Recently Tasted Pinot Noir
2014 FEL Savoy Estate Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $70. Planted by Richard Savoy in
1991, the 44-acre vineyard is located just west of the town of Philo. Dijon and heritage clones of Pinot Noir.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherry pie, blackberry preserves and spice are attention
getting. Luscious and saucy, with mid weight flavors of black cherry and blackberry complimented by oak
seasoning in the background. Silk and satin in the mouth, with admirable vibrancy, slightly astringent tannins,
and a charge of fruit on the lengthy finish.
Frank Family Vineyards, Calistoga
2014 Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.63, TA 0.59, 5,000 cases,
$35. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 33% new and 67% once and twice-filled.
reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of black cherry liquor, spice and potpourri. Silky in
the mouth with immersed tannins, offering highly enjoyable flavors of black cherry, ripe strawberry
and boysenberry. Forward drinking with intense cherry goodness on the back end. When tasted
later in the day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the allure of vivid cherry and spice
flavors sent me for a second glass. I prefer this wine over the Reserve.
2014 Frank Family Vineyards Lewis Vineyard Reserve Napa Carneros Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.55, TA
0.60, 1,000 cases, $65. Lewis Vineyard is located near the shores of San Pablo Bay. Bought by Rich Frank in
2000 and named for Paul Frank’s son, Lewis, this 68-acre vineyard has 10 acres planted to Pinot Noir. Soils
are primarily shallow, dense clay loam and rainfall is limited to 20 inches annually resulting in very low yields.
Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 50% new and 50% once-filled.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in
the glass. A big boy, hedonistic wine with a plethora of blackberry, cassis and oak vanillin aromas and flavors.
The tannins and acidity keep the fruit corralled, such that the wine is relatively light on its feet. Totally different
from the regular bottling and well done in this generously oaked reserve style Pinot Noir.
Kingston Family Vineyards
This is a boutique winery located on the ranch in Casablanca, Chile, that has been in the same family for a
century. Kingston Family Vineyards is one of only a handful of Chilean vineyards leveraging artisan
winemaking and sustainable viticultural techniques to produce cool climate Pinot Noir, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc
and Chardonnay from estate vineyards. The Kingston vineyards now consist of about 350 acres in a valley that
is similar to California’s Central Coast, but somewhat colder. The vineyards lie about 12 miles from the Pacific
Ocean surrounded by rolling forested hills. The climate is mild and the growing season is long. All vines are
planted on their own roots with the 80 acres of Pinot Noir planted in the hills where sun exposure and drainage
is more favorable and the soil contains considerable decomposed granite. Dijon clone 777 is planted along with
two field selections known as Valdivieso, a shot berry clone similar to Swan that makes the top Alazan blend,
and Conca y Toro, a small-clustered clone.
The Chilean winemaker is Amael Orrego and the North American consulting winemaker is Byron Kosuge.
Kosuge has specialized in Pinot Noir for over 25 years. Pinot Noir vinification is traditional and includes a 5+
day cold soak, mostly native yeast ferments in 1-ton and 3-to-5-ton open top tanks, with pump overs and punch
downs as needed. Press wine is separated, and the wines undergo malolactic fermentation in barrel using
indigenous bacteria. The wines are aged only in French oak barrels with roughly 15% to 30% new barrels for
10 months. The wines are not racked until the blends are assembled just before bottling right before the next
2015 was an unusually warm vintage for Kingston. The wines are available for shipment to US markets and
consumers. As an added bonus, the wines represent excellent value. Visit www.kingstonvineyards.com.
2015 Kingston Family Vineyards Tobiano Casablanca Chile Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 275 cases,
$22. A blend of barrels that don’t make the top tier. This is not a lesser wine, but one that is lighter
in body and a touch less complexity.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A fruit-forward
wine with aromas of black cherry, strawberry and oak. Silky and highly approachable, driven by
cherry and red berry flavors overlaid with savory oak. The lightest and most elegant of the three
201 Kingston Pinot Noirs tasted, yet the wine delivers plenty of personality and a pleasing cherry-fueled
2015 Kingston Family Vineyards Alazan Casablanca Chile Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 150 cases,
$36. Released October 2016. Named after Peter Kingston’s burgundy-colored horse in the 1950s.
