bottle. Drink or hold for up to 10 years.
2006 Clos Saron Home Vineyard Sierra Foothills Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., 78 cases.
reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, forest floor, wet loam and a hint of smoky
oak. Impressive freshness with flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and black plum. Pleasing
integration of tannins and a very long and satisfying finish. Drink within the next five years.
2005 Clos Saron Home Vineyard Sierra Foothills Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., 40 cases.
reddish purple color in the glass. The nose has taken on secondary characteristics of iron, ash,
decayed earthy flora and iodine. The medium weighted black cherry, black raspberry, ripe strawberry
black tea and oak flavors are fresh and concentrated. The wine is not tired or fading, and still bright
and flavorful. Some may find the muscular tannins too daunting. Drink up or can hold another few
years. This wine that will appeal to fans of aged Pinot Noir.
COBB, Sonoma Coast
2012 COBB Rice-Spivak Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., 225 cases, $70. From a
6-acre vineyard located near Sebastopol. Dijon clones and Swan selection planted in Goldridge soils.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, spice, rose petal and
espresso. Silky and polished in the mouth, with an attack of fresh cherry and raspberry fruit with a
hint of spice and cranberry. Impeccably balanced with a good acid backbone, soft tannins, and
2012 COBB Coastlands Vineyard Old Firs Block Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 300 cases, $80. This 14-acre
vineyard sits on a ridge in Occidental in the far western Sonoma
Coast. A variety of selections including Martini and Wädenswil
were planted in this block in 1989, some of the oldest vines on the
West Sonoma Coast.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass.
This is an extraordinary wine that is still cloaked in a significant oak
overlay. Aromas of dark cherries, conifer, espresso and toast lead
to a delicious cherry core of fruit that is dominated by oak. Juicy
acidity adds tension, and contributes to the vibrant finish which is
exceptional for its generosity and persistence. This wine needs at
least a year in the cellar to better integrate the oak.
Lange Estate Winery & Vineyard, Dundee Hills, Oregon
2012 Lange Three Hills Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $38, screwcap. Sourced
from Lange Estate, Freedom Hill and Yamhill vineyards.
Dark reddish purple color in the glass.
Inviting aromas of black raspberry, plum and espresso oak. Modest in weight, but packed with flavor,
offering tastes of black raspberry, black cherry, and pomegranate with a touch of oak and dark
chocolate. Welcoming softness in the mouth with admirable balance and good tannic bones for the
2012 Lange Estate Reserve Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., $35, screwcap. Estate
grown. A barrel selection.
Moderately dark reddish
purple color in the glass. Restrained aromas of
blackberry and black raspberry. More expressive on the
palate with luscious blueberry, pomegranate, plum,
black raspberry and spice flavors with a compliment of oak in the
background. Round and polished with a soft, smooth mouth feel
and a memorable fruit-driven finish.
2012 Lange Yamhill-Carlton Assemblage Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 200 cases,
$70, screwcap. Sourced from vineyards with Willakenzie soils.
Dark reddish purple hue in the glass.
Shy, but pleasant scents of ripe dark fruits. Full-bodied attack of dark berries with length and soothing
flavor. The tannins are well matched and there is a good cut of underlying acidity. The finish is plush
with boysenberry fruit. The nose was still shy the following day from a previously opened and recorked
bottle indicating this wine needs more time in bottle.
Pisoni Estate, Santa Lucia Highlands
The Pisonis are now celebrating three decades of farming cool-climate grapes making the 2012
vintage extra special. Everyone told Gary Pisoni he was crazy in 1982 when he wanted to plant Pinot
Noir in the Santa Lucia Highlands at a time wine experts were recommending Riesling, Gamay Noir
and Pinot Blanc. Gary knew better, and he thought the rugged, wind-shipped mountain rising 1,300
feet above sea level with a flinty, granite-laden soil would be ideal for making great Pinot Noir. The
only drawback was the lack of water, but this was solved by daily treks with a water truck from the
Salinas Valley floor to irrigate the tender vines. After eight years of water witchers and the drilling of
five dry wells, a suitable water source was discovered. Gary now works side-by-side with sons Mark
who manages the vineyard and Jeff who makes the Pisoni and Lucia wines.
2012 Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
Dark reddish purple color in the glass.
The aromas leap from the glass including blackberry, cardamom
spice and oak vanillin. Juicy and full-bodied, but not jammy, with a
gorgeous fruit core of blackberries, boysenberries and plums
framed by generous, but balanced tannins. Some earth-based
goodness chimes in as well. The fruit clings to every nook and
cranny and refuses to go away, displaying a sweet, tenacious
finish of uncommon length. Even better the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle. Very approachable now,
but has the stuff to last 20 years. I thought I had died and gone to
heaven when I tasted this beauty.
Privé Vineyard, Chehalem Mountains, Oregon
In the words of Tina Hammond, “2013 was a wonderful vintage, with a sunny and warm growing
season ending in a cool fall.” Tina recommends holding the wines for at least 12 months in your cellar
before opening. After tasting the wines, I agree. The wines are not as big and sappy and showy as the
2012 vintage. Both wines are 100% Pommard clone on vines planted in 1980 in Jory soil.
2013 Privé Vineyard le nord Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., $59.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Complex aromatic profile that reveals itself slowly in
the glass including scents of Bing cherry, spice, rose petal and conifer. The core of cherry fruit is tight
but promising with subtle notes of mocha, cola and oak in the background. Velvety in the mouth with
a reserved finish. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the
aromatics were much more alive with more spice, rose and cherry, but the fruit was still reluctant to
show its stuff. Decant if you must drink now, but preferably wait at least a year.
