Sips of Recently Tasted Pinot Noir
August West and Sandler Wine Company, San Francisco, California
Established in 2002, August West is a partnership between winemaker Ed Kurtzman and growers Howard
Graham and John Peterson. Visit www.augustwestwine.com. Sandler Wine Company is the personal label of
Ed Kurtzman that allows him to express terroir from many regions of California. He crafts Pinot Noir,
Chardonnay, Syrah, Zinfandel and Grenache from acclaimed sites. Visit www.sandlerwine.com. Both labels
offer wines through an allocated mailing last at the respected websites. Tasting is available at the winery by
appointment. Prices for these premium wines are very sensible. You may know that Ed is a veteran winemaker
who has consulted for a number of labels including Freeman Winery & Vineyards.
2015 August West Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $34.
Moderate garnet color in the
glass. Hi-tone aromas of Bing cherry, baking spices, rose and sandalwood draw one into the glass.
Delightfully flavored with the essence of cherry accented with subtle spice and oak. After entry, this
mid weight plus wine expands its reach in the mouth and lasts enduringly on the finish. There is
excellent vibrancy and gentle tannins as well.
2015 August West Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., $34. Sourced from Peterson
and Tondre Grapefield vineyards. 100% de-stemmed, 16 days on the skins. Aged 11 months in 15%
new and 85% used French oak barrels.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Engaging aromas of
dark red berries, rose petal and oak-driven spice and toast. Middleweight in style, with a flavorful
core of dark red and purple berries. A bit earthy reflecting its origins. Rather forward drinking with
easy going tannins and some finishing power.
2015 August West Graham Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., $48. This
vineyard is located in cool Green Valley of the Russian River Valley, first planted in 2002 under the direction of
Charlie Chenoweth. Clones are 667, 777, “828,” and 23 in this bottling. Goldridge soils. 100% de-stemmed.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Quintessential Russian River Valley in character with a bold yet charming
core of black cherry, strawberry, mocha, cola, fertile earth and floral goodness. Beautifully composed with
impeccable balance and a cherry-driven finish that demands applause.
2015 August West Peterson Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $48. This 9.8-acre
vineyard was acquired in 2010 by John Peterson after its second year of production. It is located less than one
quarter of a mile southeast of Rosella’s Vineyard. Clones are “828,” 667, 777, 115 and Pommard. Very small
crop in 2015. 100% de-stemmed. Aged 11 months in 57% new and 43% used French oak barrels.
dark garnet color in the glass. This wine leans more on oak character, offering aromas and flavors of black
cherry, toast and espresso. Firm tannins provide structure while juicy acidity brings the wine into balance. The
finish is notable for its persistence. This wine should benefit from more time in bottle to better integrate the oak.
2015 Sandler Wine Co Peterson Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $40.100% de-stemmed.
Aged 11 months in 100% used French oak barrels. This vineyard
tends to be ostentatious at an early age and this vintage is no
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Spellbinding
aromas of black cherry, raspberry, sandalwood and perfumed
flowers. Discreetly weighted and quite gracious, yet offering a
full flavor experience including tastes of black raspberry and blackberry
fruits. Very suave in the mouth, with silky tannins, a velvety mouthfeel
and a lovely finish. A harmonious offering for connoisseurs.
2015 Sandler Wine Co. Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $36.
Grapes were de-stemmed. Aged 11 months in used French oak barrels.
Moderately light ruby red
color in the glass. A seductive nose leads with aromas of black cherry, pomegranate, spice cabinet,
smoke and a hint of rose petal. Middleweight in style and quite elegant and polished, with a red
fruited core featuring cherry and strawberry flavors. Seamless, with a modestly intense yet
2015 Sandler Wine Co. Keefer Ranch Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $40. 100%
de-stemmed. Aged 11 months in 100% used French oak barrels.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. This wine
is rather reluctant to reveal its charms at this early stage. Aromas of dark berries, wood pile and spice arrive
slowly in the glass. Notable intensity of black cherry fruit on the attack and mid palate with very impressive
intensity on the finish. Juicy acidity keeps the wine fresh. This beauty will need a few years in bottle to fully
2015 Sandler Wine Co. Boer Vineyard Chalone Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 71 cases, $36. Very low
yields in this vintage at 1 ton per acre. 100% whole cluster fermentation. Aged 11 months in 100%
used French oak barrels.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. A unique wine with wondrous aromas
of cherry, lavender, leather and Asian spices. Light to mid weight in character, with cherry and red
berry fruit flavors accompanied by savory herb and subtle oak notes. Very elegant, with noticeable
but not imposing fruit tannins, finishing with uplifting juiciness.
Hahn, Soledad, California
Hahn is a family owned winery producing estate grown wines from Monterey County. The winery’s vineyards in
the Santa Lucia Highlands, Lone Oak, Smith, Doctor’s and Hook, provide the grapes for the SLH bottlings.
These Hahn SLH wines are in widespread distribution and represent some of the best value priced Pinot Noir
and Chardonnay offerings in the marketplace. Visit www.hahnwines.com.
2015 Hahn SLH Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
15.0% alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.57, 13,941 cases, $30.
