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Alden Alli Pinot Noir Campbell Vineyard Sonoma Coast
This new label is named for the wives of famous chef Emeril Lagasse and celebrated winemaker Dan Kosta. It opens as a portrait of structured, age-worthy Pinot Noir, yet emerges with airing as an immediately appealing and notably complex dinner wine. The nose, at once elegant, restrained and firm, offers coiled aromas of red plum, boysenberry, lingonberry, cherry compote, pink rose, dried orange peel. star anise and coriander seed. There is equal depth, yet greater energy on the palate, where flavors of black cherry, cherry pit, lingonberry, pomegranate, Santa Rosa plum tart, pink rose, pink peppercorn, toffee and hazelnut husk rise above sharper flinty undercurrents. The finish is juicy, lingering and full of polished grip. As fine as it already is, this beauty may improve for five to eight more years. 94 cases made.
2016 Bruliam Pinot Noir Sangiacomo Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Sangiacomo is a property known for gutsy, darkly focused fruit and almost feral earthiness. This bottling veers in an entirely different direction. The nose offers scents of black raspberry, dark cherry, blood orange, dried dark rose, black peppercorn, black tea, bouillon and hints of smoked meat and rosemary: all of which fan-out with an almost creamy elegance. On the palate, it is richly oaky, piquantly fruity and surprisingly supple, despite notable tannic grip and fruit notes that seem a youthfully-coiled replica of the nose. The finish is rounded and lingering, with a tight core of cherry-boysenberry and emerging notes of tobacco leaf and dried herbs. Already food-worthy, it should grow significantly in stature and elegance over the next four years. 150 cases produced.
2013 Chasseur Pinot Noir Yellow Rock Vineyard Russian River Valley
Notable for its well-defined, textbook Russian River fruit, the nose of this Pinot Noir heaps layers of dark cherry, Italian Maraschino cherry, dark boysenberry, whortleberry, raspberry coulis, fresh red rose, violet and pink peppercorn upon lush sweet-savory undercurrents of baking spices, tobacco leaf and hazelnut nougat. All of these notes repeat on the palate, where hints of blood orange, toasted grain and coriander seed join the party. The texture is palate-coating, yet piquant, and the finish long and generous, if still a hint youthfully bright. This one will be be comfortable with Prime rib, but has the grace for elegant entrees. 100 cases made.
2017 Fulcrum Pinot Noir Donnelly Creek Vineyard Anderson Valley
Donnelly Creek is known for its elegant, dinner-worthy Pinot Noirs and this is an impressive example. The aromas are a gracefully rich melange of red cherry, red plum, strawberry jam, raspberry coulis,red rose, pink peppercorn, mulling-spice, toffee, sandalwood and dried maple leaf scents. It is round, gently palate-coating and supple, through a long, satisfying finish that delivers all of the wine’s aromatic promise. This one should prove even more attractive if allowed another year or two of cellar-time. 89 cases produced.
2016 Guarachi Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown Vineyard Petaluma Gap Sonoma Coast
Rich in oaky spice yet even richer in fruit concentration, the nose of this impressive wine offers a focused perfume of dark boysenberry, blueberry, dark cherry, dark plum, black cherry pit, pink peppercorn, sumac berry, vanilla toffee, mocha, baking-spice, dark pipe tobacco and dried herbs. It proves weighty and tongue-coating in the mouth, with layers of sweet-savory spice dominant at opening. With airing it grows fruit-centric, as flavors of maraschino cherry, cherry pit, violet, strawberry and orange peel grow to dominate others of celery seed, hazelnut nougat, nutmeg and tobacconist-shop spice. If lingering and ever more delicious as it airs, this intense bottling wants five years or more to fully realize its ambitious mix of gutsy richness and potentially elegant style. 364 6-packs made.
2014 Joseph Swan Pinot Noir Trenton Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley
If a legendary vineyard, the Trenton has not always been consistent, only now and then scaling the peaks: but the low yielding 2014 crop has produced a beauty. The nose delivers a spicy, sharply focused mix of sour red cherry, pomegranate, red boysenberry, red plum tart, red current, orange zest, cinnamon, mulling-spice and crushed rock scents. It has terrific fruit energy and sharp mineral undertones in the mouth, where a sinewy mouth-feel helps focus concentrated flavors that are a gripping, long-lingering mirror of the aromas. Delicious now with seared duck breast, it will grow ever more impressive and food-worthy over the next five years and beyond. 213 cases made.
2016 Anthill Farm Pinot Noir Demuth Vineyard Anderson Valley
Complex, elegant, sophisticated and intriguingly Cote de Beaune-like, this is a tasty Pinot with potential for significant growth. Generosity, harmony, structure and a lingering, subtly gripping finish are the backdrop for forthcoming aromas and flavors that are a reflection. These include focused fruit tones of red currant, red plum, red cherry, raspberry, blueberry and red rose, all layered with sweet-savory compliments that include sumac berry, pink peppercorn, mulling-spice, sandalwood, mace, leather and mineral notes. A pleasurable dinner-companion already, it should prove even more attractive after two years or so in the cellar. 260 cases produced. Biodynamically farmed.
2016 Benovia Pinot Noir “La Pommeraie” Zio Tony Vineyard Russian River Valley
If almost the definition of a Russian River “fruit bomb” in its concentration of grapey energy, this is a wonderfully elegant wine that will surely improve. The aromas are a flashy rush of black cherry, cherry pit, pomegranate coulis, violet, red rose, baking-spice, star anise, coriander seed, sandalwood, tobacco and pencil shaving scents. It is piquant, grippy and youthful in the mouth, with lingering, palate-coating fruit and spice that captivate. Certain to mellow and grow in elegance over the next several years and perhaps well beyond, it will be a joy right now with seared duck breast. 400 cases made.
2016 Cordant Pinot Noir Radian Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
Luxuriously complex, yet wonderfully elegant, this wine perfectly expresses its distinctive vineyard. Although it is notably deep in both aroma and flavor when opened, airing reveals a cornucopia of fruit and spice. Notes of red plum galette, strawberry cobbler, bottled red cherry, red currant, freeze dried raspberry, pink and red rose, white chocolate and pink peppercorn find a seamless marriage with more savory expressions of sandalwood, five-spice, canela, mace, baking-spice, hazelnut husk, leather and bouillon. The texture is both palate-coating and supple, with quiet zest in support of it all. Gorgeous dinner wine now, it should to develop greater sophistication for several years. 100 cases produced.
2015 Dutton Goldfield Pinot Noir Freestone Hill Russian River Valley
Marrying signature “Freestone” notes of cherry pit, pomegranate, whortleberry, sour red cherry, plum galette, blood orange and pink peppercorn with even richer undercurrents of dark boysenberry and blueberry, this wine reflects the concentration of its vintage. Those fruit notes join nervy tannins and a citric edge to make for a juicy, zesty entry on the palate, although everything grows mellower as these find harmony with sweet-natured counterpoints of pink peppercorn, hazelnut nougat, five-spice powder and mace. As in the past, this classy Pinot should repay another five years in the cellar. 317 cases produced.
2017 Raen Pinot Noir “Royal St. Robert” Sonoma Coast
This Pinot Noir is a tightly-coiled bottle of thrills. The nose is a vibrant perfume of blueberry, pomegranate, lingonberry, raspberry, violet, blood orange, pink rose, coriander seed, pink peppercorn, mace and nut husk scents that soar above a darkly savory background of sappy, woodsy scents. It shows chiseled focus, bright zest, fine-honed tannic grip and loads of youthfully expressive flavor on the palate, where fresh pomegranate, sour red cherry, cherry pit, Campari, cranberry liqueur, raspberry, blueberry, teaberry and blood orange stay well above complex undercurrents of savory and “stemmy” spice notes. The finish is vivid and lingering and carries an exquisite dinner-balance which makes it an ideal match for seared duck breast and other fatty treats. Certainly five years from its full glory, it may still be evolving a decade from now. 1700 cases produced, Biodynamically grown.