2013 Privé Vineyard le sud Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $69.
Moderately light cherry
color in the glass. Enticing aromas of cherry, leaf, spice
and balsam lead to a mid weight core of fresh and juicy
cherry flavor with a whisper of oak in the background.
Very elegant and more giving than the le nord, with suave
tannins and a deeply aromatic, cherry-fueled finish. When tasted
the following day from a previously opened bottle, the nose was
more expressive. Two days later, the wine was still hitting on all
cylinders. Patience will be rewarded.
Ransom Wine Company, Sheridan, Oregon
2013 Ransom Jigsaw Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.8% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.58, 3,136 cases,
$19. Multiple clones from multiple vineyards in three AVAs. 100% de-stemmed, high percentage of
whole berries sent to 1.5-ton open-top fermenters. 4-day cold soak, wild and inoculated yeast
fermentation, hand punch downs two to three times a day. Aged 10 months, blended, filtered and
Moderately light red cherry color in the glass. Demure aromas of cherry, tea leaf and subtle
oak. Light to mid weight flavors of cherry and raspberry with supportive oak. Juicy, with decent
tension, a silky texture, and mild tannins. An easy drinking wine that lacks flash or finish, but will
perform nicely at the dinner table.
2012 Ransom Selection Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.6% alc., pH 3.32, TA 0.65, 781 cases, $29. Harvest
Brix 23.2º (average). Sourced from JMD, Temperance
Hill, Zielinski, and Johan vineyards. Dijon, Pommard
and Wädenswil clones. 100% de-stemmed with a high
percentage of whole berries sent to 1.5-ton fermenters.
6-day cold soak, wild and inoculated yeast fermentation. Aged 16
months in mixed French oak cooperage one to two-years-old.
100% free-run juice with no fining or filtration.
purple color in the glass. Scents of black cherry, forest floor,
conifer and seasoned oak lead to mid weight flavors of bright
cherry, raspberry and Damson plum fruits that coat the mouth and persist through a citrus and
cranberry imbued finish that has some persistence. Silky smooth on the palate with the balance
weighted toward vibrant acidity. Tasted twice with consistent findings.
Rhys Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountains
2012 Rhys Family Farm Vineyard San Mateo County Pinot Noir
13.1% alc., $59. From a 6.16-
acre vineyard planted to Rhys selection, Swan, 115 and Pommard.
Moderate reddish purple color in
the glass. The nose is quite inviting, with aromas of black cherry, exotic spices, anise and
sarsaparilla. Bright, juicy and very approachable, with flavors of cherry, raspberry, cola, and oakdriven
toast and spice. Very elegant and charming, with mild tannins and a silky texture. Finishes
easy, but a little short.
2012 Rhys Home Vineyard San Mateo County Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $79. From a small, 1.57-
acre vineyard containing a mixed field blend of selections.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass.
The nose is closed for business initially, opening more the following day from a previously opened and
re-corked bottle. Darker cherry and raspberry flavors are featured. Very tasty, and soft and smooth in
the mouth. Finishes with showy oak and slightly astringent tannins. Lacks some excitement now, and
should be cellared for at least a year.
2012 Rhys Alpine Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., $69. From an 11-acre vineyard planted to Rhys
selection and heritage clones. 12-24” topsoil over soft shale at
1230’ to 1400’ elevation.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in
the glass. Very complex nose with scents of alpine strawberry,
raspberry, black cherry, conifer, sous-bois, spice and rose petal
dancing in and out over time. Softly textured, harmonious and
very approachable, with a tasty black cherry core framed by
modest tannins and juicy acidity. Still showing a blanket of oak
that will integrate over time. Finishes with impressive length and
Willowbrook Cellars (JCO Limited Wines), Russian River Valley
This winery was launched by winemaker Joe Otos in 2001 who was only 26-years-old at the time. A
tasting room is located in the Hudson Street Wineries complex in Healdsburg. Visit
2012 Willowbrook Estate Grown Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., $42. From a 3-acre
vineyard located in the southwestern corner of the Russian River Valley. A mix of Dijon and Pommard
clones and Swan and Calera selections.
Light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of red cherry,
cranberry, sandalwood and rose petal rise from the glass. Light and elegant, with a charge of cherry
fruit on the attack and finish. Silky in the mouth with a whisper of smoky oak in the background.
Demure but satisfying.
2012 Willowbrook Kaufmann Sunnyslope Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $42.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. Very pleasant array of scents including
Bing cherry, black raspberry coulis and conifer. Light to mid weight
flavors of black cherry, plum and cassis. Soft and caressing on the
palate with impressive mid palate presence and finishing length.
Forward drinking with modest tannins and well integrated acidity.
Still very appealing the following day from a previously opened and
Wonderment, Napa Valley
Owner and winemaker Stephanie Cook has a colorful career background resumé including
international fashion model, a culinary degree, and owner of a successful catering company. She
always harbored the secret dream of becoming a winemaker and finally pursued this end when she
began working at Robert Biale Vineyards. In 2011, she crafted her first Pinot Noir and Zinfandel
wines. In 2012, she honed her skills at Spottswoode, spent 2013 at Anomaly Vineyards, and in 2014
worked 2 months as a winemaker at Spy Valley Wines in Marlborough. Visit the website at
2012 Wonderment Campbell’s Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
15.3% alc., pH 3.66,
232 cases, $40. Campbell’s Vineyard is a Dutton Ranch property first planted in the mid 1990s. This
14-acre vineyard lies in the Green Valley of Russian River Valley and is planted to Pommard 4 and
777 clones. This wine is 100% Pommard 4.
