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Reviewed Wines from the current Newsletter
PinotFile 12/17

From Closing In On the Holy Grail

2019 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 250 cases, $60. Cellared and bottled by Rivers-Marie Wines, Calistoga, CA. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. There is quite a bit of oak embellishment on the nose and palate initially but the wine finds its balance by the following day when it sheds its barrel cloak and becomes stunning. Bright aromas of black cherry and blueberry dance with exotic spices and rose petal. Discreetly concentrated in a mid-weight style with provocative flavors of black cherry and blueberry-pomegranate that offer considerable midpalate length. Seductive silkiness and elegance, with modest, well-ripened, fine-grain tannins and a glorious finish that merges fruit and oak seamlessly. The best Pinot Noir beyond Summa Old Vines that I have ever tasted from winemaker Thomas Brown and one that will bring you closer to God. Score: 96. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2019 Drew Wendling Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $70. Produced and bottled by Drew Family Cellars, Elk, CA. Early spring release. Yield 2 tons per acre. Native yeast fermentation, 45% whole cluster, gravity racked twice, and aged in French oak barrels, 25% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Very complex nose with a cornucopia of aromas including dark red cherry, black raspberry, pipe smoke, tarragon, sweet burnt tobacco and rose petal. The nose takes on more spellbinding aromas when the wine was sampled one day after opening. All the good things about Pinot Noir are wrapped up in this mid-weight wine including elegance, silkiness, polish, and balance. There is both dark red and black raspberry, black cherry and olallieberry fruit tastes on the palate displaying a satisfying, delicate richness. Lip-smacking, juicy acidity elevates the fruit vivaciousness and leads to a mouthwatering, extremely lengthy (45 seconds) finish. Best with cellaring or decanting. A liquid lullaby. Score: 97. WINERY » ARTICLE »

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

13.0% alc., $55. Grown, vinted and bottled by Davis Family Wines, Sebastopol, CA. Native yeast fermentation in open-top fermentors after a 5 to 7-day cold soak. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 33% new, 33% one-year, and 33% 2-year. Only the favorite barrels of winemakers Guy and Cole Davis are included in this bottling. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Terrific aromatic purity upon opening with scents of blackberry, Dr. Pepper and spice cake. Midweight plus in style and very comforting in the mouth, with a glorious display of well-spiced, blueberry, olallieberry, black raspberry and blackberry fruit flavors framed by supportive ripe tannins. Impeccable balance, finishing with the perfume of lovely Pinot must. High drinkable now, but the harmony and tannic backbone predict at least a 20-year life ahead. This beauty is like the gorgeous girl in school you always wanted to date. Score: 97. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 Maggy Hawk Jolie Maggy Hawk Estate Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc. (label), 14.1% (website), $65, 484 cases. Produced and bottled by Maggy Hawk Vineyard Santa Rosa, CA. Clones are Pommard, 2A 115, 667 and 777. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 20% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light garnet color in the bottle. Soaring aromas of Bing cherry, raspberry, spice and sap right after opening. Delicious tastes of black cherry and raspberry have mouth-filling fullness and length. Beautifully balanced with buried tannins and an invigorating acid backbone. Very polished with a thoroughbred finish. The next day, when tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine led me on a wonderful Pinot high. Score: 96. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 Dutton-Goldfield McDougall Ranch Fort Ross- Seaview Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.65, $68. Produced and bottled by Dutton-Goldfield, Santa Rosa, CA. 100% de-stemmed, 7-day cold soak. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Very seductive aromas of black cherry, wild blueberry, nori, cocoa and rose petal. This charismatic beauty offers considerable nuance and length. Middleweight plus in style, with a charge of blueberry, boysenberry, black currant, red grape and spiced tea flavors that seductively caress the palate. The discreetly rich fruit is infused with lively acidity and framed by matched tannins. Oak is but a subtle seasoning. The extremely long finish was like “Whoa,Yeah. Hell,Yeah.” So exquisitely balanced, this wine might outlive vintner Dan Goldfield. Score: 97. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 COBB Diane Cobb: Coastlands Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot NoirCOBB Diane Cobb: Coastlands Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., 175 cases, $120. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Very pleasing aromas of dark red cherry and berry along with tilled earth. A middleweight beauty featuring a core of cherries jubilee backed by lithe tannins. Impressive attack and length with an appealing “sweetness” to the fruit. The extremely long peacock finish offers a perfume of perfectly ripened dark red cherries. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine offered a cornucopia of silken cherry goodness that only Pinot Noir can deliver. Score: 96. WINERY » ARTICLE »


