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Andersonoir Valley Pinot Noir Festival

As the winemakers in the Anderson Valley pushed the nightmarish 2008 vintage back into their distant memory, they found cause to celebrate the stellar 2009 wines. The 14th Annual Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival presented the first opportunity for many to sample the 2009 Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs. Some producers were reluctant to offer their 2009 wines, feeling they needed more time in the bottle to show well and substituted their excellent 2007 vintage Pinot Noirs. Nearly every 2007 vintage Pinot Noir available at the Grand Tasting has been previously reviewed in the PinotFile and will not be discussed further here.

Several 2009 Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs were reviewed in Volume 8, Issue 35 of the PinotFile including Balo Vineyard, Black Kite “Kite’s Rest,” and Couloir Wines. I referred to these wines as redemption for the disastrous events of the 2008 vintage that led many producers to sell off their entire production in bulk.

Veteran Anderson Valley winemaker, Bob Klindt (Claudia Springs Winery, Harmonique), called 2009 “a typical growing season in the Anderson Valley.” Larry Londer of Londer Vineyards said, “The quality of the 2009 vintage in the Anderson Valley parallels the 2007 vintage, and may surpass it.” Winter rains were lighter than usual, and a mid-May heat wave brought high temperatures for the second consecutive year. Bud break was late and spring was generally cool but not accompanied by frost. The summer was moderate and relatively cool allowing slow ripening and a prolonged harvest which began in mid-September and finished the last week of October. A late September heat wave brought grapes quickly to optimum ripeness and a large October storm provided a challenge that most vintners avoided.

On Saturday morning, before the Grand Tasting at Goldeneye, I sampled in quiet a number of 2009 Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs at Schraffenberg Cellars. Although young, many wines were very appealing and approachable. Quality was consistently very high indicating that 2009 is a spectacular vintage for Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. This is a vintage you can stock up on with confidence.

2009 Artevino (Maple Creek Winery) Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., pH 3.64, TA 0.37, 150 cases, $26. Released April 1, 2011. Grapes from the Greenwood Ridge Vineyard. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherries, graham and spice. Rich, earth-kissed black cherry core with oak in the background, mild tannins and a touch of warming alcohol peaking out on the finish. Lacks an acid grip. Decent.

2009 Baxter Run Dog Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.53, 110 cases, $45. Available for futures purchase now, formal release November 2011. A 1-acre vineyard in Boonville planted in 1999 and managed by the Baxters. Nestled against the cool western hills allowing the vineyard to receive the morning sun, but avoid the harsh afternoon heat. Yields 1.9 tons per acre. Pommard 5 clone. Native fermentation, elevage in neutral French oak barrels, unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light reddish-purple hue in the glass. Red fruits are featured on the nose and palate. Lovely soft texture and bright acidity on the finish. Plenty of charm now, but will benefit from another year or two in bottle. Very good.

2009 Breggo Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.55, 2,183 cases, $38. Released April 1, 2011. A blend of numerous clones from Donnelly Creek, Savoy and Wiley vineyards. 5-7 day cold soak, 9-day native primary fermentation, 3-7 day extended maceration. Aged 10 months in 44% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color with a slight haze in the glass. Enticing aromas of ripe black raspberries, cherry preserves, spice and brioche which are echoed on the palate in a discreetly concentrated fashion, finishing with mild dry tannins, a hint of oak and brier and a good lift of acidity. Good (+).

2009 Claudia Springs Klindt Vineyard Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.61, 245 cases, #32. Released May 21, 2011. The 8.25-acre Klindt Vineyard is in the deep end of the Anderson Valley and planted to 35% Pommard 4 and 5, 20% each of 113, 115, 777, and 667 filling in the remainder. 10% whole cluster. Native fermentation lasting 12 days. All clones fermented separately, blended the following summer and put back into barrels to marry for another 7 months before bottling. · Moderately light reddishpurple color and clear in the glass. Lovely scent of fresh red cherries and Asian 5-spice. Bright and juicy on the palate, featuring an elegant array of red Pinot fruits, supple tannins and a long finish with a refreshing nerve of acidity. Very good (+).