2016 Talley Pinot Noir Rosemary’s Vineyard Estate Grown Arroyo Grande Valley
Sweetly ripe, gutsy and true to its highly esteemed property, this is a great and age-worthy Rosemary’s. The nose marries creamy-rich scents of red boysenberry, strawberry, raspberry, whortleberry, teaberry, red rose, cardamom, baking-spice, sweet tobacco, pink peppercorn, sumac berry and hazelnut nougat. It is as luxuriously rich on the palate as expected, where it features piquantly focused fruit, tongue-coating texture, impressive grip and firming mineral undercurrents. The finish offers picture perfect fruit flavors of cranberry, lingonberry, whortleberry, raspberry, strawberry cream sickle and pink rose in perfect harmony with notes of coriander seed, star anise, cardamom and hazelnut husk. As terrific as it is, it can only get better for at least five more years. 438 cases produced.
2014 Bonaccorsi Pinot Noir Bentrock Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
Deftly poised between savory spice and zesty fruit, this wine is racy, elegant and eminently dinner-worthy. The nose is a subtle harmony of red currant, sour red cherry, strawberry, raspberry, blood orange and pink rose scents married to others of forest mushrooms, dried beef, peppered broth and a bit of Asian five spice. It is lean and quietly zesty on the palate, where gentle tannins firm the texture and tighten the mid-palate impression. The finish lingers well and the flavor package evolves considerably with airing to become dominated by strawberry, red currant, blood orange, morel mushroom, leather and baking spice flavors. Lovely now with Veal Marsala, Beef Stroganoff and the like, it should improve for another two or three years. 200 cases produced.
2015 Hartford Court Pinot Noir Arrendell Vineyard Russian River Valley
Arrendell is always age-worthy and this is a powerhouse. The nose is intense and zesty, and its bold black cherry, pomegranate syrup, red raspberry, whortleberry, red currant, fresh pomegranate, strawberry and orange pith scents harmonize nicely with savory aromas of sandalwood, baking-spice, tobacco, hazelnut husk, sumac berry, Mr. Lincoln Rose and undercurrent of mineral salts. Concentration, zest and tannic grip are all evident on the palate, where they turn the otherwise tongue-coating richness almost racy. The deep and lingering flavors are a gutsy replica of the nose, yet the bright fruit presence and balance make it dinner-worthy. Tasty at this stage with seared duck breast, prime rib, fatty pork roasts and the like, it is certain to improve for six to twelve years or more. 409 6-packs made.
2016 Peake Ranch Pinot Noir Peake Ranch Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
If youthfully reserved, the aromas of this intriguing new bottling display elegance, concentration and pretty fruit definition. The nose opens with focused scents of blueberry, dark boysenberry, black raspberry, teaberry, allspice, root beer bark, toffee and pink peppercorn. It proves as distinctive on the palate, where it adds earthy-spicy undertones to richer flavors of dark berry, dark plum, mace, star anise, sandalwood, bouillon and dried orange peel. The finish is long, and cutting cherry pit, red apple skin and hazelnut husk notes come in at the end giving it a slightly sinewy texture. 105 cases produced.
2016 Peay Pinot Noir Pomarium Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast
This is a stunning wine, as a near-perfect vintage has woven the disparate elements of this exotic property into a museum-worthy tapestry. The nose is a chiseled mix of Bing cherry, Amarena cherry jam, red raspberry, strawberry, pomegranate, rose petal, sumac berry, pink and black peppercorn, star anise, cardamom, leather, nougat, morel mushroom and oyster shell scents. It is zesty and mineral-packed in the mouth, where Amarena cherry, Elephant Heart plum, pomegranate, blood orange, boysenberry, blueberry, teaberry, violet, nougat, cardamom and baking-spice flavors shine. The focused finish is ultra-long while its firm tannins and saline mineral undercurrents remain smothered in fruit to the end. Certain to be better in five to eight years, it is wonderful already. 550 cases produced.
2014 Talisman Pinot Noir Starscape Vineyard Russian River Valley
Complex, elegant, sophisticated and forthcoming, the aromas of this Pinot fan-out as a perfume of sour red cherry, dried red cherry, red currant, dried cranberry, whortleberry, nougat, pink peppercorn, baking spices, star anise and dried pink rose. It is medium-rich in body, gently palate-coating and persistent, contrasting energetic fruit with mellower sweet-savory notes. The mid-palate and finishing flavors are a satisfying mélange of raspberry cobbler, cranberry, pomegranate, sour cherry, red boysenberry, pink peppercorn, star anise, baking spices and sweet tobacco. Expect another two years of positive evolution. 338 cases produced.
2014 Trombetta Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast
This impressive Pinot is textbook “Gap’s Crown” in its combination of early appeal and age-worthiness. The aromas are a focused layering of dark boysenberry, dark plum, blueberry, black and red cherry, peppercorn, clove, nutmeg, star anise, sandalwood, baking-spice and sweet tobacco. It shows impressive depth and some tannic grip and is more piquantly fresh on the palate, where bright red cherry and red berry notes dominate. All of the other expected fruity-savory elements follow close behind though and everything lingers with a food-worthy balance. Tasty now, it is a few years from its full beauty. 1100 cases produced.
2016 Eden Rift Pinot Noir “Estate” Cienega Valley
This is an exciting new estate with a bright future, and the debut bottling elegantly poises complex, piquant fruit above mineral undercurrents and an impressive spine of tannin. The aromas are a composite of red plum, red currant, dried strawberry, dark cherry, Bing cherry, dried red rose and peppercorn, with star anise and ginger accents. That fruit is replicated if more tightly-coiled on the palate, and added notes of red apple skin and cherry pit join hard minerality to give the wine an almost sinewy mouth-feel. Lingering and food-friendly, it should prove an especially good match to fatty meats at this point, although a few years of cellar-time should produce a more distinctive bottling. 1275 cases produced.
2016 Fulcrum Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown Vineyard Petaluma Gap Sonoma Coast
This is a richly fruity, complex Pinot Noir with lots of current appeal and a grander future. The nose offers dark boysenberry, blackberry, blueberry, dark plum, sour cherry and pomegranate fruit scents in contrast to savory-spice notes that include sumac, pink peppercorn, red rose, violet, dried orange peel, toffee, sandalwood and baking spices. These elements are deftly balanced on the palate, where concentration and underlying grip firm the texture. Extremely tasty now, it will grow ever more so over the next five years. 212 cases produced.
2016 Paul Lato Pinot Noir “Duende” Gold Coast Vineyard Santa Maria Valley
Deeper in fruit and more exotic than previous “Duende” vintages, this delicious wine offers piquant scents of pomegranate, ripe strawberry, Santa Rosa plum, red currant, bottled red cherry, dried Michigan cherry, cherry pit, sumac berry, pink peppercorn, red rose, mace, sandalwood, ginger snap and pine straw. It is heftier than expected on the palate, where sour red cherry, grenadine, strawberry, dried orange peel, mulling-spice, watermelon candy, pink rose, coriander seed, ginger snaps, sandalwood, Panetone and hints of black tea and tobacco leaf fan-out. Likely several years from its peak, it is altogether delicious and dinner-friendly already.
2016 Melville Pinot Noir “Block M” Santa Rita Hills
M block is notoriously slow to evolve, masculine in its youth, and entirely worth the wait (the 2003 version - then called the Carrie’s block - is now in its prime). The wondrously complex 2016 has the expected iron-stiff backbone, yet is amazingly appealing to drink already. The nose offers a dense, sophisticated perfume of black raspberry compote, dark boysenberry tart, plum galette, Italian Maraschino cherry, dried cranberry, baked strawberry, teaberry, beet root, mulling-spice, root beer bark, star anise, cardamom, sumac berry, baking-spice, sandalwood, dried rose sachet, Pu'er tea and graphite scents. All these elements are mirrored with absolute clarity on the palate, yet tannin, dark minerality and piquant, concentrated fruit bring an almost leather-like muscularity to the texture. The finish is ultra-long and packed with red and black fruit, exotic spice and layered minerality, and a harmony that makes for great enjoyment already. Try it now with a caramelized roast, or give it another ten years. It will be a treasured classic when mature. 598 cases made.
