2018 & 2019 California Pinot Noir to Contemplate
This winery is uniquely situated adjacent to a 700-cow organic dairy on Westside Road in the heart of the
Russian River Valley. John and Diane Bucher first planted a vineyard on the ranch in 1997 and the estate
vineyard has now grown to 38 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Pinot Noir clones include Pommard, Swan,
Mt. Eden, Jackson, Mariafeld and Dijon 115, 667, and 943. John farms the vineyard and Adam Lee, who
helped launch the Bucher Vineyard line of wines in 2011, has been the winemaker ever since. An interesting
side note is that John grew up with and is friends with Joe Rochioli. Tasting is available at Grand Cru Custom
Crush in Windsor. The wines are sold on the website at www.bucherwine.com.
The Pinot Noir wines from Bucher are unique in that they have an undertone of organic manure in the aroma
and flavor profile. I have only experienced this in Pinot Noir from two other vineyards: Hansen Vineyard in the
Russian River Valley and Pelos Sandberg Vineyard in the Willamette Valley. Presumably, this barnyard trait is
related to former or nearby cow pastures. It makes for a terroir-driven signature that the drinker may or may not
2019 J. Bucher Bucher Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.58, 563 cases,
$45. Released October 2021. Sourced from 4 blocks in the estate vineyard and is composed of 7 clones
(Pommard, Swan, Calera, Mariafeld, 37, and Dijon 115 and 943). Harvest Brix 23.9º (average). Aged 10
months in French oak barrels, 20% new, 80% 1-5-year-old.
Dark garnet color in the glass. Reserved aromas of
dark cherry, tilled earth and cow pasture. The wine is packed with darkest cherry cola flavor framed by gentle
tannins, offering some persistence on the finish. There is a thread of pungent manure similar to ashen oak.
2019 J. Bucher Pommard Clone Bucher Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.54, 114
cases, $55. Released October 2021. 100% Pommard clone
from 4 blocks in the Bucher Vineyard. Harvest Brix 24.0º
(average). Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 60% new,
Dark garnet color in the glass. The nose
leads with aromas of earth-toned black fruits and a bit of
mushroom. Mid-weight plus in a rich and bold style with waves
of black cherry, black raspberry and blackberry fruit flavors.
Silky on the palate, with gentle tannins and some finishing
power. The barnyard trait is barely noticeable.
2019 J. Bucher Three Sixty Bucher Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.79, TA
0.54, 118 cases, $65. Released October 2021. Sourced from 4 blocks on the western edge of the vineyard.
Harvest Brix 23.2º (average). Clones are Swan, Pommard, Dijon 943. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels,
80% new and 20% 1-year-old.
Dark garnet color in the glass. Pleasant aromas of confected black cherry,
sassafras, baking spices and fresh oak. Full-flavored, ripely-fruited, and full-bodied, offering flavors of darkest
cherry, blueberry-pomegranate and cassis backed by modest tannins and acidity. There is only a hint of
Noted winemaker Michael Browne, formerly of Kosta Browne, released his inaugural wines under the CHEV
label in 2020: a 2018 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and a 2018 Russian River Valley Chardonnay. Wines are
allocated to a mailing list (“Guild” members). Those that are mailing list members of Michael Browne’s other
winery, CIRQ (launched in 2009), are automatically added to the CHEV list. Browne bought the Russian Hills Estate in Windsor and is revamping the vineyard, winery and tasting room as the home for CHEV and CIRQ.
2019 CHEV Oregon Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $80. Fermented in 80% stainless steel open-tops and 20% in
concrete open-tops. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. A
complex nose offers aromas of black cherry, blackberry, baking spice, forest path and toasty oak. Discreetly
concentrated core of black cherry, purple berry and spice flavors framed by integrated tannins. A tad boisterous
by Oregon standards with exceptional mid-palate intensity and generous finish.
2019 CHEV Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., $80.
Fermented in 75% stainless steel open-tops and 25% in
concrete open-tops. 5% whole cluster. Aged 16 months in
French oak barrels 44% new (5% aged in concrete tank).
Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose opens slowly to
reveal aromas of dark red and black berry fruits. Refined and
silky on the palate, with a mid-weight array of dark cherry and
berry flavors. A solid wine that requires time to share its charms.
Nicely balanced with no alcoholic warmth, a compliment of
supportive tannins and an black cherry driven finish.
Founded by Champagne Louis Roederer in 2011, Domaine Anderson follows the same organic and
biodynamic principles as the founding Champagne house. Visit www.domaineanderson.com.
2018 Domaine Anderson Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., $45. Sourced from three vineyard
sites including Dach (64%), Walraven (29%) and Pinoli (7%). Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 30% new.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. There is a subtle green tone in this wine that reflects under-ripeness.
Aromas of strawberry, cherry, spice and red rose petal. Red-fruit driven on the palate in a mid-weight style with
gracious tannins and a red-cherry themed finish. Rather pedestrian and lacking in mid-palate fortitude. Less
enjoyable with more oak in the forefront when tasted the following day from a previously opened bottle.
J. Cage Cellars
This boutique family winery, founded in 2014, is focused on single-vineyard Pinot Noir from premium vineyards
with limited production of other varietals. Proprietors Roger and Donna Beery are from Austin, Texas and
Colorado who were drawn to Sonoma County to produce wine. The couple is committed to sustainable grape
farming and winemaking. The winemakers are Conch and Roger Beery and the consulting winemaker is Adam
Lee. All wines are sold directly to consumers at www.JCage.com
. Virtual wine tasting experiences are a
2019 J. Cage Cellars El Coro Vineyard Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.55, 125 cases,
$54. Released October 2021. Clones are faux 828, 777, 667 and a “La Tache” selection. Aged in French oak
barrels, 25% new.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Upfront aromas of dark red cherry and berry,
underbrush and cardamom spice. A flood of well-ripened and dark fruit floods the palate in a mid-weight plus
style. An unbecoming flavor of raisin is present. Silky in texture, with minor tannins and oak in the background.
2019 J. Cage Cellars Hallberg Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.57, 169
cases, $54. Released December 2020. A co-ferment of equal parts Dijon 667 and 115. Aged in French oak
barrels, 25% new.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Shy, but pleasant aromas of well-ripened black
fruits and sweet pipe smoke. Voluptuous flavors of blackberry and boysenberry compote carry through to a
generous finish that leaves behind mildly astringent tannins.
2019 J. Cage Cellars The Wedding Block Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.73, TA 0.51,
169 cases, $54. Released October 2021. The Wedding Block Vineyard is located in the heart of the Russian
River Valley and is farmed by Lee Martinelli, Jr. A co-ferment of Dijon clones 777 and 115. Aged in French oak
barrels, 25% new.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. The nose offers deeply perfumed black raspberry
and blackberry fruits that veer to the cooked side. There is a savory spice aroma as well. The mid-weight plus
black cherry and black raspberry fruit veers to the sweet compote side. The tannins are silky, there is a
compliment of oak in the background, but the wine lacks acidic verve.
2019 J. Cage Cellars Van der Kamp Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.55,
213 cases, $54. Released December 2020. A blend of six clones. Aged in French oak barrels, 25% new.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Aromas of dusty black cherry, rose petal, chalk and musty herb garden. A
middleweight style with a juicy core of black cherry fruit. Polished in the mouth, with modest tannins and a dry,
2019 J. Cage Cellars Cuvée ’42 Sonoma County Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.55, 693 cases, $42. Released July
2021. A blend of four Sonoma County vineyards.
garnet color in the glass. The enticing nose offers aromas of red
and black cherry, red licorice, cardamom spice and toasty oak.