2009 Drew Fog-Eater Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.66, 370 cases, $40. Release June, 2011. A blend from two organically farmed sites: 60% Balo Vineyard (777, 828, Martini), 40% Monument Tree Vineyard (667, 115, 114). 30% whole cluster, aged 11 months in 25% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the class. Nicely perfumed with aromas of black cherries and blueberries with a hint of spice. Flavors of red plums and black cherries with a subtle note of oak and stem. Well-suited tannic backbone. Still young and undeveloped. Good.

2009 Elke Vineyards Donnelly Creek Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.9, TA 0.65, 840 cases, $34. 5 clones of Pinot Noir are grown in this vineyard located just outside the town of Boonville. Aged 11 months in 30% new French oak barrels. Unfiltered. · Moderately light reddish-purple color with a slight haze in the glass. Well-perfumed with vibrant scents of dark stone fruits, leather and oak. Very smoothly textured on the palate with a tasty core of plums, black raspberries and a brewed tea note. Well-proportioned t n’ a. Still a Lolita in need of a few years of cellaring. Very good.

2009 Expression Annahala Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 220 cases, $48. Released April 2011. 100% de-stemmed, aged in 33% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color with slight haze in the glass. Appealing nose that is flush with fruits including fresh berries and plums. Mediumbodied flavors of darker berries wrapped in polished tannins with noticeable oak in the background. Will need some time in the cellar to better integrate the oak. Good (+).

2007 Foursight “All In” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 407 cases, $46. Released spring 2010. A combination of all the clones in the estate vineyard (777, 114, 115, Pommard 5). 80% de-stemmed, wild yeast fermented both primary and malolactic. Aged in 20% new, 31% 2-year-old and 44% neutral French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color and clear in the glass. A nicely composed wine that has benefited from time in the bottle. Fruity aromas of fresh berry compote carry over on the palate. Juicy, silky and seamless with plenty of charm. Very good.

2009 Fulcrum Londer Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 149 cases, $52. Clones 115 and Swan. Release June 16, 2011. Aged 15 months in 50% new French oak barrels. Bottle aged 6 months. · Very tight now with imposing tannins. Aromas of brier, forest floor, black cherries and dark berries. Earthy and brooding on the palate with mildly gritty tannins and an underpinning of oak. Needs at least a year more in bottle. Good.

2009 Handley Cellars RSM Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc. pH 3.68, TA 0.53, 266 cases, $52. Released May 2011. From an exceptional vintage. The vineyard was planted in 2000 to primarily clone 115. 100% de-stemmed, 40% whole berry fermentation, inoculated with Rockpile yeast isolate to enhance mineral flavors association with the unique vineyard. Aged on the lees for 10 months in 37% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color and slight haze in the glass. Striking aromas of black cherries, dark red berry preserves, toffee and toast. Delicious medium-weight core of perfectly ripe black cherries, black raspberries and mocha java. Silky smooth on the palate with a big fruit-laden aromatic finish that lingers. Oakdriven features will integrate over time. A first-rate wine of uncommon charm that is terrific now and will age gracefully. Plan a dinner around this wine in another year or two. The star of this tasting. Very good (+).

2006 Harmonique Elegancé Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.65, 675 cases, $36.50. The winery’s current releases are from the 2006 vintage. Released May 20, 2011. A blend of four vineyard sources: 50% from 25-year-old Conzelman Vineyard, 21% from Cerise Vineyard, 16.5% from Wiley Vineyard, and 12.5% from the Klindt Vineyard. Seven Pinot Noir clones. · Moderate reddish-purple color and clear in the glass. Very enticing perfume of black cherries, cola and sandalwood. Discreet and elegant array of flavors including black cherries and sassafras with juicy cherry skins dancing on the finish. Polished tannins and nervy acidity allow for hi-collar drinking. Perfect now. Very good.

2009 Harrington Wiley Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.52, TA 0.63, 261 cases, $40. Release September 1, 2011. Wiley Vineyard is one of the westernmost Anderson Valley vineyards. Located in the deep end, it is often the last Pinot Noir vineyard harvested in the Anderson Valley. Sourced primarily from the 30-year-old Pommard block (90% Pommard, 10% 777). Aged 10 months in 25% new French oak barrels. Moderate reddish-purple color and clear in the glass. · Very nicely perfumed with bright aromas of strawberries and sandalwood. Soft and smooth on the palate with medium-weight flavors of dark red berries, savory herbs, oak and earthy mushrooms. A thoroughly charming wine yet to reach its full potential but approachable now. Very good.