2015 The Hilt Pinot Noir “Old Guard” Santa Rita Hills
Loaded with red fruits and sweet-natured spice, this is a very impressive young Pinot. The aromas and the flavors that closely mirror the nose are a satisfying melange of red raspberry, pomegranate, red currant, strawberry, red plum, whortleberry, cherry pit, red apple skin, red rose, pink peppercorn, orange peel tea, cardamom, sandalwood, ginger, white pepper and woodsy spice. The flavors are lingering, well-evolved and substantial enough for service with dark fatty roasts and flavorful stews right now, but this wine’s ultimate worth will be revealed after several more years of development. 470 cases produced.
2014 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir Oppenlander Vineyard Mendocino County
Forthcoming, focused, complex and texturally elegant, this is an already lovely wine with a better future. The nose poises rose petal and violet scents above sweeter notes of red plum galette, bottled red cherries, Amarena cherry jam, mulling spices, teaberry, dried orange peel, pink peppercorn, sumac berry, toffee, star anise and sandalwood. The palate offers a pinpoint balance between piquant freshness, polished tannic grip, sweet-savory spice and flavors of strawberry, red plum, cherry cobbler and pink rose. Long and fruity-spicy to the end, it wants only time to become truly splendid. Expect three years of improvement. 212 cases produced.
2015 Benovia Pinot Noir Tilton Hill Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Rich, bold and notably complex, the nose of this young Pinot melds scents of Italian Maraschino cherry, Bing cherry galette, black plum, Victorian toffee, dried Mr. Lincoln rose, hazelnut, Schezuan peppercorn, clove, sandalwood, coriander seed and a bit of star anise. It is rich in body, tightly-wound, somewhat grippy yet impressively long on the palate, where a juicy strain of dark cherry and cherry pit hovers above notes of forest mushroom, hazelnut husk, nougat and five-spice powder. Very long and clearly age-worthy, it is fine dinner wine now, yet is likely to reveal its full elegance in five years and beyond. 300 cases produced.
2015 Cattleya Pinot Noir “Cuvee Number One” Russian River Valley
Full of pretty spice yet fruit-centric, the nose of this already satisfying Pinot is a mix of focused blueberry, black cherry, dark boysenberry, pomegranate, blood orange, star anise, baking-spice, dried orange peel, sandalwood and hibiscus tea scents. The wine is racy, focused and fruit-forward on the palate, where the zesty mix of Italian Maraschino cherry, boysenberry, blueberry, Elephant Heart plum, blood orange and dried orange peel takes center-stage over star anise, baking-spice, coriander seed and tobacco to create a note of poised tension. If more elegant than dramatic, the finish is lingering and perfectly food-balanced. This pretty wine will be even better in 2 or 3 years. 143 cases made.
2014 Dutton-Goldfield Pinot Noir “Redwood Ridge” William Wesley Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Grown on a ridge famous for lacing grapes with hard-edged minerality, this is a remarkably fruit-dominant wine of pristine focus and pin-point balance. The aromas are a deep and forthcoming perfume of wild boysenberry, blueberry, black raspberry, dried cranberry, red apple skin, candied rose, orange marmalade, coriander, leather, toffee and dark earth scents. The texture proves dense yet the flavors are just as chiseled and expressive on the palate, while piquant freshness creates a near-ideal dinner balance. The finish is a lingering blast of blueberry, black raspberry, sweet tobacco, cinnamon stick, baking-spice, mace and leather flavors that push back substantial tannic grip and the expected mineral undertones. It will only grow more exciting with cellar-time. 278 cases made.
2014 Papapietro-Perry Pinot Noir Peters Vineyard Russian River Valley
This is a satisfying and age-worthy wine, full of deep, forthcoming fruit tied to expressive oak spice. The nose layers a veneer of vanilla toffee, hazelnut nougat, nutmeg, baking-spice, mulling-spice, sandalwood, tobacco leaf and peppercorn upon a densely-rich core of black cherry, sour red cherry, pomegranate and blueberry fruit. That piquant fruit dominates, in a juicy, dinner-worthy cascade of sour red cherry, raspberry, black raspberry, red rose, sumac berry and pink peppercorn which rises above opulent notes of toffee, nutmeg, baking-spice, hazelnut nougat and rich mineral undercurrents. Long, rich and classy, it should grow ever more exciting over the next five years. 957 cases made.
2015 Terrien Pinot Noir Corda Vineyard Marin County
Rich and elegant, the aromas of this intriguing Pinot are a compote of red plum tart, strawberry jam, red currant, mulling-spice, root beer bark, cinnamon stick, dried red rose, sumac berry, pink peppercorn, vanilla toffee and tobacco leaf expressions. Strawberry, grenadine, red currant, plum, dry rose, sumac, peppercorn, toffee, baking spices, cinnamon, sandalwood and star anise are central themes on the mid-palate, while the fruitiness of the lingering finish is counter-pointed by a rich strain of stemmy spice and a hint of tannic grip. 90 cases produced. $54.95 Member’s reorder price $
2015 Wayfarer Pinot Noir Wayfarer Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview
This is a gorgeous, extravagant Pinot that is not to be missed. The aromas are a sweet-natured, intense, focused cornucopia of black cherry, dark boysenberry, black raspberry, pomegranate, dry red rose, star anise, humidor and Asian spice scents. Pristine fruit is center-stage on the palate, where the texture has a mouth-coating creaminess that lets piquantly-zesty flavors of sour cherry jam, Italian Maraschino cherry, cherry pit, pomegranate, violet, blueberry, black raspberry, sweet tobacco, cinnamon stick, mace, cardamom and other Asian spice notes seem to glide across the tongue. The finish smothers the wine’s tannic grip and mineral edge in a bath of fruit and spice, so although the wine is likely four years or more from its full beauty, it is a splendid experience now. 900 cases produced.
2015 Bee Hunter Pinot Noir Docker Hill Vineyard Mendocino County
This wine projects, at opening, a darkly ripe personality. The nose rolls-out scents of ripe Bing cherry, black cherry, black raspberry cobbler, blueberry, dark plum, Mr. Lincoln rose, dried orange zest, sumac, pink peppercorn, cinnamon “red hots”, ginger snaps, star anise and hazelnut. On the palate the texture proves sleeker and the impression much brighter, as cherry pit, Amarena cherry, red currant, pomegranate, raspberry and wild strawberry fruit flavors join others of orange cream sickle, pink peppercorn, pine straw, sandalwood and hazelnut husk. The finish, tight at first, gains length and impressive clarity with airing. Expect this fine Pinot to improve for two or three years. 400 cases made.
2013 Blue Farm Pinot Noir King Ridge Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview
This is a gorgeous Pinot Noir with a great future. The nose is a plush melange of dark cherry, black cherry, sour cherry, pomegranate, strawberry, violet, pink peppercorn, sumac berry, star anise, sandalwood and humidor-spice. It is both more expressive and more notably youthful on the palate, where tannin, zest and strong mineral notes create a platform for brightly-etched, lingering sour red cherry, red raspberry, whortleberry, strawberry, violet, dried red rose, sumac, pink peppercorn, sandalwood, tobacco and hazelnut nougat flavors. If impressive now with seared duck breast and the like, it will want five years or more to reveal all of its myriad charms. 220 cases produced.