Moderately dark black cherry color in the glass. Initially,
the aromas of Bing cherry, cola, and clove are appealing. Over time, the fruit trends to display a
roasted quality. Full-bodied core of very ripe black cherry, black raspberry, cola and baking spice
flavors with a hint of complimentary oak. Vigorous and deep on the palate with balanced tannins.
Well-crafted in this very ripe style.
2012 Wonderment Dr. Stan’s Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.65, 79 cases, $50. From a vineyard of
less than 1 acre of 30+ year-old Pinot Noir vines planted to Dijon
Moderate ruby color in the glass. Oak-kissed cherry perfume
leads to a mid weight earthy wine featuring flavors of cherry, dried
herbs, cola and noticeable oak overlay. Well-structured with dry
tannins and enough acidity to bring the fruit to life. The wine
finishes with a modicum of juicy cherry fruit. When tasted later in
the day from a previously opened and re-corked wine, the oak was
more integrated and the wine was noticeably more pleasing.
2012 Beaux Frères The Beaux Frères Vineyard Ribbon Ridge Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $90. 100% estate
vineyard Pommard and Wädenswil clones on their own roots. 23-
acre vineyard planted with tight spacing from 1987 to 1991
(average vine age 22 years). Biodynamically farmed. Unfined and
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very sexy
aromas of fresh cherry pie glaze, exotic spices, ripe raspberries,
sous-bois and sweet oak, becoming more exuberant over time in
the glass. Intense mid palate attack of ripe cherry and black
raspberry fruits with a whisper of oak in the background. Elegant
and harmonious with juicy acidity and a grand finish. A very young
wine with excellent long term prospects.
2012 Bryter Estates Tre Sette Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
15.1% alc., 110
cases, $68. “Tre Sette” means “Three Sevens” in Italian and refers to the single clone of 777 used in
making this wine. Gap’s Crown Vineyard is in proximity to the Petaluma Gap. Planted in 2002 and
2005, the soils are clay loam with significant rock. 30% whole cluster fermented. Aged 14 months in
90% neutral French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately deep red cherry color in the
glass. Pleasing aromas of Bing cherry, spice and sandalwood. Mid weight plus core of spiced cherry
fruit with hints of anise, mocha and red berries. Plenty of sappy fruit, yet light on its feet. Flavors are
not over ripe and nicely framed by complimentary oak. Finishes with a burst of cherry goodness.
2012 Conarium Madeline’s Cuvée Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.60,
100 cases, $35. Harvest Brix 25º. A barrel selection of various vineyard origins. 25% whole cluster
fermentation, crushed by foot before a 7-day cold soak. Aged sur lie for 16 months in French oak
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Lively aromas of black cherry, sous-bois and
toasty oak. Discreetly weighted and quite flavorful, with tastes of black cherry, ollaliberry, and oak that
attack with purpose, but fade a bit on the finish. The tannins are nicely balanced and the mouth feel
is very silky.
2012 Dutton Estate Karmen Isabella-Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.55, 1805
cases, $40. Dutton Ranch farms over 80 unique vineyards in the
cooler areas of the Russian River Valley, primarily in the Green
Valley AVA. This wine resulted from a selection of 3 favorite
vineyards (Thomas Road, Marty’s and Manzana) representing the
Duttons’ vision of a signature Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.
Clones “828,” 777 and 115 planted in Goldridge soil. 100% destemmed,
5-day cold soak, three punch downs daily, aged 10
months in 33% new French oak barrels. The final blend is a barrel
selection of reserve quality. Winemaker is Terry Adams.
reddish purple color in the glass. Bright perfume of fresh Bing cherries, raspberries and toasty oak.
Upon entry, the wine fills the mouth with pure cherry pleasure and hints of cola and oak spice. A
sophisticated offering that is forward and easy to like, with supple tannins, vibrancy, a silky mouth feel,
and a luscious cherry-themed finish.
2013 Ken Wright Shea Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $45.
Vines planted in Willakenzie soil in 1989.
Moderately light cherry color in the glass. Perfumed with
scents of cherry, raspberry, dusty earth and underbrush. Light in weight, even a bit shallow, with
flavors of red cherry, cranberry and red raspberry with a hint of spice. A delicate wine with soft
tannins and a short, somewhat empty finish. Could pick up intensity and interest over time but the
wine was unchanged two days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2013 Sante Arcangeli Split Rail Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.59, 370
cases, $36. This vineyard is located at 1,700 feet
elevation on a Corralitos mountaintop. Clones include
Martini, Wädenswil, Mt. Eden, Swan, 32 and Pommard 4.
Harvest Brix 22.5º-24.5º. 100% de-stemmed, aged sur lie
with battonage for 10 months in 95% French and 5% Hungarian
oak barrels of which 30% were new and 70% were used. Unfined
Moderately light cherry color in the glass. Lovely
nose with alluring aromas of Bing cherry, sandalwood and spice
cabinet. A delightful wine that is deep on the palate with an
impressive attack of fleshy dark cherry, black raspberry and spice flavors complimented by a subtle
vein of savory herbs in the background. The fine-grain, slightly weighty tannins provide good
structure, and the persistent finish brings waves of vivid, flamboyant fruit.
