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From Elite California Pinot Noir Vineyards Part II: North Coast - Russian River Valley

2019 Williams Selyem Rochioli Riverblock Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $90. Older vines from 1989 make up the bulk of the wine. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Distinctively Rochioli fruit with aromas of Bing cherry, Chinese 5-spice as well as noticeable toasty oak. Mid-weight plus in style, with expansive and bombastic Bing cherry flavor underlain with a note of cardamom spice. Reserved tannins and easy approachability out of the gate. Big-time goodness and lengthy resolve with a glorious cherry-fueled finish. My only nit is the oak treatment is noticeable. Score: 95. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2019 Williams Selyem Olivet Lane Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $98. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. A complex nose with blackberry, dark chocolate and earth aromas. A hearty core of blackest cherry and blackberry fruits with inviting undertones of earth and umami. Very polished with impeccable balance. Easygoing tannins make for good approachability now. A very honorable wine because it reflects both the clone (in this case Martini) and the unique terroir. Stellar when tasted the following day from a previously opened bottle. This beauty will grow on you over time in the glass. Score: 95. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 DuMOL Jentoft Vineyard “Ryan” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Lovely aromas of black cherry, cardamom spice, dark rose petal and Bailey’s Irish Cream. I could not get enough of this nose and I would have been perfectly happy to just inhale the aromas without drinking the wine. Flat-out delicious mid-weight plus, sumptuous flavors of black cherry and black raspberry, with a compliment of engaging spice. A full gulp of fruit yet the wine has polish and agreeability, and flows like silk across the palate. There are absolutely no hard edges in this ephemeral wine that grabs on like tentacles and refuses to give up its hold on the finish. Score: 97. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 Porter Creek Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., $40. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Inviting aromas of dark cherry, red rose petal, earthy flora, warm croissant and a rub of oak. Glorious Bing cherry core with a hint of strawberry and oak. Juicy, with modest tannins. Easy to drink now, but lacks a little mid-palate and finishing richness. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 Davis Family Vineyards Soul Patch Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $55. Native yeast fermentation. Aged 10 months in 33% new, 33% one-year-old and 33% 2-year-old French oak barrels. A selection of the winemaker’s favorite barrels from Soul Patch Vineyard. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Up-front aromas of blackberry, spice cake and Dr. Pepper. Mid-weight plus in style and very comforting in the mouth, with a glorious display of well-spiced, blueberry, olalliberry, black raspberry and blackberry fruit flavors framed by supportive, ripe tannins. Impeccable balance, finishing with the perfume of lovely Pinot must. Highly drinkable now, but the harmony and tannic backbone predict at least a 2-year life ahead. This beauty is like the gorgeous girl in school you always wanted to date. Reviewed April 10, 2021. Score: 97. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 Dehlinger Goldridge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $60. · The nose takes its time unfolding in the glass but reaches considerable appeal over time showing aromas of black cherry, blackberry and earthy flora. Mid-weight in character, with a tasty dark red cherry core with added flavors of strawberry, raspberry and baking spices. Impressive length on the palate with an extremely long finish that goes on and on. My only nit is the slight sense of alcoholic heat. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 Rochioli Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $64. A blend of all the single vineyards making up the Rochioli Estate: 40% Sweetwater, 39% Little Hill, 12% Big Hill, 6% West Block and 3% East Block. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. The nose opens over time to reveal aromas of black cherry cola, spice and warm brioche. A charming wine featuring the essence of black cherry accompanied by a spice and savory herb component. Easygoing, with balanced tannins and a slight sense of alcohol on the modest finish. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 Dehlinger Champ de Mars Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $65. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of blackberry, raw beef and a bit of new oak. Mid-weight plus in style, with an array of blue, purple, and black berry fruits augmented with spice. Nicely balanced, with gentle tannins, and a slightly dry finish. The copious, vivid fruit is the highlight. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 Marine Layer Jentoft Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., 125 cases, $65. 30% whole cluster. Native yeast fermentation. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 35% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, cranberry, wintergreen, and sweet pipe smoke. Mid-weight in character, with flavors of red and black cherry, strawberry, and dried herbs. Silky on the palate with minimal tannins and a juicy finish with some length. There is a subtle vegetative green quality to this wine due to underripe fruit and or whole cluster. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 Hartford Court Hailey’s Block Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 240 cases, $70. This block, planted in 1996 to Dijon clones, lies within Arrendell Vineyard. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Brooding aromas of blackberry jam, ripest cherry, dark red rose petal, earthy flora and vanilla. Blackfruited in a mid-weight-plus style with a good compliment of spice. Very gutsy with plenty of sap but everything in focus and balance. More giving when tasted several hours later from a previously opened bottle. Decant if you must drink now. