Recent Sips of Pinot Noir
2013 Alta Maria Carbonic Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $24. A Cru Beaujolais style Pinot Noir
made with 100% carbonic maceration of whole cluster grapes without crushing or pumping over the free
draining juice and bottled 4 months after harvest.
Light garnet color in the glass. A little funky upon opening,
cleaning up over time in the glass to reveal aromas of red berries, red cherry, spice, candied ginger and rose
petal. Light and bright flavors of strawberry, cranberry and red cherry with no detectable tannins. Drinks like a
substantial rosé and like a rosé, should have some chill on it.
2012 Alta Maria Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $52. First Bien Nacido
bottling in 6 years. Sourced from 40-year-old, own-rooted vines which are some of the first planted in the
Santa Maria Valley. 100% whole cluster fermented. Aged 17 months in French oak.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. Appealing aromas of cherry and red berry with a hint of oak. Light to medium weight
flavors of red and dark red fruits with an herbal, earthy underpinning. The tannins are well integrated, and the
wine finishes with plenty of dried cherry goodness and a cut of good acidity. Oak plays a supportive role. A
little reserved at this stage, needing at least another year in the cellar.
Anaba!s name comes from the cool anabatic winds that swirl through the winery!s sustainably farmed Carneros
estate vineyards. These unique air currents make the vineyards more temperate, slowing down the ripening
process. In 2009, Anaba Wines became the first winery in Northern California to use wind power when owner John
Sweazey installed a wind turbine on the property to harness the anabatic winds. The turbine generates electricity
for Anaba!s tasting room, wine storage, office operations and irrigation pumps for the two estate vineyards.
Jennifer Marion, a UC Davis graduate, has been the Director of Winemaking and Vineyard Operations and General
Manager since the winery!s first releases in 2009. Her 2012 releases are outstanding and the best showing for this
winery to date. Check out the excellent Chardonnays as well later in this issue. For more information, visit the
website at www.anabawines.com.
2012 Anaba Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.56, TA 0.56, 192 cases, $46.
This vineyard is located in one of Russian River Valley’s coolest and foggiest regions. Goldridge soil. Clones
115 and Pommard. Harvest Brix 23.9º-24.2º. 12% whole cluster, 4 to 6-day cold soak, native fermentation,
basket pressed when dry. Aged 11 months sur lees in 35% new French oak.
Moderately light reddish purple
color in the glass. The nose is closed initially showing little more than aroma of coffee bean. When tasted the
following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the nose had blossomed, offering pleasing
aromas of cherry, spice and rose petal. On the palate, the wine has a welcoming softness and freshness with
juicy flavors of Bing cherries, ripe strawberries, spice, cola and complimentary oak framed by fine-grain
tannins. A charming wine with soaring aromatic persistence on the extended finish. Decant if you pull the cork
2012 Anaba Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.51, TA 0.56, 1,576 cases, $34. A blend
of select lots from Roberts Road, Dutton Ranch, Las Brisas and Tina Marie vineyards. Clones 115,
Pommard, 667 and 777. Harvest Brix 22.9º-24.2º. 12% whole cluster, 4 to 6-day cold soak, native
fermentation, basket pressed when dry. Aged 11 months sur lees in 40% new French oak.
Moderately light reddish purple hue in the glass. Pleasant aromas of cherry, pomegranate and
toasty oak which gain in appeal over time in the glass. Full-bodied, rich flavors of cherry, blueberry,
and raspberry underpinned with spicy oak. The balance of sinewy tannins and acidity is spot on and
there is some finishing length. A solid, dependable offering year in and year out.
2012 Anaba Roberts Road Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.52, TA 0.56, 201 cases,
$46. This vineyard is located at the base of Sonoma Mountain adjacent Copeland Creek and is farmed by the
noted Sangiacomo family. Clone 115 and Pommard. Harvest Brix 23.5º. 12% whole cluster, 4 to 6-day cold
soak, native fermentation, basket pressed when dry. Aged 11 months sur lees in 35% new French oak.