2014 Brewer Clifton Pinot Noir Machado Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
If loaded with flashy, forthcoming flavors, this is nevertheless a wine built for long term cellaring. The nose is densely-packed with fruit and exotic spice, as creamy-rich aromas of Amarena cherry, lingonberry, whortleberry, Santa Rosa plum, strawberry cobbler, blueberry galette, red rose and roasted beet are drenched in a perfume of sumac berry, pink peppercorn, cardamom, coriander, sandalwood, powdered ginger, toffee, nougat and slightly saline, iron ore-like minerality. All this drama is mirrored on the palate, where the texture is dense, but never heavy and the tannins must yield to the wine’s unrelenting richness. The finish is ultra-long and the flavors already seductive, so this deep and almost muscular wine - destined to live twenty years or more - can be enjoyed now. 600 six packs produced.
2014 Cobb Pinot Noir Emmaline Ann Vineyard Sonoma Coast
This pretty wine opens with an elegant perfume of red boysenberry, Maraschino cherry, red raspberry, “red vines” licorice, rose petal, cinnamon, star anise, toffee and sweet dried herbs, stylishly poised above genteel mineral notes. It is supple yet bright on the palate, where it replicates the attractive aromatic profile, while layering-on flavors of wild strawberry and orange peel tea. The finish is very long, although the fruit is still a bit youthfully reserved, which makes the savory notes seem slightly elevated. A beautiful companion to fatty meats right now, it will be considerably better if allowed another two to four years of cellaring. 310 cases produced.
2015 Mindego Ridge Pinot Noir “Estate” Santa Cruz Mountains
Immediately attractive and clearly age-worthy, this bottling is a near-ideal representative of its distinctive mountain appellation. The nose is brightly youthful yet wonderfully suave and forthcoming, as scents of sweet red plum, strawberry preserves, red currant, dark red cherry, teaberry, orange peel tea, sumac berry, star anise, bay leaf, pine needles and sweet tobacco roll-out in picture-perfect harmony. There is an almost creamy suppleness on the palate, where the wine’s tannins are totally eclipsed by deliciously opulent flavors that precisely mirror the aromas. Certainly this is a wine capable of three to four more of positive evolution, yet the texture and finish are already so satisfying that most most bottles seem destined to be enjoyed years before full maturity is achieved. 303 cases produced.
2015 Tessier Pinot Noir Saveria Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains
Wonderfully elegant and captivating from the first sip, this textbook Santa Cruz Mountain Pinot fans-out a perfume of sour red cherry, grenadine, Kirsch, red currant jelly, dark rose petals and cinnamon “red hots”, above dried herb, mineral and forest floor contrasts. It is buoyantly forthcoming on the palate, where focused flavors of bottled cherry, Amarena cherry jam, Kirsch, pomegranate, whortleberry, raspberry coulis, wild strawberry, white and pink peppercorn, sumac berry, dried herbs, and hints of violet and lavender are gently firmed by polished tannins and a drying mineral background, to linger through a long, piquant, food-friendly finish. It will likely improve for the next several years and perhaps beyond. 94 cases made.
2014 Bonaccorsi Pinot Noir Cargasacchi Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
Full of contrasting earthy-savory and bright fruit expressions, the nose of this Pinot fans-out with lingonberry, sour cherry, cranberry and pink peppercorn scents poised above a melange of sandalwood, star anise, dark forest earth and wild mushrooms. It is juicy-rich in the mouth, where piquant red fruit tames an otherwise opulent texture. The finish lingers well, with zesty cherry pit, raspberry coulis and pink peppercorn dominating anise, sandalwood, dark earth, tobacco and mushroom undercurrents. Very appealing now, it should grow more seductive over the next several years. 200 cases produced.
2015 Bucher Pinot Noir “Three Sixty” Russian River Valley
Packed with fruity, savory, floral and mineral nuances, this beauty is classic Russian River. The nose is an assertive perfume of sweet red plum, dark cherry, boysenberry, black raspberry, Mr. Lincoln rose, blood orange, sumac berry, dried herb, rose sachet, baking-spice and tobacco. On the palate, counterpoints of ripeness and piquant zest create a sense of chiseled focus, although everything seems denser and more tightly-wound. The finish is super-long and sparkles with zesty fruit, mineral undertones and dusty hints of hazelnut husk. Expect four to six years of growth on the way toward a wonderful future. 163 cases produced.
2014 Maggy Hawk Pinot Noir “Unforgettable” Anderson Valley
This impressive wine is darkly rich, harmonious and distinctive. The aromas, and the flavors that follow in more or less equal proportion, are a “meaty” melange of Italian Maraschino cherry, dried red currant, dark boysenberry, raspberry, strawberry cobbler, dried red rose, bresaola, pink peppercorn, date nut, mace, baking-spice, sandalwood, star anise, cherry pit and pencil shavings. It is very rich in body, gutsy and lingering, with piquant cherry pit and graphite notes bringing a dry balance at the end. It is built for deeply flavored entrees and although it is already a luxurious dinner companion it should continue to improve for at least three more years. 247 cases made.
2014 Sandhi Pinot Noir “Old Vines” Mt. Carmel Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
Leaning toward fruity over savory elements while showcasing its “old vine” fruit, the nose of this beauty delivers focused black cherry, Maraschino cherry, red currant, Santa Rosa plum, rose candy, hazelnut nougat, cardamom, nutmeg, baking-spice, sweet tobacco and pencil shaving scents. Pomegranate, whortleberry, Maraschino cherry, strawberry cobbler, dried orange peel, star anise, pencil shaving, sandalwood, hazelnut husk and mineral notes all make contributions on the palate. Although this wine is several years from its peak, a super-long finish drenched in fruit brings lots of pleasure already. It should be quite special in about five years and well beyond. 68 cases produced.
2014 Talisman Pinot Noir Sadie’s Vineyard Russian River Valley
Aromatically complex and shading toward the feminine, the nose of this pretty Pinot brings-forth graceful scents of wild strawberry, red raspberry, pomegranate, red rose, dried orange peel, star anise and sandalwood. It is medium-bodied, softly forthcoming and quietly zesty on the palate, where black cherry, raspberry, red cherry, anise, sandalwood and baking-spice flavors create an elegant and lingering harmony. Very satisfying already, it will be a more perfectly attuned dinner companion if allowed another few years of cellar time. 342 cases produced.
2015 Talley Pinot Noir Stone Corral Vineyard Edna Valley Estate
This intense young Pinot is packed with savory spice, but it’s fruit-centric. The nose ties cherry pie, raspberry gallete, strawberry cobbler and Umeboshi plum to fresher scents of sweet red cherry, sour cherry and rose water: the whole embraced by deep coriander seed, sandalwood, peppercorn, hunter’s broth and forest floor accents. It seems almost Pommard-like in its creamy richness on the palate, where the flavors replicate the aromas luxuriously. The finish is opulent, lingering and food friendly. If wonderfully satisfying already, it is at least four years from its full expression. 294 cases made.
2014 Auteur Pinot Noir Manchester Ridge Vineyard Mendocino Ridge
Vivid and sweetly fruity, the nose of this slightly exotic Pinot poises red and black cherry, red plum, strawberry-rhubarb, pink peppercorn, sumac berry, coriander seed and sandalwood scents above dark mineral undercurrents. It is focused and youthfully zesty on the palate, where rich flavors of sour cherry, strawberry, Elephant heart plum, coriander, sumac, pink peppercorn, caramel, tobacco, sandalwood, black tea, dark earth and minerals create a structured and lingering melange. Built for fatty roasts and sauced entrees, it will grow ever more attractive over the next four years or so. 192 cases produced.
2013 Claypool Cellars Pinot Noir Rice-Spivak Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Elegant from start to lingering finish, this bottling gives pleasure from the gate. The nose brings fruit notes of red plum, red cherry, red currant, pomegranate and strawberry into harmony with counter-points of red rose, pink peppercorn, sumac berry, baking-spice and dried herbs. On the palate the texture is polished and the flavors a fine replication of all that the aromas promise, while the finish adds-in intriguing suggestions of sandalwood, star anise, rosemary, ginger snaps and toffee. Enjoy it for its current appeal, or watch how the depth and bouquet evolve after a year or two of cellar time. 150 cases produced.