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 Lynmar Estate Quail Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4%, $70. All 14 clones planted in the estate vineyard are included, representing the complexity of the site. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Really enticing perfume of spiced black cherry, cola, mocha and warmed earth. A mid-weight mixed bag of spiced purple and black fruits are very giving. Well-ripened, but not over-ripened fruit profile. Nicely composed with gentle tannins and good finishing length. A very solid wine that elicits spicy thoughts. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 Williams Selyem Olivet Lane Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $78. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of beef bouillon, chamomile tea, and cardamom spice. Mid-weight flavors of black cherry, blackberry and black tea. Nicely balanced with gracious tannins and a long, quenching finish. Rather exotic and unique. I have never encountered the aroma and taste of chamomile tea in a Pinot Noir prior to this. Pinot Noir always provides surprises. Reviewed August 27, 2020. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 William Selyem Allen Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $85. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. The aromas of dark cherry, raspberry, loam, graham and rose petal really grab your attention over time in the glass. Earth-toned flavors of black cherry and blackberry with Mediterranean spice. The succulent fruit has a good moderating tannic edge and the wine has its own earthy stamp. Persistent on the back end and thoroughly enjoyable. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 Williams Selyem Rochioli Riverblock Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $85. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Flattering aromas of Bing cherry, oak spice, pipe smoke, raisin and maple syrup. Exhibiting gentle hedonism on the palate in a mid-weight style, with striking flavors of black cherry, blackberry and Dr. Pepper with the fruit veering to full ripeness. Merged tannins, a shadow of oak in the background, and an earthiness that emerges on the long finish leaves a good impression. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 DuMOL Jentoft Vineyard “Ryan” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Soaring aromas of dark cherry, blackberry jam, underbrush, spice and malt. Strikingly luscious black currant and blackberry fruits composed in a mid-weight plus style. Undertones of spice and anise. Very full on the palate with felty tannins and an intensely fruity and lengthy finish. The fruit is ultra-ripe and approaches prune in tone, my only nit. This wine displays very enthusiastic fruit from a relatively young vineyard. More appealing when tasted the following day from a previously opened bottle with more harmony, more gentle power and a huge, I mean huge, long finish. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Dehlinger Goldridge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $50. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Exceptional nose with an array of aromas including strawberry, cherry, rose petal, sage, white pepper, vanilla and cardamom. Delicious dark red cherry essence in a mid-weight style. Relatively rich but reigned in with juicy acidity and fine tannins. Excellent harmony, finishing with a jubilee of cherry aroma. Still superb when tasted two days later from a previously opened bottle. Score: 95. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Porter Creek Fiona Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., $52. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Earthbound aromas of dark chocolate, black cherry, blackberry jam and root beer. Plenty of body and weight with good mid-palate presence. Flavors of blueberry, black cherry and blackberry with a touch of dark chocolate framed by a firm backbone of tannin and a bit of oak. The fruit really hangs on at the finish which is marked by slight alcoholic heat. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Castalia Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $60. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Very earthy aromas present upon opening with cherry and leather in the background. Suave in the mouth, with plenty of appealing black cherry and raspberry fruits with undertones of earth, mushroom, spice and sarsaparilla. The tannins are silken making the wine approachable upon opening, but the wine is considerably more fruit-centric and aromatic when sampled the following day from a previously opened bottle. The cherry-driven finish shows excellent persistence. This wine does not possess the sap of the J. Rochioli Pinot Noirs, but with a more earthy character is equally appealing in its own way. Review May 3, 2020. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Porter Creek Winegrower’s Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., $65. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Shy but redeeming aromas of Bing cherry, spice, and cola. Very sleek in the mouth, featuring black raspberry and blackberry fruit flavors framed by firm tannins. A little rustic, rugged and reserved at present, with the fruit only peaking out. A serious wine with long-term potential. More appealing when tasted the following day from a previously opened bottle but the tannins remained a bit daunting. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Merry Edwards Olivet Lane Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 730 cases, $68. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of dark berry jam, wine cave, old book and vanilla. Mid-weight plus flavors of blackberry, cassis, and pomegranate with a touch of iron. A big, bold, ripely-fruited expression of Pinot Noir with supportive tannins. The deep well of fruit has charm, the wine stays in balance, but the wine enters a little stronger than it finishes. Reviewed July 20, 2019. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Porter Creek Hillside Vineyard - Old Vine Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