A limited, reserve bottling. Less new French oak and some larger barrels were used in this vintage.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A very young wine with oak expression exceeding the
fruit initially. Over time, aromas of dark fruits and tobacco emerge. The gloriously sappy core
envelopes the palate with an array of sweet purple and black fruit flavors with indulgent earth and oak
flavors as well. Full-bodied, with balanced tannins and a fruit-filled finish. When tasted the following
day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the showy oak had receded and the wine was
more appealing. Best to give this wine more time in bottle.
2015 Kingston Family Vineyards CJ’s Barrel Casablanca Chile Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 75
cases, $44. A very limited production wine that was aged in 100% neutral oak.
purple color in the glass. Aromas of boysenberry, blackberry, spice and tobacco lead to a mid weight
plus styled wine with a copious charge of dark purple and black fruits. Refined and uplifting with
good tannic bones and admirable balance. The oak is surprisingly expressive considering that
neutral oak barrels were used. This wine should benefit from more time in bottle.
LaRue Wines, Sonoma
Since 2009, winemaker Katy Wilson has offered excellent small lot bottlings of Pinot Noir from the Sonoma
Coast. Her talent is exemplified by her consulting position for several wineries including Anaba Wines,
Banshee Wines, Claypool Cellars, Reeve Wines and Smith Story Wine cellars. LaRue Pinot Noir and
Chardonnay is sold through an allocated mailing list at www.laruewines.com. Production is 500 cases
2014 La Rue Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 180 cases, $60. Aged 20 months in French oak barrels,
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Crisp and refreshing, with bright aromas of black cherry
and exotic spices replicated on the palate with added nuances of earth, mushroom and umami. Exquisitely
balanced, this wine speaks of nobility and finishes with an infusion of vibrancy. Still engaging the following day
from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. You won’t find a better Sonoma Coast AVA bottling in the
2014 LaRue Emmaline Ann Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., 70
cases, $70. Aged 20 months in French oak barrels, 33% new.
reddish purple color in the glass. Intriguing aromas of darker fruits,
almond paste and spices. Plenty of black cherry sap is buffered by
savory herbs and spice. The wine has a sexy vibe and a positive
message with a welcome lift on the finish. Oak chimes in currently with a
little too much voice as a dried leaf flavor, but this should ameliorate with
more time in bottle and will appeal to those who relish savory input in
Loring Wine Company, Lompoc
The appellation Pinot Noirs, and vineyard designated Pinot Noirs from Santa Lucia Highlands and Green Valley
of Russian River Valley were released in September 2016. The remainder of the vineyard designated Pinot
Noirs will be released in February of 2017. These are very young wines with the aromatics of several wines in
hiding at present and undoubtedly will be more accessible and deserve higher scores after another year in
bottle. I did re-taste several bottles 24 hours later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, but there
were not any significant changes. There is not much to distinguish the appellation wines from each other. Most
of the single vineyard wines are clearly the most classy offerings.
2015 Loring Wine Company Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.60, 300 cases, $39,
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas and flavors of black cherry, blackberry and
marzipan with noticeable mid palate presence and some finishing power and length. The wine finishes on a
soprano note with a sweet and sour profile. Lacks Russian River Valley character.
2015 Loring Wine Company Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.61, 400 cases, $39,
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Pleasant aromas of dark cherry and marzipan
lead to a discreetly concentrated core of boysenberry and blackberry flavors. The tannins are well-integrated,
the acidity has a spryness, but the wine finishes on a tart, sweet and sour note.
2015 Loring Wine Company Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.65, 600 cases, $39, screwcap.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is very primary, with only demure aromas of purple
grape and oak. The mid weight core is filled with boysenberry and purple grape fruits framed by woody tones.
