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Lynmar Estate: Russian River Valley Pinot Noir & Chardonnay Standard-Bearer

Lynmar is a well-established winery that was founded in 1990 and released its first wines from the 1994 vintage. Lynn Fritz purchased the Quail Hill Vineyard in the Russian River Valley ten years prior to the founding of the winery. The winery was modest in scale initially but the Pinot Noir wines were very well received. In 2004, the winery launched a five-year plan to do a phased replanting of 71% of the 47-acre Quail Hill Vineyard. Today, the vineyard is planted to about 70% Pinot Noir (14 clones) and 30% Chardonnay. A small block of old vine Swan selection planted in 1974 was retained.

Quail Hill Vineyard is located in one of the cooler areas of the Russian River Valley, exposed to cooling influences from the Petaluma Wind Gap and the nearby Laguna de Santa Rosa, a large complex of freshwater wetlands. The soil is Sebastopol sand loam possessing an ideal pH and drainage quality for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines. The photo below shows Quail Hill Vineyard with typical Russian River Valley fog intrusion in December.

More recently, an impressive new winery with caves for barrel storage and a hospitality center was added. The tasteful tasting salon overlooks the estate vineyard and an extensive garden. For years the hospitality center was open daily to the public, but it became so popular, visits had to be restricted to an appointment schedule. Lynmar Estate was one of the pioneers in combining wine tasting with food pairing and the winery has had its own chef, David Frakes, for many years. The hospitality center is pictured below.

Lynmar has a long history of excellent winemakers. Hugh Chapelle and consulting winemaker Paul Hobbs were instrumental in establishing the world-class status of the wines. Noted viticulturist Greg Adams has contributed to the lofty accolades for this winery as well. More recently, Bibiana Gonzalez Rave replaced Chapelle, and left for Pahlmeyer in 2012. Shane Finley, who gained his skills at Kosta Browne, continued the winery’s reputation as a regional standard-bearer for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The winemaker since 2017 has been Pete Soergel, who has worked at Lynmar Estate both as an assistant and associate winemaker since 2011. He also spent three years at Kosta Browne before moving to Lynmar Estate. Shane Finley continues on as a consultant.

Lynn and spouse Anisya stepped away from their international careers in 2008 and now make the Lynmar Estate their permanent home. Anisya has expanded the winery’s wine and food experiences creating a shared community of wine and food aficionados. Together, they have added contiguous parcels around Quail Hill to create a 100-acre estate.

A second estate vineyard, Susanna’s Vineyard, was a gift from Lynn to Anisya. It was planted in 2006 within the Green Valley, Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations, and consists of 10 acres of Pinot Noir and 10 acres of Chardonnay. Most recently, a third estate vineyard, the 9-acre Adam’s Vineyard, was planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in 2012 on a hillside in Forestville overlooking the Russian River Valley. Specifics and vineyard maps of each of the three estate vineyards are available on the winery website at

The Lynmar wines are virile examples of Pinot Noir that boast a rich middle palate and finish. There is significant use of new oak that adds toast and spice accents to the wines.

2016 Lynmar Estate Quail Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.62, 922 cases, $65. Release fall 2018. All 14 clones in this estate vineyard including Dijon 667 and 777, Pommard, Swan, 2A and Calera are included in this signature estate blend. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Vigorous aromas of Bing cherry, baking spice, cola, splintered oak and vanilla. Boldly concentrated flavors of black cherry, blackberry and cassis with a heavy dusting of toasty oak. Intense and lengthy in the mouth, finishing with plenty of sweet, dark fruit. Score: 89

2016 Lynmar Estate Monastery Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.60, 465 cases, $70. Release fall 2018. This careful selection of Pinot Noir clones is meant to be a nod to the red wines of Burgundy, with a more savory and earthy character and higher acidity. Vineyard sources include Quail Hill, Kanzler, Gensler and Umino. clones 667, 115, 777, Beba and Pommard. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 53% new. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Pleasing aromas of well-ripened purple and black berries, with hints of nectarine, rose petal and forest floor. Definitely trends to a rustic, savory, earthy and tannic style, with a mid weight plus concentration of purple berry fruits. Silken and streamlined on the palate with a succulent, fruit-driven finish. Score: 92

2016 Lynmar Estate Anisya’s Blend Susanna’s Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.59, 540 cases, $85. Released spring 2018. A selection of the very best barrels from Susanna’s Vineyard. This bottling is named in honor of the women of Lynmar. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 59% new. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Much to be discovered in the nose that offers aromas of blackberry, black currant, mocha, spice, earthy flora and dark rose petal. The purple and black fruit packs a punch on the palate, extending richness through a slightly astringent finish. The sleek texture is attractive as is the superb barrel treatment. This wine is fruit-driven with little nuance, yet can be delightful to those who relish hedonistic fruit. Score: 91

2016 Lynmar Estate Block 10 Quail Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.64, $80. Released spring 2018. Dijon 667 and 777 from a single east-facing block in Quail Hill Vineyard. Aged14 months in French oak barrels, 64% new. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Enticing scents of blackberry jam, bramble, and oak spice. There is no shortage of boysenberry and blackberry fruit is this mid weight plus styled wine that fills the mouth with opulence. That said, the fruit load is beautifully balanced with appropriate oak treatment. Nuances of earth and spice abound. The long finish reveals why this block has a special calling. Considerably better when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 94

2016 Lynmar Estate Old Vines Quail Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.60, 251 cases, $80. Released spring 2018. Swan selection planted in 1974. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 64% new. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Gorgeous aromas of black cherry, ripe strawberry and balsam. The wine floods the mouth with carnal energy, featuring flavors of black cherry and black raspberry. The wine has commendable harmony with both pleasing tannic power and uplifting acidity. There is only a dusting of oak. Somewhat more giving when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, but I sense that this wine needs a few years in the cellar to reveal all of its charms. Score: 93

2016 Lynmar Estate Quail Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.2% alc., pH 3.42, TA 0.64, 507 cases, $60. Release fall 2018. A blend of old vine Rued clones planted in 1971 and more recent plantings of Old Wente selections. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 55% new. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. A very outgoing wine, offering waves of cut yellow apple, lemon curd, pineapple, nectarine, floral, musk and buttered toast aromas. Creamy on the palate, with delicious flavors of yellow apple, pineapple, tropical fruits and toasty oak. A sybaritic wine, yet possessing enough acidity to energize the palate. Score: 93

2016 Lynmar Estate Susanna’s Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.2% alc., pH 3.44, TA 0.63, 903 cases, $60. Release fall 2018. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 74% new. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Shy, but pleasant aromas of lemon oil, pineapple, white flower blossoms, spice and seasoned oak. Not as outgoing or flamboyant as the Quail Hill bottling, but more refined and high collar, offering flavors of citrus, toast, and spice. Impressive intensity of flavor and length on the extended finish. You need to relish oak to fully embrace this wine. Score: 92

2016 Lynmar Estate Old Vines Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.1% alc., pH 3.46, TA 0.64, 183 cases, $70. Release winter 2018. Rued clone grown on 40-yer-old vines on a single block in the Quail Hill Vineyard. 24-hour cold soak on the skins prior to pressing off the juice. Aged 13 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Leading the appeal are aromas of lemon pie, caramel, parchment, toast and musk. Noticeably vibrant in the mouth with the invigorating flavor of lemonlime. This wine has a character all its own that challenges proper description. Just leave it as classy, juicy, and harmonious. Score: 94

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