12.7% alc., $72. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, raspberry coulis and spice cabinet. Mid-weight in style, offering plenty of enjoyable black cherry, raspberry, and cola flavors with a bit of umami and a dusting of oak. There are some tannins but they are not intrusive. The juicy finish is particularly enjoyable with good cut. A somewhat demure, interesting wine that excites with signature Pinot Noir character. Noticeably better when tasted the following day from a previously opened bottle. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Gary Farrell Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., $80. A blend of three blocks planted in 1974, 1995 and 2000. A challenging harvest due to a severe heat wave. Harvest Brix 22.0º-24.5º. 85% of grapes de-stemmed. 10-15 day extended maceration. Aged 15 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of red cherry, strawberry, blueberry, spice and toasty oak working in harmony. Light to mid-weight in style, with plenty of cherry goodness. Oak plays a rather prominent role with notes of spice and toast. The lip-smacking finish lasts for what seems like a minute. Very gentle tannins and easy to enjoy now. Not as bold or ripely fruited as the typical Pinot Noir from this vineyard, even a little shallow in comparison, but shows the signature acidity (pH 3.43, TA 0.71) that Gary Farrell wines are known for. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Gary Farrell Rochioli-Allen Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.3% alc., $80. A blend composed primarily of a Pommard selection from the old 1974 and the newer 1996 Allen Vineyard North Hill blocks, with the balance a Pommard selection at Rochioli Vineyard. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Alluring fragrance of Bing cherry, strawberry, baking spices and worn leather. Fresh and juicy on the palate in a mid-weight style featuring a charge of dark cherry and raspberry fruit flavors. Silken tannins and uplifting acidity drive the pleasure. A faint compliment of oak plies the background. Like biting into a ripe cherry. Reviewed June 14, 2020. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Lynmar Estate Old Vines Quail Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $80. Swan selection old vines of Block 2 go exclusively into the Old Vines bottling. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Charming aromas of cherry, rose petal and baking spices. I love the floral aspect of the nose that is like wild cherry sprinkled with fresh flowers. Mid-weight flavors of black cherry, black raspberry, blackberry and dark chocolate address the palate without overreaching sweetness. The mouthfeel is luxurious, the tannins are inline, and the finish is long and rewarding. Still exceptional when tasted the following day from a previously opened bottle. An old vine treasure. Reviewed August 27, 2020. Score: 95. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 J. Rochioli Vineyards & Winery Three Corner Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $90. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. The nose opens slowly over a few hours to reveal very enticing aromas of red and black cherry, baking spices ad forest floor. Mid-weight plus in concentration with flavors of blackberry, black raspberry and black cherry that make a powerful statement. A little rugged, rustic and earthy early on but when sampled several hours later, the unctuous fruit was more amendable and vivid. The tannins were quite easygoing, the texture was soft, and the finish had unusual potency and staying power. Tasted twice in May and August 2020 with consistent findings. Score: 95. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Hartford Court Arrendell Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 217 cases, $100. Aged 16 months in 44% new French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Dark garnet color in the glass. The nose opens slowly to reveal enticing aromas of blackberry, blueberry-pomegranate, earthy fora and a hint of oak. A flood of blue and black fruits envelope the palate in a mid-weight plus stye. The layers of fruit saturate the taste buds, creating a magnetic attraction, yet the wine is not cloying or sweet. There is welcome harmony with a favorable compliment of oak. The fruit really hangs on through he long, long finish that is symbolic of a special wine. Reviewed August 27, 2020. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Olivet Lane Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., $65. Aged 14 months in 35% new French oak barrels. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of black cherry, blackberry, spice and a hint of espresso. A quintessential Martini clone Pinot Noir featuring mid-weight flavors of dark Bing cherry, blackberry, cola and loads of spice.The intensity of the fruit makes quite an impression and the polished, matched tannins make for easy drinking. The lengthy finish is awash in vibrant fruit with just a hint of oak trailing off at the end. Reviewed August 27, 2020. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Dutton-Goldfield Deviate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 499 cases. $72. A blend of grapes from Jentoft Vineyard and Putnam Vineyard (near Annapolis on the West Sonoma Coast). 100% de-stemmed. Aged 15 months in 55% new French oak barrels. · Dark garnet color in the glass. A message of quality is clear in this wine that leads off with aromas of black cherry, wine cave and nutty oak. Expansive, mouth filling purple and black berry fruits engage the mid palate with purpose and persist through a very long finish. There is just a kiss of oak, a touch of spice, and a subtle smoky thread. The tannins are invisible and the overall impression is one of harmony. Even better when tasted two days after opening. Reviewed November 17, 2018. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Joseph Swan Vineyards Trenton Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