Tannins show up on the tangy, modest finish.
2015 Loring Wine Company Rancho La Viña Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., pH 3.75, 300
cases, $54, screwcap.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is rather primary, with
delicate aromas of raisin, black fruits and marzipan. The fruit pushes the ripeness envelope, veering to a
roasted character omnipresent in this mid weight plus styled wine that is fruit-driven and lacking nuance. A
thread of nutty oak plies the background, the tannins are well integrated, and the finish is of modest length. I
found the wine still too ripe flavored for my liking the following day when tasted from a previously opened and
2015 Loring Wine Company Keefer Ranch Vineyard Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.60, 500 cases, $54, screwcap.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose offers
aromas of earth, forest floor, and marzipan. The fruit flavors of black raspberry, black currant, blackberry
compete with oak-driven flavors of anise, spice, tobacco and nuts. The tannins and acidity are in harmony and
the satiny texture is welcome, but this wine has a tart, lemony finish, and lacks the Keefer Ranch signature. It
could be from anywhere.
2015 Loring Wine Company Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.62,
300 cases, $54, screwcap.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is quite primary, with faint
aromas of cherry, spice and nutty oak. A husky version of Rosella’s with a sappy charge of black raspberry and
blackberry fruits framed by filigree tannins. Oak plays a supportive role, ample acidity energizes the palate, and
there is good length on the finish.
2015 Loring Wine Company Sierra Mar Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.51,
150 cases, $54, screwcap.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of black cherry, bark and
spice lead off. In the mouth, the core of blackberry, cassis and spice flavors are very satisfying. There is a deft
touch of oak, balanced tannins and overall harmony and poise. When tasted the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle, the nose had still not come to the fore. More time in bottle will
undoubtedly rectify this.
2015 Loring Wine Company Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.59, 150
cases, $54, screwcap.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is endowed with aromas of
blueberry, black raspberry and a hint of nutty oak. Rich entry of black cherry, blueberry and black raspberry
fruits, rich middle, and a rich finish. There is deft integration of oak and tannin on the palate, and the finish
offers pleasing spiced cherry goodness and some length along with the richness. A trace of alcoholic warmth
shows up on the back end as the wine warms in the glass.
2015 Loring Wine Company Kessler-Haak Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.61, 300 cases, $54, screwcap.
dark reddish purple hue in the glass. The nose is quite fruity, offering
aromas of black cherry and blueberry-pomegranate. Delicious mid
weight plus blueberry, blackberry, black raspberry, plum and spice flavors
that are intense and energetic. A sublime wine with enviable balance,
submerged tannins, and a rich, sappy follow through to a boisterous
2015 Loring Wine Company Clos Pepe Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., pH 3.56, 150 cases,
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, spice rub, potpourri
and nutty oak give way in the mouth to a heady core of black cherry fruit that is framed by nutty oak. The
velvety texture is quite seductive and the overall balance is commendable. Drinks well now but balance
predicts good age ability.
Peake Ranch, Buellton
The first time I have tasted wines from this producer located in the Sta. Rita Hills. The owner is John Wagner,
who owns John Sebastiano Vineyard and a part of Sierra Madre Vineyard. Doug Circle owns Sierra Madre Vineyard and trademark. Winemaker Paul Lato crafts the wines.
2014 Peake Ranch Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 273 cases, $40.
Moderate reddish purple color in
the glass. The nose is replete with black cherry fruit aroma accented with earthy mushroom and petrol notes.
Easy to drink, with a slinky texture, and mid weight flavors of dark red and purple fruits highlighted with spice.
Nicely balanced with some charm and a dry finish of modest length.