2012 Screen Door Cellars Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., 100 cases, $45. Inaugural vintage from winemakers
Bobby and Shannon Donnell. Sourced from one unnamed vineyard. Primarily Pommard clone with a small portion of "828" and 115 picked over the top of the bins and co-fermented. Aged 11 months in 40% new French oak barrels.
Moderate dark cherry color in the
glass. The nose is really inviting, bursting with aromas of ripe Bing
cherries, strawberries, sarsaparilla and spice. The wine is very
giving with plenty of deep cherry flavor accented with a hint of cola.
Very luscious, yet nimble, with modest tannins and deft balance.
Quintessential Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.
2012 Soliste Barrique 9 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., 23 cases, $100. Single vineyard, single clone,
one barrel. From the Guidici Vineyard (the source of Soliste's Forêt bottling), this barrel
stood out from the others that went into the Forêt. Hand bottled into unique Burgundy bottles, then
Moderately light red cherry color in the
glass. Plenty to like about this wine with hi-tone aromas of
cherry, spice box, sous-bois and buttery oak. Light to mid weight
flavors of cherry and strawberry with elegance to spare. Seamless
and demure with supple tannins and harmonious acidity. Very
Chambolle-Musigny in character with a charming delicacy that
seduces rather than imposes its will. This wine will be fascinating
to follow over the ensuing years.
2013 Sonoma-Loeb Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.72, TA 0.59,
$39. Winemaker Phillip Corallo-Titus uses Pinot Noir clones 667, 777 and 115 to produce this wine.
Harvest Brix 25.6º-26.8º. Wild yeast and proprietary Burgundian strains were used in the
fermentation. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass.
The elevating aromas of spiced black raspberry and black cherry are very inviting. A bold expression
of Pinot Noir with luscious flavors of black raspberry, black cherry, spice, mocha and coffee-scented
oak. Very satisfying with a notably intense finish and admirable balance.
2013 Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Lot #23 Carneros Pinot Noir
14% alc., $13.
reddish purple color in the glass. Pleasant aromas of black cherry, strawberry glaze and toasty oak.
Light to mid weight flavors of juicy cherry with a hint of anise and cola. A bit shallow on the attack but
finishes with a burst of cherry flavor backed by slightly astringent tannins. This wine delivers what you
would expect for Pinot Noir at this price point.
2013 Turtle Vines Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alcohol, pH 3.79, TA 0.58, 30
cases, $34. 80% Pommard, 20% 667. Harvest Brix 24º. 5-day cold soak, 100% destemmed,
not crushed. 5% whole cluster fermentation. Aged in Flextanks with 20%
Moderate light cherry color in the glass. Aromas of red cherry, spice, and
Herbs de Provence. Light in weight, but flavorful, with a good mid palate attack of cherry
and raspberry fruits complimented by a hint of oak. Light on its feet and easy to cozy up to,
with a refreshing cut of acidity on the finish.
2012 Twomey Cellars Monument Tree Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 142
cases, $68. The first single vineyard wine from this estate vineyard. For years, this vineyard has been
the backbone for the Anderson Valley bottling.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of
strawberry, cherry, spice box and smoky oak become more effusive over time. Juicy flavors of black
cherry and ripe strawberry with a hint of spice are easy to like. Appealing finesse and harmony, with
fine tannins, refreshing acidity and a bright finish.
Sips of Recently Tasted White Wines
Gloria Ferrer, Carneros
The four sparkling wines represent the core of the Gloria Ferrer portfolio. All are crafted using
2012 Gloria Ferrer Carneros Chardonnay
13.5% alc., pH 3.45, TA 0.68, $25. Barrel fermented in
Moderately light gold straw color in the glass. Aromas and flavors of lemon-lime, Asian
pear and Fuji apple with a hint of tropical fruits and toasty oak. Solid, with a good grip of acidity on
the juicy finish.
NV Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blancs Carneros Sparkling Wine
12.5% alc., pH 3.35, TA
0.75, dosage 13.3 g/L, $22. Exclusively Chardonnay. Whole cluster pressed, fermented in
stainless steel, proprietary yeast for secondary fermentation in bottle. Final blend contains
6 different base wines. 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Sweepstakes
Award for sparkling wines. Aged 16 months en tirage before disgorgement.
yellow color with a fine bead in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of fresh apple and
pear. The flavors of green apple, pear, Meyer lemon and white peach are satisfyingly
bright. Slightly creamy on the palate, with a crisp, dry, mineral-imbued, soprano finish.
NV Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut Carneros Sparkling Wine
12.5% alc., pH 3.21, TA 0.68,
dosage 13 g/L, $22. This wine is dominated by Pinot Noir with added Chardonnay. Whole
cluster pressed, 20% to 25% of first press used, proprietary yeast drive the second
fermentation. A blend of 20 different base wines fermented in stainless steel. The wine
spent 18 months en tirage.
Very pale pink diamond color in the glass. Lovely aromas of
black cherry, Granny Smith apple and croissant. Vivid and lively on the palate with flavors
of cherry, cranberry and citrus fruits. Completely dry, with inviting fruit goodness and length on the
NV Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs Carneros Sparkling Wine
12.2% alc., pH 3.07, TA 0.73, $22.
