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Recently Tasted Pinot Noir from A to W

2018 Adastra Carneros Napa Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.61, $45. Produced and bottled by Adastra Verrerie, Sonoma, CA. Made from organic grapes. Clones are “DRC,” Swan, Pommard, 115 and 777. Extended 44-45 day maceration. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 20% new. · Very reserved aromas of blackberry jam on a toasted muffin. Full-bodied, with a big gulp of very ripe fruit flavors of blackberry, raisin, and cassis framed by toasty oak and energetic tannins. Velvety in texture with a fruit-packed finish. A bit tiring to imbibe. A slight sense of alcoholic warmth shows up as the wine warms in the glass. A Cabernet lover’s Pinot. Unchanged when sampled the following day from a previously opened bottle. Score: 89

2018 Cobden Wini Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $50. Produced and bottled by Cobden Wini wines, Napa, CA. · Light garnet color in the glass. Enticing aromas of black cherry, cola and baking spices. The wine is bursting with cherry goodness in a mid-weight style with an added compliment of purple berry fruits and a shadow of oak. The tannins are very suave and the overall impression is brightness and balance. A classic Russian River Valley AVA Pinot Noir. Score: 92

2018 Cobden Wini Hogan’s Run Vineyard Russian River Valley Reserve Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., $75. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Dark cherry aromas are embellished with notes of oak-driven mocha and perfumery red rose petal. More richness of flavor than the Russian River Valley bottling in a middleweight style. Intense and provocative black cherry and black raspberry fruit flavors that really wake up the palate. Oak shows less presence on the palate. Gentle tannins make for easy approachability but a few years in the cellar would pay dividends. The finish is quite lengthy as befits a reserve wine. Score: 93

2018 Ellen Redding Stubbs Vineyard Marin County Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 180 cases, $42. Each vintage label displays a colorful envelope that tells the story of Joseph Dennis McNeil and Ellen Josephine Redding who communicated through the mail leading up to their wedding in 1928 at St.Mary’s Church in Nicasio, CA. Joe drew and hand-colored pictures and notes on envelopes that he mailed to his fiancee and these whimsical designs are incorporated on Ellen Redding Pinot Noir labels. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Enticing aromas of wild strawberry and black cherry. Lovely flavors of black cherry, strawberry, and spice enter with intent and strive for exuberance on the finish. Mid-weight plus in style, with a comforting mouthfeel, a noticeable fullness on the palate, and impressive harmony. This wine grabs your attention with tenacity. The very cool labels, the story behind the wine offered by winemaker Patrick McNeil, and the reasonable price all add to the pleasure in the bottle. Score: 94

Note: Patrick McNeil, the owner and winemaker of Ellen Redding Pinot Noir as well as producer of other wines under the “Wines that Deliver” umbrella was featured in the February 22, 2021 issue of 'edible Marin & Wine Country’. His connections to the historic village of Nicasio extend back generations. Nicasio, located in Marin County has a population of 71 (2019) but has a long history of pioneering ranchers and entrepreneurs. Patrick lived on the historic Stag’s Leap property in Napa Valley that his late attorney father, Joseph McNeil, had purchased in a partnership with Carl Doumani in 1970. Growing up, Patrick spent summers and holidays visiting Redding Ranch, his family’s hereditary property in Nicasio Valley. Today, Patrick, his wife, Amy, and their young son Joseph, all live in Nicasio. Patrick’s paternal grandmother was Ellen Redding McNeil and she lived on the Nicasio ranch after her husband died. Today, Patrick and his family own the restored 1890s structure that housed Redding & Sons, Ellen Redding’s grandfather’s butcher shop. Patrick sources fruit from Marin County vineyards and personally delivers his wines to customers who live locally. Visit

2019 Lucia Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 1,60 cases, $45. Grown, produced and bottled by The Pisoni Family, Rohnert Park, CA. Sourced from Pisoni, Garys’ and Soberanes vineyards. Native yeast fermentation. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Pleasing scents of black cherry, baking spice, and graham lead off. An easygoing, mid-weight style, with a nuanced palate of purple berries, purple grape, spice, licorice, and toasty oak. Respectable harmony with minimal tannins and some finish. A delightful AVA wine. Score: 91

2019 Lucia Soberanes Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 410 cases, $70. Vineyard is located adjacent Garys’ Vineyard. Native yeast fermentation. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Reserved, but pleasant aromas of purple and black berries and peat. Full-bodied in a fruit-driven style with a core of grape jam, boysenberry, blackberry fruit flavors. A flood of fruit goodness embellishes the mid-palate and the modestly long finish. There is a compliment of tannin that supports the fruit load nicely. Score: 92

2019 Lucia Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $70. · Dark garnet color in the glass. The aromas of blackberries, spiced black cherries, and cold brew draw you in. Mid-weight plus in style featuring an array of dark red and black fruits that show considerable purity and charm. An inviting backbone of tannin creates a seamless balance. Impressive polish and finish. The vivid fruit longs for a protein accompaniment. Score: 93

2019 Morgan Twelve Clones Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.2% alc.,pH 3.51, TA 0.59, $35. Produced and bottled by Morgan Winery, Salinas, CA. 67% from Double L Vineyard. 100% de-stemmed. Aged 9 months in French oak barrels, 33% new. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Very nicely perfumed with scents of black cherry, strawberry, spice, and savory herbs. Light to mid-weight in style with a delicious core of giving strawberry, raspberry, and cherry flavors. Silky in the mouth, with appealing fitness, minimal tannins, and a compliment of barrel magic. Elegant and giving and ideal as a daily drinker. Score: 92

2018 Open Claim Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.51, 216 cases, $75. Produced and bottled by Open Claim Vineyards, Carlton, OR. Clones are 33% Wädenswil, 33% 777, 22% 943 and 12% 667. Winemaker is veteran Tony Rynders. · Dark garnet color in the glass. I have extensive notes on this impressively “gutsy” Pinot Noir. Alluring aromas of Pinot Noir must, blackberry and sandalwood. A flood of well-ripened dark fruits exhibit exceptional length on entry, the mid-palate, and the dreamy finish. A power-packed, mid-weight plus styled Pinot Noir that is yet light on its feet with well-matched tannins. The fruit in this wine really wakes up the palate. Not all flash, this wine is easy to drink and is good for the long haul in the cellar. Still vivid and satisfying when tasted the following day from a previously opened bottled. In Pinot veritas. Score: 95

Note: The Open Claim Pinot Noir came wrapped in tissue paper printed with a map of Oregon showing the location of Open Claim Vineyard (see photo). This is an ingenious and classy presentation. Brett and Marnie Wall established Open Claim Vineyards in 2012 to grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on their 21-acre vineyard located near Dallas, Oregon. The area is part of the new Mount Pisgah AVA. The name, Open Claim, honors the history of the property which can be traced back to Parcel #68 of the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850. The vineyard is planted to eight Pinot Noir clones and selections including Pommard, Wädenswil, Dijon 115, 667, 777 and 943, “Coury clone,” and a La Tache selection. Noted winemaker Tony Rynders crafts the wines that have been highly acclaimed. Visit

2018 Waxwing Deerheart Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., $48. Produced and bottled by Waxwing Cellars, Sonoma, CA. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Complex nose exhibiting aromas of black cherry, underbrush, fern, and cedar-inspired oak. The mid-weight essence of spiced black cherry is appealing on the palate. There is but a hint of oak backing. The wine picks up length and intensity on the finish over time in the glass. The slightest alcoholic warmth shows up on the lips as the wine warms up. Score: 91

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