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From En Garde Winery: A Pinot Noir Gem in Sonoma Valley

2013 En Garde Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 200 cases, $45. Martini, Pommard and 23 clones. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Bing cherry is the theme in this light to mid weight, forward drinking wine with added flavors of baking spices, dark chocolate and cola. The tannins are silky and the modest black cherry finish satisfies. The wine shows Russian River Valley typicality and represents an ideal entry wine. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 En Garde Gold Ridge Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

100 cases, $54. Clones 667, “828,” and 115. Harvest Brix 24º. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. Unfined and unfiltered. · This moderately light cherry red colored wine is a cherry bombast. Aromas of fresh cherry and earthy flora lead to a red cherry, strawberry and spicy array of flavors having noticeable mid palate richness that trails off slowly on the long finish. There is good cut for vibrancy and silky tannins making this forward drinking wine very satisfying. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 En Garde Olivet Court Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 75 cases, $54. Martini clone. Harvest Brix 25.0º. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels, 33% new. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, sarsaparilla and herbs lead to a mid weight styled wine with a mix of fruity and savory elements including Bing cherry, marzipan, spice, herbs and shitake mushroom. Silky in the mouth with seamless integration of tannins and acidity. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 En Garde Pleasant Hill Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

100 cases, $54. Clones 115 and 667. Harvest Brix 25º. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Supportive oak embellishes the black raspberry fruit on the nose. Impressive attack of luscious black raspberry and black cherry fruits that are well spiced and accented with oak. Lively, with perfectly matched tannins, admirable harmony, and noticeable finishing power and length. The finish is particularly glorious. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 En Garde Starkey Hill Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

100 cases, $54. Clones are 32, “828,” and Pommard. Harvest Brix 25º. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels, 75% new. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Shy, but pleasant aromas of an array of dark red berries. The mid weight blueberry core is inviting, as is the juicy finish. Like all the En Garde wines, the balance is impressive in this mid weight wine that sports complimentary oak enhancements and a soothing mouthfeel. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 En Garde Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

150 cases, $60. Clones are Martini, Pommard, 23, 667. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels, 83% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is somewhat reserved, opening slowly to reveal lovely aromas of black cherry, spice and bark. A gorgeous black cherry cola core alerts the taste buds, offering more pop than any other wine in the 2013 En Garde lineup. There are more substantial tannins and more oak infusion, but the composite picture is harmonious. Bold, with serious intentions, yet seductive and refined. I liked this wine incrementally more over time in the glass and even more the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »


From Expensive & Allocated Crimson Liquid: Are Cult Pinot Noirs Worth It?

2014 Paul Hobbs Ulises Valdez Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., $72. Calera and Beba clones planted in 2002 in Goldridge soil. Yield 2.7 tons per acre. Harvest Brix 25.2º. 7% whole cluster inclusion. 5-day cold soak, 16 day total maceration. Indigenous yeast fermentation. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 65% new, spontaneous malolactic fermentation in barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of blackberry jam and spice draw the nose into the glass. A full-bodied charge of blackberry and black currant flavors meet the palate in a big and bold style that balances power with harmonious tannins and acidity. Velvety in the mouth, with a luscious finish that shows a slight waft of alcohol. Still exceptional the following day when tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Patz & Hall Hyde Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 1,056 cases, $75. Sourced from three small blocks within the larger Hyde Vineyard combining new and older plantings of the Hyde-Calera selection and include coveted grapes from the “old field.” Patz & Hall has sourced grapes from Hyde Vineyard since 1995 and several sections of the vineyard are planted exclusively for Patz & Hall. 10% whole clusters, wild and cultured yeast fermentation, aged in French oak barrels, 60% new, and bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Intoxicating perfume of black cherry, pomegranate, black grape juice and sweet oak. Full-bodied, with earthy flavors of black raspberry, blackberry and black cherry framed by slightly grainy tannins and complimentary oak. A very honorable wine with a succulent mid palate, a silky mouthfeel and a palate-staining finish. Even better when re-tasted later in the day from a previously opened bottle. A dreamy ode to Larry Hyde’s legacy. Score: 96. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 RAEN Fort Ross-Seaview Home Field Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., 200 cases, $80 (sold in 6-packs, sold out). Fermented with 65% whole cluster, 16-day extended maceration, indigenous yeast fermentation, and aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 0% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of dark red cherry and berry along with underbrush and sous bois evolve slowly in the glass. Very similar in all respects to the Freestone Occidental bottling, but with more fruit expression and less savory overlay. Styled as a middleweight plus offering, featuring flavors of dark red and purple fruits, this wine’s fruit really clings to the palate. The tannins are polished, and the deep red cherry finish is spectacular. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the nose was more expressive and the palate was filled with joyful waves of fruit with sous bois integration. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 RAEN Freestone Occidental Bodega Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., 150 cases, $80 (sold in 6-packs, sold out). The winegrowers are Carlo and Dante Mondavi, fourth generation vintners born and raised in Napa Valley. RAEN stands for Research in Agriculture and Enology. 80% whole cluster inclusion, 16- day maceration, wild yeast fermentation, aged 10 months in neutral French oak barrels. Bottled without fining or filtration. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Fruit never shows up on this very savory nose featuring aromas of underbrush, earthy flora and pine. Intensely fruity in a mid weight plus style plush with purple berry and plum flavors infused with a savory and slightly herbaceous thread in the background. The sandpaper tannins add textural interest and the finish has glorious intensity and length. The high percentage of whole cluster inclusion dominates the profile of the wine but without undue tannin. Unchanged the following day when tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Sea Smoke “Ten” Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.56% alc., pH 3.46, TA 0.62, $82. Released October 2015. The name is derived from ten low vigor French clones planted in the Sea Smoke Estate Vineyard. While “Ten” incorporates all ten clones, it is also a barrel selection of the richest and most extracted wines of the vintage. It is the deepest and most robust Sea Smoke Pinot Noir. The amount of new oak has gradually been reduced as has the amount of toasting as part of the ongoing winemaking evolution. 100% de-stemmed, 1 to 4-day cold soak, inoculated with cultured yeasts, total maceration time of 16 to 28 days. Both free-run and press wines were racked to oak barrels. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 70% new. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Upon opening, oak-infused aromas and flavors combine with a fruit-charged core of dark cherry, blackberry, pomegranate and spice. The wine showed much less oak overlay when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle when the fruit became front and center. Boldly styled, with delicious fruit expression, supportive tannins, and integrated acidity. A masculine interpretation of Pinot Noir, yet not highly muscled, offering a soft, approachable tone, and a refreshingly juicy finish. Decant this beauty when you pull the cork. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Sequitur Ribbon Ridge Oregon Pinot Noir

