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More Pinot Noir Treasures

Ellen Redding

Ellen Redding Pinot Noir is a loving ode to Patrick McNeil’s grandparents and the years leading up to their wedding at St. Mary’s Church in Nicasio, Marin County, CA. Joseph Dennis McNeil courted Ellen Josephine Redding via the U.S. Postal Service from 1925 to 1928. The envelopes began as fully addressed musings to Ellen Redding was sent to 309 Fifth Avenue in San Rafael, CA. The envelopes were so colorful and frequent that the addressee eventually read as simply “Ellen, San Rafael.” More than 50 different envelopes exist, although each of the letters contained inside remains strictly between Joseph and Ellen. Each new vintage of Pinot Noir and colorful envelope tells its story.

Patrick summarizes his goal: “I am a fifth generation dreamer, wanderer, and overall skeptic. I work with small, family-owned vineyards in Marin County and Napa Valley to make wines that are fruit-forward, site-specific, and off the beaten path.” His winemaking company is titled “Wines That Deliver.” Visit

2019 Ellen Redding Marin County Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 125 cases, $42. Sourced from two sites: Azaya Vineyard in Hicks Valley and the Chileno Valley Vineyard. Azaya Vineyard was planted to clones 667, 777, faux 828, and 115 by the duo Mark Pasternak (Devil’s Gulch Ranch) and Dan Goldfield (Dutton-Goldfield Winery). Chileno Valley Vineyard is a windswept site only 6 miles from the Pacific Ocean and also farmed by Mark Pasternak. 7-day cold soak, 1/3 whole cluster, native primary and secondary fermentations. Aged in neutral and once-used French oak barrels. Moderate garnet color in the glass. Giving aromas of cherry, boysenberry and toasty oak. A well-spiced core of cherry fruit is accompanied by tastes of cola and tobacco. Nice fruit sap but surprisingly more oak overlay considering the use of neutral and once-used barrels unless the whole cluster is responsible. Score: 92

2019 Wines That Deliver Bon Voyage Marin County Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 75 cases, $42. Sourced from organically farmed Stubbs Vineyard. 7-day cold soak, 1/3 whole cluster native primary and secondary fermentations. Aged in neutral and once-used French oak barrels. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of dark cherry, ripe strawberry and earthiness. Light to mid-weight in style and cherry-driven in character with good harmony. Muted tannins with a trace of oak in the background and a pleasant finish that is moderately long. Not the richness of the Ellen Redding but plenty of charm. Score: 91

Caldwell Hill Cellars

Cardwell Hill Cellars was founded by Dan and Nancy Chapel in 2000 when they purchased a property with an abandoned vineyard in Philomath, Oregon. The site is located 12 miles west of Corvallis in the shadow of Mary’s Peak. New vineyards were planted and a winery was built on the property. The winery has excelled and has been featured at the International Pinot Noir Celebration. The dream continues.

The original vineyard on the property was planted initially in the years 1983-1985. About one-third of the 20- acre site was planted to own-rooted Wädenswil clone Pinot Noir and the remainder to white varieties. The white varieties were removed by the Chapels after they acquired the property to make room for Pommard and Dijon 115 and 777 clones, resulting in the expansion of the vineyard to 22 acres. The vineyard was designated the Monet Vineyard. In 2002, the Chapels purchased an additional nearby 20 acres known as the Degas Vineyard planted to Dijon 115 and Wädenswil Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.

By the way, the Chapels also have a home just a half-block away from mine in North Tustin and I have known them for years. I acquired this wonderful bottle of old vine Pinot Noir at a neighboring retailer (SRP is $40). The wine is still available at

2016 Cardwell Hill Cellars Old Vines Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., pH 3.50, 261 cases, $40. Fourth vintage of Old Vines Pinot Noir. A barrel selection of the best barrels of 100% Wädenswil clone planted in 1983. Harvest Brix 23.5º-24.0º. 100% de-stemmed fruit.Aged 30 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. · Light garnet color in the glass. Very pleasing aromas of blueberry, forest grove and Wassail spices. Deep flavors of brambly black raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry, with a hint of black tea and a gentle whiff of oak. Exquisitely balanced with integrated tannins, inviting acidity and an uplifting finish of good length. This wine really delivers a delightful drinking experience from 38-year-old vines, and is an excellent value as well. Score: 94

Kutch Wines

Over the past year, Jamie Kutch has been developing his first estate vineyard on the Sonoma Coast. A 12- acre, abandoned apple farm in Sebastopol was purchased and planting of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay commenced this spring. Jamie expects that the property will have a cool climate much like Falstaff Vineyard, another Sonoma Coast vineyard from which he sources fruit. Jamie and his wife Kristen are committed to creating a diverse ecosystem and will be planting many species of native fruit trees and a multitude of native plants. Sheep will be raised to keep the grass down and chickens used to forage and peck below the vines to eradicate bugs and insects.

