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2011 California Pinot Noir All-Americans Second Team

2009 Arista Winery Ferrington Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 14.1% alc., 213 cases, $56. While the Arista Perli Vineyard Pinot Noir seduces you, the Ferrington Vineyard Pinot Noir overwhelms you. Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely composed aromas of black raspberries and blackberries touched by oak and loam picking up interest over time in the glass. Endowed with rich tasting, earthy black plum and blackberry fruit wrapped in supple tannins. The wine grabs hold of the mid palate, surrounds it and refuses to relinquish its hold, before finally conceding to a Grand Cru ending that is like a three-hour movie you don’t want to end. A beautiful representation of this distinguished vineyard. Available through “A-List” mailing list members at

2009 Auteur Manchester Ridge Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir 14.2% alc., 182 cases, $50. Moderately deep reddish-purple color in the glass. Demure, but seductive perfume of fresh black raspberries, black cherries, spice and vanilla wafers. Perfectly composed and seamless with delicious flavors of berries and fresh cherries accented by notes of cola, baking spices and mocha, wrapped in silky tannins. Plenty of vim and vigor with a remarkably long finish. Still great the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle predicting a long life ahead. I have had several stunning wines from this vineyard. Available to mailing list customers at

2009 Davis Family Vineyards Starr Ridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 14.1% alc., 225 cases, $40. Medium ruby color in the glass. Quintessential Russian River Valley Pinot Noir sporting aromas and flavors of Bing cherries, baking spices and cola with a moderate dose of red raspberries and red currants. Still has firm tannins that will soften over time, but the wine is very enticing now. Finishes strong with impressive mouth coating intensity and a refreshing riff of acidity. A classy wine from a mature vineyard that is now coming in to its own. Available at

2009 Drew Weir Vineyard Yorkville Highlands Pinot Noir 13.9% alc., $40. Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Complex nose that unfolds slowly revealing many nuances including aromas of dark berries and black plums, mushrooms, bramble, spice and rose petal. Delicious core of fresh plum compote wrapped in firm, but well-honed tannins, attacking the mid palate with conviction, and persisting on the soft finish that shows a riff of citrus and a perfume of plum sauce. Deft balance between richness, acidity and tannin. It is wines like this that make Pinot my paramour. Available through New Release Club; recently released so inquire at 707-877-1771.

2009 DuMOL Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 14.3% alc., 3,900 cases, $64. This wine was a revelation. Moderately deep reddish-purple color in the glass. Lovely, demure aromas of dark red cherries and berries and brioche. Sinfully delicious with intense, sweet flavors of black cherries, spice and Hoison sauce. Polished and classy, seductively silky on the palate, with suede tannins and perfect integration of oak, ending with a juicy finish that lures you back to the glass. Impeccable balance. One of the highest priced Russian River Valley appellation wines, but everything you could ask for, and worth every penny. Available through a mailing list (pre release members) at with limited retail and restaurant distribution.

2009 Eric Kent Small Town Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 13.7% alc., 288 cases, $45. Moderately light reddish-purple hue in the glass. Shy but very pleasant perfume of dark red berries, black cherries, Asian spice and cola, becoming more expressive in the glass over time. Vigorous with dark red fruit flavor, complimented by notes of sassafras and spice including clove. Possessing plenty of character with svelte tannins and welcoming acidity on the generous finish. Really spectacular two days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Best Pinot ever from winemaker Kent Humphries. Available through a mailing list at, currently sold out.

2009 Freestone Vineyards Estate Grown Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 13.5% alc., 4,660 cases, $55. Moderately deep reddish-purple color in the glass. Subdued nose initially, picking up intensity over time in the glass, offering a fresh blend of cherries and berries with a floral element in the background. Very impressive concentration, even sappy on the mid palate, with generous and expressive flavors of black cherries, black raspberries and Hoison sauce, lifted by hi-tone acidity, and caressed by gentle, ripe tannins. An impressive hedonistic style of wine with the right touch of acidity, a creamy mouth feel and admirable balance. Good approachability now but has excellent aging potential. Available at

2009 Kosta Browne Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 14.7% alc., 439 cases, $72. Dark and dense reddish-purple color in the glass. Reserved but pleasing aromas of black stone fruits with complimentary oak spice and anise. Rich, full, sweet and beautifully composed black plum and blackberry flavors that offer real density and a mouth coating finish of unbelievable persistence. Fruit-driven and primary now, but the gorgeous fruit is impossible to ignore. I have never tasted anything so sensual from this vineyard. Wowzaa! Available through the secondary marketplace; sold out at the winery via mailing list at

2008 Rhys Vineyards Swan Terrace Alpine Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir 13.0% alc., $69. Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. With intense swirling, an appealing scent of mixed berry preserves, crushed black grapes, and a hint of floral perfume emerges. The wine offers well-endowed flavors of plum sauce and dark red raspberries, cola and grilled meat. Rather linear now with the fruit buried in flamboyant tannins. There is an earth and mineral infused quality to the fruit which is appealing and I sense that this wine will perform beautifully in another five years. The wine benefited from re-corking the bottle and sampling it the next day. A connoisseur’s wine with unlimited potential. Available only to mailing list customers at

2009 Siduri Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 14.2% alc., 298 cases, $50. Enticing aromas of black cherries, deeply colored berries and cola. A lip smacker with oodles of fruit that saturates the palate and persists on the finish with a clinging vengeance. Soft and smoothly textured with relaxed tannins. This is a kick-ass Pinot that will bring you to your knees. Available to mailing list customers at with limited retail distribution.

2008 Windy Oaks Limited Release 100% Whole Cluster Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir 13.9% alc., 173 cases, $55. Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Remarkably effusive aromas of black cherries, vanilla, musk and spice. Delicious essence of fresh black cherry pie with subtle notes of baking spices, cola and oak. Almost creamy, with moderate fine-grain tannins. Discreetly rich and fully ripe fruit with a striking note of cherry on the finish. The whole cluster fermentation confers a seductive mouth feel and a charming spice note. Very special.

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