Predominantly Pinot Noir (92%) with a small amount of
Chardonnay (8%) and a small addition of Vin Gris
blended into the base cuvée. Many different clones and
selections. Whole cluster pressed, proprietary yeast
used for secondary fermentation. The wine is a blend of 18
different base wines fermented in stainless steel. 5% to 7% coldsoaked
Pinot Noir juice (Vin Gris) is blended into the base wine for
color and texture. The wine was aged en tirage for 18 months.
Light salmon color in the glass. Inviting aromas and flavors of
strawberry, cherry and red currant. Plenty of fruit intensity and zip to satisfy, with a creamy mouth feel
and a tight, dry, mouthwatering finish.
NV Gloria Ferrer VA DE VI Carneros Sparkling Wine
12.0% alc., pH 3.30, TA 0.75, dosage 25 G/L,
$22. A blend of Pinot Noir (89%) and Chardonnay (8%) with a trace of Muscat (3%). Whole cluster
pressed with use of 20% to 25% of the first press. Proprietary yeast used for the secondary bottle
fermentation. Fermented in stainless steel tanks. Aged 18 months en tirage.
Pale pink salmon color
in the glass. Shy aromas of apple, peach and lemongrass. Slightly sweet on the palate with juicy
flavors of peach, berries and tropical fruits. The Muscat definitely peaks out.
2013 Big Table Farm Wirtz Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Gris
11.2% alc., 145 cases, $32.
This is an orange wine that defies description. This white grape was left on its skins to add color and
texture to the wine, then pressed and fermented to dryness in neutral French oak barrels. Unfined and
Light copper salmon color in the glass. The aromas are primarily floral including gardenia
while the flavors are fruity including poached pear and hints of strawberry, cherry and vanilla. Lighter
in weight, soft in texture and easy to drink. Should be chilled and paired with shellfish.
2013 Briceland Vineyards Humboldt County Chardonnay
13.5% alc., $26. No oak or malolactic
Moderately light golden straw color in the glass. Aromas of lemon curd, apple tart and
mountain air. Driven by crisp and steely acidity, this wine features flavors of lemon and yellow apple.
Slightly viscous in the mouth with a juicy finish. Fine, but doesn’t hold my interest over time. Tasted
2013 Briceland Vineyards Spirit Canyon Vineyard Mendocino County Arneis
13.6% alc., $21.
An unusual California bottling of a white Italian grape known as “white Nebbiolo.” Planted by Glenn
McGourty. Less than 100 acres in California.
Light golden straw color and clear in the glass. Shy
aromas of lemon tart and wildflowers. Pleasant and smooth on the palate with flavors of lemon, dried
herbs and floral note. With its lip-smacking acidity, this wine is a good foil for shellfish. Not as good
as previous vintages of this wine.
2012 Press Cellars Bacigalupi Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay
15.3% alc., 100
cases, $38. Partial whole cluster with native yeast fermentation. Aged 10 months in 50% new
American oak and 50% neutral French oak.
Light golden straw color and clear in the glass. Bold
aromas of lemon-lime and toasted oak. A bit unusual in flavor, with notes of cut apple, poached pear,
grilled pineapple, toast and burnt toffee. Creamy in the mouth, with noticeable fruit ripeness and
fullness, made for the California palate.
2011 Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
14.5% alc., 1,692 cases,$60.
Light golden straw
color in the glass. Appealing array of aromas including white
peach, Asian pear, lychee, buttery oak, chalk and flint. Tight, with
good tension, offering defined flavors of lemon, poached pear and
very subtle oak. Beautifully configured and sophisticated with
impeccable balance and a refreshing cut of acidity. A
connoisseur’s wine with many nuances made in a French style that
will benefit from more time in bottle.
2012 Smith-Madrone Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Chardonnay
14.2% alc., 779 cases,
pH 3.32, TA 0.69, 779 cases, $32. Average age of dry-farmed vines is 39 years. 100% barrel
fermented in 100% new French oak barrels for 8 months. Winemakers and winegrowers Charles and
Bright golden straw color and clear in the glass. Scents of lemon curd, poached pears
and green apples lead to a soft and creamy core of citrus, pear and banana flavors with a hint of
smoky oak and iron-driven minerality. Somewhat reserved in a French style that is well-crafted.
NV Smith-Madrone Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Riesling
12.6% alc., 1,288 cases, $27. From 5.5
acres of dry-farmed estate grapes. Cool mountain
temperatures, rocky volcanic soil.
Inviting scents of
lemon-lime, pine, grass and petrol. Juicy lemon-lime,
green apple, pear and tropical flavors in a crisp style with
a slightly creamy textural tone. Impressive finishing length and
palate-cleansing acidity. A perfect match with oysters or southern
2013 Sonoma-Loeb Envoy Carneros Chardonnay
14.9% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.64, $38. Sourced
from low-yielding Wente, Hyde and Robert Young clone fruit from the best blocks at Sangiacomo
Vineyard. Harvest Brix 23.5º-24.9º. Barrel fermented, 100% malolactic fermentation, aged 8 months
Light golden straw color and clear in the glass. Welcoming scents of lemon curd, buttery
brioche, peach and chalk dust. Delicious and decadent with waves of citrus fruits including pineapple
and lemon, with notes of Asian pear, nectarine, buttery popcorn, and toast. A take no prisoners,
barrel fermented charmer made in an opulent and well oaked California style.