2014 Domaine de la Cote Pinot Noir Bloom’s Field Santa Rita Hills
Racy and sophisticated, the aromas of this lovely wine are a brightly focused perfume of strawberry, Maraschino cherry, red plum, grenadine, red currant, watermelon, pink rose, cinnamon “red hots”, sumac berry, pink peppercorn and white chocolate-dipped orange. It proves as vivacious and sleek in mouth-feel as expected, with subtle ‘structural’ tannins, quiet zest and lots of sweet-savory counterpoints to the fruit. The finish fans-out with Maraschino cherry, kirsch, grenadine and strawberry at center stage while notes of orange zest, peppercorn, baking-spice, sandalwood, coriander seed, celery seed and star anise hold steady in support. Classy dinner wine already, it is likely to improve for a few more years. 508 cases made.
2015 Peake Ranch Pinot Noir John Sebastiano Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
This youthful wine already shows hints of of the finesse to come, in aromas that fan-out as a genteel perfume of ripe Bing cherry, black cherry, dark boysenberry, blood orange, raspberry coulis, red currant, Santa Rosa plum, orange peel tea, coriander seed, hazelnut and star anise. Sour cherry, black cherry and zesty plum hold center-stage on the palate and join some tannic grip to bring a piquant edge to the mouth-feel. The finish is full of sweet-natured, lingering fruit counter-pointed by drying notes of star anise and nut husk. Terrific now with seared duck breast, it should grow ever better for another five years and beyond. 325 cases produced.
2014 Senses Pinot Noir Tanuda Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Elegantly fruity, with floral and savory nuances, the nose of this pretty Pinot Noir wafts-out a suave marriage of strawberry, red currant, blood orange, red and pink rose petal, sandalwood, mace, powdered ginger and star anise scents. It seems fuller on the palate, where tannic undertones firm and bright zest counter-points the wine’s creamy fruit. The flavors retain the impression of feminine charm suggested by the nose however, as red currant, red plum, strawberry jam, blood orange, pink peppercorn, pink rose, mace, star anise and a hint of white chocolate meld into a supple, harmonious, lingering whole. Lovely now, it should grow a bit grander and richer over the next few years. 250 cases produced.
2015 Three Sticks Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast
The first release from legendary Pinot Noir master Bob Cabral (Williams Selyem), is a deep and clearly age-worthy wine. The aromas are a concentrated, tightly-coiled mairrage of black raspberry, Italian Maraschino cherry, sweet vanilla and baking-spice scents, wrapped around a richer core of dark boysenberry. The fruit proves downright flashy in the mouth, where buoyant dark boysenberry, sour cherry, blueberry, blood orange, cherry pit, nut husk, sandalwood and humidor-spice flavors fan-out. The finish is long, gripping and piquantly fresh, yet wonderfully supple and food-worthy. As terrific as it is, it wants another five years at least to fully reveal itself. 220 cases produced.
2014 Big Basin Pinot Noir Lester Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains
Complex, gently creamy and gaining in feminine charm as it airs, this is an already satisfying Pinot with a bright future. Focused aromas of blueberry, red plum, strawberry cobbler, rose, cinnamon “red hots”, star anise and Oriental spices build in strength as it airs. It is racy, polished and lingering on the palate, where a gently tongue-coating wave of red plum, red currant, blueberry, strawberry, rose, lavender, rosemary, sumac berry, pink peppercorn, sandalwood, oregano, cinnamon, star anise and cardamom fans-out elegantly. It is certain to get better for several years. 325 cases produced.
2014 Brewer Clifton Pinot Noir Hapgood Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
This wine offers classic BC intensity in its mix of layered fruit, exotic spice and vivid zest. The nose jumps out in a wave of red plum jam, boysenberry-blueberry compote, sour cherry galette, cherry pit, mace, cardamom, pencil shaving, dry rose sachet, pink peppercorn, sumac berry, caramel apple and baking-spice scents of almost uniform richness. The flavors speak as eloquently, with cherry-rhubarb pie, strawberry, plum galette, black tea, graphite, clove, cardamom and mace dominating and piquant cherry pit, nectarine pit, crushed rock and hazelnut husk notes in counterpoint. As the wine airs, the finish becomes a lingering mirror of the opening aromatic panorama. Structured and packed with youthful energy, it is destined for long life. 196 cases produced.
2013 Chasseur Pinot Noir Blank Vineyard Russian River Valley
Forthcoming and opulent in the Chasseur mold, this beauty offers immediate appeal, as scents of red boysenberry, ripe Bing cherry, teaberry, blood orange, pink peppercorn, sumac berry, humidor-spice and caramel all fan-out. It is richer yet and almost muscular on the palate, where tannic grip and piquant zest brace lush tongue-coating fruit. The flavors prove as upfront and lingering as expected, as juicy black raspberry, black cherry, red boysenberry, strawberry, blood orange zest and pink peppercorn find harmony with tobacco, sandalwood, star anise and other sweet-savory flavors. If more graceful three years hence, it delivers appeal and impressive impact in its youth. 95 cases produced.
2014 Fess Parker Winery Pinot Noir Parker West Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
Rich in fruit and oaky spice, the nose of this elegant Pinot serves-up core aromas of black raspberry, pomegranate, whortleberry and red currant in genteel counterpoint to spice notes of pink peppercorn, sumac berry, red rose, sandalwood, clove and star anise. It is supple and more fruity-savory yet on the palate, where the aromatic impressions are amplified, and joined by hints of oregano, white chocolate, caramel and pistachio. The finish is lingering and quite satisfying despite the wine’s youth. Those with cellars can assume two or three years of steady growth. 292 cases made
2015 Melville Pinot Noir “Sandy’s” Santa Rita Hills
This is a wonderfully sophisticated, notably youthful Pinot with great depth and an elegantly creamy texture. The nose gradually unfolds to reveal a dense perfume of boysenberry, Italian Maraschino cherry, sour red cherry, baked red plum, blood orange, roasted beet, dried red rose, violet, mace, cardamom and pencil shavings. The wine is both generous and supple on the palate and carries the cutting zest and drying minerality to counterpoint its plush layers of fruit and spice. The mid-palate and ultra-long finishing flavors are a meld of dry red cherry, cherry pit, strawberry cobbler, blueberry-raspberry compote, beet, orange peel tea, dried rose, pie crust, sandalwood, pencil shavings, mace, cardamom, anise, leather, dried herbs and bouillon. Expect a minimum of 5 years of improvement, but don’t be afraid of it now. 767 6-packs made.
2015 Sojourn Pinot Noir Walala Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Distinctive for its contrasting impressions of darkly ripe fruit, piquant zest, savory spice and deeply-etched minerality, this is a delicious and clearly age-worthy wine. The aromas are an array of dried Michigan cherry, black cherry, dark boysenberry, dried blackberry, crushed dried red rose, black tea, maple leaf, star anise, humidor-spice, peppercorn and graphite scents. It offers much the same panorama on the mid-palate, although pomegranate, whortleberry and sumac berry flavors step-in to brighten things, even as hazelnut husk, cherry pit, graphite and hard-edged mineral elements clamp down on the sweet-natured fruit. Airing fully reveals the wines pretty side however, and the lasting memory is a luxuriously palate-coating one, as Italian Maraschino cherry, black raspberry, dried red cherry, red currant, dried orange peel and grenadine rise above the brooding savory expressions and drying earthy backdrop. Expect five years or more of steady improvement. 275 cases made.