2014 Peake Ranch John Sebastiano Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 245 cases, $65.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Boysenberry fruit aromas are joined by scents of oak spice and
woody stem. The middleweight core of juicy boysenberry and blackberry fruit is enticing and nicely spiced but a
savory woody thread shadows the fruit. Silky and refined, with commendable balance and a juicy, quenching
Siduri, Santa Rosa
2015 Siduri Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
14.3% alc.,pH 3.62, TA 0.61, 14,058 cases,
$27, screwcap. Released October 16, 2016. A warmer vintage with forward drinking wines. A blend
of fruit from multiple vineyards.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. A complex nose
leads off with aromas of blackberry, cassis, wine cave, floral notes and a hint of baked apple. Wellendowed
with ripened purple and black berry fruits. Robust, yet vibrant, with matched tannins,
complimentary barrel accents, and a modest sweet-fruited finish. This wine could easily be mistaken
as one from California.
2014 Siduri Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.53, TA 0.62, 852 cases, $35,
screwcap. Released October 16, 2016. A blend of Hawks View, Muirfield and Shaw Mountain Vineyards.
Clones 667, 777 and Wädenswil, both rootstock and own-rooted vines.
Moderate reddish purple color in the
glass. Aromas of cherry, underbrush and oak develop over time in the glass. More expressive on the palate,
with modest flavors of boysenberry and Hoison sauce. Simple and pleasant, with matched tannins and a juicy,
2014 Siduri Muirfield Vineyard Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.54, TA 0.60, 143
cases, $50, screwcap. Released October 16, 2016. Clones 113, 114, 115 and Wädenswil, own-rooted
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. A straight forward, simple wine with very shy aromas
of cherry and red berry echoed on the light to mid weight palate. Good lift, gentle tannins, integrated acidity,
and a sweet cherry kiss on the finish.
2014 Siduri Hawk’s View Vineyard Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.54, TA 0.60, 141
cases, $50, screwcap. Released October 16, 2016. This vineyard is located at the far northern end of the
Chehalem Mountains AVA near the town of Sherwood.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Shy, but
pleasant aromas of black cherry and purple berry fruits. Much more personality in the mouth, with an attention grabbing
attack of black cherry and olalliberry fruit and a hint of savory herbs. Nicely balanced, with fine-grain
tannins and a cleansing finish.
2014 Siduri Sonatera Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.63, TA 0.62, 191 cases,
191 cases, $50, screwcap. Released September 16, 2016. Vineyard is located in Petaluma Gap region of
Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of blackest cherry, ripest strawberry, wood spice
and cigar lead off. A chunky mid weight plus core of black cherry and boysenberry fruits is overlain with smoky
oak. Silky in texture, with modest tannins, finishing modestly and oak infused. The oak and fruit are not dancing
in step at this juncture.
2014 Siduri Betty Ann Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.33, TA 0.70, 221 cases,
$52, screwcap. Released September 16, 2016. 100% clone “828.” Aged in two once-used and 3-to-4-year-old
French oak barrels.
Very dark violet color in the glass. The nose is uncommonly fruity with scents of an array of
purple and black fruits. Powerful, even jammy fruit wakes up the palate. Good energy from vibrant acidity, but
the aggressive fruit tannins overwhelm the boisterous, well-ripened dark cherry fruit. This rugged wine veers to
Syrah in character and may not appeal to Pinot Noir purists.
2014 Siduri Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.54, TA 0.63, 2,747 cases, $35, screwcap.
Release November 16, 2016. A blend of John Sebastiano, Clos Pepe, Lindley and Cargasacchi
vineyards.Good amount of whole cluster fermentation.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the
glass. A highly expressive wine with aromas of black cherry, blackberry and a bit of spice and rose
petal. Mid to full-bodied, with a rich entry, rich mid palate presence, and a rich, unusually long finish.
A bold, hedonistic wine, yet there is enough balancing acidity to escape a jammy demeanor. The
velvety tannins make for very seductive drinking. An impressive appellation offering.