2013 Truchard Carneros Napa Valley Chardonnay
14.1% alc., 4,955 cases, pH 3.34, TA 0.66, $30. Harvest
Brix 24.0º. Vines range from 17 to 39-years-old and
benefit from the various marine soils, gently slopped
terrain and cooler temperatures. Whole cluster pressed,
100% barrel fermented sur lie with battonage in 100%
French oak, 33% of which was new for 10 months. 30%
Very light golden straw color and clear in
the glass. Pleasant aromas of lemon curd, pear, apple pan dowdy
and apple blossom. Light and refined on the palate and very
refreshing, with lemon, pear, apple and nutty toffee flavors backed
by bright acidity. The wine picks up flavor intensity and interest over time in the glass, offering a
finishing kick of lemon-driven acidity. I continue to be very impressed by the Pinot Noir and
Chardonnay from this iconic Carneros winery.
DtC Shipments of Pinot Noir Increase According to Wines & Vines (January 2015), directto-
consumer (DtC) yearly sales reached $1.8 billion for the year (November 2013 - November 2014),
which was 16% higher than the year before. Consumers spent the most dollars on wines priced
between $30 and $59.99 a bottle, but wines priced even higher were close behind. Within the $30 to
$59.99 segment, Pinot Noir had the largest share by value, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and red
blends. Cabernet Sauvignon was the best-selling DtC varietal overall. Chardonnay was still the bestselling
varietal in the marketplace with the highest off-premise sales of any varietal, capturing 20%
share of the market by value and volume.
Oregon Showed Most Growth Outside of California in 2014 According to Wines &
Vines (December 2014), Oregon had the most new wineries outside of California in 2014 at 78,
mostly in the Northern Willamette Valley. California!s Napa County had 84 new wineries, the most of
any wine region in the United States. Napa has 1,042 wineries, the highest total overall, accounting
for almost a third of the 3,803 wineries in California. Sonoma County, with 783, has the second
highest total. 69 new wineries opened in Sonoma County in 2014.
IPNC Celebrates Historic Anniversary in 2015 Fifty years ago, David Lett planted the first
Pinot Noir vine in the Willamette Valley. This year!s International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) is
toasting 50 years of growing Pinot Noir in Oregon!s Willamette Valley. The event will begin at the
Grand Seminar, where you will learn how Pinot Noir is made. Taste a Champagne flight of three
single-varietal bottlings crafted from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Experience a
“dosage trial” and understand how this step transforms texture, balance, and the final expression of
the wine. Finally, raise a glass filled with a surprise wine, only to be unveiled at the IPNC. Imbibe
plenty of Pinot Noir as winemakers conduct engaging seminars as part of the “University of Pinot,”
and frolic at the alfresco tastings and sumptuous meals throughout the weekend. Visit www.ipnc,org
to confirm your place at the celebration.
New Majority Ownership at Kosta Browne Kosta Browne Winery has new financial
partners, J.W. Childs Associates, with the founders remaining co-owners. The Vincraft Group joined
Kosta Browne (originally founded in 1997) as investment partners in 2009, followed by the building of
a new winery at The Barlow in Sebastopol, and Kosta Browne!s first vineyard acquisition in 2013, with
the purchase of 20 acres of Keefer Ranch Vineyard. The new partnership also includes the CIRQ
Estate Pinot Noir brand, crafted by winemaker Michael Browne from two hand-picked estates in the
Russian River Valley. John Childs of J.W. Childs Associates has been a majority investor in the CIRQ
Audio Series on Burgundy Three years in the making, this nearly 10-hour, 7-part audio series
examines every important aspect of Burgundy. Narrated by Allen Meadows, the Burghound, this
audio program was created for all wine lovers, from the casual enthusiast to the seasoned pro. It
contains in-depth coverage of world-famous communes and terroirs and advice on world class
producers, vineyards and vintages. Visit www.burghound.com/burgundy-essentials-audio-series.
Priced at $79.95
10th Annual Pigs & Pinot Weekend If you are not on the mailing list and did not know that
tickets went on sale recently (January 13 for Visa pre-sale and January 14), you missed out on this
event held at the Hotel Healdsburg. You may have missed out anyway, because this celebration is so
popular that tickets sell out within 15 minutes. You can join a waiting list at www.pigsandpinot.com. A
special commemorative Pinot Noir bottling was offered in 1.5L and 3.0L formats. This exclusive wine
blends Pinot Noir wine from twelve iconic Sonoma County Pigs & Pinot Gala winemakers including
winners of the coveted Pinot Cup that have participated over the last decade. Only one barrel made.
As of January 17, the wine was still available on the website.
Climate Change Predicts Changes in Wine Production and Taste 2014 was the
world!s warmest year on record and was the warmest vintage on record in California and Oregon,
beating out 2013, the next warmest. A press release from BigGreen.co.uk, a company that is a
leading expert in recycling and waste disposal for businesses, discussed what people have called a
“grape-ocalypse.” Some are predicting that many traditional winegrowing areas will be lost in as little
as 35 years as the prime winegrowing regions move northward. However, even as global warming
leads to larger yields and changes in taste of wines, winegrowers are adapting to insure timely and
quality harvests. Alcohol levels are likely to rise, as one Australian writer put it, “Wines are bolder
tasting....and pack a boozier wallop.” British Columbia is one northerly region that is being touted as
having considerable upside in the future and may prove to be an important source of Pinot Noir, the
grape that loves warm sites in cool areas.