12.2% alc., $72. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Savory and fruity aromas of underbrush, tilled earth, charcoal, boysenberry, blackberry and toasty oak. Ripely fruited with mid-weight plus richness. Very savory and earthy, with fruit flavors of purple berry and blackberry. Admirable harmony with an engaging smoothness on the palate. Highly unique in that the wine is not just about extravagant cherry fruit so common with other Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs. The fruit rises up over time in the glass with increasing length to the finish. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Joseph Swan Vineyards Trenton Estate Vineyard Pentagon Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

12.7% alc., 2 barrels, $100 (sold out). This one was only produced in one other year - 1997 - when it met the criteria for a separate bottling. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Seductive aromas of cherry, rose petal, spice box and sandy loam. The wine creates quite an impression on entry with a jubilee of well-spiced black cherry flavor. Very soft like the hair of an angel, with great purity of fruit flavor. Highly congenial at this age with immersed tannins and an extremely generous and lengthy finish. The wine packs plenty of flavor but leans more toward elegance than power. My notes say, “Fantastic!.” This is one of those wines you can still taste and remember where you drank it years later. My highest scoring Pinot Noir ever! Score: 99. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Woodenhead Ritchie Vineyard Cinder Cone Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., $65. · Dark garnet in color in the glass. Leading off are enticing scents of dark cherry and berry, and forest floor. Fullbodied in style, with a reaching, expansive core of spiced black cherry fruit that keeps opening in the glass. Richly endowed with fruit sap yet endlessly gentle. Ready now for prime time with ripe, gracious tannins and a very long finish brimming with fruit goodness. Reviewed August 27, 2020. Score: 95. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Woodenhead Ritchie Vineyard Cinder Cone Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $65. · Dark garnet color in the glass. A Pinot Noir nose to die for, with the glorious perfume of black cherry, spice and rose petal. Nothing is out of place in this mid-weight plus styled beauty offering layers of gregarious dark cherry and purple berry fruit flavors that caress the palate with silkiness. Impeccable harmony and a lengthy finish that provides a juicy, citric edge. This wine simply tastes damn good. Reviewed August 27, 2020. Score: 95. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2012 Joseph Swan Vineyards Trenton Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $65. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Aromas of oak-kissed blackberry, warn leather, raisin and grilled brisket. Noticeably silky on entry with layers of earthbound blackberry, black currant, and prune flavors in a middleweight plus style. The tannins have receded and only slightly grippy, while the fruit still shows some presence Showing its age but still enjoyable with a very generous blackberry-fueled finish. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »


From Elite California Pinot Noir Vineyards Part II: North Coast - Other Appellations

