More Sips of Recently Tasted Pinot Noir
2012 Davis Family Vineyards Campbell Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $65.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. This is a stunning wine upon opening with
invigorating aromas of fresh cherry tart, raspberry sauce and spice that jump from the glass. Very
satisfying, with a silken richness of perfectly ripened wild berry and black cherry fruit accented with
vanilla and a savory, dark sous-bois riff. The mid palate attack is vivid and mouth filling, and the
generous finish echoes with an exotic goodness. This wine is blessed with perfect harmony between
the supportive, sinewy tannins and the pleasing acid tension. It is scary to think this wine will
undoubtedly improve over the new few years in bottle. A special occasion wine that reflects the extraordinary
terroir of the West Sonoma Coast.
2012 Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.57, 8,700 cases, $35. Aged
10 months in 35% new and 65% once and twice-filled French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple color in the
glass. There is a prominent oak overlay on the nose with demure aromas of Bing cherry. Richly fruited with a
cherry and boysenberry core accented with notes of cola and earth and a noticeable mantle of nutty oak. The
tannins are balanced and there is some fruit richness on the moderately long finish.
2012 Frank Family Vineyards Lewis Vineyard Reserve Napa Carneros Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.51, TA
0.60, 1,481 cases, $65. Aged 10 months in 50% new and 50% once-filled French oak barrels.
dark reddish purple color in the glass. Clearly a step up in quality over the regular Carneros bottling with deep,
penetrating aromas of darker berries and cherries with a complimentary hint of spicy, smoky oak. A fruit-driven
wine of impressive flavor with layers of blueberry, black raspberry and plum fruit that is classy. An earthy,
savory undertone reflects a Carneros identity. The balance is spot on with integrated tannins, a healthy acid
spine, and plenty of fruit goodness hanging on through a long finish.
2012 MacMurray Ranch Central Coast Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., $11.39.
Moderate reddish purple color in the
glass. The aromas and flavors of dark cherry, plum and black raspberry are framed by anise-laced oak. The
tannins are modest, the mouthfeel is silky, and the finish is juicy, albeit a bit shallow and a noticeable tug of
oak. A satisfactory rather than special wine for everyday consumption.
2012 Ser Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 180 cases, $33. “Ser” translates to “To
be; expressing identity or origin” in Spanish. Ser is a small boutique wine company based in Santa
Cruz, California featuring wines vinified by owner and winemaker Nicole Walsh. 40% Lester
Family Vineyard, 30% Lilo Vineyard, and 30% Byington Vineyard. Vineyards were fermented
separately. 5 to 6-day cold soak, indigenous yeast fermentation, gently pressed into 10% new and
90% neutral French oak barrels. Aged 14 months in barrel.
Moderately light garnet color in the
glass. This is a savory wine with more interest than just fruit. The nose offers aromas of cherry,
sous-bois, iron, tomato, herbs and wood. Light and elegant in style, but with a noticeable midpalate
attack of red cherry, cranberry and red raspberry fruits. Slightly confected with a prominent savory herb
undertone. Slightly plush on the palate with suave tannins, juicy acidity, and some finishing length. Very
forward and easy to like and a perfect foil for grilled salmon.
2011 Talisman Red Dog Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $52. Released October 2014.
This vineyard is located high above Bennett Valley at 800 feet elevation on the northwestern side of Sonoma
Mountain. A very low yield site.
Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose is captivating,
with hi-tone aromas of red plum, red currant, suis-bois, red hots and peppery spice. Light to mid weight flavors
of dark red fruits accented with hints of spice and toast. The balance is impeccable, with soft, supportive
tannins and bright acidity. The wine develops more interest over time in the glass and was clearly better the
following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2011 Talisman Weir Vineyard Yorkville Highlands Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 220 cases, $65. Released
October 2014. From a unique site at 850-1,000 feet elevation which has very cold night time temperatures.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose is shy but pleasant with aromas of red and black berries with a
hint of cola. The tasty core of blueberry, boysenberry, sarsaparilla and spice flavors is framed by firm tannins
that add a touch of astringency to the finish. The wine has good brightness and a seductively soft texture,
finishing with good length. It definitely becomes more appealing over time in the glass, but seems disjointed at
this juncture. Alcohol warmth peaks out and oak lingers on the aftertaste, especially the following day from a
previously opened bottle.
2011 Talisman Huckleberry’s Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 73 cases, $60. Release
January 2015. From a 1/2-acre vineyard in West Sonoma County owned and hand-tended by Bill and Lauren
Hipp. The vineyard is named after their dog Huckleberry.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass.
The aromas leap out of the glass upon opening and fill the room with scents of black cherry sauce, raspberry
jam and nutmeg. The attack of black cherry fruit on the mid palate is stunning, but there is much more to
discover in this special wine. Look for Moroccan spices, savory herbs, red licorice, and earthiness. Mid to fullbodied
with a suave texture and a finish that makes you shake your head in wonderment. The wine was still
pumping the aromatic and flavor goodness the following day from a previous opened and re-corked bottle. As
good as this wine is now, it will reward further cellaring because the balance is spot-on.
2011 Talisman Adastra Vineyard Los Carneros Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 189 cases, $56. Release April 2015.
From a certified organic vineyard tended by Chris Thorpe and son-in-law Edwin Richards. Clones are 2A, 113,
Pommard and Swan selection.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. This wine is showing a pretty good
whack of oak that should integrate by the time it is released in the spring. The aromas and mid weight flavors
of ripe, dark cherry and raspberry show promise, and are enhanced by nuances of spice, dark chocolate and
anise. The charge of fruit often experienced from this vineyard is more modest in this vintage, but the wine has
more charm than usual.
2011 Talisman Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Los Carneros Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 121 cases, $52. Release April 2015.
This is from the highest elevation vineyard in the Los Carneros
AVA. Soils are decomposed volcanic basalt. The site is very
cool with exposure to maritime breezes from San Pablo Bay.
Clones 115, 667, 777 and Swan selection.
purple color in the glass. The deep, earthy nose features black
raspberry, blackberry and black cherry fruit in abundance. This wine
really wows the palate upon entry with layers of luscious dark cherry and
raspberry flavors. Very silky in texture, with tame tannins and a
persistent, extremely long and intense berry-driven finish. Beautifully
balanced for age ability. Still stunning the following day from a previously
opened and re-corked bottle. Superlatives do little justice to this special