2014 Siduri John Sebastiano Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.54, TA 0.68, 181 cases, $55, screwcap. Release
November 16, 2016.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. I
have had consistently fine wines from this vineyard and this bottling is no
exception. Well-perfumed with aromas of boysenberry, blackberry and
balsam. Delicious mid weight plus purple berry melange coats the
tongue, progressing to a notably long and intense finish. Very special,
with welcome oak and spice nuances and impeccable balance. I really
liked this wine.
2014 Siduri Soberanes Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.64, 144
cases, $50, screwcap. Release November 16, 2016.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Glorious fruit
is on display in this wine with aromas of blackberry and blackest cherry replicated on the palate. Flavors of
spice and dark chocolate chime in. Smoothly textured, with lacy tannins and a charge of fruit on the juicy finish
that leaves a hint of warmth in its wake.
2015 Siduri Arbre Vert Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Gris
293 cases, $29, screwcap. Release
November 16, 2016. Vines planted in the 1980s, own-rooted vines. Aged in a combination of stainless steel
and older French oak barrels. No malolactic fermentation.
Moderate golden yellow color and clear in the glass.
Flinty, struck match aromas accompany scents of peach, dried herbs and almond. Somewhat exotic, with
flavors of peach, apricot, apple brown butter and brioche. Nicely balanced with an easygoing vibe.
Three Sticks Winery, Santa Rosa
Bob Cabral, formerly the winemaker at Williams Selyem, has been leading the team at Three Sticks for the
past 18 months. He is a fourth-generation farmer and grower from the San Joaquin Valley, he grew up pruning
vines and harvesting grapes on his family’s 70-acre ranch near Escalon. He then spent 17 vintages as head
winemaker at Williams Selyem. Currently, he works with associate winemakers Ryan Prichard and Ashley
Tours and tastings of Three Sticks wines are available by reservation Monday through Saturday at Sonoma’s
Adobe, a historic villa constructed in 1842 and now the longest occupied home in Sonoma. Both focused
tastings and food and wine experiences are offered. 707-996-3328. The website is www.threestickswines.com.
These two Pinot Noirs are single vineyard designates from the winery’s two “home” vineyards.
2014 Three Sticks Durell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.50, TA 0.62, 352
cases, $65. 30% whole cluster. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 60% new.
reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is highly engaging with aromas of cherry, raspberry, earthy
mushroom, cinnamon spice and slightly charred oak picking up intensity over time in the glass. The
middleweight flavors of black cherry, dark raspberry and blueberry are expansive and nicely accented
with spice and oak. Plenty of charm and elegance with a silky mouthfeel, good vibrancy and welcome
finishing power. This wine really blossomed later in the day when re-tasted from an opened and recorked
2014 Three Sticks Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.50, TA 0.59, 354
cases, $65. This vineyard is an Estate property of Three Sticks located in the Petaluma Gap. 13% whole
cluster, aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 60% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass.
Demonstrative aromas of cherry pie, baking spices and toasty oak combine for an inviting experience. Highly
appealing black cherry fruited core is framed by juicy acidity and modest tannins. A dancing, stylish wine with
good finesse, plenty of sap, and a persistent finish.
Wonderment Wines, Napa
2014 Wonderment Dutton-Campbell Vineyard Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
alc., 264 cases, $40.
Light cherry color in the glass. This wine is currently sporting some oak swagger which
should integrate further with time in bottle. Aromas of cherry, cranberry, cola and baking spices are heady.
Elegantly composed and easy to like with mid weight flavors of cherry, raspberry, and oak spice. The tannins
are buried, the spry acidity invigorates the wine and the raspberry coulis finish satisfies.
2014 Wonderment Dr. Stan’s Vineyard Sonoma Carneros Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., 74 cases, $50. Dijon
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Immensely charming nose with hi-tone aromas of
cherry, red berry, red hard candy and sandalwood. Stylistically similar to the Dutton-Campbell bottling with a
sleek and elegant demeanor but with better oak integration. The flavors of red cherry and berry are framed by
delicate tannins and sound acidity. A red-fruited joy.