2018 Etude Grace Benoist Ranch Carneros Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $46 (but can be found at retail for $36). Composed of 16 clones and selections. A blend of the best grapes from individual parcels on the Ranch. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Terrific nose that enchants with aromas of black raspberry, grape jelly and allspice. Wow! The luscious core of purple and blackberry fruit essence really coats the palate with goodness. Fine-grain tannins are modest, the texture is sleek, and a hint of toasty oak adds flavor. The wine exits on a high note with bracing acidity and some length. This wine could be the best value in California Pinot Noir today and is a consistently reliable offering in each vintage in my experience. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 Ancien Haynes Vineyard Old Block Coombsville Napa Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $68. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Spirited aromas of spiced cherry, crushed walnuts and graham. Expansive and generous in a mid-weight style with delicious flavors of red and black cherry, cola, spice, and a hint of burnt tobacco. Impeccably balanced and showing exceptional Pinot spirit with an ephemereal finish of uncommon generosity and length. My notes say, “Superb in every wine with the word superb underlined six times.” Score: 97. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 Dutton-Goldfield Devil’s Gulch Vineyard Marin County Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $72. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. The seductive perfume of Pinot Noir is difficult to capture but this wine has it. Aromas of black cherry, black raspberry, blueberry, sweet mulch and tilled earth. Very polished and refined on the palate, with a discreet concentration of dark cherry and raspberry fruit with both a floral and earthy accent. Oak lends a complimentary hand. Exquisite balance with a prolonged finish. When tasted the following day from a previously opened bottle, the wine soared to new heights, the spiciness was unreal, and the wine became better and better over time in the glass. Angel sent. Score: 96. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 Donum Estate Single Vineyard Year of the Dog Carneros Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $80. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Highly aromatic, with scents of fresh boysenberry, spice, cinnamon and dark chocolate cocoa. Oak-kissed fruit flavors of boysenberry, blueberry-pomegranate and blackberry in a mid-weight plus style showing modest tannins, a silken mouthfeel, and good length on the finish that reveals the slightest sense of alcoholic heat. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 Donum Three Hills Single Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $85 · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Complex nose exhibiting aromas of purple berry, violets, underbrush, mocha and a hint of toast. Like mother’s milk, the velvety texture is extremely pleasing. Middleweight in concentration, with immersed tannins and a compliment of oak. Overall, admirable balance, ending with excellent length. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 Etude Deer Camp Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir

14.2% alc.,$85. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Pleasant aromas of dark berries and dark rose petal. Full-bodied in style, exhibiting a rush of boysenberry, black cherry, and black currant fruits with a hint of dark chocolate flavor. A voluptuous wine, yet has gentle power and admirable balance. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 Etude Laniger Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $85. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Very appealing aromas of blackberry reduction and violets. A luxurious mouthful of plum and purple and black berry fruits with a shadow of oak. Satisfying, with balanced tannins and a sweet-fruited finish with some length. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 Hanzell Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc, $98. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Welcoming aromas of cherry, baking spices and sandalwood. Very bright cherry fruit marks the entry and loaded with spice and cola flavors expands through the mid-palate. A good cut of acidity propels the fruit through a ridiculously long finish. Clearly, the longest finish of any wine tasted in this vertical (2014-2018). Score: 96. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 Donum West Slope Single Block Reserve Carneros Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $125. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Very earthy nose with aromas of damp soil, mushrooms on the grill, mocha and molasses. Packed in with a delightful core of purple berry fruit in a boulder expression of Pinot Noir. Creamy in texture, with a honed tannic backbone, a shadow of oak, and finishing remarkably long. Surely, the most longlived of the 2018 Donum Pinot Noirs tasted on this occasion. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Ancien Haynes Vineyard Old Block Coombsville Napa Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 61 cases, $68. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. A knockout from the get-go. Large-scale aromas of black cherry, rose petal, ground savoury spice and wine cave persist over time in the glass. Very comforting in the mouth in a midweight style, featuring an unctuous core of cherry fruit accented with a touch of spice and complimentary barrel presence. Softly textured, with polished tannins, welcome acidity, and good length on the lip-smacking finish. Reviewed August 2020. Score: 95. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Cattleya Belly of the Whale Carneros Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 78 cases, $70. Roederer clone from the oldest part of the Donum Estate Vineyard. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Clean and spirited aromas of fresh cherry, pomegranate, rose petal, sous bois, s’mores and cigar. Robust, virile, and fruit-driven, featuring deep, flamboyant flavors of black cherry and blackberry that flood the palate with goodness. Full-flavored, yet has welcome finesse and a silken mouthfeel. The felty tannins fit right in,, the vibrant acidity elevates, and a sneaky hint of savoriness peaks one’s interest. Reviewed June 4, 2019. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Etude Heirloom Carneros Pinot Noir