Moderately light reddish purple hue in the glass. This is a spicy wine with appealing aromas and flavors of
black raspberry and black cherry. Some oak is at play creating hints of cocoa, vanilla and anise. The fruit veers a bit to the ripe side but is very fresh, juicy and luscious. Still very flavorful the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle with an impressively long finish.
2012 Anaba Las Brisas Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.45, TA 0.525, 127 cases, $38. This
vineyard is part of the Mahoney Estate and the name translates to “breezes.” The winds drive morning fog
from the vineyards and cool the vines in the late afternoon. Swan and 667. Harvest Brix 23.2º-24.0º. 15%
whole cluster, 5-day cold soak, native fermentation, basket pressed when dry. Aged 11 months sur lees in 33%
new French oak.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Pleasant aromas of cherry, strawberry and a
subtle note of green herbs. Light to mid weight flavors of red cherry and cranberry fruit with a hint of cocoa and
oak are marked by a brisk tug of acidity and slightly grippy tannins. A bit of heat shows up on the red fruit
2012 Anaba Soberanes Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.45, TA 0.52, 213 cases, $46. Pisoni selection. Harvest
Brix 24.1º. 12% whole cluster, 4 to 6-day cold soak, native fermentation,
basket pressed when dry. Aged 11 months sur lees in 40% new French
Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed
with fresh aromas of cherry, cardamom spice and cocoa. A polished
wine with impeccable balance, featuring a burst of spicy black cherry
flavor on the mid palate. Forward drinking with juicy acidity, a silky
texture and some notable finishing power. This wine brings out the best
in Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir.
2012 Bethel Heights Vineyards ÆOLIAN Estate Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., pH 3.42, TA 0.60,
2,390 cases, $42. This bottling is from the second generation of vines on the estate, planted in the 1990s.
Harvest Brix 23.9º. Aged 11 months in 40% new French oak. Unfined.
Moderate reddish purple color in the
glass. Shy aromas of blackberry, black raspberry, spice and balsam lead to a mid weight core of sappy
blueberry, pomegranate and black raspberry fruits framed by modest dry tannins. A vein of racy acidity adds
energetic tension, and the raspberry-driven finish is remarkably persistent and refreshing. Very accessible now,
but time in the cellar will bring the aromatics to life.
2012 Castle Rock Mendocino County Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $10-$12.
Moderate reddish purple color in the
glass. Dark fruited on the nose with significant smoky oak overlay. Fruity and pleasant, with flavors of black
cherry, black raspberry and plum. Soft in the mouth with supple tannins. An unpretentious, every day style of
2012 Cherry Tart California Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $20, screwcap. Vinified by Jason Woodbridge (Hundred
Acre, Layer Cake and Cherry Pie). 49% Sonoma County, 43% Monterey County and 8% Santa Barbara
County. Aged in 3-year-old French oak with a small portion of new oak (barrels recycled from Hundred Acre
and Cherry Pie program). First vintage of this wine.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The
nose is smoky with underlying aromas of black cherry, burnt toast and black tea. The black cherry, black
raspberry and black currant flavors deliver plenty of Pinot goodness. A mantle of smoky oak shadows the fruit.
The tannins are well balanced and the wine finishes with some appealing black cherry fruit.
2012 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Dundee Hills Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $38. This wine was previously
reviewed in February 2014, and I noted then that the wine would benefit from further aging. This tasting
confirms my prediction and the wine is showing considerably better.
Moderate reddish purple color in the
glass. Pleasant aromas of dark cherry liquor, strawberry and spice. Mid to full-bodied and very tasty on the
attack with waves of black cherry and black raspberry fruit that engage the consumer with sappy hedonism.
The tannins are well matched to the generous fruit load, and there is enough acidity to add tension. The fruit
really hangs on to the generous finish. This is a bigger, riper and more concentrated bottling than usual but
most will embrace the Caliesque style for its glorious fruit.