Released November 2016. Fermented in open-top stainless steel tanks, aged for up to 12 months in French
oak barrels, 33% new and 67% neutral.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of blackberry jam,
mocha and toasty oak. Richly endowed in a mid weight plus style, featuring black raspberry and blackberry fruit
flavors framed by prominent oak embellishment. Velveteen in texture, with balanced tannins and a modest fruit
2015 Hahn SLH Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.50, TA 0.60, 11,610 cases,
$25. 94% Lone Oak Vineyard. Released November 2016. Whole cluster pressed and fermented and
aged 12 months in French oak barrels, 33% new and 67% neutral.
Moderately light golden yellow color
in the glass. Nicely appointed aromas of lemon oil, spiced apple, pineapple, buttery brioche and nutty
oak. Sleek in the mouth, with satisfying flavors of lemon, Golden Delicious apple and pear with deft oak
input. Impressive balance with a quenching finish. Highly recommended at this price point.
2015 Cobden Wini Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.63, 100 cases, $50.
Released 11/11/16. Minimum sulfur used in vinification. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 50% new.
Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Nicely appointed aromas of
Montmorency cherry, spice and complimentary oak. Prudently concentrated, with bright flavors of dark cherry,
plum, cola, tobacco and spice. Silky in the mouth with good harmony, tactful oak in the background, and a deep
2014 Dehlinger Altamont Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., $70.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass.
Expressive aromas of Bing cherry, spice and sous-bois. Fullbodied,
with a core of gorgeous black cherry fruit accented with
flavors of cola, spice and dark chocolate. Plush and seductive in
the mouth, with a seamless character, finishing with an
entrancing deep cherry remembrance.
2014 Hunt & Ryde Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 275 cases, $40. Estate grown by the Fieri
family (Guy Fieri is a television personality on the Food Network) and vinified by winemaker Guy Davis of Davis
Family Vineyards. Named for brothers Hunter and Ryder. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 35% new.
Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Dark garnet color in the glass. The fruit in this wine reached full ripeness as is
typical of a number of Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs in this vintage. The nose offers an inviting marriage of
black cherry fruit and oak aromas with an added spice note. Luscious and plush on the palate in a mid to full
bodied style featuring flavors of black cherry, blueberry-pomegranate and dark chocolate. Balanced tannins
with modest acidity, finishing with a thrust of black cherry goodness.
2014 Jigar Peters Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $47. From a vineyard farmed
by Randy Peters, a pioneering winegrower in the Sebastopol Hills subregion of the Russian River
Valley/Sonoma Coast. Gold Medal at 2016 Sonoma County Harvest Fair.
Moderate garnet color in
the glass. Drinking beautifully now, with vivid aromas of black cherry, dark raspberry coulis, and
spice. Juicy and satisfying, with a mid weight core of fresh black cherry fruit back by deft oak
integration. Impressive balance with a pleasing finish.
2014 La Follette Van der Kamp Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.60, 252
cases, $42. This unique vineyard is located at 1,400 feet elevation overlooking the Sonoma Valley. 8 clones of
Pinot Noir are sustainably farmed by Ulysses Van der Kamp. Native primary and secondary fermentations.
15% Pinot Meunier vinified whole cluster.
Light ruby red color in the glass. A complex nose leads with aromas
of red cherry, spice, earth, smoke, stem and anise. Light to mid weight in a gracious style, featuring a cherry
core framed by toasty, tobacco oak. Corralled mountain tannins, with a rustic character leaning more on oak
and savory notes than fruit. The slightest alcoholic warmth shows up on the modest finish.
2015 RAEN Royal St. Robert Cuvée Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 800 cases, $56.
Moderate garnet color in the
glass. A complex nose offers a perfume of brambly red berries,
potpourri, burnt tobacco and exotic spices. Splendid attack of
cherry, strawberry and raspberry fruits in a fresh and crunchy
style with oak chiming in with aplomb. This wine delights with
balanced fruit tannins, a hearty and sustained finish, and an
2015 Siduri Yamhill-Carlton Oregon Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 2,200 cases, $36, screwcap. Sourced
from Gran Moraine and GMW East vineyards. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 30% new.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Aromas of black raspberry, purple rose, nutmeg and vanilla arrive
with more vividness over time in the glass. Mid weight plus flavors of black cherry, black raspberry
and blackberry in an intensely fruit-driven styled wine with a satiny mouthfeel and a bold charge of
ripe fruit on the slightly astringent finish.
2015 Siduri Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 2,745 cases, $35, screwcap. Sourced from John
Sebastiano, Clos Pepe and Cargasacchi vineyards. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 10% new.
ruby red color in the glass. Leading off are bright aromas of cherry, cranberry and sandalwood. Juicy and
pleasing on the palate with an oak-kissed cherry core. Silky, with balanced tannins, lively acidity, noticeable oak
overlay and the slightest sense of alcoholic heat on the finish.
2015 Siduri Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 2,121 cases, $35, screwcap. Sourced
from Rosella’s, Garys’, Pisoni, Sierra Mar, Soberanes, Lemoravo and Escolle vineyards.
garnet color in the glass. A fruit-driven, mid weight plus offering with a soul of boysenberry and
blackberry fruits underlain with some spice, earth and toasty oak. Good integration of tannins, sleek
in texture, with a little persistence on the finish that reveals the slightest bit of alcoholic warmth.