14.9% alc.,$95. Composed of a diverse number of prized heritage vines. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. The nose lacks fruit features, instead revealing scents of earth flora and oak spice. Much more appealing on the palate with attention-grabbing flavors of black cherry, blackberry, Dr. Pepper, tarragon, vanilla and mocha java. Admirable balance at this high ABV. Oak adds a compliment. Moderately husky tannins show up on the extremely lengthy finish. A little more revealing and enjoyable when tasted the following day from a previously opened bottle. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Hanzell Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc. $98. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. More demure in this vintage, with aromas and flavors of cherry, red berry, dried herbs and toasty oak. The slightly tart cherry finish lacks staying power and reveals significant oak inflection. Maybe more time in the cellar may add to the appeal. Score: 91. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Ancien Haynes Vineyard Old Block Coombsville Napa Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Very pleasant aromas of wine cave, blackberry and pomegranate fruits and a hint of ashen oak. Very ripe-fruited in a mid-weight plus style with flavors of black plum, boysenberry and blackberry. Seamless with a viscous mouthfeel and only a hint of tannin. The richest wine in the Ancien Haynes vertical tasted on this occasion but not veering to fruit compote. When tasted the following day, the nose had become exuberant with aromas of black fruits, spice and sandalwood and plenty of Pinot fruit singing on the long finish. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Hanzell Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc. · Aromas of dark cherry dusted with baking spices and an earthy undertone. Very impressive in a middleweight plus style, with waves of black cherry, black raspberry, pomegranate and spice flavors. Somewhat viscous with adroit integration of acid and tannin, really showing off on the long, long, long finish. A stellar wine of uncommon breeding. Score: 95. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2016 Tulocay Haynes Vineyard Napa Valley Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., 137 cases, $40. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose is well-perfumed with aromas of red cherry, cardamom spice, and a hint of toasty oak. Very suave and easily drinkable in a middleweight style, featuring a delicious core of black cherry and raspberry fruit back by reserved tannins. This wine seduces rather than attacks the palate. The barrel treatment is spot on and the finish is impressively long and vivid. Still superb when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Reviewed August 2020. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2015 Hanzell Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Reserved aromas of boysenberry, black raspberry and purple grape. More richness in this vintage in a mid-weight plus style, with a riper profile of purple and black fruits. Still very fresh, with excellent harmony and impressive length on the generous finish. Although I am reluctant to use the term, there was definitely a mineral component to this wine. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2014 Hanzell Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc. · Light garnet color in the glass. Wonderfully inviting nose offering vivid aromas of dusty cherry, dark red raspberry, tilled earth and warn leather coat. Light to mid-weight in concentration with alluring flavors of dark red cherry, raspberry, mushroom and savory spices. Drinking at or near its apogee with soft tannins, juicy acidity and excellent length on the finish. Score: 94. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2013 Ancien Haynes Vineyard Old Block Coombsville Napa Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Demure aromas of dark cherry, red rose, baking spice and root beer. Crunchy red and black cherry fruit in a middleweight fashion with beautiful balance. Fresh and showing no definite tertiary character of aging. Very long on the redeeming finish. A bit faded when tasted the following day from a previously opened bottle so drink up within five years. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2011 Ancien Haynes Vineyard Old Block Coombsville Napa Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Soaring aromas of fresh black cherry coulis, spice, cola and red rose petal. The fruit on the nose fades some over time in the glass replaced by oak spice. Surprisingly bright and fresh flavors of dark cherry and raspberry with a hint of raisin. An impressive aged Pinot Noir upon opening with an amazingly long and intense finish. A lot going for it after pulling the cork but starts to fade in the glass over time. Completely exhausted when tasted the following day from a previously opened bottle. Probably a 94 point wine at its apogee. Drink up. Score: NR. WINERY » ARTICLE »


Robert Parker’s 100 point wine scoring system, which became popular in 1983 and adopted by the Wine Spectator in 1988, has been a homing beacon for consumers seeking to buy good wine. Currently, a majority of United States based wine critics and magazines use the 100 point scale.

The reality is that the 100 point scale is actually a 10 point scale. MORE»
A Note About Prices

Price shown in a tasting note is either the winery-direct price or the retail price paid by the Prince.