Almost no wine was produced by Jamie from the 2020 vintage. Smoke from the north coast first tainted all the winery’s Pinot Noir crop except for McDougall Ranch Vineyard. Fortunately, McDougall was picked early, within days of the fires starting and before the plumes of smoke began to taint grapes in the area. McDougall is as smoke-free as the two Kutch 2020 Chardonnays.

The 8-acre McDougall Ranch Vineyard was planted in 1998. It is located on Sonoma County’s far West Coast, 3.3 miles from the Pacific coastline in Cazadero and 1.7 miles north of Hirsch vineyards. The vineyard sits on a southwest-facing ridge above the fog line at 935’-1030’ elevation overlooking the Gualala River and the Pacific coastline. The clones are Dijon 114 and 115 planted in Greywacke, sandstone, and shale derived from marine sediments. An interesting fact is that the current owner, Barbara McDougall, went to high school with noted Sonoma Coast pioneering winegrower Warren Dutton.

McDougall Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir is my favorite among the many excellent Pinot Noir wines in the Kutch stable. My past scores reflect this: 2016 96, 2017 95, and 2019 95. To make up for the low volume of wine from the 2020 vintage, Kutch is now offering some library wines at original release prices. Visit

2020 Kutch McDougall Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., 275 cases, $64. Fermented 50% whole cluster with indigenous yeast. Aged in used French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, sois-bois, floral lift, and dried herbs. Discrete fullness of dark cherry and raspberry fruit flavors with a touch of exotic spice, adroitly framed by submerged tannins and quenching acidity. A green tobacco tone was evident initially but resolved when the wine was revisited the following day at which time the overall experience had noticeably improved. Score: 93

2021 Kutch Sans Soufre Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

12.0% alc., 100 cases, $39. Fermented 100% whole cluster with carbonic maceration and without sulfur. Jamie’s answer to Beaujolais. Aged in used French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Aromas of confected cherry and red berry along with 5-spice. Midweight plus in style, with a predominantly sweet taste of darker fruits on the palate such as blackberry and black cherry. The prominent tannins lack acidic drive to balance the wine. Score: 89


Winemaker Terry Bering has worked as assistant winemaker and cellar master at J. Rochioli Vineyards since 1990. In 1992, he founded his own label, Castalia Wines, based on purchased grapes from Rochioli’s River Block Vineyard, a block at nearby Flax Vineyard planted to the West Block selection in the 1980s, and Dijon clones from three different Rochioli vineyards. The Castalia Pinot Noir is crafted and bottled at J. Rochioli Vineyard & Winery.

I have known Terry for many years and I have reviewed every vintage from 2000 through the current 2019 release. He is one of three winemakers who are able to source Pinot Noir grapes from Rochioli Vineyard and put “Rochioli Vineyard” on his label. Vineyard-designated Pinot Noir produced by J. Rochioli is very hard to come by as it is sold to a dedicated mailing list which rarely opens up to new members. The Castalia Pinot Noir is readily available and very similar in style and character to the J. Rochioli single-vineyard Pinot Noirs.

I have tried and tried to get Terry to update his website, and although to no avail, don’t be put off by it at Ordering is conducted to Terry by email and if you pay without a credit card, he will pay for shipping. Minimum order is 6 bottles at $60 a bottle (the price has remained constant since the 2014 vintage). There is some retail availability including, Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, CA.

2018 Castalia Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 250 cases, $60. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Reserved aromas of cherry cola and toast. A mouth-filling core of black cherry fruit satisfies on entry and persists through the generously aromatic finish. There is a subtle underlying jacket of oak that dissipates when the wine was retasted from an open bottle the following day. I believe decanting is of value. Score: 92

2019 Castalia Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 14.5

14.5% alc., 200 cases, $60. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. A pleasantly aromatic nose exhibits scents of Bing cherry, cola and baking spice. Soft on the palate in a mid-weight plus style with an expressive black cherry cola core. Refined and bright, with silky tannins. This wine is more openly friendly and charming compared to the 2018 vintage. Score: 94

Three Furies Wines

The 2019 Three Furies Wines “The Angry One” is the second of a series of three Pinot Noirs that I have reviewed. The first, “Constant Vengeance,” was an exceptional Pinot Noir.

Three Furies Wines is the creation of winemaker Martin MacKenzie, a New Zealand native who crafted wines for world-renowned Stonyridge Vineyard on remote Waiheke Island in New Zealand for 10 years before moving to California wine country in 2009.

The wines are sold exclusively to a mailing list at

2019 Three Furies Wines The Angry One Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $55 (sold as a three pack). · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Reticent but pleasant aromas of dark cherry, rose petal, and worn leather. An initial hint of volatile acidity quickly dissipates. Very accommodating on the palate with a range of vivid flavors including black cherry, blackberry, spice and cola. The wine sports a silky texture, polished tannins and an inkling of oak. The finish lingers with bold, aromatic goodness. Terrific when tasted the following day from a previously opened bottle. Score: 94

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