Kistler Vineyards Finally Opens Arms to Consumers Beginning in the early 1980s, I
became a buyer of Kistler Chardonnays primarily because my spouse adored those wines. Despite
buying a few cases of the wine a year (it was more affordable back then), there was no opportunity to
visit the winery or taste the wines, or even meet the principals. Beginning last summer, Kistler
reached out to their consumer base through their Director of Hospitality, Brooke Barnett, and invited
them to visit. Early this year, the original barn at Trenton Roadhouse Vineyard will be converted into a
small winemaking facility, with additional space among the barrels for wine tasting and limited dining.
The goal is to harvest the best sections of the Trenton Roadhouse Vineyard, and to barrel ferment
and age the wine in the barn, offering guests the opportunity to see the process firsthand while
enjoying a glass of Chardonnay. Kistler offered multiple Chardonnays in the 2012 vintage including a
Sonoma Coast blend, a Sonoma Mountains blend, Dutton Vineyard, Kistler Vineyard, Trenton
Roadhouse Vineyard (some magnums in 2012), Vine Hill Vineyard, Hyde Vineyard, Hudson Vineyard,
Durell Vineyard, Stone Flat Vineyard, and a special Cuvée Cathleen bottling. 2012 Pinot Noirs include
a Sonoma Coast blend, Occidental Station Cuvée Catherine, Kistler Vineyard, and Silver Belt
Vineyard Cuvée Natalie. Two Pinot Noirs are offered under the Occidental label: Occidental Wines Bodega
Highlands Cuvée Elizabeth and Occidental Wines SWK Vineyard. Kistler wines are sold through a
mailing list with allocations based on the time on the list and past buying history. Visit
www.kistlervineyards.com to join the mailing list or schedule a visit and tasting ($75 for four wines,
$150 for seven wines) in Forestville at the Trenton Roadhouse Vineyard barn.
2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Award Winners The largest
competition of American wines in the world recently announced their award winners. 59 professional
judges tasted over 6,417 entries in early January. Many of the award-winning wines will be available
for tasting at the Public Tasting, held on February 14, 2015, at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.
The Red Wine Sweepstakes Award was a tie between 2012 Sonoma-Cutrer Founders Reserve
Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($65) and 2012 Pezzi King Estate Row 14 Reserve Dry Creek
Zinfandel ($50). Best of Class Pinot Noir Awards: Pinot Noir up to $19.99 - 2013 Cameron Hughes
Wine Monterey County Pinot Noir, 2013 Mirassou Sun California Pinot Noir (tie); Pinot Noir $20 to
$24.99 - 2012 CRU Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir; Pinot Noir $25 to $29.99 - 2012 Gloria Ferrer
Carneros Pinot Noir; Pinot Noir $30 to $34.99 - 2012 CRU Richard's Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir,
2012 Anaba Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (tie); Pinot Noir $35 to $39.99 - 2011 Teac Mor Vineyards
Russian River Valley Pinot Noir; Pinot Noir $40 to $49.99 - 2013 McIntyre Vineyards McIntyre Estate
Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, 2011 Storrs Winery and Vineyards Christie Vineyard Santa Cruz
Mountains Pinot Noir (tie); Pinot Noir $50 and over - 2012 Kenneth Volk Vineyards Steiner Creek
Vineyard San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir. For all medal winners, visit www.winejudging.com.
2015 New Hampshire Wine Week The New Hampshire Liquor Commission is putting on a
week long wine event, January 26-February 1, that includes educational seminars, extensive tasting
of multiple varietals, gourmet food and more. New to the event this year is a “Mini Pinot Noir Camp”
on January 28, featuring some of Oregon!s top winemakers. Four Oregon Pinot Noir focused
wineries will gather for an exclusive seminar and special dinner including Lange Estate Winery and
Vineyards, Adelsheim Vineyard, Firesteed Cellars, and Erath Winery. The week-long event will
include the 12th Annual Easter Seals Winter Wine Spectacular featuring over 1,300 wines with
winemakers from all over the world, including noted Pinot Noir specialists J Vineyard, Steele Wines,
Rodney Strong Vineyards and Davis Bynum Wineries, Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards, Peter Paul Wines,
R. Stuart & Co. Winery, and Robert Sinskey Vineyards.
Winemaker Bob Cabral Joins Three Sticks Wines in Sonoma Bill Price, owner of Price
Family Vineyards, Classic Wines, LLC, and Three Sticks Wines, announced that Bob Cabral, formerly
the winemaker at Williams Selyem, will be partnering with his team at Three Sticks Wines as Director
of Winemaking. Ryan Prichard, one-time harvest intern for Cabral and former assistant winemaker
for Medlock Ames, will join the team as associate winemaker. The new team will work alongside
winemaker Don Van Staaveren as he moves to the title of Winemaker Emeritus and continues to craft
the Three Sticks Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Blanc and Castenada Wines. Cabral said he has longed
to work with grapes from Durell and Gap!s Crown vineyards. The new winemakers will blend and
bottle the 2013 vintage in the coming weeks. Visit the Three Sticks website to find out more about
Cabral, and join the mailing list at www.threestickswines.com.
