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2015 California Pinot Noir Second Team All-Americans

2013 Davis Family Vineyards Soul Patch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $55. Double Gold 2015 Sonoma County Harvest Fair. A barrel selection of favorite barrels of the vintage. Some whole cluster fermentation to lift the aromatics. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. As typical, this wine needs considerable decanting or several years in the cellar before it can be fully enjoyed. Upon opening, the nose is reluctant with subdued fruit trying to emerge. Highly structured and very tight, the wine showed great promise initially with bountiful black cherry and blackberry fruit veiled by oak and tannins. When tasted 4 days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, this wine had completely transformed. In a word it was fantastic. The deep aroma and flavor of black cherry was intoxicating, there was considerable nuance shown by subtle spices and herbs, the oak had taken a backseat seasoning role, and the tannins had become very suave. The wine assumed an irresistible polish and developed extraordinary length on the finish. Score: 94-95. Reviewed December 12, 2015.

2012 Wayfarer “The Traveler” Fort Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $150. Made from a Burgundy suitcase clone. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Inviting perfume of black cherry, blackberry and earthy flora, picking up interest and intensity over time in the glass and holding forth even 2 days after opening. Very saucy, yet intriguing, with an array of sappy darker fruits that are refined and classy. The wine is quite young, even slightly brooding, but is clearly a tuxedo wine that has tremendous upside potential. A bit of earthiness and mushroom flavors are among the nuances. The finish is particular notable for its refreshing lift and persistence. Clearly the best Wayfarer Pinot Noir in this vintage. Score: 94-95. Reviewed July 12, 2015.

2013 Benovia La Pommeraie Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.57, 300 cases, $56. Released September 2015. George Martinelli Frei Road Vineyard farmed by the Martinelli Family. Name of wine pays homage to the history of the site which was once an apple orchard. Dijon clones 777 and “828.” 10-day cold soak, indigenous yeast fermentation lasted for almost 3 weeks. Aged 16 months in 33% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. This is a real crowd pleaser with intoxicating aromas of dark berry jam, toasty oak and rose petal. The mid weight plus core of showy and gorgeous purple and black fruits literally explode on the palate. The ripe tannins are well matched and there is enough juicy acidity to keep the wine vibrant. A bombastic but gentle wine that displays the hallmark of a great Pinot Noir. This wine will part your hair!. Score: 94. Reviewed November 5, 2015.

2013 Black Kite Angel Hawk Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 190 cases, pH 3.56, TA 0.58, $85. Clones 114, 115 and Pommard. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Gorgeous label. The aromas leap from the glass, penetrating the olfactory senses with black cherry, blackberry, peat, citrus, cardamom and redwood timber scents. Luscious, but angelic on the palate, with mid weight plus flavors of black cherry and black raspberry fruits. A very sexy wine with a velvety mouth feel, silky tannins, complimentary oak, and enough acid to energize the luscious fruit load. Even better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, offering an incredible attack and finish and a just plain delicious drinking experience. A serious wine with intentions. Score: 94. Reviewed April 4, 2015.

2012 Furthermore Gloria Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.61, 164 cases, $40. Inaugural wine from this vineyard. Calera, Swan and Pommard clones. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 50% of which were new Cadus. · Light cherry red color in the glass. Enticing aromas of red cherry pie glaze, cranberry, rose petal and conifer. Inviting, forward flavors of cherry, raspberry, sandalwood and baking spices including cinnamon. Lighter in weight, but packing a wallop of flavor that hangs on through a lengthy and silky finish. When re-tasted later in the day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine had become an irresistible cherry bombast and my family couldn’t keep their hands off it. Score: 94. Reviewed March 16, 2015.

2013 Ken Brown Rita’s Crown Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., pH 3.51, TA 0.56, 323 cases, $60. This is one of the highest elevation vineyards in the region at 600 to 950 feet. The soils are shallow and the vines are exposed to coastal fog and ocean winds. Planted in 2007, it has quickly become one of the most highly regarded vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Clones 667, 777 and “828.” · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Soaring perfume with an array of dark fruits including black cherry and black raspberry, with a hint of spice and rose petal. Flat-out delicious mid weight plus core of black raspberry and blackberry fruit flavors matched to balanced tannins and juicy acidity. The mid palate attack is eye opening, the seductive mouth feel is velvety, and the richly endowed finish leaves an impression. A very classy offering from one of Central California’s winemaking icons, and one of the best Pinots I have had from this region in 2015. Score: 94. Reviewed November 22, 2015.

