Sat 3 Nov 2012
Except for Santa Lucia Highlands, which I’m still working on as some separate posts since I published this post on October 12. Represented today though are Russian River Valley, Monterey, Cienega Valley, Carneros, Sonoma Coast and Edna Valley, as well as one example with a general California designation; all are from 2010 or 2009. I don’t burden the “Weekend Wine Sips” (formerly the “Friday Wine Sips”) with technical detail, narrative sweep, personnel histories or geographical and geological grandeur; these are brief notes, often transcribed directly from the pages of my notebooks, designed to give you a quick glimpse into the essence of the wine. These were samples for review.
Pietra Santa Pinot Noir 2009, Cienega Valley, San Benito. 14.3% alc. Medium ruby, slightly brickish color; ripe and spicy black and red cherries, cola and cloves and sassafras; a little fleshy, with hints of dried fruit and spices, earthy, loamy, satiny; you feel the sticks and briers in the slightly austere underbrushy finish, which falls a bit short. Drink up. Very Good+. About $18.
Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2010, California. 13.5% alc. Medium ruby color; a pretty pinot noir, bright and spicy red with blue fruit scents and flavors, a pleasing smooth texture and plenty of smooth-grained tannins for structure. Through 2013. Very Good. About $19.
La Crema Pinot Noir 2010, Monterey. 13.5% alc. (Jackson Family Wines) A real mouthful of pinot noir, rich and very berryish, dark, spicy; cranberry-magenta color; cherries galore, very clean, pure and intense, lipsmacking acidity, quite dry; the oak comes up a bit in the finish, but a well-made and appealing wine. Through 2013. Very Good+. About $20, representing Good Value.
Toad Hollow Goldie’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010, Russian River Valley. 14.9% alc. Medium ruby-magenta color; black cherries, red currants and plums, nicely balanced between richness and spareness, touches of rhubarb and cloves; undertone of brown sugar or something slightly caramelized; smoke and satin, sweetly succulent yet dry, a little sanded and burnished in effect; an edge of foresty austerity through the finish. Through 2014. Very Good+. About $20, Excellent Value.
Rodney Strong Pinot Noir 2010, Russian River Valley. 14.5% alc. Dark ruby-mulberry color; beetroot, cloves, sassafras and coloa under black cherries and plums; satiny, slick and sleek; oak influence subdued to balance and integration; sapid, supple, savory; dense and almost viscous but cut by bright acidity and smooth-bore tannins; finish permeated by briers and brambles. Through 2014. Excellent. About $25.
La Crema Pinot Noir 2010, Sonoma Coast. 13.9% alc. Medium ruby color; earthy, briery style, moss, mushroom, leather and the clove-cola-sassafras syndrome with black and red cherries and a hint of rhubarb; large-framed, dense, lithe, lively, pronounced tannins though polished and well-knit; succulent without being opulent; long fruit-and-spice packed finish with a final edge of graphite. Through 2015.
Excellent. About $25.
MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir 2009, Sonoma Coast. 13.5% alc. Medium ruby-mulberry color; entrancing bouquet of currants and plums, smoky and softly ripe, a little fleshy, touches of fruitcake, rhubarb and lilac; slightly roughened tannins boost the texture; very dry though tasty; leather and loam in the finish where the wood comes up. Through 2013. Very Good+. About $27
Frank Family Pinot Noir 2009, Carneros-Napa Valley. 14.5% alc. Medium ruby with a slightly lighter ruby rim; rich, warm and spicy, more syrah-like in heft and flavor than is good for its supposition as pinot noir; a muscular manner that blunts nuance. Very Good. About $35.
(Eight others follow)
Frank Family Pinot Noir 2010, Carneros-Napa Valley. 14.5% alc. Like the ’09 from this winery, the ’10 is another big, bracing muscular pinot noir, though its succulent and satiny texture and black cherry and plum flavors admit some character of the grape; lots of gripping tannins, supple oak and graphite minerality seethe throughout. Say 2014 or ’15. Very Good+. About $35.
Sequana Pinot Noir 2010, Russian River Valley. 13.8% alc. Medium ruby-cranberry color; just a completely lovely, balanced and harmonious pinot noir in every way; black currants and black cherries with a red tinge, cloves and cola, hint of pomegranate; fruit thoroughly integrated into a slightly earthy graphite-tinted structure bolstered by mild tannins and just slightly woody and spicy oak. Through 2014 or ’15. Excellent. About $38.
V. Sattui Henry Ranch Pinor Noir 2010, Los Carneros, Napa Valley. 13.5% alc. Radiant red cherry color; cranberry, cloves, cola, pungent with ripe berries, dried spice and potpourri and a touch of pomegranate; smooth, satiny, lovely balance but could use more intensity and concentration, more — as they say of lovers in a Hollywood movie — “chemistry.” The initial approach though is beguiling. Through 2014.
Very Good+. About $39.
La Crema Pinot Noir 2010, Russian River Valley. 14.2% alc. Dark ruby with a lighter ruby-garnet rim; a sizable, dense, vibrant pinot noir, packed with notes of dried fruit, spice and flowers, hints of rhubarb and beetroot, moss and leather; smooth, lithe, drapes across the tongue like the curtains at Versailles; shades from near-opulence to briers and brambles, touches of earthy forest and graphite, but remains suave and polished. Through 2015 or ’16. Excellent. About $40.
Chamisal Estate Pinot Noir 2010, Edna Valley, San Luis Obispo. 14.5% alc. Medium magenta-mulberry color (a great color for the walls of your private library); black and red cherries, cloves, cola, rhubarb, then startling black raspberry and plum flavors, pure and intense; enveloping spice leaning toward the exotic; undertow of briers and brambles with hints of graphite minerality; lively, vibrant yet with a placid surface. Quite beautiful and seductive. Through 2014 or ’15. Excellent. About $40.
Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Pinot Noir 2009, Russian River Valley. 14.1% alc. Dark ruby shading to violet at the rim; ripe and spicy, meaty and fleshy; spiced and macerated red and black cherries and raspberries, leather and tobacco; powerful structure and acidity but retains its essential and in this case wonderful pinot noir elegance, suppleness, purity and intensity. Through 2015 or ’16. Excellent. About $42.
La Rochelle Dutton Ranch Campbell Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009, Russian River Valley. 14.2% alc. First Note: “damn that’s good.” Cranberry-magenta color; enchanting aromas of mint and rhubarb, black and red cherry segueing to raspberry; cloves with touches of sassafras, black tea and a hint of caramelized sugar; savory notes of leather and loam under sweet cherry and plum flavors; sweeping satiny texture that parts to reveal spicy oak and lightly oiled tannins. Through 2014 or ’15. Excellent. About $48.
En Route Les Pommiers Pinot Noir 2010, Russian River Valley. 14.8% alc. Beautiful pinot noir. Radiant and intense cherry-cranberry color; black and red cherries, touch of rhubarb and cranberry (that hint of tartness), backnote of blueberry tart; very spicy, supple and satiny, you want to wrap it around your shoulders; background of finely milled tannins and softly sanded oak, with hints of cloves and sandalwood. Nothing blatant or muscular here. Through 2014 or ’15. Excellent. About $65.