Winter Wine Escapes Winter is a surprisingly good time to visit California wine country. Hotel
rates are lower, winemakers are more available, roads and wineries are less crowded, and there are
many notable events. Examples include: Lodi Wine and Chocolate Weekend (February 7-8), 37th
Annual Barrel Tasting Weekend, Northern Sonoma County (March 6-8 and March 13-15), Livermore
Valley!s 7th Annual Barrel Tasting Weekend (March 21-22), 4th Annual Winter Wine Classic, Santa
Barbara County (January 24), 10th Annual Wine Fantasy, Santa Barbara County (February 13-16),
World of Pinot Noir (March 6-7). For more information, visit www.discovercaliforniawines.com. A
number of events are held in the Willamette Valley of Oregon as well: Heart of Willamette!s 5th Annual
Barrel Tour (February 7), Sip McMinnville Wine & Food Classic (March 13-15), Oregon Chardonnay
Symposium (March 14). For a full listing, visit www.willamettewines.com/events/.
50 Years - Pressing On Willamette Valley Wineries Association is celebrating the 50th
Anniversary of Winegrowing in the Willamette Valley on Febraury 21, 2015. The wine tasting will be
held at Pure Space, an urban venue in the Pearl in Portland. The event will feature an unparalleled
tasting of library wines, food by Art of Catering, live music, historic photo displays, and an enormous
family portrait. Tickets are $150 per person until February 10, 2015, at Eventbrite.
Santa Lucia Highlands Artisans Annual Gala SLH Gala IX on May 16 will feature more
than thirty Santa Lucia Highlands labels pouring their wines. Tickets go on sale in early February and
sell out quickly. Visit the Santa Lucia Highlands Artisans website at www.santaluciahighlands.com.
Report on Williams Selyem Charity Auction Dinner Blake Brown sent me a report on a
charity auction item from this year’s Central Coast Wine Classic. The lot, which included many of Burt
Williams’ Williams Selyem wines from 1984 to 1997, and a dinner for 10 at the San Ysidro Ranch,
raised $16,000. The event took place on December 3, 2014. Some of the top wines of the night
included a 1995 Williams Selyem Allen Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay in magnum, a
1985 and 1991 Williams Selyem Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, and a 1996
Williams Selyem Precious Mountain Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Blake said, “This was one of
the finest wine experiences I have ever had. The combination of the friends who attended, the
ambiance, food, service and especially the wines were as good as it gets and to know charities
benefited from the pleasures we all shared made it even more special. Photo below shows Burt in his
signature Hawaiian shirt and Blake at the event.
Petaluma Gap Proposed AVA Presentation and Tasting An evening of information on
the Petaluma Gap wine region and its proposed AVA, and a tasting of Petaluma Gap wines will be
offered at the Healdsburg Public Library on Friday, January 30 from 7:00 PM, to 9:00 PM. Tickets may
be purchased online at Eventbrite: www.eventbrite.com/e/petaluma-gap-birth-of-an-avatickets-
Pinots I Wish I Had Tried in 2015 There were a number of Pinots released in 2014 that I didn’t
get a chance to sample for several reasons. Here is a list of ones that drew considerable praise
among wine critics:
2012 Donum 1870 Carneros Pinot Noir
2012 Donum West Slope Carneros Pinot Noir
2012 Bevan Cellars Summit 1376’ Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
2012 Bevan Cellars Summit 2114’ Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
2012 Boar’s View Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
2012 Brewer-Clifton Machado Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
2012 Loring Aubaine Vineyard San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir
2012 Peter Michael Le Caprice Fort Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir
2012 Roar Rosella’s Vineyard Pinot Noir
2012 Foxen Block 43 Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Paul Hobbs Hyde Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir
2012 Joseph Phelps Quarter Moon Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
2012 FEL Spiritus Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
2012 The Hilt The Old Guard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
2012 Banshee Wines Sullivan Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir
2012 Brick House Evelyn’s Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Bergström Shea Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Brittan Basalt Block McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Brittan Gestalt Block McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 The Eyrie Vineyard Original Vines Reserve Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Patton Valley Lorna-Marie Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Cornerstone Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Brooks Janus Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Winderlea Dundee Hills Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 ROCO Clawson Creek Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 J. Christopher Sandra Adele Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Chapter 24 Shea Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Chapter 24 Hyland Vineyard McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Chehalem Mountains Ridgecrest Vineyards Wind Ridge Block Ribbon Ridge Willamette Valley
2012 Harper Voit Bieze Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Hyland Vineyards McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Dundee Willamette Valley Hills Pinot Noir
2012 Archery Summit Archer’s Edge Estate Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Torii Mor Olson Vineyard Old Vine Reserve Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Nolir
2012 Boedecker Shea Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Adelsheim Quarter Mile Lane Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Adelsheim Ribbon Springs Vineyard Ribbon Ridge Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Aubichon Armstrong Vineyard Ribbon Ridge Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Elk Cove Mt. Richmond Old Vines Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Evening Land Seven Springs Vineyard La Source Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2012 Stoller Helen’s Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
New Look for the PinotFile After 12 years, and close to 350 issues, I felt it was long overdue to
refresh the Prince of Pinot/PinotFile Home Page and make a few other changes on the website.
Same content, better organization. With the assistance of Wendy Coy (Coy Design in Sebastopol),
Peter Rowell (my long time website techie who retired last year), and Michael McDonald (my new
website techie), we have transformed and modernized the Home Page. Look for the changes soon.
For the half million visitors to the website over the past year, I say thanks for your interest. I
especially want to thank those who sent me thank-you’s, compliments and suggestions. Feed back is
very important to me. W.S. Merwin wrote in Opening the Hand, “I asked how can you ever be sure
that what you write is really any good at all and he said you can’t, you can never be sure.” Feed back
motivates me to try harder to enhance your Pinot Noir drinking experience.