$100. A new project from winemaker Mike Etzel (Beaux Frères) and his spouse Carey Critchlow. A blend of 15 clones (including Coury “clone,” and California heritage clones including Calera, Mt. Eden and Martin Ray) grown biodynamically on never-farmed soil in Ribbon Ridge. The 12-acre vineyard is planted adjacent Beaux Frères’ Upper Terrace Vineyard. Cool fermentations are carried out using indigenous yeast in several different vessels. There was moderate use of lightly toasted new oak barrels from a variety of tonnelieries. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. An impressive debut wine, offering alluring aromas of cherry, rose petal, spice and pine needle, and mid weight flavors of baked cherry pie, ripe strawberry and spice. Impeccably balanced, with a sleek mouthfeel, and a finish replete with black cherry goodness. At once elegant and highly flavorful, this beauty is pure and refined. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine still had me singing its praises. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Peter Michael “Le Caprice” Fort Ross-Seaview Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $116. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. This wine left me grasping for superlatives. Lovely aromas of black cherry, dark berry and spice. A melange of purple and black fruits elevate the mid palate and finish in this superbly balanced wine offering added notes of clove spice, anise, vanilla, and sweet oak. At once both succulent and refined, with a peacock finish that goes on forever. Still superb the following day from a previously opened and re-corked wine indicating a long life ahead. Extraordinary in every respect. Score: 98. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Occidental “Bodega Headlands Cuvée Elizabeth” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $160. Steve Kistler, co-founder and winemaker of Kistler Vineyards for 37 years, established a new Pinot Noir label called “Occidental” owned and operated by the Kistler family. The project is dedicated to producing Pinot Noir from the Freestone-Occidental area. A modern winery has been built on a ridge top adjacent Bodega Headlands Vineyard capable of producing 7,500 cases of Pinot Noir annually. This wine is one of four released in the spring 2016. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Engaging nose that picks up interest over time in the glass, offering scents of black cherry, sous bois, baking spices and sweet oak. Modest in weight, with a core of dark red cherry and raspberry fruit flavors, with a slight earthy underpinning, and a proper infusion of oak highlights. The tannins are nicely integrated, and the cleansing finish has spectacular length with endless waves of cherry goodness. Still outstanding the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Soliste Extravagant Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., 23 cases, $100. Very best grapes selected through multiple passes at harvest. 50% whole cluster fermentation. Aged 16 months in a French oak barrel from Tonnellerie Rousseau. MonoClone®: single vineyard, single clone, single barrel source. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Intoxicating aromas of cherry, wild strawberry and exotic spices. Suave and sexy, with mid weighted flavors of black cherry and whole cluster driven hints of pine sap, root beer, spice and edible rose. Eloquent in style with impeccable balance, the wine offered gossamer tannins, and a spice-fueled finish that was revelatory. I relished the whole cluster integration in this wine as well as its acidity that can enable many food matches. When tasted the following day, I was still “ga-ga” over this wine. This wine shows what Pinot Noir can offer when a dedicated vintner commits to meticulous viticulture and vinification techniques based on a fanatical devotion to Pinot Noir. Score: 97. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Soliste L’Ermite Rouge Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., 23 cases, $100. 50% whole cluster fermentation. Aged 22 months in a French oak barrel from Tonnellerie Rousseau. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Deeply perfumed with both fruity and savory aromas of cherry, spice, wine cave and stalky stem. A little more riper fruited than most Soliste Pinot Noir bottlings, yet highly engaging with mid weight racy flavors of cherry, marionberry and spice. Fine-grain tannins, impeccable balance, and a long finish suggest a Chambertain character. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 Mail Road Wines Mt. Carmel Vineyard Blocks 2, 3, 5 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $90. A project of Ronald Piazza and Michael Palmer who own Mt. Carmel Vineyard. Winemaker is Matt Dees with Ruben Solorzano managing the vineyard that was originally developed by Greg Brewer and Steve Clifton. Mail Road Wines produces wines exclusively from Mt. Carmel Vineyard. 100% de-stemmed, aged 11 months in 42% new French oak barrels. · Dark reddish purple color in the glass. This is a boldly extracted and hedonistic wine, almost akin to a fortified wine, featuring aromas of blackberry, cassis, raisin, dark chocolate and cocoa nibs, and richly extracted flavors of boysenberry, black raspberry and blackberry fruits. The tannins keep the sheer power in check and the silky texture invites indulgence. A peek of alcoholic warmth shows up on the finish. The wine is not my favorite stylistically, but has merit. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 Wayfarer Mother Rock Wayfarer Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $115. Named for Wayfarer Vineyard’s sandstone substrate, this wine is a blend of clones 37 and Dijon 777. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Soaring aromas of blackberry jam, cassis and ripest strawberry. A boisterous wine on the palate, with exhilarating flavors of blackberry and black raspberry that attack with purpose, fill the mid palate with expansive resolve, and dance mightily on a finish that goes on and on. Even better the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle when spice nuances appeared to embellish the fruit. Easy to run out of superlatives for this one. Score: 97. WINERY » ARTICLE »


From Sips of Recently Tasted California Pinot Noir

2015 Cosa Obra Sonoma County Rosé of Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., cases, pH 3.44, TA 0.64, 96 cases, $18. Sourced from the Sangiacomo Southern Sonoma Vineyard first planted in 1974. 100% Pommard clone. Crafted by the saignée method and fermented in neutral barrels. · Moderate pinkish orange color in the glass. Aromas of cranberry, orange water and dried herbs lead to a richly flavored core of blood orange, strawberry and watermelon fruits. Nicely composed, with integrated acidity and a very juicy finish. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Attune Pinot Noir Rosé

12.7% alc., 140 cases, $28. Aged 5 months in 100% neutral French oak barrels. · Light pinkish orange color in the glass. Well-appointed nose with aromas of apple, strawberry, watermelon and spice. Crisp, clean and flavorful, with tastes of blood orange and strawberry, finishing bright but with the slightest sense of alcoholic warmth. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 J. Lohr Estates Falcon’s Perch Monterey County Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.64, RS .15 g/ 100 ml, $17. Sourced from vineyards in the Arroyo Seco (46%) and Santa Lucia Highlands (54%) appellations. 3 day cold soak, fermented in 12-ton lots in open-top tanks for 5 to 10 days with light pumpovers and daily punchdowns. Matured in stainless steel with small fraction aged in French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of cassis, blackberry jam, fig and vanillin. Mid weight plus flavors of blackberry, black raspberry, candied black cherry, spice, black tea and plenty of vanilla. Soft in the mouth with tame tannins and some finish. Score: 87. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 La Crema Monterey Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.50, >50,000 cases, $23. 3-day cold soak, punch downs three times a day during fermentation with no postfermentation maceration. Aged 8 months in French oak barrels, 17% new. Racked once out of barrel at time of blending just before bottling. · Light cherry red color in the glass. Striking aromas of Bing cherry, cola and spicy oak hold up in the glass over time. Deliciously fruited core of cherry, strawberry and cranberry flavors enhanced by a touch of oak spice and nutmeg. Crisp and juicy, with milky tannins and a silky mouthfeel. A thorough enjoyable offering perfect as a daily table wine. A most outstanding value priced Pinot Noir and amazing quality considering the huge production. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Decoy Sonoma County Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.55, 61,000 cases, $25. From Duckhorn Wine Company. A blend of grapes from Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast and Carneros. Harvest Brix 24.6º. Aged 8 months in 100% French oak barrels, 25% new and 75% onceused. · Moderately light crimson color in the glass. Lovely aromas of cherry and barrel that hold up over time in the glass. Forward drinking and gentle, with slightly confected red cherry and raspberry fruit flavors backed by silky tannins. Amazing quality considering the price and production volume, with plenty of Pinot typicality. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Cosa Obra Sonoma County Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.58, $28. Sourced from several artisan vineyards in the Russian River Valley and Carneros. De-stemmed whole berries were fermented in tank after a 5 to 7-day cold soak. Delestage and pumpovers managed the cap. Extended maceration of 3 to 4 weeks followed by 12 months aging in French oak barrels, 30% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Complex aromas and flavors of ripe Bing cherry, blackberry, cola, tobacco and forest path. Discreetly concentrated with balancing acidity and tannins and a seductively silky mouthfeel. A forward-drinking and enticing wine with commendable value. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Longoria Lovely Rita Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.55, 684 cases, $32. 83% Fe Ciega Vineyard, 9% Arita Hills Vineyard and 8% Cloud 9 Vineyard. 100% de-stemmed, average 10 days fermentation, aged in French oak barrels, 12% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very nice aromas of black cherry, raspberry, compost, herbs and vanillin. A mid weight plus core of black cherry and red currants is blessed with a deft oak embellishment. Sleek and silky, with gorgeous balance and inviting intensity and length on the finish. Forward-drinking, yet has the balance to age short term. This is the best Lovely Rita bottling in recent memory. It has become increasingly difficult to find excellent value priced Pinot Noir and this wine still fits the bill. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 MorganTwelve Clones Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.57, $34. 57% Double L Vineyard. Aged 8 months in French oak barrels, 37% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. A perfume of black cherry, cedary oak, charcoal and turned earth leads to a light to mid weight styled wine with a core of black cherry and pomegranate fruits. Silky in the mouth, with modest fruit intensity, a hint of smoky oak, bright acidity, and a slight sense of alcoholic warmth on the fruit-filled finish. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Sarah’s Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., 345 cases $38. Sourced from Veranda Vineyard. Winemaker is Tim Slater. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of red cherry, strawberry, and sandalwood lead to a mid weight style wine with very tasty flavors of red cherry and strawberry with an oak overlay in the background. Nicely composed with silky tannins and juicy fruit flavors in a forward drinking style that aims to please. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Spell Nicole’s Blend Sonoma County Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.58, 882 cases $39. A blend from DeVoto, Terre de Promissio, Umino and Alder Springs vineyards. Aged in 40% new, 30% once-used and 30% older French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A perfume of Bing cherry, strawberry and baking spices draw the nose to the glass. This wine aims to please with a mid weight core of juicy black cherry fruit balanced with the faintest oak and spice. Nicely weighted with integrated tannins and acidity, and some finishing intensity. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 MacRostie Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 450 cases, $42, screwcap. Sourced from a number of vineyards including two Dutton Ranch properties, Cummings Vineyard, and the estate Thale’s Vineyard. 100% gently de-stemmed, aged in French oak barrels from a number of different cooperages. · Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Nicely scented with aromas of Bing cherry, rose petal and spice. Cherry-driven and straightforward, with good balance, easy approachability and a short, pleasing finish. Score: 88. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Sojourn Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.56, 650 cases, $42. Clones 115 and 667 from Wohler Vineyard, Riddle Vineyard, Pratt Vineyard and a small amount of Reuling Vineyard. 100% de-stemmed, native yeast fermentation in open-top tanks, aged in 50% new French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Highly aromatic, with effusive scents of Bing cherry and spice. The discretely concentrated core of dark cherry fruit is accented with hints of black tea, tar and smoke. Sleek tannins and matched acidity make for easy drinking. A modest finish features bright cherry fruit. A solid value. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Spell Umino Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.59, 128 cases, $48. This vineyard is owned and farmed by Dave Umino and is located in the Sebastopol Hills. Planted to Dijon clones 777, 667, 115 and 459 on a former apple orchard in 1995. Clones 459, 115 and 777. Aged in 50% new, 25% once-used and 25% older French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. On the nose, dark cherry fruit is embellished with scents of violets, oak spice and vanilla creme. Mid weight plus in style, with an array of earthy and mineral-toned darker fruits. The most concentrated of the 2014 Spell Pinot Noirs, yet refined and easy to like with structured tannins, a velvety texture, and a charge of sweet blackberry fruit on the big ending. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Spell Weir Vineyard Yorkville Highlands Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.58, 125 cases, $48. Rochioli selection Pommard, 2A and a DRC selection. Aged in 33% new, 33% once-used and 33% older French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Highly aromatic, with scents of cherry, exotic spices and potpourri. Plenty of flavor is packed into the mid palate and finish of this mid weight, captivating wine that features black cherry and black raspberry fruits embellished with a deft touch of oak and a bit of umami. Structured tannins are slightly astringent at this early stage. The finish is one to celebrate, with extraordinary black cherry aromatic persistence. This zesty wine is cause for celebration. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Gary Farrell Cuvée d’Oeuf Russian River Valley Chardonnay

