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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.