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2012 California Pinot Noir All-Americans Second Team

2010 Bailiwick Silver Pines Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.64,140 cases, $44. Growers are Norm and Carole Silverman. The vineyard overlooks Bennett Valley from an elevation of 900 feet. Planted in 2000, the loamy-clay volcanic soil is low in vigor limiting yields to about 2 tons per acre. Clone 115. Aged in 34% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of dark red fruits, cardamom spice and candied rose petal. Juicy red cherries and berries saturate the mid palate, embellished with spice and magic. Healthy, but non-aggressive fine-grain tannins add grip and support. Still young and takes its own sweet time opening up. Tremendous finishing power with fruit coming and going in waves. Cellar this another year or two and you will be even more infatuated.

2010 Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 3,475 cases, $44. Released December 2011. Established in 1972, this vineyard is planted own rooted to the Martini clone. 100% de-stemmed, inoculation of yeasts to match each lot, punch down and punch-over techniques. Yields 1.67 tons per acre. · Deep, dark purple robe in the glass. The nose is remarkably intense and persistent, pumping out aromas of dark berry jam, black currants, spice and vanillin over extended time in the glass. Flat-out stunning flavors of fresh black raspberries and blackberries with a complimentary exotic spice bent. Some refined tannins lead to a silky mouth feel. Astonishing length on the fruit-laden finish. I have rarely experienced a California Pinot Noir with such an incredibly long finish.

2010 Brewer-Clifton Machado Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 290 cases, $46. · 15-acre parcel on Machado family land adjacent Clos Pepe and immediately behind Kessler-Haak Vineyard. Pommard, Merry Edwards, Mount Eden and 459 clones. 100% of fruit is sold to Brewer-Clifton which is one of three vineyards Brewer-Clifton exclusively farms and manages. 100% whole cluster. Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Inviting aromas of plums and dark berry jam. Delicious and majestic in the mouth with flavors that replicate the aromas. The tannins are supportive and the mouth feel is very soft and comforting. Impressive length on the fruit-filled finish. Seamless and beautifully balanced. Still great the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Like rough sex play: it can raise your interest.

2009 DuMOL Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 3,900 cases, $64. Sourced from seven cool vineyards located on the western edge of the Russian River Valley. Clones are Old Beringer, Dijon 114, 115, 667, 777, Calera, Swan and Pommard. Vine age 5 to 24 years. Aged 11 months in 40% new French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · 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. I gave my wife a taste and she grinned from ear to ear. Everything you could ask for in a Russian River Valley appellation Pinot Noir and worth every penny.

2010 Fulcrum Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 189 cases, $56. Clones 667 and 777. Aged 15 months in 33% new Remond French oak. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Brightly perfumed with aromas of black plums, blackberry jam and Chinese Five Spice. Deliciously rich core of blackberry and plum reduction sauce flavors with a very appealing accent of spice. The wines fills the mouth with fruit, grabbing your attention, but is light on its feet due to supple tannins and impeccable balance. A big boy Pinot with black tie class that is flat-out terrific.

2009 Hirsch Vineyards “East Ridge” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., pH 3.46, TA 0.66, 160 cases, $85. A limited bottling from three of the oldest blocks on the East Ridge of the Hirsch Vineyard consisting of 18 acres and 16 farming blocks. Dominated by Pommard and Mt. Eden clones, this bottling is a selection of the very best barrels from these old blocks. Aged 17 months in 35% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Alluring aromas of black cherries and spice. Impressive rush of earth bound black cherry and dark berry fruit on the mid palate, persisting on the long and expressive finish. The mild, sinewy tannins add support and well-honed acidity adds vibrancy. Plenty of character in this wine and in my opinion, the best expression of Hirsch Vineyards Pinot Noir among the wines tasted here. I had some wine left over after tasting the following day, my wife took the wine as a gift to her friend who loves Pinot Noir, but mistakenly left it in the trunk where it stayed for three days. When I retrieved it, five days after opening, it was still fabulous! Built for the long haul and an exceptional Sonoma Coast treasure.

2007 John Tyler Bacigalupi Vineyard Wente Clone Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 418 cases, $45. 100% old Wente selection from Bacigalupi Vineyard at Goddard Ranch. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of dark cherry and berry mash with a hint of rose petal. Vibrant fruit on the mid palate with intense flavors of black cherries, dark berries and cassis, carrying over on the richly endowed and persistent finish. This wine really attracts your attention, offering and retracting numerous fruit and savory flavors over time in the glass. Well-structured with moderate tannins, offering appealing charm and complexity. Will easily last another 10 years. A connoisseur's wine.

2009 La Follette Manchester Ridge Vineyard Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., pH 3.74, TA 0.59, 494 cases, $49.99. This vineyard is located at 2,000 foot elevation overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The vines are rooted in decomposed sandstone. The relatively cool summer allows the fruit a long hang time. Clones 777, 115 and 114. 45% whole cluster. Bottled unfiltered. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Exotic perfume of purple rose petals, mushrooms, musk, frambiose and subtle oak. Hard to take your nose away from the glass. Delicious medium-weighted core of black raspberry and black cherry fruit clings to all reaches of the mouth, and persists with a vengeance on the aromatic finish. There are complimentary notes of cola and oak-driven mocha that add interest. Very satiny on the palate. I continue to be impressed by wines from this vineyard. A decked-out beauty.

2009 La Rochelle Tondre Grapefield Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 125 cases, $48. Released September 8, 2012. Originally planted to 6 acres of Pinot Noir in 1997. Today the vineyard contains 80 acres of Pinot Noir and 25 acres of Chardonnay, farmed by Joe Allarid. Clones 943 and Pommard are in this bottling. Inaugural release from this vineyard. Aged for 18 months in 20% new and 80% second use French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Smells like the freshest blackberry jam you have ever experienced. Delicious and entirely seductive, with a moderately intense core of blackberry, cassis, Hoison sauce and vanilla flavors. Smooth and satiny, with well-balanced tannins, perfectly integrated acidity in the background and the most outrageously long finish of all the wines in the 2009 La Rochelle lineup. I have had several great wines from this vineyard and this one continues the trend.

2009 Stemmler Ferguson Block Carneros Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.63, 67 cases, $44. To be released soon. Ferguson Block sits less than a mile east of The Donum Estate. It is the oldest vineyard in The Donum Estate, planted in 1974 with an old Martini selection of Pinot Noir on St. George rootstock in gravelly, loamy clay soils. Aged 18 months in once-used French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Evocative nose offering savory and fruity aromas including black cherries, baking spice and herbs. Really wows in the mouth with flat-out delicious core of earthy black cherries accented with complimentary vanillin oak. Satiny in texture with a generous finish that makes you want to take another sip. Nothing like old vine sophistication.

2009 Three Sticks Durell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., 253 cases, pH 3.70, TA 0.63, $60. Released March 20, 2012. A selection from the finest blocks in the vineyard and the best barrels in the cellar. Clones 667, 115 and 777. 10% whole cluster. Aged 15 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Ripe dark berry and plum aromas explode from the glass accented by the slightest note of herbs and spice. An “Oh my God!” nose. Delicious essence of fresh black raspberries, black currants and dark plums, accented with Middle Eastern spices and cola. Amazing mid palate presence, soft tannins, and a finish that would make Hollywood proud. Crafted for early accessibility. You will need a cold shower after drinking this one.

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