95 cases, $55. Concrete egg fermented. · The wine has a steely and terra-cotta tone with aromas and flavors of lemon, apple and cookie dough. Slightly creamy in texture with subtle tannins and some finishing persistence. Score: 90-91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Spell Terra De Promissio Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.78, TA 0.58, 79 cases, $58. Clone 115. Aged in 50% new, 25% once-used and 25% older French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose leads with aromas of black cherry, forest floor and subtle oak. Fairly concentrated and ripe fruited, with succulent flavors of black cherry, blackberry, spice and Hoison sauce, backed by balanced tannins that make for easy approachability. The fruit really grabs hold to the long finish. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Castalia Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $60. Crafted by the cellar master at Rochioli, Terry Bering, and bottled by J. Rochioli Vineyards for Castalia Wines. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas arrive slowly over time, featuring ripe cherry, baking spice and a hint of sweet oak. Discreetly concentrated, with a generous attack of black cherry fruit backed by a mantle of oak. Welcome mid palate bombastic cherry presence and some noticeable length on a finish that features chocolate-covered cherry goodness. The tannins are still young and slightly drying and there is a subtle warmth to the wine. The wine was more cohesive the following day when re-tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Having tasted multiple vintages of this wine, I have found that the wines typically require a few years in bottle to fully appeal and patience or vigorous decanting is advised. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Gary Farrell Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

255 cases, $60. Sourced from younger plantings of Wente clone. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. Flinty reduction on the nose as well as a hint of reduction on the palate. Soft in the mouth, with a citrus-driven character augmented by a chalky sense. Oak plays a minor role, and the lively acidity brings noticeable life to the wine. Score: 91-92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Gary Farrell Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay**

13.6% alc., pH 3.25, TA 0.74, 470 cases, $60. Released May 2016. Majority of blend is from River Block clone 5 planted in 1989 with the balance from the Mid-40s Block, a field selection planted in 1993, and Allen Block 1, clone 15 planted in 1995. Aged 8 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderate golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Highreaching aromas of lemon, sea spray, honeysuckle, vanillin and sensuous oak that pick up brightness over time in the glass. Juicy and crisp in the mouth, with a complex array of nuanced and courtly flavors including lemon, peach, honey, graham and toast. The vibrancy is impressive, but it is the length of finish that separates this wine from the commendatory. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Morgan Double L Vineyard Clone 777 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.64, TA 0.58, 45 cases, $60. Made from estate organic grapes. 100% de-stemmed, native yeast fermentation, aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 60% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Inviting aromas of black cherry, cassis and a hint of vanilla. A mid to full bodied charge of black cherry and blackberry fruits saturates the palate. Structured tannins back the lovely fruit, and oak notes of vanilla and toast play in the background. The seamless mouthfeel is very inviting and my only nit is a slight sense of alcoholic warmth on the finish. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Morgan Double L Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.60, 720 cases, $60. Made from estate organic grapes, clones 777, 667, 115, 114 and Pommard 4. Vineyard is in northern end of Santa Lucia Mountains and has been certified organic since 2002 making it the first vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands to achieve both organic and sustainable certifications. 100% de-stemmed, native yeast fermentation initially, aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 36% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Stubborn primary nose reluctantly offering aromas of earthy black fruits. Expansive blackberry and boysenberry flavors that offer commendable intensity and length on the finish. Polished, with balanced tannins, and a thrust of black cherry on the finish. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Morgan Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.44, TA 0.63, 117 cases, $60. Pisoni clone. This 50-acre vineyard is located four miles south of Double L Vineyard and is in a slightly cooler area promoting later ripening and fresh acidity. 100% de-stemmed, whole berry fermentation started with native yeasts, aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 60% new. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Brooding aromas of dark cherry, blackberry and oak spice and toast. More expressive on the palate, with mid weight plus flavors of perfectly ripened black cherry and boysenberry fruits that impose themselves on the mid palate and finish with panache. Still a bit tight, but oh so pleasing, with a lengthy, juicy finish. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Morgan Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., pH 3.52, TA 0.62, 44 cases, $60. Clones are Pisoni and 777. Vineyard is three miles south of Double L Vineyard and was planted in 1996 by Gary Franscioni and his spouse Rosella. 100% de-stemmed, native yeasts began the whole berry fermentation, aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 60% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. This wine is more ripe fruited and more sappy than usual for wines from this vineyard. Aromas of black raspberry, blackberry, game and brioche lead to a mid weight plus styled wine with a gorgeous core of boysenberry, black raspberry and plum fruit well-accented with Asian 5-spice. Noticeable attack, expansive presence on the palate, and a very sustaining finish. The tannins are well matched, and a subtle bit of oak vanillin adds interest. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Morgan Tondre Grapefield Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.64, TA 0.58, 45 cases, $60. Clones 943, 115, “828,” and 777. This vineyard is adjacent Garys’ Vineyard and was established and is farmed by Tondre Alarid and his son Joe. 100% de-stemmed, native yeasts started whole berry fermentation, aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 45% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Soaring scents of Bing cherry, spices including nutmeg and sandalwood that sustain over time in the glass. A highly satisfying wine with the mid weight flavor of succulent, spiced cherry. The wine offers impeccable balance and a memorable spiced cherry fueled finish. This vineyard has a signature spice element that I have consistently tasted in multiple wines from different producers and I believe this is one of Santa Lucia Highland’s greatest Pinot Noir vineyards. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Patz & Hall Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

