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2015 California Pinot Noir First Team All-Americans

2012 Maggy Hawk Jolie Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.73, TA 0.54, 312 cases, $66. Dijon clone 115. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 64% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is subdued upon opening, but blossoms over time in the glass to reveal aromas of dark cherry liquor, spice, and plenty of floral goodness including violets and roses. The nose was even more captivating the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle and was reminiscent of capturing a whiff of seductive perfume on a beautiful woman. The mid weight plus core of dark cherry and raspberry fruit is incredibly flavorful and reveals many nuances over time including spice, conifer, rose hips tea and just the right touch of oak. Elegant and sleek with amazing length, this wine is the whole package. Compared to the 2011 vintage, this wine is a bit more elegant, more fashionable and shows more adroit oak integration. I have tasted this wine on three other occasions and was blown away each time. An exemplar. Score: 98. Reviewed May 25, 2015. Note: 2012 Maggy Hawk Hawkster Anderson Valley Pinot Noir scored 97.

2012 Pisoni Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.2%, $75. · Dark reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas leap from the glass including blackberry, cardamom spice and oak vanillin. Juicy and full-bodied, but not jammy, with a gorgeous fruit core of blackberries, boysenberries and plums framed by generous, but balanced tannins. Some earth-based goodness chimes in as well. The fruit clings to every nook and cranny and refuses to go away, displaying a sweet, tenacious finish of uncommon length. Even better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Very approachable now, but has the stuff to last 20 years. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I tasted this beauty. Score: 98. Reviewed January 23, 2015.

2012 COBB Diane Cobb: Coastlands Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 225 cases, $85. A co-fermentation of 18 to 20 different Pinot Noir selections from Diane Cobb’s nursery block of dry-farmed, own-rooted vines that are among the oldest in the region. Seventh vintage. 40% whole clusters. Aged 22 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Deep, penetrating scents of cherry, black raspberry, spice, rose petal and humid bark. Ever-expanding flavors of black cherry, grenadine, black raspberry, and Asian 5-spice that saturate every nook and cranny in the mouth. Impeccable harmony with supportive fine-grain tannins, and a huge, peacock tail finish that is stunning. I was at a loss for more superlatives the following day when tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle when the arsenal of aromas and flavors were entirely seductive. Score: 97. Reviewed May 25, 2015.

2012 LaRue Rice-Spivak Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

12.6% alc., 125 cases, $70. Clones are 115, 667 and Swan. Less than 5% whole cluster. Aged 17 months in 100% French oak barrels, 40% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very exotic aromatic profile brimming with alluring scents of black cherry, spice, rose petal and a hint of sweet oak. The nose reminds of one that reflects whole cluster fermentation. This is a special wine of charm and character, offering juicy cherry fruit that dances across the palate. Accents of spice and flower bouquet add interest. The experience is bright and energetic with great harmony and elegance. The wine offers a refreshing cut of acidity on the long finish that seduces with spiced cherry and red berry fruits. Very difficult to refrain from drinking the whole bottle. Score: 97. Reviewed May 4, 2015.

2013 Gary Farrell Toboni Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.50, TA 0.63, 694 cases, $55. Released May 2015. Toboni Oakwild Ranch is located in the Santa Rosa Plain. Planted in 2001 to 115, 667, 777 and Pommard. Partially de-stemmed, 5 to 7-day cold soak, 10 to 15 days extended maceration post fermentation, aged 9 months on lees in 100% French oak barrels, 40% new. Racked off primary lees once just before bottling. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Deep aromas of dark red cherries and berries with many subtle nuances including spice, citrus zest, and wine cave. The nose becomes more generous over time in the glass and it is hard to take your nose away from the glass. The lively fruit flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and pomegranate are very seductive. The tannins are silky and the remarkably intense and lip-smacking finish resonates for at least a minute. Wines from this vineyard can be meaty and gamy, but this version is more fruity and vibrant. I guarantee you will love this wine which is the best I have ever tasted from this vineyard. Score: 96. Reviewed May 14, 2015.

2013 Kutch McDougall Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

12.2% alc., 500 cases, $59. Vineyard planted in 1998 in Graywacke and Sandstone soils. Dijon clone 114. VSP trellising, spur pruned, 8' x 5' spacing. 935 feet elevation, 3.4 miles inland from the coast. Aged in 50% new and 50% used French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely scent of black cherry, blackberry jam, wilted rose and underbrush. Delicious mid weight plus flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and boysenberry supported by firm but balanced tannins and the slightest hint of oak. The tremendously flavorful attack of sappy fruit leads to an extraordinarily long and juicy finish. Enjoyable now, this wine will benefit from more tannin integration over time. This is a wine that brings you to your knees, makes you turn your eyes to the heavens, and give thanks. Score: 95-96. Reviewed January 22, 2015.