2009 Londer Vineyards Paraboll Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., pH 3.54, 379 cases, $54. Sourced from Ferrington and Valley Foothills vineyards. Clones are Pommard and Roederer 23. Aged in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple hue and clear in the glass. Usually a rugged, masculine wine that often needs several years for best enjoyment. This vintage, however, is more refined and showy early on. Very appealing nose offering aromas of exotic berries, plum and forest floor. Well-endowed with delicious earth-kissed dark fruit and substantial tannins, yet displays an elegance due to the silkiness of the tannins and the textural seductiveness offered by the alcohol. Very good.

2009 MacPhail Family Wines Toulouse Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.86, TA 0.54, 267 cases, $49. Released fall 2010. 100% de-stemmed, indigenous and inoculated yeast primary fermentation, native malolactic fermentation in barrel, batonnage every week for 3 months, aged 11 months in 60% new and 40% 1 and 2-year-old French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate purple color in the glass. A big-boned wine with flashy dark berry and black cherry fruit that is quite tasty but is overshadowed by oak. The nose displays primarily oak-driven aromas of toast, toffee and caramel. Decent.

2009 Navarro Vineyards Deep End Blend Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.56, TA 0.69, 979 cases, $49. Release August 1, 2011. · Medium reddish-purple color and clear in the glass. Shy, but spirited aromas of cherries and berries. Layers of fruit flavor cascade over the palate revealing notes of plums, cherries and berries. Smoothly textured with gossamer tannins. A well-crafted wine that aims to please. Very good (+).

2009 Saintsbury Cerise Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

703 cases, $45. Release June 1, 2011. The only Saintsbury Vineyard Series wine from outside Carneros. Cerise is located on the steep slopes of the southwestern facing hills just north of the town of Boonville. 37 acres are planted on the 200-acre site. Clones 115, 777 and Pommard. Aged 10 months in 24% new and 27% 1 and 2-year-old French oak barrels. · Moderately deep reddish-purple color showing a slight haze in the glass. Appealing aromatic mix of red and blue berries on the nose. Rich, intense, earthy and darkly fruited, yet displaying a lithe and silky texture due to restrained tannins. The plum and berry fruit is striking and persists on the generous finish. Very approachable now. Very good.

2009 Toulouse Vineyards Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.89, TA 0.54, 1,650 cases, $42. Released May 1, 2011. Clones 115, 667, 777 and 2A. · Light garnet in color and clear in the glass. Aromas of super-ripe fruit including raisin and root beer which carry over on the palate along with baking spice and pepper notes. Supple tannins and bright acidity on the finish. Decent.

2009 Twomey Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.62, 1,782 cases, $50. Released April 30, 2011. Sourced from Ferrington, Savoy and Monument Tree vineyards. Twomey purchased the Monument Tree Vineyard in 2010. 7-day cold soak, indigenous yeast fermentations, some whole cluster, aged 15 months on the lees in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color and clear in the glass. Attractive aromas of berry preserves, baking spices, petrichlor and gently toasted oak. A graceful wine with layers of lithe cherry and raspberry fruit that dance on the lengthy finish. Quite drinkable now. Very good (+).

A number of other wines were sampled briefly at the Grand Tasting. Here are a few quick impressions.

Balo Vineyards Tim and Michelle Mullins have been growing and selling grapes in Anderson Valley since their first crop in 2003. The 8-acre vineyard is across the street from Goldeneye and a new winery and tasting room is under construction on the site. In 2009, the Mullins began producing their own wine under the Balo Vineyards label under the direction of noted winemaker Jason Drew. This is a producer to watch. Love the website handle:

Baxter Phil L. Baxter, Sr., and Phil T. G. Baxter, Jr., teamed up in 2002, pooling fifty years of experience to produce single vineyard wines under the Baxter label. Father and son work together in a ridge top location above the Anderson Valley, now joined by Claire, Phil Jr’s English wife. All the 2009 Baxter wines impressed me including barrel samples of 2009 Langley Vineyard and a tiny lot of 100% whole cluster Pinot Noir. Winemaker Phil Baxter avoids new oak completely, creating wines of great fruit purity.