752 cases, $90. Includes grapes from vines that date to the 1980s. Patz & Hall has bottled a Pisoni vineyard designate since 1997. Wild and cultured yeast fermentation, 12% whole clusters, aged in French oak barrels, 70% new, and bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of well-ripened black fruits and terra-cotta lead to a full-bodied explosion of black berry and boysenberry fruit on entry. A masculine wine that offers palate-staining fruit along with muscular, yet polished tannins, that corral the sappy fruit core. The oak is nicely balanced and the alcohol peeks out only slightly. This vineyard always produces distinctive wines that have a Pisoni stamp that are consistent across many producers. It is rare to find such a comparable terroir-driven example in California. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 gros ventre Baranoff Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 65 cases, $Sold out. Sourced from a 3-acre vineyard farmed by Paul Sloan of Small Vines. The vineyard is planted to seven clones with high-density spacing. Native yeast fermentation, bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. This wine has Russian River Valley typicality, with aromas and flavors of Bing cherry, strawberry, spice and cola. Inviting elegance, with suave tannins and a modest finish. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine was still alive and cherry-driven. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Mercy Riverbed Arroyo Seco Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.85, TA 0.61, 746 cases, $32. Sourced from contiguous vineyards (Zabala, Cedar Lane and Griva) in an area of a dry riverbed featuring shallow, rocky topsoil. Clones are Pommard 4, Martini 13, 115, 667, 777 and a DRC “La Tache” selection. 100% de-stemmed, 2-day cold soak, inoculated with RC212 yeast, on skins 12-15 days. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 12% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, earthy flora and tobacco lead to a mid weight core of sumptuous black cherry fruit infused with a savory tone. Silky textured with a modest finish. Score: 88. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Aether Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $36. This wine is composed of barrels from Dierberg, Drum Canyon and Pence Ranch vineyards. Harvest Brix 23.8º. 20% whole cluster. 3 to 4-day cold soak, RC 212 ferment, 15 to 17 days on skins, aged 18 months in neutral French oak barrels, indigenous malolactic fermentation. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Penetrating aromas of fresh cherry mash with a touch of spice. The black cherry core is accented with smoky, toasty oak and hints of black tea and blackberry. Soft in the mouth, with silky tannins and a slight sense of alcoholic warmth complete the picture of this forward drinking wine. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Asuncion Ridge San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 215 cases, $42. Estate grown on a vineyard located high on a ridge of the Santa Lucia Mountains range overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the Central Coast. Clones are 115, 667, Pommard 4 and 5, and HRM (Hoffman Mountain Ranch). · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose offers both complexity and depth, with aromas of cherry, raspberry, dried herbs and sweet oak. Middleweight styled, with forward flavors of cherry and dark red berries. Nicely composed and pleasant with balanced tannins and deft oak integration. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 gros ventre Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 262 cases, $44. A blend of grapes from Baranoff Vineyard, Campbell Ranch and undisclosed source. Clones are Pommard, Swan, Calera, 115, 777, 667, 459 and 113. 5-day cold soak, aged 11 months on the lees in French oak barrels, 8% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black raspberry, oak cask and bruised apple. Mid weight plus sweet flavors of black cherry, pomegranate and blackberry are framed by fine-grain tannins that create a lovely texture, and the wine finishes with some length. Score: 87. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Champ de Rêves Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.57, 4, 995 cases, $45. Grapes were sourced from the 85-acre Champ de Rêves Vineyard perched high above Boonville on Boone Ridge planted to relatively young vines (2006). Clones 667, 777 and 115. 100% de-stemmed with 60% whole berries fermented in open-top fermenters and a 5 to 6-day cold soak. Fermented 14 to 16 days on skins. Aged 9 months in 32% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Woody and vanilla aromas dominate the black cherry fruit on the nose. Mid weight flavors of black cherry, blueberry and boysenberry are framed by gritty tannins. Good mid palate richness with a modest finish. Not particularly complex, with drying, firm tannins evident on the finish and more oak input than I prefer. Score: 87. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Anaba Soberanes Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.61, 330 cases, $46. Harvest Brix 24.5º. Pisoni clone. 100% de-stemmed, 4-day cold soak in stainless, basket pressed when dry. Aged 11 months on primary lees in French oak barrels, 40% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Complex nose featuring aromas of black cherry, oregano, black tea, underbrush and infused oak. The mid weight flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and ollaliberry are pleasingly complimented by a soft and velvety texture in a thoroughly seductive wine that finishes with noticeable staying power. Putting the significant oak overlay aside, this is an impressive wine. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 gros ventre Cerise Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 143 cases, $48. Fifth release from this vineyard located at 800 feet above the valley floor just east of Boonville. Farmed by the Knez family and managed by Anthony Filiberti. Clones Pommard 667 and 115. 5-day cold soak, native yeast fermentation, aged on the lees in French oak barrels, 17% new, for 11 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Perfume of blueberries, black leather, potting soil, and bruised apple. Somewhat rugged and rustic, with a mid weight core of black raspberry and plum flavors that are earth infused. The finish is the most inviting feature of the wine, showing bright acidity, even a slight tartness, and generous fruit. Score: 88. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 la pitchoune Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 385 cases, $48. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Quite savory on the nose, with aromas of damp loam, earthy flora and herbal oak. More fruity on the palate with a ripe but not over ripe core of black cherry, dark strawberry and black raspberry flavors enhanced with notes of spice, herbs, black tea and dark chocolate. The overall sense is one of vibrancy and the modest finish pleases. An impressive appellation wine. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Aether Pence Ranch Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $50. Harvest Brix 23.8º average. Clones 459, 115 and “828.” Indigenous primary and malolactic fermentation. 20% whole clusters. 15 to 20 days on skins. Aged 18 months in neutral French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The nose reveals its charms slowly in the glass, becoming a cherry bomb with oak highlights. The mid weight flavors of black cherry and blueberry are embellished with cinnamon and other spices in a silky textured wine with balanced tannins and juicy acidity. The bounty of cherry on the finish appeals. Noticeably better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 gros ventre Campbell Ranch Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 187 cases, $54. Third release from this extreme coastal vineyard in the hamlet of Annapolis in West Sonoma County. The vineyard has recently been farmed to its full potential by Ulises Valdez. Clones 115 and 777. 5-day cold soak, native yeast fermentation, aged on the lees in French oak barrels, 13% new, for 11 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Dreamy aromas of cherry, rose petal, spice and sandalwood. Satiny and elegant on the palate, with a charge of cherry and strawberry flavors with a noticeable, but not imposing, herbal oak overlay. Gossamer tannins made for easy like ability, and the finish enticed with an oak-kissed cherry theme. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Aether Matrix Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $55. Harvest Brix 24.0º-24.3º. Clones 115 and 777. 50% whole cluster. 3 to 4-day cold soak, indigenous primary and malolactic fermentations. 17 to 20 days on skins. Aged 18 months in neutral French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. A mix of savory and fruity aromas on the nose, featuring scents of cherry, strawberry, earthy flora, sandalwood and shitake mushroom. Vibrant and juicy on the palate with a middleweight core of dark red cherry and berry goodness complimented by a touch of oak. The lightest in weight of the four 2013 Aether wines, but highly enjoyable, with a cherry-fueled finish of some note. Even better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Albatross Ridge Estate Reserve Carmel Valley Monterey County Pinot Noir

12.7% alc., pH 3.60, 375 cases, $55. Vinted and bottled by Bowlus Vineyards, LLC, Healdsburg and vinified by Garrett Bowlus. The 25-acre estate vineyard is located on a steep and rocky ridge at 1250 feet overlooking the Pacific Ocean that lies seven miles away. A very cool site with less than 2,000 degree days each season. This wine is a selection of the finest barrels of the vintage. Yields 1.7 tons per acre. Harvest Brix 21.5º-23.5º. Clones 777, Pommard, and “828.” 15% whole cluster. 4-day cold soak, long and cool fermentation in small open top tanks with native yeast. Aged 11 months in 33% new French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Enticing marriage of dark red cherries, baking spices and sandalwood on the nose. Light to mid weight flavors of red cherry, strawberry and cranberry presented in a delicate, charming style with a slightly tart and saline-infused acid frame. Nicely balanced with sandy tannins and a finish replete with cherry and blood orange flavors. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Cutruzzola Vineyards Giacomino Reserve San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.42, TA 0.585, 88 cases, $55. Yet to be released. 5-acre vineyard in Cambria planted to clones 5, 667, “828,” 115 and 23. Vines are between 9 and 14 years old. Inaugural reserve bottling selected from favorite four barrels from the 2013 vintage. 10% whole cluster. Assmannhausen and RC212 yeasts. Extended barrel aging to 18 months in 50% new French oak. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. A very juicy and elegant wine with aromas and flavors of blackberry and black cherry with a compliment of toasty oak. The tannins are modest and proportional and the wine finishes with a sweet cherry tone that catches your attention. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Longoria Fe Ciega Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.50, TA 0.60, 466 cases, $55. Sourced from Longoria’s only estate vineyard that was planted by Rick Longoria in 1998 and expanded to 10 acres in 2008. This vineyard consistently produces one of Sta. Rita Hills’ finest Pinot Noirs. 100% de-stemmed, average 2-day cold soak, inoculated with proprietary yeast strains, 11-day fermentation, aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 38% new. Lightly fined and filtered. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. More glamorous and less rugged in this vintage, with aromas of blackberry, blueberry and pomegranate as well as subtle notes of forest path and oak. The aromas are replicated on the palate in a mid weight juicy style, with matching grainy but not muscular tannins. The wine’s inviting balance and a satiny texture draw attention as does the intensely fruity finish. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Asuncion Ridge Vineyards Barrel Select