From Various Pinot Noirs Recently Tasted

2019 Broadley Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 2,800 cases, $22. A blend of fruit from Broadley Estate Vineyard, Open Claim Vineyard, Zenith Vineyard and Mailaris Vineyard. 100% destemmed, wild yeast fermentation in open-top stainless steel 4.5 ton and 1.5 ton plastic fermentor bins. Aged in neutral French oak barrels for 10 months. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, savoury spice, spearmint and a rub of oak. Light in style, with flavors of red cherry, cranberry, dried herbs and tobacco. Forward-drinking, with juicy acidity and a shallow finish. Score: 88. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2019 Big Table Farm Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

12.8% alc., 2,503 cases, $48. Produced and bottled by big Table Farm, Gaston, OR. Sourced from nine sites. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Deep aromas of black cherry, blackberry and dark chocolate with a hint of pipe smoke and barnyard. Discreetly concentrated core of black cherry fruit with some spice and a hint of smokiness. Satin in tone, with integrated tannins and a modest but satisfying finish. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2019 Pfendler Vineyards Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., 200 cases, $55. Produced and bottled by Pfendler Vineyards, Santa Rosa, CA. 100% Helgren Vineyard, the highest of Pfendler’s three estate vineyards sitting at 2,200 feet on the mountain top above the fog line. Harvested at 24.7º Brix. 50% Swan and 50% Calera selections. 100% de-stemmed, aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. Winemaker Erica Stancliff. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Alluring aromas of black cherry, sweet pipe smoke and barnyard. Richly appointed flavors of blackberry, cassis and black tea in a mid-weight plus style. Straightforward and fruit-driven, with modest tannins and a silky mouthfeel, leaving behind a little bitterness and the slightest sense of alcoholic heat. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2019 Big Table Farm Pelos Sandberg Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., 243 cases, $64. BTF has worked with the same rows in this vineyard for ten years. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Very inviting aromas of black cherry, tilled earth, wilted rose and grilled beef. The flavors of black cherry and raspberry draw your attention. There is a thread of barnyard noted that is typical of Pelos Sandberg Vineyard. Very silken in texture, nicely balanced, with the vibrant fruit holding court with intensity through the splendid finish. Nuanced and reflective of a unique terroir. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 LOBO Wolff Vineyards Napa Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $N/A (not released). · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. It really took two days for this wine to fully open up. Aromas of ripe strawberry, cherrywood and underbrush. Both red and black fruits are evident but struggle to appear under daunting tannins initially. With time, the tannins became better integrated, the fruit took on a bold demeanor and the finish increased in length and appeal. Decanting will be required if drunk now but prudence would dictate a few years in the cellar. I hope to have a chance to re-taste in the future. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2018 De Ponte Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc. $48 (Wine Club $38). · I recently bought some 2018 De Ponte Pinot Noir wines to drink as this is one of my favorite Oregon producers. Suzanne Baldwin Oliver handled my order and added a bottle of this wine as a gift and I was really surprised how good it was. A superb appellation value bottling with plenty of well-spiced, black cherry goodness with a hint of complimentary oak in the background. No rough edges in a middleweight style with exquisite balance. Goes down very easy. Did I mention this is an extraordinary value in Pinot Noir! This was a pre-release as part of a special 2018 vintage promotion and is part of a Wine Club shipment currently. Most of the 2018 Pinot Noirs will be released by this summer. Score: 92. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Intent Home Block Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., 34 cases, $42, wax closure. Released February 2020. Produced and bottled by Intent Wines LLC, Healdsburg, CA. Sourced from Filigreen Farm and specifically the Home block that has some of the oldest vines on the Farm that is Demeter® certified biodynamic. 100% Pommard clone. Aged 14 months in neutral oak. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. Tasted two bottles. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Both bottles had bruised apple (acetaldehyde) on the nose that persisted after opening. Aromas of cherry, spice and green herbs are also present. Light to mid-weight in style with flavors of cherry, raspberry and green herbs infused with vibrant acidity and backed by very modest tannins. Silky in texture with a short, histrung, acid-driven finish. Flawed, Score: NR. WINERY » ARTICLE »


From 2017 Furthermore Pinot Noirs: Many Vineyard Sources Leads to a Variety of Good Options But Some Inconsistency