2012 Evesham Wood La Grive Bleue Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $25. This wine pays
homage to the Western Bluebird, preservation of
whose habitat was a prime motivation for the winery’s
decision to farm the estate Le Puits Sec Vineyard
organically. Non-irrigated vines. Unfiltered.
Moderately light reddish purple hue in the glass. Intoxicating aromas of
fresh cherry pie and rose petals. Delicious core of red cherry, red
raspberry fruit flavors accented with notes of spice and floral goodness.
Soft, silky and suave on the palate with supple tannins and appealing
harmony. Amazing phenolic ripeness and flavor at this low ABV. Very
Founder and winemaker David Rossi sources grapes from California!s cool Pinot Noir regions, most notably the
Sonoma Coast, Anderson Valley and the Chalone AVA. Beyond this, David seeks out more sheltered, sun-kissed
sites that are a bit warmer than their neighbors. He says, “Because they are somewhat warmer sites, we get the
flavors we want, but because they are in cool growing regions, the flavors are balanced by the poise and restraint
we love.” Regarding the On Point and Fulcrum wines, David says, “As I evaluate each barrel, some will be darker,
have more pronounced tannins and more complex structures. These become Fulcrum wines. Others will be more
vibrant, with softer tannins and the immediately alluring personality that defines On Point.” For more information,
2012 On Point Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.56, 253 cases, $36. A blend of
four clones (115, 667, 777 and Pommard) from Gap’s Crown (35%) and Sangiacomo (65%) vineyards. Aged
16 months in 30% new French oak.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Ripe fruited, with
aromas and flavors of blackberry jam, black currant, plum reduction sauce and dried cherry. Notes of anise and
spice add interest. A fruit-dominated wine that is discreetly concentrated with soft tannins and easy drink ability.
2012 Fulcrum Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.69, TA 0.62, 117 cases, $55. Sourced from
Donnelly Creek Vineyard, a vineyard planted in 1991 that is farmed by owner Mary Elke. Aged 16 months in
33% new French oak.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Pleasant aromas of fresh berry jam, black
cherry and sous bois. The mix of dark red and purple fruits on the palate has good mid palate presence, the
oak is well integrated, and there is some persistence on the dry, slightly tannic finish. The wine seemed to lose
a little appeal 24 hours later, so I would drink it in the near term.
2012 Fulcrum Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.57, 172 cases, $59. Planted in
2002, this is one of the Sonoma Coast’s preeminent vineyards.
It is located on the western hillside of Sonoma Mountain in the
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass.
Enticing aromas of dark red berries and cherries, blueberries
and baking spices. Engaging and harmonious, with a charge of
chocolate-covered cherries flooding the mouth with pleasure. The vivid
fruit is perfectly ripened and accented with an array of spices. Beautifully
crafted, this wine is silky in the mouth, and ends with a glorious, black
cherry-laden, peacock tail finish. Still highly aromatic and flavorful the
following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2012 Fulcrum Brousseau Vineyard Chalone AVA Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.61, 148 cases,
$55. This unique site has limestone soils. Third vintage from this vineyard. Aged 16 months in 33%
new French oak.
Distinctly darker in color with a deep purple tone. The nose is rich with aromas of
blackberry jam, ollaliberry, spice and campfire. Although rich with serious extract, the wine is
beautifully balanced and caressing with husky, but not overbearing tannins. The delicious flavors of
dark berries, currants, and plum are juicy and persist on the expansive finish that echoes with waves of earthbound dark fruits. This is a terroir-driven wine and clearly the best I have ever had from this vineyard.
Brousseau Pinot Noir is typically black fruited with imposing tannins, but this wine is tamed and refined. Hat’s
off to David! Even better the following day with a smoother presence.