14.4% alc., 100 cases, $58. 50% free run juice from estate grown clones 777, 115 and Pommard 4 and 5. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Sustaining aromas of cherry coulis and oak vanillin. More attack and concentration, with a dark fruit profile framed by filigree tannins. Still a bit reticent and primary, yet showing great potential, with some length on the sappy-fruited finish. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 la pitchoune Van Der Kamp Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 100 cases, $58. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Muddled cherry and forest path aromas lead to a mid weighted forceful attack of pleasing black cherry and blackberry flavors that show length and persistence through the mid palate and grand finish. Very tasty, with impressive balance. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Aether La Colline Arroyo Grande Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.60, $60. Harvest Brix 24.4º, 100% de-stemmed, 3 to 4-day cold soak, indigenous primary and malolactic fermentations, 18 days on skins, aged 18 months in neutral French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very shy fruit expression on the nose that is earth-laden. More expressive on the palate, with a bold charge of black cherry and pomegranate fruits supported by grainy tannins that add textural interest. This is the most extracted wine in the 2013 Aether lineup with the most fruit statement. The bountiful mid palate presence and exceptional finishing length make this wine special. Even more expressive the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 gros ventre First Born Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 165 cases, $64. A blend of undisclosed source in the Ft Ross-Seaview AVA. (72%), Campbell Ranch (14%) and Baranoff Vineyard (14%). Clones are Pommard, Calera, 115, 777, 667, 459 and 113. Flagship cuvée representing a barrel selection of the best lots in the vintage. 5-day cold soak, native yeast fermentation, aged on the gross lees in French oak barrels, 57% new, for 18 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Welcoming aromas of blackberry, blueberry and pomegranate. Heady fruit flavors of blackberry and black raspberry are embellished with spice and tobacco notes. The tannins are silky and the finish is spectacularly long. The only features that detract are a heavy lean of oak and a slight sense of warmth on the ending, both of which I can overlook because of the wine’s other merits. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Hartford Court Hailey’s Block Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.63, 192 cases, $65. Released January 2016. A block within the Arrendell Vineyard, named after Don and Jennifer Hartford’s daughter. Clones 114, 667, 777 and Pommard planted in 1996. Native yeast fermentation. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 28% new. Bottled Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is very special, offering hi-tone aromas of an array of purple fruits and spice. A little tight, but hinting at greatness, with an attack of purple and black fruits that attracts attention, continuing through a very generous finish. A sumptuous accent of spice and savory herbs adds nuance. Very seductive, with a silky smooth mouthfeel. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Migration Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 488 cases, $68. From the Duckhorn Wine Company portfolio. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely perfume of cherry, rhubarb, sandalwood and vanilla. Cherry-driven in a mid weight style, with discreetly concentrated fruit backed by silky, fine-grain tannins. The wine finishes juicy with notes of graham and spice. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Blair Estate The Reserve Delfina’s Vineyard Arroyo Seco Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 110 cases, $75. Release summer 2016. Clones 115, 777 and Pommard 4 from home vineyard. Debut release and the winemaker’s ultimate vintage statement in 2013. (Note: the wine is bottled with a thick wax capsule and a pull tab but is very difficult to open. The look is very classy, but the imposing challenge of opening the wine offsets the eye candy). · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with a fusion of cherry and spirited oak aromas. Light to mid weight in style, with a delectable core of cherry, cranberry and spicy oak flavors. Gentle tannins make for easy approachability, and the wine finishes with a bright charge of sweet cherry fruit accompanied by a cleansing and slightly citrus-driven acidity. This wine is not a typical blockbuster reserve but is more dedicated to Pinot Noir elegance and typicality, proving that Pinot Noir doesn’t have to be big and extracted to be superb. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 Mercy Cedar Lane Vineyard Arroyo Seco Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.89, TA 0.61, 156 cases, $38. A 60-acre vineyard at the base of the Santa Lucia Mountains. 50% clone 667 and 50% Pommard 4. 100% destemmed, 2-day cold soak, inoculated with RC212 yeast, 14 days on skins. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 14% new. · Light cherry red color in the glass. Aromas of red cherry, cranberry, cigar and burnt toast lead to flavors of cherry and baking spices. Light in demeanor with an infusion of malolactic driven smoke and toast, with some finishing power. Score: 86. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 Mercy Griva Vineyard Arroyo Seco Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.85, TA 0.58, 185 cases, $38. Dijon clones 667 and 777, and Martini 13 and Pommard 4 clones. 100% de-stemmed, 2-day cold soak, inoculated with proprietary yeast, spending an average of 12 days on skins. Aged nearly a year in French oak barrels, 25% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of cherry, strawberry, and cigar smoke lead to a mid weighted style featuring red fruits overlain with significant oak-driven flavors of vanilla and char. Soft in the mouth with balanced tannins and a modest finish. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, it was still challenging to find a lot of Pinot character under all the oak. Score: 86. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 Mercy Zabala Vineyard Arroyo Seco Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., pH 3.82, TA 0.63, 219 cases, $38. Windblown site with rocky soils. Vineyard planted in 1972. Clones 115, 667 and a little Pommard. 100% destemmed, 2-day cold soak, inoculated with RC212 yeast, 12 day fermentation, aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 22% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Demure aromas of cherry, blackberry, earth and char. Structured and earthy, with a juicy core of black cherry fruit accented with hints of black tea, anise and toast, that holds on through a moderately lengthy finish. Score: 87. WINERY » ARTICLE »


From Tasting Along the Pinot Road

2015 Gary Farrell Russian River Valley Selection Rosé of Pinot Noir

12.9% alc., pH 3.20, TA 0.72, 200 cases, $28 (sold out). Released May 2016. Sourced from Wat Vineyard-Dutton Ranch. Harvest Brix 21.3º. 50% clone 37 (Mt. Eden) and 50% clone “828.” 70% stainless steel fermented and 30% fermented in neutral French oak barrels for two weeks. Entire blend in stainless steel for 4 months. · Light coral color in the glass. Striking strawberry aroma with an added note of blood orange. Lighter in style, but very flavorful, offering tastes that echo the nose, a soft mouthfeel and a refreshing grip of acidity on the finish. Score: 89-90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Hartford Court Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Rosé

14.1% alc., pH 3.2, 331 cases, $30. Released March 2016. Estate grapes (primarily Fog Dance Vineyard) harvested at 22.8º Brix, whole cluster pressed, tank fermented with 20% of wine finished in neutral oak barrels. · Very light pinkish orange in the glass. Aromas of strawberry and pink grapefruit with flavors echoing the nose with added notes of blood orange and orange peel. Bright with a dry finish. Jeff says, “Everybody wants it,” and I understand why. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Hartford Court Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 5,500 cases, $38. Released May 2016. A blend of all single vineyard estate properties in the Russian River Valley and five grower vineyards. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 33% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Bright aromas of Bing cherry lead to a mid weight plus styled wine that is lusciously endowed with ripe black cherry fruit flavor. Fruit driven and balanced, but not complex. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Gary Farrell Olivet Lane Russian River Valley Chardonnay

960 cases, $45. Wente selection. · Light gold color in the glass. The nose leads with aromas of lemon syrup, nuts and toasty oak. Pleasing but not overly exciting on the palate, with flavors of citrus and apple. Score: 89-90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Gary Farrell Bacigalupi Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay**

14.1% alc., pH 3.29, TA 0.68, 400 cases, $50. Released May 2016. Sourced in part from the historic Paris Tasting Block at Goddard Ranch (old Wente clone). Aged 8 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderate golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Aromas of lemon curd, spice, steel and petrol lead off. Soft and pleasingly smooth on the palate, with a luscious core of lemon, pineapple, peach, butterscotch and toast that won’t let go on the finish that is blessed with a cleansing cut of clean acidity. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Hartford Court Land’s Edge Vineyards Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.55, 2,050 cases, $50. Released January 2016. Sourced from Far Coast and Seascape vineyards located within four miles of the Pacific Ocean. Uninoculated. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 32% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Very expressive and easy going, with aromas and flavors of cherry and boysenberry. Juicy, with polished tannins and soothing harmony. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 2014 Gary Farrell Toboni Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir**