2013 Comptche Ridge Pinot Noir Mendocino
The nose of this complex young Pinot melds red currant, strawberry, bottled cherry, dried raspberry, pink peppercorn, sumac berry, dried orange peel, coriander, mace and star anise scents into elegant harmony. Panetone-like fruit and sweet-savory spice dominate on the mid-palate, where zest and tannic grip firm the mouth-feel. The finish is ultra long and delightfully spicy, as notes of cardamom, mace, star anise, caramel and leather counterpoint a richer core of red plum, red currant, whortleberry, sumac berry and pink peppercorn. It proves prettier and even more satisfying with air, and those with the patience to wait a few years will be well rewarded. 450 cases produced.
2014 Dutton Goldfield Pinot Noir Azaya Ranch Marin County
Richly savory and full of focused fruit, this is an impressive Pinot from a seldom explored appellation. The nose is a rich melange of dark cherry, dark plum, Bing cherry, cherry pit, Victorian toffee, vanilla pipe tobacco, leather and dried herb scents. Rich body and substantial grip raise the scale on the palate, as does a lingering finish packed with Amarena cherry, red boysenberry, blood orange, peppercorn, leather, nut husk and tobacconist-shop flavors. Delicious now with rich roasts and wintry stews, it should improve for several more years. 375 cases produced.
2013 La Pichoune Pinot Noir Holder Vineyard Russian River Valley
Well focused, zesty and full of charming fruit and spice, the nose of this elegant bottling offers Maraschino cherry, raspberry, pomegranate, strawberry, rose, orange peel tea, sandalwood, star anise and baking-spice aromas. It is bigger and darker on the palate, where distinctive notes of dried herbs, orange peel tea and white chocolate accent fruit flavors of black raspberry, dark cherry, strawberry and blueberry, with baking-spice, star anise, sandalwood and peppercorn in support. Lingering, dinner-balanced and already appealing, it will be much more so if allowed three years of cellar-time. 100 cases made.
2013 Samsara Pinot Noir Las Hermanas Santa Rita Hills
Deeply fruity-spicy and forthcoming, the nose of this juicy bottling frames scents of sour cherry, red plum, blueberry, blood orange, yellow rose, pink peppercorn, white chocolate, coriander and a bit of lavender into a seductive if almost brash presentation. The impression of youthful brightness is just as notable on the palate, where blueberry and orange zest flavors take the early lead. The finish is extremely long and already very satisfying. Airing brings forth all the spiciness promised in the nose while the texture grows more elegant, which suggests that the wine may show a more feminine personality given some cellar-time. Expect at least three years of improvement. 210 cases produced. $55.95
2015 Sante Archangeli Pinot Noir Split Rail Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains
Fruit-forward and stylish, the aromas of this Pinot are textbook Santa Cruz Mountain, and they fan-out as a bright perfume of bottled red cherry, wild strawberry, raspberry coulis, yellow rose, pink peppercorn, star anise and cinnamon "red hots" scents. The wine is tongue-coating yet sleek on the palate, where notes of hazelnut husk and dried herbs accent raspberry, sour red cherry, pomegranate and orange cream sickle flavors. The finish is elegantly lingering and, if delivering a bit more pepperiness, it more or less replicates everything the aromas suggest. This one should grow ever more attractive over the next two or three years. 190 6-packs made.
2014 The Withers Pinot Noir English Hill Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Structured, complex and altogether distinctive, the nose of this Pinot is a racy perfume of dark boysenberry, red plum tart, dry red cherry, blueberry, teaberry, rose sachet, sumac powder, cardamom, coriander and old leather. The wine is grippy and lean on the palate, showing flavors that are a tighter, more youthful rendition of the aromas. The finish is deep and exotic, with hard mineral notes underpinning the sumac, coriander, star anise, leather, toasted hazelnut and Oriental spice notes which accent the wines core of Umeboshi plum, strawberry cobbler and dried red fruits. Expect four years or more of steady improvement. 347 cases produced.
2013 Alma Fria Pinot Noir Dona Margarita Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Classic in structure and chiseled in it’s clarity, this is a Pinot with a future. The nose is a coiled array of pomegranate, whortleberry, black raspberry, purple plum, mulling-spice, peppercorn, sandalwood, anise and mineral scents. That structure is even more prominent on the palate, where the mix of red and black fruits and sweet-savory spice is counter-pointed by youthful zest, tannins and hard-edged mineral notes. The finish is firm, focused and lingers with a pinpoint balance that suggests service with rich, fatty meats. Expect several years of improvement. 160 cases made. Debut Release.
2014 Benovia Pinot Noir “La Pommeraie” Russian River Valley
Vivid, fruit-centered and classically “Russian River”, the aromas of this beauty gush-forth as a cornucopia of red boysenberry, pomegranate, red raspberry, cinnamon “red hots”, pink peppercorn, pink rose, sumac berry, sandalwood and mulling-spice scents. The wine feels racy and somewhat more genteel on the palate, where blueberry, dark plum, red rose, anise and hints of pumpkin bread bring in a softer counterpoint to all the zest. The finish is lingering, focused and already delightful for its pure energy. Several years in the cellar will bring it to a more classic elegance. 498 cases produced.
2014 Roadhouse Pinot Noir Silver Pines Vineyard Sonoma Mountain
This is a complex, structured wine, with lots of fruit and spice poised over firm mineral undercurrents. The nose is youthfully tight and opens on a broadly juicy-floral-herbal note, but after some airing it focuses on dark boysenberry, black raspberry, Italian Maraschino cherry, sandalwood and baking-spice scents. Those fruit notes are as notable on the palate, but they share space with dried herb, forest floor-spice and some dark, hard-edged mineral notes. The finish is lingering, lean and firm, so the wine is built for service with dark, fatty meats. It should improve for several years. 275 cases produced.
2014 Talley Pinot Noir Rincon Estate Vineyard Arroyo Grande Valley
Talley’s 2014 “Rincon” bottling is an atypically forthcoming one and the nose is a slightly juicy mix of Bing cherry, Maraschino cherry, blueberry, whortleberry, yellow rose, pink peppercorn, sandalwood and star anise scents. It is at once tongue-coating and piquant on the palate, where focused sour red cherry, bottled cherry, red raspberry, Maraschino cherry, yellow rose, orange peel, coriander seed, tobacco and star anise flavors hold their bright intensity through a lush, lingering, cutting crisp finish. Certainly terrific right now, it is at least four years from it’s peak. 548 6-packs produced.
2014 Tessier Pinot Noir Savier Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains
Genteel, complex and notably “Santa Cruz Mountains” in personality, the nose of this pretty Pinot marries aromas of Maraschino cherry, red vines, strawberry candy, red currant, pink and yellow rose, toasted grain and some subtle herbal-foresty notes. It is both zesty and soft-edged on the palate, where sweet cherry and red vines notes take center stage over the floral-savory elements. The finish is lingering and, due to a chalk-like mineral strain, surprisingly dry. Tasty and dinner-worthy now, it should grow richer and a bit more exotic with another year or two of cellar-time. 140 cases made. Debut Release.
2014 Tyler Pinot Noir La Encantada Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
Combining focus, intensity and finesse, the nose of this lovely bottling melds scents of dark cherry, boysenberry, strawberry cobbler, cherry pie, dried red rose, pink rose, pink peppercorn, anise, ginger snaps and a hint of tobacco into a sweet-natured perfume. There is concentration without noticeable weight on the palate, where spiced red cherry, crab apple syrup, sour cherry and red plum rise above a richer background of strawberry, sumac berry, dark tobacco, sandalwood and star anise. Lingering and already delicious, it should grow ever more so over the next eighteen to thirty-six months. 173 cases produced.
2014 Bucher Pinot Noir “Pommard Clone” Russian River Valley
This already captivating Pinot should be just about sensational in a few years. Bright and buoyantly fruity, the nose pushes forth notes of red boysenberry, dry red cherry, red plum, blueberry, strawberry-rhubarb pie, blood orange, pink rose, pink peppercorn, sandalwood and black tea. It is wonderfully complex and well-evolved flavor-wise, with just a hint of youthful acidity and oak left to harmonize. It is absolutely delicious now however, as the super-long finish proves a cascade of black cherry, dried red cherry, black raspberry, Filé, sandalwood, star anise, tobacco, sumac and everything else the aromas offer. Certainly better in three years, it is currently hard to resist. 142 cases produced.