2017 Furthermore Gloria Vineyard Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., 192 cases, $55. Calera, Swan and 115 clones. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Perfumed with scents of black cherry, tobacco oak and tilled earth. Mid-weight plus in style, offering flavors of herb-dusted cherry and green herbs. A bright arrow of acidity pervades the wine creating a sweet and sour finish. The wine leans too much on oak and finishes only modestly. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Furthermore Graton Ridge Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 243 cases, $55. Dijon clones planted in 2003. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Really nicely perfumed with aromas of ripe Bing cherry, olallieberry pie, and black grape. Discreetly concentrated and suave in the mouth, with a core of dark cherry and black raisin flavors with added notes of black tea, dark chocolate and cassis. Smoky oak plies the background. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Furthermore La Encantada Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., 120 cases, $55. Vineyard planted in 1998 by Richard Sanford. Dijon clones 115, 667, 777. Certified organic. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Toasty oak overshadows the fruit aromas of ripest strawberry and black cherry. A husky, well-ripened core of blackberry and black raspberry fruit that displays proper acidity and noble tannins to balance the fruit load. Charming, with some length to the finish. My only nit is that the wine displays more oak overlay than I prefer. Unchanged when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, still showing a noticeable oak imprint. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Furthermore Sierra Mar Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 120 cases, $55. Pommard 4 and Pisoni selection. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Highly aromatic, displaying scents of dark cherry, dark raspberry, blueberry-pomegranate, cola and spice. I thought I detected a very slight hint of Brett (sweaty horse) that was not off-putting. Mid-weight plus in concentration, offering super-ripe, luscious and sweet array of black stone and black berry fruits. There are hints of brown sugar and cocoa as well. Silky textured with buried tannins make for smooth going. Over time in the glass, the wine is less appealing as mostly a slug of fruit. Unchanged when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 90. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Furthermore Gap’s Crown Vineyard Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., 290 cases, $60. Clones 667 and faux 828. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Pleasant array of black stone fruit and dark berry aromas that really rise up over time in the glass. There are scents of rose petal and warm brioche as well. A deluge of black cherry and black raspberry fruit envelopes the palate and seems to linger for over 30 seconds on the finish. The fruit has a brightness with a citric edge particularly notable on the finish. Gap’s Crown always delivers. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Furthermore Gioia Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 150 cases, $60. Clone 113 and Pommard. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. The aromas of black cherry, spice cake and earthy flora unfold over time in the glass. Delicious flavors of black cherry, dark raspberry and dark strawberry backed by suede tannins and the slightest toasty oak. Silken in texture with good harmony and some persistence at the end. About the same when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Furthermore Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 195 cases, $60. Clones 115 and faux 828. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Reserved aromas of black cherry and cigar box. A hedonistic wine packed with layers of over ripe fruit tastes of blackberry, cassis and prune. As big as Pinot Noir gets with a level of fruit ripeness that blocks out the usual red-fruited elegance of this vineyard. The wine finishes with a sense of alcoholic heat. Score: 89. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Furthermore Starbridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

12.5% alc., 150 cases, $60. Vineyard adjacent Summa Vineyard and vines were established by cuttings from Summa Vineyard. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, blueberry, black tea bag and seasoned oak. A hint of bruised apple (acetaldehyde) only present briefly upon opening. Mid-weight in style, with a core of citrus-toned red fruits framed by very modest tannins. The wine’s acid is at the forefront showing a prominent citrus imprint on the mid-palate as well as a tart, citric finish. Score: 88. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Furthermore Nevina’s Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 120 cases, $75. Estate vineyard situated at 1,300 feet elevation. 777 and 667 clones. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of boysenberry, blackberry and black currant. The palate is greeted with a soothing flood of very ripe purple and dark berry fruit flavors. A big-fruited wine yet shows matching ripe tannins and well-integrated oak. Not as bombastic as other wines in the 2017 lineup, offering a more refined character. Score: 93. WINERY » ARTICLE »

2017 Furthermore Alchemy Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 169 cases, $85. A cuvée of Furthermore vineyard sources. · Dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of black raspberry, worn leather, prune, brown butter and medicine cabinet. Mid-weight plus in style, with a core of very ripe black cherry and blackberry fruits accented with spice. A literal fruit bomb with proportional tannins, a compliment of oak and some length and generosity on the finish. Score: 90. 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.