14.3% alc., pH 3.39, TA 0.65, 907 cases, $55. Released May 2016. Sourced from clones 115, 667, 777 and Pommard planted in 2001. Aged 8 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. This wine packs more concentration than the color would indicate. I loved the aromatics, showing elevating scents of fresh Bing cherry, cola and potpourri. Richly endowed with flavors of dark cherry and black raspberry with a hint of baking spices, in a very friendly mid weight plus style that is beautifully composed and finishes with a memorable infusion of cleansing acidity and fruit. Way too easy to drink. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Gary Farrell Hallberg Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

1,350 cases, $55. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Darker berry aromas are overlaid with noticeable oak. On the mid weight palate, the dark red and purple berry fruits shine, accented with dried straw and herb notes, finishing with an uplifting charge of fruit. Score: 91-92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Gary Farrell Durell Vineyard Sonoma Valley Chardonnay

345 cases, $60. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. More oak overlay is evident in this wine which offers a flavor profile of baked apple, pear, caramel, tropical fruits and a stony minerality. Quite concentrated, with a slight viscous texture, and a juicy finish. Score: 90-91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Gary Farrell Hallberg Vineyard Dijon Clones Russian River Valley Pinot Noir**

13.9% alc., pH 3.35, TA 0.68, 937 cases, $60. Released May 2016. Clones 667 and 777. Aged 10 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Deeply aromatic with soaring aromas of black cherry, pomegranate and sandalwood. Intense on the attack, expansive on the mid palate, and generous on the finish in a mid weighted style that features flavors of black cherry and blackberry with a thread of oak in the background. Juicy, vibrant and velveteen in texture with more lift and energy in this vintage. The finish is notable for its expressive cherry theme and length. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Gary Farrell Rochioli-Allen Russian River Valley Chardonnay

585 cases, $60. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of citrus, herbs and underbrush. Very smooth on the palate, with an earthiness and acid-driven minerality evident that underlies the savory citrus and pear flavors. Score: 91-92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Gary Farrell Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir**

13.3% alc., pH 3.34, TA 0.66, 485 cases, $65. Released May 2016. Sourced from the legendary Q Block planted to a Pommard selection. Aged 16 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Delicate yet pleasing aromas of cherry, raspberry, bay leaf, rose petal and wood lead to a light to medium weighted wine with flavors of red cherry, strawberry and raspberry with added notes of spice and oak. Elegant and suave, lacy and transparent, with gentle tannins, a soft texture and a juicy finish with good grip and cherry drive. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Gary Farrell Martaella Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

490 cases, $65. A mix of clones with some whole cluster ferment. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Engaging aromas of cherry, black raspberry, Asian 5-spice and pine sap are reflected in the flavors. Fuller-bodied and sappy, with a velvety mouthfeel, and some lingering and slightly astringent tannins on the finish. Score: 92-93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Gary Farrell McDonald Mountain Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

435 cases, $65. Pommard clone and suitcase selections. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas really come at you with driving cherry and spice notes. A little tight at this stage, but showing some appealingly juicy cherry fruit highlighted by a savory thread. Well-structured, with a fruit-driven, refreshing finish. Score: 90-91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Gary Farrell Fort Ross Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir

530 cases, $70. Calera and 777 clones. 50% whole cluster fermented. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely nose replete with scents of cherry, spice and rose petal. It’s love at first sip with this ripe and succulent middleweight styled wine with flavors of blueberry and plum and a subtle savory thread. More tannin in this wine as you would expect from the whole cluster inclusion, but the tannin is harmoniously supportive. Score: 93-94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Gary Farrell Love in the Time of Calera Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

70 cases, $70. A Black Label offering indicating this is a special bottling from the winemaker who loves Calera clone. This wine combines Calera clones from two vineyards: Fort Ross and Martaella. Some wine was vinified with 50% whole cluster in an oak tank and some was vinified with 30% whole cluster in stainless. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Amazingly intoxicating nose featuring dark cherry, rose petal and spice aromas. Intensely flavored, yet suave, graceful and caressing on the palate with well-matched angular tannins and a very long amorous finish. This wine is like finding true love: indescribable but exhilarating. Score: 96-98. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Gary Farrell Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Clones are “828” and 667. 855 cases, $75. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Deep aromas of cherry and spice lead to a discreetly concentrated core of blueberry, pomegranate, cherry and Damsel plum flavors. A more fruit-driven wine supported by crafty tannins and finishing with some power. Score: 90-91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Gary Farrell Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

400 cases, $75. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Spectacular nose filled with soaring aromas of Bing cherry, spice and rose petal. A bombastically flavored yet elegant wine, offering a chewy and sappy core of cherry fruit complimented by a deft touch of oak. The gossamer tannins make the wine easy to cozy up to, and the finish is blessed by angels. Score: 94-95. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Hartford Court Stone Côte Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.2% alc., 594 cases, $60. Released January 2016. This wine is crafted from Old Wente and UCD clones planted in a block within the Durell Vineyard. The site is an ancient uplifted river bed. Native yeast fermentation. Barrel fermented and aged in 100% French oak barrels, 34% new and 38% one-year-old. Bottled unfined and unfiltered after 15 months of barrel age. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. Slightly reductive nose offers aromas of baked apple, pear, peach, toasted brioche and nutty oak. Slightly creamy in the mouth, with plump flavors of yellow peach and pear, ending with a swath of acidity. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Hartford Court Fog Dance Vineyard Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.59, 408 cases, $63. Released January 2016. Clones 667 and 777. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels, 37% new. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish purple hue in the glass. Thiol-driven aromas of dark red and black fruits with a modest oak overlay. Impressive mid palate presence with a luscious finish featuring dark red and black fruits framed by firm but not muscular tannins. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Hartford Court Marin County Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 264 cases, pH 3.71, TA 0.55, $63. Released January 2016. Sourced from two grower vineyards, primarily Corda Vineyard. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 31% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose leads with attractive scents of dark berries, black cherry, Asian 5-spice and a touch of smoke. Very satisfying, with dusty tannins, a savory thread and a finish offering generous plum and blackberry aromatic goodness. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Hartford Court MacLean’s Block Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.58, 336 cases, $65. Released January 2016. Sourced from an estate vineyard east of the town of Occidental. Some whole cluster. Native yeast fermentation. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels, 36% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Assertive ripe black fruit aromas with added scents of pine and earthy flora. Bold, long and intense, with firm but harmonious tannins. Balance predicts age ability. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Hartford Court Muldune Trail Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 240 cases, $65. Released January 2016. This vineyard is located on a 1,600-foot ridge on the road to Ukiah and was planted about ten years ago. Cold nights and very rocky soils. Clones 115 and 777. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 31% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. A highly concentrated wine replete with sappy blackberry and black currant flavors accented with an iron-toned minerality. Angular tannins support the fruit load nicely. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Hartford Court Seascape Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.2% alc., 346 cases, $65. Released January 2016. A Spring Mountain chardonnay selection. A cold and windy site in the direct path of the Petaluma Wind Gap. Native yeast fermentation, barrel fermented (very slow fermentation and malolactic fermentation). Aged 15 months in 100% French oak barrels, 47% new, and bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Darker golden color in the glass. Great scents of apple skin, moss, and citrus. Delicious flavors of lemon-lime and peach framed by bright acidity, expansive on the viscous palate, building in intensity through a glorious finish. The finish is uncommonly persistent for a Chardonnay. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Hartford Court Sevens Bench Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.62, 192 cases, $65. Released January 2016. This high-density vineyard was replanted in 2004-2005 by Jeff Stewart. The vineyard is on eroded and rocky soils. The name of the vineyard derives from the clones planted: Dijon 777 and UCD 37 (Mt. Eden). Native yeast fermentation. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 21% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Redder fruits are featured on the nose and palate with an earthy, grilled mushroom undertone. Modest in weight with balanced tannins and a sweet cherry finish that offers some length. This wine aims to please now. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Hartford Court Velvet Sisters Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.64, 480 cases, $65. Released January 2016. Sourced from a block within an estate vineyard located at the northern “deep end” of Anderson Valley planted to Dijon 115, 667 and 777, and Pommard clones. Uninoculated. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 37% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. A complex wine of great interest, with aromas of cherry, berry, spice box and nutty oak, and a mid weight plus core of well-spiced red fruits. A seductive offering with a silky mouthfeel. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Hartford Court Far Coast Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 408 cases, $70. Released January 2016. Sourced from a vineyard located on a ridge at 900 to 1200 feet elevation north of Fort Ross on the Sonoma Coast. Clones 667, 777 and Pommard. Some Pommard fermented whole cluster. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels, 44% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of peat and mulch with shy fruits on the nose. The hedonistic fruit in this well endowed wine is more expressive on the palate, offering waves of boysenberry and blackberry flavors accented with spice, dark chocolate and beef. Still somewhat primary, and almost overwhelming in intensity, with an overlay of oak and youthful tannins that need more time to integrate. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Hartford Court Jennifer’s Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.57, 293 cases, $70. Released January 2016. Sourced from grower vineyards south of Sebastopol in the Petaluma Wind Gap. A very cool site that is windy and foggy, ripening late in the season. Grapes are thick skinned and high in acidity. Clone 23. Native yeast fermentation. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels, 39% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Embracing aromas of black cherry and dark chocolate lead to a full-bodied wine balanced with muscular tannins and bright acidity. Flavors of anise and dried herbs augment the black cherry core. This wine will certainly improve with more time in bottle and prove to have age ability, but it is hard to resist now. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Hartford Court Seascape Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 360 cases, $70. Released January 2016. Grapes are from a 26-acre estate vineyard planted to clones 114, 777 and 115. It is located on a panoramic ridge top west of the town of Occidental facing Bodega Bay and the Pacific Ocean, bordering Coastlands Vineyard. Very cold with harvest delayed in some years to November. Yields 2 tons per acre. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 38% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Oak-dusted dark red cherry and berry fruits are featured with complimentary notes of herbs and oakdriven vanillin, toast and nuts. Smoothly texture and juicy with fine-grain tannins and a determined finish. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Hartford Court Arrendell Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

