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Wine Spectator Part 2

January 07, 2009
 
 

Tasting Highlights: California Pinot Noir

16 exceptional California Pinot Noirs from the Golden State's North Coast region

 
James Laube
 

Posted: Monday, January 05, 2009

 
Anywhere goes when it comes to California Pinot Noir. When you see the names Marimar, Kanzler or Durell vineyards on Pinot Noir labels you know you're in North Coast territory. Last time we featured Pinots from the Central Coast, and you'll notice that some of the featured producers from that region—A.P. Vin, Loring, Siduri and Tudor—have captured grapes due north and are making exciting wines from there as well.
 
The 2007 W.H. Smith Sonoma Coast Marimar Vineyard is the best Pinot I've tasted from Marimar Torres' Green Valley property. It offers a wonderful balancing act between rich, complex, perfumed fruit and a delicate texture. A.P. Vin's Kanzler Vineyard bottling offers further proof of this property's pedigree (and the winery also has a vibrant Keefer Ranch 2007). Dan and Christian Tudor's Pinots have risen in quality, and the 2006 Anderson Valley Balo Vineyard, along with a non-vineyard-designated 2006 Anderson Valley bottling, are both noteworthy.
 
Brian Loring has a trio of outstanding 2007s in this report, from Keefer Ranch, Graham Family Vineyard and Durell. Roger Roessler keeps improving as well, with a lovely 2006 from Hein Vineyard in Anderson Valley. And Michael Hirby and Shatzi Throckmorton's Relic Alder Springs 2007 is another excellent release from this up-and-coming winery.
 
W.H. SMITH WINES Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Marimar Estate Vineyard 2007 Score: 94 | $48
Offers wonderful earthy complexity, with pretty toasty oak, dried currant and black cherry fruit that's supple, elegant, well-proportioned and full-bodied, ending with a long, layered finish. Drink now through 2014. 286 cases made. —J.L.
 
A.P. VIN Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Kanzler Vineyard 2007 Score: 93 | $48
Intense, spicy and vibrant, with a tight minerally core of black cherry and berry fruit that fans out nicely, keeping the full-bodied flavors well-centered. Complex and concentrated, with a nice loamy earth aftertaste. Drink now through 2014. 250 cases made. —J.L.
 
TUDOR Pinot Noir Anderson Valley Balo Vineyard 2006 Score: 93 | $59
Rich and savory, this is full-bodied, intense, focused and concentrated, showing loamy berry and black cherry fruit that offers hints of mineral and pebble, with a final dash of wild berry fruit. Drink now through 2015. 195 cases made. —J.L.
 
LORING Pinot Noir Green Valley of Russian River Valley Keefer Ranch Vineyard 2007 Score: 92 | $50
Sleek and trim, with tight, concentrated black cherry and wild berry flavors that are compact, focused and medium-bodied, keeping the emphasis on the dark, vibrant, juicy fruit. Drink now through 2014. 1,050 cases made. —J.L.
 
RELIC Pinot Noir Mendocino County Alder Springs Vineyard 2007 Score: 92 | $39
Rich and loamy, with mineral, sage, dried berry and cherry fruit that's medium-weight, complex and focused, ending with tight tannins and a long, persistent finish. Very young. Drink now through 2016. 135 cases made. —J.L.
 
LOOKOUT RIDGE Pinot Noir Sonoma Mountain Greg La Follette 2006 Score: 91 | $100
Pleasantly earthy, this is rich with mineral, dried currant and blackberry flavors, with touches of spice, leather and graphite. Full-bodied, intense and concentrated, it's slow to unfold, but very complex. Drink now through 2015. 150 cases made. —J.L.
 
LORING Pinot Noir Green Valley of Russian River Valley Graham Family Vineyard 2007 Score: 91 | $50
Tight and vibrant, with a mix of spicy wild berry and blackberry fruit that touches on boysenberry jam. Medium- to full-bodied, this is well-focused, young and restrained, ending with spice and mineral notes. Drink now through 2014. 250 cases made. —J.L.
 
LORING Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Durell Vineyard 2007 Score: 91 | $50
Elegant and stylish, with subdued dried currant, earth, mushroom and savory herb notes that are complex and balanced, medium- to full-bodied. Ends with a tasty burst of dark berry fruit. Drink now through 2012. 425 cases made. —J.L.
 
ROESSLER Pinot Noir Anderson Valley Hein Family Vineyard 2006 Score: 91 | $46
Tough-edged, with loamy earth, herb and dried berry fruit that's full-bodied and tightly wound, but also very concentrated, rich and complex, unfolding to offer greater flavor nuances. Drink now through 2015. 190 cases made. —J.L.
 
SIDURI Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Sonatera Vineyard 2007 Score: 91 | $50
Enticing loamy earth, dried currant and black cherry fruit is supple and elegant, medium- to full-bodied. Complex and layered, ending with caressing tannins and a long finish. Drink now through 2014. 703 cases made. —J.L.
 
A.P. VIN Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Keefer Ranch Vineyard 2007 Score: 90 | $48
Fresh and vibrant, with ripe, zesty wild berry and blackberry flavors that are medium-bodied, offering hints of mineral and anise and ending with a snappy, fruity finish. Drink now through 2014. 250 cases made. —J.L.
 
SIDURI Pinot Noir Sonoma County 2007 Score: 90 | $20
Exhibits a complex, concentrated mix of berry, floral-lavender, spice and mineral notes that are well-distributed, full-bodied and polished, fanning out nicely on the finish. Drink now through 2014. 1,374 cases made. —J.L.
 
TUDOR Pinot Noir Anderson Valley 2006 Score: 90 | $40
Complex loamy earth, dried berry and currant aromas are firm and structured, tight and focused, with hints of blueberry and floral scents. Drink now through 2014. 802 cases made. —J.L.
 
W.H. SMITH WINES Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Maritime 2007 Score: 89 | $54
This greets with spicy, toasty oak aromas, then folds in spicy black cherry, mineral and cedar notes. Elegant and medium-bodied, with a complex touch of graphite and anise. Drink now through 2014. 740 cases made. —J.L.
 
TESTAROSSA Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Graham Family Vineyard 2007 Score: 89 | $54
Complex, with a range of flavors that takes in subtle toasty oak, black cherry and blueberry fruit that's supple and polished, ending with a touch of earthiness. Drink now through 2013. 291 cases made. —J.L.
 
W.H. SMITH WINES Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2007 Score: 88 | $32
Exhibits fragrant floral and earthy aromas, with dried black cherry and plum notes that are medium-weight, supple and spicy, ending with a nice touch of anise. Drink now through 2013. 1,566 cases made. —J.L.


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