2012 Gary Farrell Rochioli-Allen Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.56, TA 0.69, 317 cases, $70.
Released September 2014. Sourced from Rochioli Vineyard
and Allen Vineyard which lie opposite on Westside Road. Both
vineyards are farmed by the Rochioli family. Clones are
Pommard from the Allen Old (planted in 1974) and New (planted
in 1996) North Hill blocks, with the balance consisting of
Pommard from Rochioli River Block. 10% whole cluster. 5 to 7-day cold
soak, 10 to 15-day extended maceration, aged on the primary lees 14
months in 40% new French oak.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the
glass. Vibrant aromas of raspberry, black cherry, rose petal and baking
spice are attention-grabbing. A vigorous mid palate attack of black
raspberry and ollaliberry flavors is tenacious and palate soaking. There
is a compliment of spice, earth, oak and savory herb notes in the background. Very smoothly textured with
well-managed tannins, bright acidity, and a remarkable intensely fruited finish. Still fine the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle, with the grand cru finish still in evidence. This dreamy Pinot will age
2012 Gundlach Bundschu Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.87, TA 0.55, 3,958 cases, $37.
Estate grown, produced and bottled on the Rhinefarm Estate
Vineyard located just 8 miles north of San Pablo Bay. 8
distinct blocks of Pinot Noir were harvested separately. 20%
heritage selections, 80% Dijon 667 and 777. 100% destemmed,
optically sorted, 5 to 7-day cold soak, indigenous
and RC212 yeast strains, aged 10 months in 40% new French oak.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very fresh aromas of red
berries and red cherries with a hint of grassy meadow in the background.
Palate-saturating flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and ripe
strawberry on entry, finding every nook and cranny in the mouth, and
ending with some suavity and length. The wine has a well-proportioned backbone of tannins and acidity
creating the balance to age, but it is ready to enjoy now.
2012 Ledson Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 230 cases, $60. Aged 20 months in 40% new French
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Pleasing aromas of cherry, pennyroyal, rose
petal and sandalwood. The mid weight core of juicy strawberry, cranberry and cherry fruits is framed by supple
tannins creating an appealing elegance. Oak shows up with complimentary notes of mocha and caramel.
There is plenty of Pinot Noir character in this delicately styled but flavorful wine.
2012 Ledson Valerie’s Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.76, TA 0.51, 110 cases, $52. Aged
12 months in 35% new French oak. Released June 13, 2014.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the
glass. Aromas of black cherry, wet loam and oak spice are echoed in the flavors. The robust fruit has a slight
confected character. A firm tannic structure keeps the fruit in line. The wine exhibits the savoriness and
earthiness common to Carneros Pinot Noir and I like it for its reflection of Carneros terroir.
2012 Melville Estate Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $36 (can be found discounted at retail).
Released March 2014. 16 Pinot Noir clones. 40% whole cluster. 30 days skin and stem contact (7-
day cold soak, 2+ weeks of fermentation and 1+ week of extended maceration). Aged sur lie in
neutral French oak.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Appealing aromas of black
raspberry, black peppercorn, spicy oak and old cask. Modest in weight with a good attack of darker
berry and cherry fruits with accents of black tea, anise and savory herbs. A kiss of oak is
complimentary. Nicely balanced with appealing elegance and up front appeal.
2012 Olema Sonoma County Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., $20. From Amici Cellars. Olema means “coyote” in
Miwok and honors the Miwok Americans who called Sonoma County home.
Moderate reddish purple color in
the glass. Aromas of black cherry, spice and toast lead to middleweight flavors of black cherry, black raspberry,
cola and spice. Good richness on the mid palate with some finishing intensity. Modest tannins and easy
2013 Picayune Cellars Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 450 cases, $29. This wine is
produced by Jennifer Roberts (married to Nathan Roberts from Arnot Roberts Winery) and Claire
Weinkauf (married to Aron Weinkauf, the winemaker at Spottswoode Winery). The goal is to deliver
exciting wines at a reasonable price point. Aged 8 months in neutral French oak.
purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of black cherry, blueberry and forest floor lead to a mid to fullbodied
core of earthy black cherry, boysenberry and blackberry fruit flavors with a riff of herbs in the
background. Robust, but bright due to an energetic cut of underlying acidity. The finish is fruity and
tangy, urging another sip.