15.2% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.62, 288 cases, $100. Released January 2016. The crown jewel in the Hartford Court lineup from a vineyard planted in 1975 to Martini clone. Wood from this vineyard has been sent to UCD to get a virus-free field selection version. The vineyard struggles to ripen less than one ton per acre by Halloween in most years. It is one of the coldest sites in the Russian River Valley and has been called the “snowshoe vineyard” because in wet years, workers need to wear snowshoes to get through the muddy rows of vines. Native yeast fermentation. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels, 44% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is flat out gorgeous filled with promising aromas of boysenberry and blackberry preserves with a wild, organic tone. Power to thrill, with a spellbinding core of dark fruits that envelope the palate and linger on the prodigious finish. Despite the fruit heft, the wine is welcoming with refined tannins, juicy acidity and a silky demeanor. A highly unique wine of uncommon provenance. Score: 96. WINERY » ARTICLE »


From Sips of Recently Tasted California Chardonnay

2014 Wayfarer Wayfarer Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview Chardonnay

14.5% alc., 815 cases, $N/A. Estate grown. Four clones planted in Goldridge soil. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Riveting aromas of lemon, honey, vanilla, buttery brioche and a hint of salinity. Very classy, with satisfying richness, featuring flavors of lemon-lime and grapefruit, without ripe tropical tones. The wine exhibits deft integration of oak and a mouthwatering finish that has a briny hint of the sea. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Decoy Sonoma County Chardonnay

13.7% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.57, $20, screwcap. Part of the Duckhorn portfolio of wines. A blend of fifteen vineyards. Fermented in oak barrel (25%) and stainless steel (75%). · Moderately light golden yellow and clear in the glass. A simple, lighter styled wine, with aromas and flavors of apple, buttery lemon-lime, pineapple, and vanilla. Slightly viscous, with enough acidity to offer easy drinking. Score: 86. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 J. Lohr Arroyo Vista Arroyo Seco Monterey Chardonnay

14.9% alc., pH 3.33, TA 0.73, RS 0.32 g/ 100ml, 5,500 cases, $25. One of the first wines made at J. Lohr’s new Greenfield Winery designed to allow small lot pressing and barrel fermentation of Chardonnay. Average harvest Brix 27.1º. Barrel fermented with inoculated yeast strains for an average of 21 days. Full inoculated malolactic fermentation. Aged 14 months in 59% new French oak barrels with weekly lees stirring. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Very faint aromas of citrus, peach, white flower, vanilla, and barrel. A bold, ripe-fruited styled wine with flavors of yellow peach, apricot, buttery citrus, vanilla and pain grille, along with underlying alcohol-driven warmth. Crisp acidity helps to offset the palate weight. This wine is for fans of full-throttle, generously oaked Chardonnay. Score: 86. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Attune Sonoma County Chardonnay

14.1% alc., 240 cases, $36. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 30% new. · Moderate golden yellow color and clear in the glass. A comforting wine with aromas of yellow apple, honey, brown butter and brioche. Nicely appointed with flavors of lemon curd, white peach, graham and nutty oak, with a slightly creamy mouthfeel and a polished finish with some length. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Spell Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.5% alc., pH 3.56, TA 0.63, 234 cases $39. Sourced from Sullivan Vineyard - Dutton Ranch. Vineyard planted in the 1980s to Wente clone on its own rootstock. Aged in French oak barrels, 39% new, 50% twice used and 20% older. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. A nicely composed wine with engaging aromas of toasted apple, lemon, grapefruit and caramel. Slightly viscous on the mid palate, with inviting flavors of yellow apple, nectarine, pear and pineapple. Sleek, soothing and cozy, with a complimentary touch of toasty oak and commendable balance. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Lombardi Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.0% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.696, 125 cases, $40. Sourced from 3 Starrs Vineyard. Wente clones. 100% barrel fermented in neutral French oak barrels. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. A melange of wildflower, fruity lemon and grapefruit, and buttery brioche aromas lead to a mid weight core of yellow apple, lemon, pineapple and toast flavors framed by vibrant acidity, finishing with welcome fruit presence and persistence. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Patz & Hall Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.2% alc., 6,500 cases, $44. A blend of multiple heritage clones such as Wente, Robert Young, Rued, Wente 4 and the Spring Mountain clone. Aged in French oak barrels, 40% new. 100% malolactic fermentation. Bottled unfiltered. · Moderate golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Clean aromas of petrichor, white peach, green apple, banana cream and honeysuckle. Supple in the mouth, with straightforward flavors of lemon, pineapple and mango embellished with driving acidity. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Sojourn Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

89. 2014 Sojourn Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 14.2% alc., pH 3.51, TA 0.61, 225 cases, $45. Release fall 2016. Clones 76 and 95 fermented separately in French oak barrels using native yeast. Whole cluster pressed, 100% malolactic fermentation, aged 11 months in 30% new French oak, and bottled unfined. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Richly appointed aromas of lemon oil, pineapple and nectarine lead to a softly textured palate featuring ripe pear and yellow peach fruits framed by a kiss of nutty oak and supported by cleansing acidity. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Sojourn Sangiacomo Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.1% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.65, 375 cases, $45. Released spring 2016. Clone 95 from Sangiacomo Roberts Road Vineyard and Old Wente clone from Sangiacomo Vella Ranch and Green Acres. Whole cluster pressed and barreled down into French oak barrels, 30% new. Native yeast fermentation and 100% malolactic fermentation. Aged in 30% new French oak barrels. Bottled unfined. · Deep golden yellow color in the glass. Demure aromas of citrus, banana and vanilla water. Cohesive flavors of ripe apple, pear and orchard fruits, with added notes of creme caramel and honey. Somewhat weighty and heady, with an appealing creamy presence. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 MacRostie Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.6% alc., 399 cases, $46, screwcap. Sourced from three blocks that are foggy with Goldridge soils. Braughton on Vine Hill Road, Hansen Hill at Dutton Ranch in Graton, and Jewell Ranch also located in Graton. Whole cluster pressed, racked into French oak barrels for primary and malolactic fermentation, and aged 10 months on lees with occasional stirring. 35% of barrels were new. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of lemon pie, peach, brioche, and kelp lead to predominantly salted apple, pear, pineapple and spice flavors in a sleekly styled wine with bright acidity. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 MacRostie Sangiacomo Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay

14.6% alc., 277 cases, $46, screwcap. 28th vintage making wine from Sangiacomo. This wine is meant to be special, representing only 4% of the fruit that MacRostie gets from Sangiacomo Vineyard. Grapes came from four blocks of Sangiacomo Vineyard: Rich Kiser, Kiser A, Kiser B and a Petaluma Gap site called Roberts Road. Gently whole cluster pressed, racked to French oak barrels for fermentation where primary and malolactic fermentations were completed. The wine was aged on the lees with occasional stirring for 10 months. 12 barrels were chosen, 2 of which were new and the rest used for previous vintages. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. A ripe fruited wine of great appeal with aromas of fresh citrus, honeysuckle, barrel and buttered popcorn. Defined by lively acidity and lemon-driven flavor, with a slightly creamy texture, a hint of nutty oak, and some finishing length. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Sojourn Durell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.3% alc., pH 3.54, TA 0.60, 400 cases, $48. Release fall 2016. Old Wente clone from both old and newer plantings. Whole cluster pressed and barreled down, native yeast fermentation and 100% malolactic fermentation. Aged in 40% new French oak barrels. Bottled unfined. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Shy, but pleasing mineral-inflected nose with added scents of citrus peel and vanilla. Polished and expressive, with flavors of lemon butter, pear, white peach and toasted brioche that persist on the finish that has uncommon fruit presence. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Three Sticks Origin Durell Vineyard Sonoma Valley Chardonnay

14.5% alc., pH 3.44, TA 0.639, 398 cases, $48. Winemakers Bob Cabral and Ryan Prichard. Fermented in concrete eggs for 18 days and aged 10 months in small stainless steel barrels. Malolactic fermentation inhibited. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. This wine offers Chardonnay unplugged, pure grape character without oak overlay. Aromas and flavors of golden apple, lemon and Asian pear are framed by a bright cut of acidity. A silky, refined and slightly viscous mouthfeel adds appeal in this acid-driven wine that finishes with a pleasing infusion of citrus. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 MacRostie Cummings Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., 487 cases, $56, screwcap. Sourced from a vineyard partner, Bruce Cummings, whose vineyard is located in the Santa Rosa Plains neighborhood of the Russian River Valley. Clones 667, 777 and 115. 100% de-stemmed, inoculated yeast fermentation following a 3-day cold soak, and aged 12 months in French oak barrels. · Light cherry red in color. Aromas of red cherry, oregano and sawmill. Light in weight with a core of red fruits in an elegantly style wine with cedar-infused and spicy oak in the background. A demure, even mildly shallow, but charming wine that has commendable balance. Score: 88. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Kosta Browne One Sixteen Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.5% alc., $58. · Moderate goldenyellow color and clear in the glass. Complex nose featuring scents of lemon, golden apple, banana, creme brulee, and steely resolve. Flavors of lemon, golden apple, pear, vanilla and caramel are true to its Russian River Valley heritage. Slightly viscous with good finishing energy. The wine was noticeably better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 la pitchoune Pratt Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.2% alc., 52 cases, $58. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Fruit aromas of lemon and ripe apple are combined with notes of toasty oak and a briny hint of the sea. Slightly creamy on the palate, with flavors of salted apple and lemon creme backed by well-toasted oak. The wine is blessed with cleansing acidity and some lingering fruit on the modest finish. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Patz & Hall Hyde Vineyard Napa Carneros Chardonnay

14.2% alc., 1,321 cases, $65. Release October 2016. Several sections of Hyde Vineyard were planted exclusively for Patz & Hall. Patz & Hall has made single-vineyard Chardonnay from Hyde Vineyard since 1996. Hyde-Wente selection is planted on the best soil at Hyde Vineyard that is well-drained, sandy, clay loam. The result is lower yields that are even lower than usual for this small-berried clone. Whole cluster pressed, indigenous yeast fermentations, aged on the lees with weekly stirring in French oak barrels, 50% new. Bottled without filtration. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. This is a particularly complex wine that is full of sunlight and offers something different with each sip. Nicely perfumed with scents of citrus, blood orange, Granny Smith apple and flint. Flavors of lemon and white orchard fruits are interwoven with supportive toasty oak. Uncommon attack and mid palate intensity with balancing mouthwatering acidity that leaves a lasting impression of juiciness. The soaring finish is generously endowed with lemon goodness in this memorable wine from one of California’s most cherished vineyards. Score: 95. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Reuling Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

13.8% alc., pH 3.46, TA 0.60, 250 cases, $70. Harvest Brix 23.6º. Whole cluster pressed to barrel, 100% barrel fermented with indigenous yeasts, aged for 10 months in 100% French oak barrels, 33% new and 66% used. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. The aromas of petrichor, pear and hazelnut oil are quite alluring. A complex palate offers tastes of lemon, pear, subtle tropical fruits, honeyed nuts and creme caramel. Wonderful balance, with a slightly viscous and softly comforting mouthfeel, along with a gentle, sleek and lengthy finish. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 la pitchoune Chenoweth Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.1% alc., 40 cases, $88. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Very complex nose displaying a range of aromas including lemon curd, honey, nectarine, caramel and vanillin. A somewhat richer styled wine with bright flavors of citrus, kiwi, pear and caramel. Crisp and inviting, with a cleansing and lengthy finish combining Meyer lemon and nutty oak flavors. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Cazadero Bei Ranch Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.2% alc., 150 cases, $30. Winery founder Frank Egger and grower John Bei work with winemaker Pat Knittel. Sourced from a rocky soiled ridge top vineyard located at 1,600 feet half way between Cazadero and Russian Gulch. Native yeast fermentation, barrel fermented and aged 12 months in French oak barrels. · Moderately light golden yellow color. Slight reduction with a rubber note upon opening. Aromas of buttered corn and toast show up over time. Richly appointed flavors of lemon, baked apple, creme brulee, caramel and buttery toast follow. Oak plays too great a role for me to fully enjoy the wine. Score: 87. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Chardenet Coteau Blanc Carneros Chardonnay

13.9% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.58, 993 cases, $45. The Coteau Blanc Vineyard sits on a ridge overlooking San Pablo Bay south of the Carneros Highway. Clones 14, 48, 131 and Long. Whole cluster pressed, yeasted and fermented in barrel for 10 to 14 days. 75% of the blend underwent malolactic fermentation. Aged 10 months in 100% French oak barrels, 17% new, with lees stirring every month for 8 months. · Moderate golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Very shy aromas of lemon, peach and pastry creme. More open on the soft and smooth palate, with flavors of lemon curd, yellow apple and peach. Pleasant, with good balance, but not exceptional. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Sea Smoke Estate Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay

14.9% alc., pH 3.49, TA 0.598, $60. Released October 2015. Four clones, primarily Wente clone with additional Dijon clones. Untoasted 21-hectoliter foudre and some 600-liter demi-muids were used in fermenting the earlier-picked Dijon clones. After whole cluster pressing, the juice was racked to both French oak barrels and a stainless steel fermenter, then inoculated for both primary and malolactic fermentation. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 55% new. · Moderately light golden yellow color and very slight haze in the glass. High class aromas of flint, steel shavings, lemon and butter. Sleek and refreshing, with a delicious infusion of peach, pear, lemon and grapefruit flavors brought to vivid expression with acidic verve. There is only a slight imprint of oak, and the polished demeanor is sublime. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Chardenet Durell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

13.9% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.59, 903 cases, $65. Clones are Robert Young, Upper Barn and Wente 4. Whole cluster pressed, 67% barreled down and 33% fermented in a small stainless steel tank. Fermented in barrel for 10 to 14 days and cold fermented in tank for 25 days. 75% of the blend underwent malolactic fermentation. Aged 9 months in 100% French oak barrels, 19% new, with lees stirring every month for 7 months. · Moderate golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Citrus aromas meet notes of flint and saline on the nose. Very enjoyable, with a citrus-driven core accented with notes of butter, pastry creme, poached pear, straw and caramel. Slightly viscous in texture, with a pleasingly bright finish. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »


Robert Parker’s 100 point wine scoring system, which became popular in 1983 and adopted by the Wine Spectator in 1988, has been a homing beacon for consumers seeking to buy good wine. Currently, a majority of United States based wine critics and magazines use the 100 point scale.

The reality is that the 100 point scale is actually a 10 point scale. MORE»
A Note About Prices

Price shown in a tasting note is either the winery-direct price or the retail price paid by the Prince.