Black Kite Cellars Rebecca Green submitted for review two limited production 2009 Pinot Noirs from Black Kite Vineyard. Both the Stony Terrace and River Turn Pinot Noirs remind me of a curvaceous woman clothed head to foot in black leather with discrete and strategic openings. The wines are distinguished by elevation, soils and trellis type. Both blocks are planted to Pommard clone. The 2009 Black Kite “Kite’s Rest” Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir was reviewed very favorably recently (PinotFile, 530/). A third Black Kite Pinot Noir, “Redwoods Edge Block,” is not ready for prime time yet. Black Kite Cellars produces less than 1,500 cases of single vineyard and block-designated Pinot Noir annually.

2009 Black Kite “River Turn Block” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.59, 160 cases, $52. Aged 11 months in 66% new and 33% 1-year-old French oak barrels. Decanting for two hours or hold for 5-7 years is recommended. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Brooding nose with shy aromas of dark cherries and berries, lumber yard and oak. Big-boned, fruit-driven and earthy with an elegant personality despite the rich fruit core. The velvety mouth feel is very seductive. Only hinting at its potential now. Much better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Give this wine a few years in the cellar. Very good.

2009 Black Kite “Stony Terrace Block” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.59, 230 cases, $52. · Moderate reddish-purple hue in the glass. The aromas really grab your attention and pick up interest in the glass over time revealing notes of black cherries, raspberry syrup, wood spice, and wooded forest. Tasty core of black cherries, blackberries, sassafras, and faint oak highlights. Soft and creamy on the palate with ripe black cherry flavor persisting forever on the noteworthy finish. A special wine, which despite its hefty alcohol, manages to stay in balance and offers immense pleasure. Should be a respectable short term age worthy candidate.

DrewJason Drew is crafting consistently fine Pinot Noirs from his winery on Mendocino Ridge above the Anderson Valley. His 2009 Valenti Vineyard Pinot Noir from the Mendocino Ridge AVA was a knockout. I have never had a bad wine from Jason.

Esterlina Vineyards & Winery Lynn Krauseman has been recently appointed as winemaker for Esterlina and its affiliate brands, Everett Ridge and Diabilta. Krauseman has been the winemaker at Williams Selyem for the past six years and before that worked at Clos du Bois, Freemark Abbey Winery, Robert Mondavi Winery, and Cloudy Bay Wines in New Zealand. Barrel samples of 2009 Esterlina Estate Pinot Noir and 2009 Esterlina Estate Reserva Pinot Noir were both outstanding with the Estate more forward and approachable and the Reserve needing considerable time for full development. A top flight producer in the Anderson Valley and a special winery to visit.

Harmonique Moira Conzelman (photo below) was on hand for the event as usual and was pouring the just released three 2006 Harmonique Pinot Noirs: “The Noble One,” “Elegancé” and “Delicacé.” Harmonique draws on excellent vineyard sources within the Anderson Valley including the old vine Conzelman Vineyard. Veteran winemaker Robert Klindt oversees production. Older vintages back to 2003 are still available on the website at

Londer Vineyards 2009 is a break out year for Londer who chose to declassify and sell all 2008 production in bulk. I have had the Londer Vineyard Pinot Noir from Couloir and it was exceptional. Londer’s 2009 Estate Pinot Noir and 2009 Ferrington Vineyard Pinot Noir were both impressive wines with the Ferrington drinking spectacularly now.

At each of the recent Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festivals, local artist Gerald Reis paints original art to commemorate the Festival. The original paintings are auctioned at each event and prints of the originals are available for purchase from the artist. Each print is reproduced from the original on fine archival paper. Visit the website at to view and acquire the prints. This year’s painting is shown below.

For more information on the Anderson Valley, including its history, growers and wineries, visit the website: Also, well over 30 major California Pinot Noir producers located outside the Anderson Valley appellation source grapes from the Anderson Valley including Anthill Farms, Adrian Fog, Arista Winery, Barnett, Benovia, Brogan Cellars, Cakebread Cellars, Castle Rock, Copain Wines, Couloir Wines, Fulcrum Wines, Gros Ventre Cellars, Harrington, Hartford Family Wines, Kutch Wines, La Crema, LIOCO, Littorai, Lulu, MacPhail Family Wines, Papapietro-Perry, Radio-Coteau, Roessler Cellars, Rhys Vineyards, Saintsbury, Skewis, Tudor, Twomey, Waits-Mast Family Cellars, Whitcraft, Williams-Selyem and Woodenhead.

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