2012 Donum Estate 1870 Carneros Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.77, TA 0.63, 73 cases, $120. 100% Donum clone from the three finest blocks in the Donum Estate Vineyard. The finest blend from the Estate Vineyard and bottled only in exceptional vintages. The juice spent 17 to 33 days on the skins, before being drained to French oak barrels, 75% new, and aged 14 months without racking. The favorite four barrel blend was then determined and blended and bottled as the first 1870 Pinot Noir. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of dark strawberry, raspberry and enchanting sous-bois. Very refined and polished with impeccable balance. Vivid flavors of blackberry, black raspberry, pomegranate and spice, framed by structured but tucked in tannins, and finishing with uncommon drive and persistence. This wines takes the best features of the Donum Carneros Pinot Noir wines and blends them into one glorious package. Wow! Score: 95. Reviewed March 15, 2015.

2012 Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards Pastorale Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., $75. This 34.5-acre estate vineyard surrounds the Freestone winery and is but 8 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. Calera and 777 clones. 30% whole cluster. 33% fermented in oak open top fermenters. Aged 14 months in 55% new and 45% 2-year-old and 3-year-old French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Haunting aromas of black cherry, sous-bois, rose petal and spice box. A truly harmonious drinking experience with every component singing in tune. Delicious flavors of black cherry and black raspberry with an accent of exotic spices and black tea. The fruit holds on to the peacock finish for what seems like a minute. Perfectly integrated acidity holds the rich fruit in balance.This wine is true to its mission. Score: 95. Reviewed December 12, 2015.

2012 FEL Savoy Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 645 cases, $65. Released December 1, 2014. A blend of clones including Dijon and Pommard, as well as Martini and Calera selections. Harvest Brix average 24.6º. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Welcoming aromas of fresh black cherry, rose petal and spice, with some cedary oak chiming in over time. Layer upon layer of gorgeous black cherry, kirsch and black raspberry goodness envelope the palate. A sexy, suave wine that is plush and velvety in the mouth, yet there is enough acidity to keep the experience fresh and vibrant. Nothing is out of place in this magnificent wine that finishes with a flourish of perfectly ripened black stone fruits. I ran out of superlatives with this one, but WOW sums it up. Still terrific the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle indicating good age ability. Score: 95. Reviewed May 4, 2015.

2012 Hartford Court Arrendell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., pH 3.50, TA 0.59, 298 cases, $90. Released January 2015. This low-lying vineyard sits in a very cold mesoclimate that allows full expression of the terroir. The old vines were planted in 1975 and struggle to ripen a 1 ton-per-acre fruit load of heirloom selections. Aged 14 months in 100% new French oak barrels, 45% new. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. A wonderful array of fresh scents greet the drinker including black cherry, kirsch, cassis, sous-bois and violets. Sappy and robust, with intense layers of flavor that unfold on the palate in stages to reveal notes of boysenberry, cassis, plum reduction sauce, and earthy herbs. Very smoothly textured with balanced tannins and a lingering finish. A special wine of uncommon personality and breeding. Score: 95. Reviewed May 4, 2015.

2013 Laetitia Single Vineyard Les Galets Arroyo Grande Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.78, TA 0.563, 209 cases, $60. Composed of grapes from low yielding blocks. The name means “stones” in French. Only produced in the most promising vintages. Multiple picks from late September to early October. Harvest Brix 25.5º. Dijon clone 115. 4-day cold soak, whole berry fermented in small open top fermenters with an addition of RC212 yeast. After 6 days of fermentation, the must was gently pressed and racked to 100% French oak barrels, 30% new. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Enticing aromas of boysenberry, blackberry, rose petal and vanilla soar from the glass. Brightly fruited with layers of dark fruits and exotic spices. Highly distinctive, with a firm, but complimentary tannic backbone, a hint of oak seasoning, juicy acidity and a silky mouth feel. An exceptional wine of unusual breeding that will bring you to your knees. Score: 95. Reviewed November 5, 2015.

2012 Hirsch Vineyards Estate Block 8 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., 290 cases, $85. Located on the West Ridge of the vineyard, this section has iron oxide-laden soils that are unique within the vineyard. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Demure aromas of red cherries and red berries and spice lead to a delicious core of fresh, well-spiced cherry and strawberry fruits that are framed by sublime tannins. A touch of earthiness and oak seasoning adds interest. A complete wine that emotes due to its texture, flavor and roundness. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, this wine continued to stand out, reminding me of a great Chambertain. The vintner made a prudent decision to bottle this wine separately. Score: 94-95. Reviewed November 5, 2015.

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