2012 Porter Creek Fiona Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $46. From a steep, hillside vineyard situated on
Westside Road at the entrance to Porter Creek with a southern aspect.
The hard clay top soil with fractured stone bedrock stresses the vines.
Farming is Demeter Certified Biodynamic®.
Moderately light ruby red
color in the glass. Charming aromas of red fruits, spice, herbs and sousbois.
Impeccably balanced with discreetly concentrated flavors of cherry,
strawberry and pomegranate accented with a note of savory herbs.
Elegant with vibrant acidity and impressive length on the dried cherry
finish. This is not your typical Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and would
be easily mistaken for a Coté de Beaune Burgundy. A connoisseur’s
Owner Glenn Alexander farms and manages over 400 acres of premium vineyards for wineries such as
Kosta Browne, Copain, Paul Hobbs and Pahlmeyer. Since 2006, the Alexander family has been producing
wines from family farmed vineyards with Glenn as the winemaker. The name, Sanglier, is French for wild
boar, a creature prevalent in the vineyards and on the dinner tables of France and Sonoma County. The
winery has a tasting room is located in downtown Healdsburg. Visit www.sangliercellars.com.
This is my first opportunity to sample Sanglier Cellars Pinot Noir and I was very impressed.
2012 Sanglier Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.61, 542 cases, $38. Aged in
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Quintessential Russian River Valley character with
aromas and flavors of Bing cherry, plum, cola and baking spice. Modest in weight, but plush on the palate, with
welcome oak accents, smooth tannins, and a cherry-charged finish. This up front wine has typical lush
Russian River Valley fruit, yet is fresh and vibrant.
2012 Sanglier Old Camp Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.56, 49 cases, $45. The vineyard
is just above the Russian River on the eastern ridge and enjoys
slightly more brilliant sunshine than the valley below, but still has
exposure to the Pacific fog that creeps into the Valley each
summer night. Pommard and 667 clones. Aged in French oak.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is alive with
scents of Bing cherries, cola and cinnamon spice. An evocative wine
with a plush attack of black cherry and black raspberry fruits that alert the
palate. Nicely spiced and showing a hint of oak, this wine delivers a
generous charge of cherries jubilee on the expansive finish. Highly
flavorful, even hedonistic, but not overweighted or sweet.
2012 Soliste L’Ambroisie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
alc., 60 cases, $100. Tasted from a bottle that was opened 2
days prior at a luncheon. Clone “828.” 12% whole cluster.
There is plenty
of drama and personality to this wine. The nose is replete with
engaging aromas of wild cherry, exotic spices, forest floor and
fresh rose petals. Flavors of black cherry and spice dance on the
palate, framed by elegant, suave tannins (surprisingly reserved
considering the high percentage of whole cluster). A charming, silken
wine with impressive fruit intensity and length on the spice-filled finish.
Impeccable balance and freshness after opened for 2 days predicts
2012 Tin Barn Vineyards Ricci Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $36. Sourced from a family owned vineyard
located in a cool and foggy setting facing San Pablo Bay. The
winemaker is Michael Lancaster.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. Aromatically alive with scents of red
cherry, strawberry and red rose petal. A charming, polished
and elegant wine with mid weight flavors of spiced cherry and
plum. Easy to drink, with good tension, balanced tannins and a fruity
2010 Z’ivo Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., 796 cases, $36. 25% 115, 25% 777, 25% 114, 12.5% 667
and 12.5% Pommard. 5-day cold soak, aged in 25% new French oak.
Lighter reddish purple color in the glass.
Aromas of mixed berries, black cherry, underbrush and woody resin. Middleweight flavors of black cherry, cola,
tea leaf, and tobacco. Soft in the mouth with polished tannins and reasonable intensity on the finish. An oak
streak stands out.