2013 LUMEN Sierra Madre Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 99 cases, $49. A barrel selection. Harvest average Brix 23.7º. Clones 667 and Pommard 5. Aged in 84% neutral French oak and 16% new Hungarian oak. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. The aromas of fresh boysenberry, plum, spice and toasty oak draw you into the glass. Beautifully balanced and polished on the palate, with flavors of black raspberry, boysenberry and plum with a slight earthy undertone. The oak seasoning is complimentary, the tannins are proportional and the wine’s juicy acidity makes for refreshing drinking. The intensely aromatic spiced plum on the very long finish is especially impressive. This wine truly reflects Santa Maria Valley terroir and is the best Pinot Noir I have ever had from this vineyard. Score: 94. Reviewed August 18, 2015.

2013 MacPhail Lakeview Vineyard Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.58, 192 cases, $49. Inaugural release from this 8.6-acre vineyard planted in Goldridge sand loam soil. Harvest Brix 24.5º. Clones 114 and 115. 84% de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak, native and proprietary yeast fermentation, native malolactic fermentation in barrel, batonage weekly for 3 months, aged 16 months sur lie in 100% French oak barrels, 37% new. Unfined and lightly filtered. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The nose reminds one of the holidays, with aromas of cherries, berries and Christmas spice. Delicious Bing cherry fruit floods the mouth with a bit of purple berry and spice chiming in. The tannins are soft and balanced, the mouth feel is all velvet, and the extraordinarily intense finish made me sit up in my chair. Still prodigious the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, with all components working in perfect harmony. Score: 94. Reviewed November 22, 2015.

2013 Sante Arcangeli Split Rail Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.59, 370 cases, $36. This vineyard is located at 1,700 feet elevation on a Corralitos mountaintop. Clones include Martini, Wädenswil, Mt. Eden, Swan, 32 and Pommard 4. Harvest Brix 22.5º-24.5º. 100% de-stemmed, aged sur lie with battonage for 10 months in 95% French and 5% Hungarian oak barrels of which 30% were new and 70% were used. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light cherry color in the glass. Lovely nose with alluring aromas of Bing cherry, sandalwood and spice cabinet. A delightful wine that is deep on the palate with an impressive attack of fleshy dark cherry, black raspberry and spice flavors complimented by a subtle vein of savory herbs in the background. The fine-grain, slightly weighty tannins provide good structure, and the persistent finish brings waves of vivid, flamboyant fruit. Score: 94. Reviewed January 23, 2015.

2012 Soliste Foret Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 241 cases, $85. Clone 23 (Mariafeld) from Guidicci Vineyard in Occidental. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose opens slowly to reveal glorious aromas of black cherry, black plum, sous- bois and spice. Quite bold for a Soliste Pinot Noir in this vintage, but still offering the Soliste style of elegance and intensity. Well-spiced black cherry, blackberry and black plum fruits flood the palate with goodness and hold on through a velvety, vibrant finish. Oak lends a gentle touch and the tannins are infused with maturity. Even better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, this virile wine will age beautifully. Score: 94. Reviewed November 5, 2015.

2013 Waxwing Lester Family Vineyards Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., 123 cases, $39. Vines planted in 1998 on a sandy loam hillside bordered by redwoods. Sustainable viticultural practices, careful canopy management, minimal late season deficit irrigation. A mix of Dijon and heritage clones including Mt. Eden, Wädenswil and Mariafeld. 50% of fruit de-stemmed as whole berries and 50% foot-stomped whole cluster. 5-day cold soak, native fermentation, aged 11 months in once-used French oak barrels. · Moderately light cherry color in the glass. Plenty of lovely whole cluster spice on the nose along with aromas of cherry, rose petal and sandalwood. Delicious middleweight flavors of red cherry, red raspberry, spice and crystallized rose. Bright with good tension and balanced tannins, finishing clean and uplifting. I could drink this all day. Score: 94. Reviewed January 23, 2015.

2011 Wedell Cellars Fiddlestix Vineyard The Barn Find Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.23, TA 0.665, 95 cases, $100. Sourced from one very small section of the Fiddlestix Vineyard that is within sight of the barn. Harvest Brix 24.4º. 100% de-stemmed, 6-day cold soak. All free-run juice. Aged on the primary lees in 30% new French oak barrels for almost 30 months. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Well-endowed with bright aromas of black raspberry and spice. Luscious and classy, with a charge of dark red and purple fruits that envelope the palate and find every nook and cranny in the mouth. Very suave with refined tannins, juicy acidity, and a peacock finish of uncommon length. A striking, irresistible wine. Score: 94. Reviewed July 12, 2015.

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