Crafted in a mid-weight plus style, offering vibrant flavors of
dark red and black berries ad black cherry. A mouthful of fruit
but discreetly concentrated. Excellent harmony, with tame
tannins, a sleek demeanor, and a well-fruited finish of some
The Lombardi family has a rich history of wine, food and tradition and have been in Sonoma county since
1947. Tony and Christine Lombardi founded Lombardi Wines in 2013, and together with winemaker Cabell
Coursey, they craft small lots of Pinot Noir and chardonnay from prestigious vineyards in Sonoma county.
2018 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.60, TA .57, 300 cases, $48. Released November 18, 2019.
Sourced from Giusti Ranch and Gunsalus Vineyard. Clones 115, 667 and 777. Aged 14 months in French oak
barrels, 25% new.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, ripe strawberry and oak lead to a
light to mid-weight styled wine with flavors of black cherry cola and black raspberry. Somewhat elegant with
good balance but lacking a bit of mid-palate generosity. The bright, quenching finish is very satisfying.
2019 Lombardi Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.54, 250 cases, $49. Sourced from
Gantz, Gap’s Crown and Hill Justice vineyards. Clones are Pommard, 777, Swan, Calera and 23. Aged 11
months in French oak barrels, 25% new.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Delightful aromas of dark fruits,
rose petal and peppery herbs. Judicious core of purple and black berry flavors with a soft oak shadow. Very
soothing, polished texture, with modest tannins and a generous, fruit-driven finish.
2018 Lombardi Hill Justice Vineyard Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.60, 100 cases,
$68. This 9-acre vineyard is steeply sloped and sits at 1,100’ elevation on Sonoma Mountain. Swan and
Pommard clones. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 50% new.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass.
Reserved but pleasing aromas of blackest cherry, blackberry, spice and toasty oak. A mid-weight plus boldness
with layers of boysenberry and blackberry fruit flavors framed by some noticeable but not aggressive tannins.
Oak is well-integrated on the palate. A cohesive wine with saturating fruit on the finish.
2019 Lombardi Hill Justice Vineyard Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.56, 87 cases,
$68. Swan and Pommard clones. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 25% new.
Moderately dark garnet
color in the glass. The fruit-driven nose offers aromas of blueberry and boysenberry. Waves of purple and black
fruits greet the palate. A bold, but pleasing expression of Pinot Noir with harmonic tannins and acidity, and a
very satisfying, richly-endowed finish.
2019 Lombardi Gap’s Crown Vineyard Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., pH 3.56, TA 0.58, 87 cases, $68. 100% clone
777. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, once-used.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. A little volatile acidity
on the nose blows off over time. Aromas of blackberry compote
and bittersweet chocolate. Luscious black cherry and black
raspberry fruits have a slight confected tone. Bold in style with a
fat and silken fruit richness that cloaks the structure so the
texture is sleek.
2019 Lombardi Giusti Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.59, 100 cases,
$68. Dijon clones 667 and 777. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 50% new.
Moderate garnet color in the
glass. Frankly, the fruit in this wine is way too ripe. Overripeness is the point where dark berry flavors are
transformed to flavors of dark chocolate and raisin. Beyond that, this wine is out of sorts with noticeable oak in
the background, an unpleasant sweetness, and some drying astringency on the finish.
The Double L Vineyard is the only certified organic vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands. I consider it one of
California’s “elite” Pinot Noir vineyards. Morgan producers an outstanding array of Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot
Noir from this estate vineyard and other nearby valued vineyards. This wine is sold on the winery’s website at
2019 Morgan Double L Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., pH 3.54, TA 0.58, 507 cases, $65.
Clones 667 and 777. Certified organic grapes. Native yeast
primary fermentation with 7% whole cluster. Aged 10 months in
French oak barrels, 36% new.
Moderate garnet color in the
glass. The perfume bowled me over! Intoxicating scents of black
cherry, blueberry and spice cabinet. An expressive attack of
fresh black cherry fruit is annotated with anise and spice. The
entry makes one sit up in their seat. Excellent cohesiveness,
with a suave mouthfeel, a welcome touch of smoky oak, and a
very long, cherry-fueled finish. Terrific!