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Sips of California Pinot Noir

2010 Loos Family Bohemian Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 50 cases, pH 3.70, TA 0.71, $44. Release date April 2012. Only produced in selected vintages. Vineyard is 7 acres in Freestone planted on Goldridge loam soil. Yields were 2 tons per acre. Clones 115, 667,777 and Pommard. 9-day cold soak with manual punch downs. Wild and inoculated yeasts. Aged in 50% new and 50% neutral French Francois Fréres and Remond Allier oak barrels. Winemakers are Adam Smith and Brad Loos. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Enticing perfume of red cherries, red plums, hay and dried herbs. Lighter weighted on the palate, but flavorful, featuring red cherries and berries accented by savory herbs. The wine has a unique flavor that distinguishes it from mainstream Pinot Noirs. The tannins are supple and the whole package is well composed. Still solid two days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle indicating age ability. Very good. Source: or 408-799-5938.

2008 El Molino Rutherford Napa Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., 696 cases, $60. One of the first wineries in Napa Valley, founded in 1871. The label is an original design introduced in 1871 displaying the Bale Mill, or “El Molino.” The grapes are grown at the estate Star Vineyard where the first Pinot Noir block was planted in 1991. The proprietors are Lily and Jon Berlin who are winemaking partners as well. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. A mix of dark red and black berry aromas on the nose is complimented by spice and oak. The core of black raspberry and plum fruit really sings on the palate. The wine is well-endowed with ripe tannins, a silky mouth feel, and impressive fruit presence on the long finish. The fruit pushes the ripe/roasted envelope but never crosses the line. This is a terroir-driven feature, as the vineyard site is considered warm by Pinot Noir standards. Very good. Source: and some retail distribution. Star Vineyard below.

2009 High Flyer Sierra Madre Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., 325 cases, $40. · Darkly colored in the glass. Aromas of black fruits, prune, bell pepper, loam, and ash. The flavors of earth-kissed black plums, black raspberries and blackberries push the ripeness envelope. The wine lacks verve and interest. Decent.

2009 High Flyer Doctor’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands

14.5% alc., 825 cases, $40. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Lovely dark fruit aromas with a touch of cola and spice. Middleweight flavors of black cherries and black raspberries with a complimentary note of sassafras and vanilla. Sleek and very soft in the mouth with restrained, dusty tannins. An appealing wine offering reasonable length on the finish and admirable balance. Very good. Source:

2009 Clos Pepe Vigneron Select Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $64 (sold out). · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of fresh black cherries with cardamom spice and a hint of toasty oak. Modestly intense flavors of cherries, cranberries and dark red raspberries with a savory note of mushrooms, herbs and a hint of oak. This wine has understated charm with a soft texture, mild tannins and a good cut of acidity on the slightly tart finish. Has the balance to continue to improve in the cellar. Still fine the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Very good. Source: The 2010 vintage is available now.

2010 Waxwing Spring Hill Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 75 cases, $33. Clones are Pommard, 115 and 777. Aged 12 months in onceused French oak barrels. A heat spike just before picking drove the sugar levels up. The wine is crafted in a shared boutique winery space in San Carlos, California. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Extroverted nose displaying aromas of fresh dark red berries with a hint of sandalwood and spice. Tasty core of mixed berries with noticeable oak spice and vanilla. Elegant in style, but packed with flavor which lingers on the long finish. A charming wine that needs more time in the cellar to integrate its oak. Very good. Source:

2010 Masút Vineyard & Winery Estate Vineyard Mendocino Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.56, TA 0.63, 700 cases, $40. From a 23-acre hillside vineyard planted in 1997. Whole berry de-stemmed into open top fermenters. Both native and proprietary yeasts were used during the 16-day fermentation. The wine was aged 11 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Strong aromas of oakdriven coffee mocha with no fruit contribution. Lovely and pleasing on the palate, featuring perfectly ripe and luscious black cherry fruit, but the fruit is buried in oak-driven flavors of char and coffee mocha. About the same the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Only time will tell if enough of the oak will integrate to allow the fruit to really shine. Good. Source and retail distribution in multiple states.

2010 Longoria Lovely Rita Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.53, 360 cases, $32. A blend of 94% Fe Ciega Vineyard and 6% Bien Nacido Vineyard. Fermented in both the Ganimedes fermenter and open top fermenter. Aged 11 months in 20% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Complex aromatics featuring scents of dark red raspberries and cranberries, spice, tea leaf, wet leaves and potpourri. Lighter weighted, but charming dark red berry flavors with supporting toasty oak. A wellrounded offering with nicely proportioned tannins and easy drink ability. Ready to drink now, but will last a few years. Good (+).

2009 Longoria Fe Ciega Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.60, 605 cases, $48. 100% de-stemmed and crushed into small open top fermenters. 3-day cold soak, inoculated, average fermentation lasted 12 days. Aged 15 months in 30% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose features deep purple fruits with noticeable oak. Rugged and masculine in nature with a full offering of earthy black plum, black currant and blackberry fruit encased in flamboyant tannins and accented by plenty of oak. Much better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle showing softer tannins and more vivacious fruit, but still significantly oaked. There is plenty of upside in this wine that needs cellaring for at least a few years to integrate the oak and tannins. Decant if you must open now. This wine has such a distinctive character each vintage that I am sure I could pick it out blind from a lineup. It definitely reflects its terroir. Very good. Source:

2010 McNeil & Sons Redding Ranch Vineyard Marin County Pinot Noir

13.28% alc., 100 cases, $60. Clones 667, 777 and Pommard. Yield .75 tons per acre. Named after the “McNeil & Sons” turn-of-the-century butcher shop that still stands on the Nicasio town square in Marin County. The vineyard is situated at 1,200 feet elevation near the windswept crest of Mount Shroyer, a very cool, coastal site. Chalone Wine Group planted this 20-acres of high-density Pommard and Dijon clones in the spring of 2000. Well-drained, rocky soils. 33% whole cluster, native yeast fermentations, aged in 25% new, 50% once-used and 25% neutral French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. Winemaker is Jon Grant (Couloir). · Moderately light reddishpurple color in the glass. The nose unfolds slowly in the glass, reaching an interesting array of scents including cherries, spice and bramble. Medium weighted and elegant, with layers of flavor including dark red cherry mash, blueberries, tea, stem and Asian 5-spice. Exotic and distinctive, with well-mannered tannins and admirable length. A very interesting wine that veers from the usual California paradigm. Very good. Source: and The Butcher Shop, Nicasio, California.

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