2012 Copain Pinot Noir Monument Tree Vineyard Anderson Valley
If richly oaky, this classy Pinot is fruitier still, as it’s bright aromas of red plum, red cherry, red currant and crab apple syrup rise above sweet-savory scents of sumac, pink peppercorn, Filé, star anise, sandalwood, hazelnut, cinnamon and dry rose. Those savory notes are even more luxuriously laid-on in the mouth, yet zesty sour red cherry and bottled crab apple flavors bring a counterpoint, and the plum-currant elements held firm at the core. The finish is youthful, yet there is already impressive evolution evident in the focused, lingering finish. A terrific food wine now, it is likely to get better for at least three years. 200 cases made.
2013 Dutton Goldfield Pinot Noir Fox Den Vineyard Green Valley Russian River Valley
This is an already gorgeously elegant Pinot Noir with a brighter future. The nose fans-out as a complex melange of black cherry, pomegranate, Italian Maraschino cherry, dark plum, blueberry, sumac berry, pink peppercorn, mulling-spice, star anise, sandalwood, pine straw, floral sachet, clove and canela scents. It is rich yet streamlined on the palate, where all the promised aromatic components layer-in with other flavors of chocolate-dipped orange, ginger snap, lavender and dry rose. Focused and lingering, it is beautifully dinner-balanced and will grow more so over the next three years. 576 6-packs produced.
2013 E16 Pinot Noir “The West End” Conzelman Vineyard Anderson Valley
Elegantly complex, if youthfully understated, the nose of this wine offers focused aromas of red cherry, raspberry coulis, strawberry, grenadine, sandalwood, star anise, coffee toffee, baking-spice and dark humidor scents. The impression of stylish if youthful femininity is replicated on the palate, where the flavors of black raspberry, strawberry, red and black cherry, red currant, mulling-spice, sumac, morel mushroom, red rose, and tobacco are firmed by tannic grip and “riverstone” minerality. The finish is long and dinner-worthy, and it’s personality expresses the appellation beautifully. Expect several years of steady improvement. 369 cases made.
2012 Hilliard Bruce Pinot Noir “Sun” Santa Rita Hills
If still giving the impression of youth, the nose of this lovely Pinot is already rich and distinctive, as scents of blueberry, dark boysenberry, dark plum jam, pomegranate, blood orange, sumac berry, toffee, tobacco and anise all glide forth. Things seem a bit more jammy and darkly ripe on the palate, where tobacco, graphite, foresty hints and anise make a lower-key counterpoint to more vivid flavors of red, blue and black fruits. The finish is succulent, palate-coating and long, but tighter and denser than what preceded it. Expect this already delicious wine to get better for another four or five years. 567 cases produced.
2014 Sojourn Pinot Noir Gaps Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Richly oaky, but even more deeply fruity, the nose of this knockout bottling offers scents of bright red boysenberry, dark cherry, raspberry cobbler, Kirsch, violet, Umeboshi plum, whortleberry, vanilla toffee, humidor spice, star anise and coriander seed of more or less equal intensity. On the palate, it is at once zesty, concentrated and super-focused, with sweet-natured, lingering flavors dominated by boysenberry, Bing cherry, plum, baking spices, coriander and hazelnut husk. Terrific now, after a bit of airing, it should be vastly more rewarding in about three years. 1350 cases made.
2012 Donum Pinot Noir Ten Oaks Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley
Elegantly aromatic and sweet-natured, the nose of this lovely bottling blends zesty scents of fresh red cherry, dry cherry, raspberry coulis, pomegranate, blood orange, red currant jelly, mulling-spice, orange zest, graham cracker pie crust and sandalwood. It is more obviously youthful and more richly oaky on the palate, where black raspberry, cola, red rose, pink peppercorn, clove and chalk flavors are added into the already sophisticated mix. The finish is super-long and impressively complex, yet youthfully tight, so despite its current charms this wines best drinking lies a few years in the future. 170 cases made.
2014 Melville Pinot Noir Sandy’s Block Estate Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
This is a distinctive and beautifully elegant Pinot of chiseled focus, great depth and aristocratic class. The nose melds scents of pink and red rose, strawberry, Maraschino cherry, whortleberry, red boysenberry, coriander, sumac berry, roasted beet, black licorice, sandalwood and pu-erh tea into an exotic perfume. In the mouth it is sleek and tongue-coating, yet penetrating, while zest, tannin and chalk-like mineral tones subdue any overt fruitiness. On the mid-palate and through it’s super-long finish, Exchezeaux-like notes of chalk, match stick, graphite, clove, black licorice, Oolong tea, sandalwood, pink peppercorn and earthy elements form a savory veneer over a core of bottled cherry, dried red currant, boysenberry syrup, mulling spices, strawberry cobbler, beet and sumac berry. If wonderfully satisfying now, it is at least five years from it’s ultimate beauty. 929 6-packs produced.
2014 Murder Ridge Pinot Noir Perli Vineyard Mendocino Ridge
This is a delicious wine with a brighter future. The nose counterpoints graceful fruit and sophisticated spice, as aromas of Italian Maraschino cherry, black cherry, strawberry, violet, yellow rose, sumac berry, sandalwood, coriander seed, cardamon and star anise waft above a hard-edged mineral backdrop. Zest and refinement are hallmarks on the palate, where the texture is sleek and red and black cherry, strawberry, violet, sumac, peppercorn, allspice, coriander, cardamon and star anise flavors all fan-out. The finish is a lingering rush of cherry and anise. Expect improvement for at least four years. 70 cases produced.
2014 Raen Pinot Noir “Royal St. Robert Cuvee” Sonoma Coast
Rich in fruit and just slightly exotic, this Pinot offers a fascinating aromatic cornucopia: as blueberry, teaberry, blackberry, black raspberry, violet, whortleberry, blood orange, fresh pomegranate, creamy vanilla and baking spice scents somehow find an elegant harmony. Medium-bodied and appealingly supple, the wine is no less expressive on the palate, where notes of toasted grain, caramel, sandalwood, baking spices and anise add savory contrast. The finish is lingering and fruit-packed, so although the wine is at least two years from its full expression it is delightful now. 450 cases produced.
2013 Siduri Pinot Noir Hirsch Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview Sonoma Coast
This is a sensational Pinot with a great future. The nose is a deeply rich mélange of Michigan cherry, Amarena cherry, dried red currant, dried cranberry, strawberry, rose, sumac, filé, dried orange peel, vanilla caramel, anise and leather scents, with strong mineral undercurrents. It is almost chewy-rich on the palate, where coiled fruit, vibrant acidity, hard minerality and tannic grip create a tightly-coiled, super-energetic package. The finish is ultra-long, if notably youthful, and like the memorable Hirsch bottlings produced in the 1990s, it will take five or six years to fully show all of its greatness. 450 cases produced.
2013 Wayfarer Pinot Noir Wayfarer Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview Sonoma Coast
Bright, rich, spicy and carrying suggestions of both raciness and creaminess, the nose of this sophisticated bottling melds scents of pomegranate, red raspberry, whortleberry, red rose, violet, pink peppercorn, cinnamon “red hots”, cranberry liqueur, sumac berry, toasted grain and tobacco into an elegant harmony. The wine is just as elegant, but is outright creamy on the palate, where the panorama of fruit and spice predicted in the nose is joined by additional flavors of raspberry cream sickle, blueberry, mulling-spice, dried orange peel, sumac berry, ginger snap and anise. Ultra long and already brilliantly food-worthy, it should improve for another several years. 1200 6-packs produced.
2013 Bernardus Pinot Noir Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands
This wine proves as rich as expected but is much more forthcoming than a typical Pisoni bottling. The nose is bright yet soft-edged, and scents of dark boysenberry, Bing cherry, dried black cherry, plum jam, Asian plum sauce, sumac powder, dried herbs and leather all making contributions to it. It has a surprising creaminess on the mid-palate, where dark cherry, dark boysenberry, dried fruit and lots of savory-earthy spice are visible, if still held in some reserve. The finish is ultra-long, and rich notes of beet and licorice root join the fruit-spice-terroir mix to complete its sweet-savory melange. Expect this already exciting Pinot to get steadily better for three to six more years. 800 6-packs produced.
2013 Brick & Mortar Pinot Noir Cougar Rock Vineyard Atlas Peak Napa Valley
This is a surprisingly elegant mountain Pinot with an intriguing fruity-savory balance. The nose layers focused scents of sweet red cherry, sour cherry, red boysenberry, red plum, pink rose, sumac berry, mulling-spices and gingerbread cookies into a seductively feminine marriage. That complex harmony is as nicely replicated on the palate, where red cherry, red raspberry, red boysenberry, mulling-spices, filé, sandalwood and star anise flavors linger in a stylish and notably food-friendly melange. It is delicious and likely to grow more so over the next few years. 300 230 cases produced.
2013 Dutton Goldfield Pinot Noir Freestone Hill Russian River Valley
This is yet another gorgeous and age-worthy DG Freestone Pinot. The nose melds deep, focused aromas of Bing cherry, whortleberry, pomegranate, orange oil, sumac berry, pink peppercorn, baking-spice and vanilla cream pie scents into a rich melange. It is richer still on the palate and shows a firm undercurrent of tannic grip beneath it’s rush of sweet red cherry, red plum, whortleberry, red boysenberry, dried orange peel, sumac berry, toasted grain, baking-spice and mineral flavors. The finish is ultra-long and the texture racy, yet mouth-coating. Built for classic dinners, it will compliment them already, although its best days are several years away. 478 cases produced.
2013 Halleck Pinot Noir Hillside Cuvee Sonoma Coast
In this complex Pinot, bright fruit-based aromas of red boysenberry, whortleberry, strawberry and Umeboshi plum counterpoint sassafras, sumac berry, pink peppercorn and coriander seed scents, creating a rich elegant perfume. On the palate, there is significant grip, darker fruit and a larger savory presence, as flavors of dark boysenberry, dark cherry, Umeboshi plum and strawberry preserves fan-out toe to toe with suggestions of coriander, sandalwood, coffee toffee, humidor-spice, forest mushrooms and other dark terroir notes. Expect this already distinctive bottling to grow more so for at least three years. 180 cases produced.
2014 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands
Possibly Loring’s best ever Garys’ bottling, this is a well-focused if aromatically reserved wine that layers coiled scents of Italian Maraschino cherry, black cherry, red boysenberry, sweet tobacco and star anise over dark mineral underpinnings. That fruity-savory package is mirrored without reserve on the mid-palate, where the rush of fruit and spice is almost buoyantly forthcoming. At the finish the expected Garys’ tannins kick-in to stiffen the mouth-feel and temporarily clip the fruit just a bit. Certainly a wine that drinks well at this point, it’s future is bright enough to suggest that three years or so in the cellar will pay impressive dividends. 400 cases produced.
2013 Mansfield-Dunne Pinot Noir Peterson Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands
The aromas of this fine Pinot are elegant, sweet-natured and complex, as scents of red raspberry, red plum, dried red cherry, dried strawberry, mulling spices, vanilla toffee and hints of sandalwood and tobacco create a genteel perfume. On the palate, it is sleek in texture, yet tongue-coating, with fine underlying grip and lingering flavors. Those flavors include savory elements of sandalwood, anise, pink peppercorn, white pepper, coffee nips and tobacco leaf in support of more youthful notes of red plums, red berries, dried strawberries, dried cherry and dried orange peel. Certain to need eighteen to twenty-four months in the cellar to fully express itself, it is a truly fine dinner wine already. 340 cases made.
2013 Benovia Pinot Noir Martaella Vineyard Russian River Valley
Both darkly savory and elegantly fruity, the nose of this intriguing Pinot Noir successfully marries scents of blueberry, bottled cherry, teaberry, raspberry, whortleberry, blood orange and red vines to others of dried rose, mulling-spices, licorice root, vanilla taffy, dark tobacco and some brooding forest-floor tones. Things seem at once larger in scale and more youthfully bright on the mid-palate, where all the promised flavors make an appearance, followed by a finish that ends with a blast of sweet red cherry and star anise. Showing good underlying tannic grip, it’s likely four years or more from its peak, although it is a truly satisfying dinner wine right now. 446 cases produced.
2012 Chasseur Pinot Noir Freestone Station Russian River Valley
Bright, rich, structured and complex, yet surprisingly well-evolved, this bottling represents Freestone fruit at its most expressive. On the nose, scents of whortleberry, bottled cherry, red raspberry, blood orange, sumac berry, pink peppercorn, pink rose, mulling-spices, allspice and sandalwood surge-forth with youthful vitality and excellent focus. It is just as forthcoming on the palate, where a creamy texture and rich body are balanced by cutting zest, and the flavors of sweet red fruits, peppercorns, fresh orange zest and savory spice are long and already ultra-satisfying. Much the most forthcoming Freestone Pinot in memory, it should still improve for several years. 254 cases made.
2013 La Voix Pinot Noir “Satisfaction” Kessler-Haak Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
This delicious and distinctive Pinot seems racy, plump and attractively floral at the same time. The nose is a seductive perfume of red raspberry, red plum, boysenberry, pomegranate, orange zest, red rose, vanilla, anise and tobacco. The texture proves as sleek as expected, while the flavors fan-out as a complex mix of raspberry, red cherry, pomegranate, whortleberry, blueberry, orange, rose, pink peppercorn, star anise, sandalwood, tobacco, vanilla and leather. The finish is ultra-long, tightly focused and youthful. Expect several years of improvement and a very elegant style at maturity. 700 cases produced. Debut Release.
2013 Scar of the Sea Pinot Noir “Block Q - Old Vines” Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley
Concentrated and focused on deep red fruits and sweet-savory spice, while showing plenty of backbone, this wine marks an impressive debut. The nose fans-out densely packed scents of Maraschino cherry, preserved Umeboshi plum, dried cranberry, dried red cherry, strawberry jam, red rose, sumac, sassafras, cola, star anise, pink peppercorn and sandalwood. Gutsy similar flavors, fine grip and impressive length are notable on the palate, where the impression of coiled young fruit never flags. Expect this tasty Pinot to get better for several years. 98 cases produced from 40 year old Pommard clone vines.
2013 Storm Pinot Noir Presqui’le Vineyard Santa Maria Valley
The contrasting themes of elegance and fruitiness that typify this property are deftly portrayed in this fine Pinot, as youthfully dense aromas of dried cranberry, pomegranate, red raspberry, Santa Rosa plum, red currant, sumac berry, pink peppercorn, green peppercorn, filé and forest-floor spice create a unique and appealing mélange. All that is suggested in the nose is available on the palate, where youthful reserve is apparent, but focus, length and potential are equally evident. Impressive at this point, it will be much better in a few months and dramatically more so in two years. 125 cases made.
2012 Talisman Pinot Noir Weir Vineyard Yorkville Highlands Mendocino
Complex and seemingly steeped in fruit and spice, the nose of this wine offers aromas of ripe Bing cherry, black cherry, Santa Rosa plum, dark boysenberry syrup, red licorice, red rose petal, sumac powder, sandalwood and humidor-spice over a background suggestive of dried flowers and minerals. In the mouth it displays loads of fruit, rich body, fine tannic grip, length and depth in its mix of dark cherry, berry, tobacco, ginger snap, sandalwood, anise, herbal spice, dried flower and mineral flavors. Certainly impressive now, it should be absolutely fascinating if given another three or four years in the cellar. 268 cases produced.