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Drinking a 1993 Joseph Swan Vineyards Pinot Noir Steiner Vineyard Sonoma Mountain

High quality California Pinot Noir is lovely seven years from vintage. They are more open and expressive. The bottle aging adds complexity to the nose and palate. Tannins resolve. But it’s a rare bird among California Pinot Noir that is still thriving after nearly 20 years, or Pinot Noir from anywhere really. The 1993 Joseph Swan Vineyards Pinot Noir Steiner Vineyards was a rare bird.

Steiner Vineyard, on the cooler, Santa Rosa side of Sonoma Mountain. Now, it’s included within both the Sonoma Mountain AVA (est. 1985) and the Bennett Valley AVA (est. 2003). It was originally planted by David Steiner in 1973. It’s been a source for both Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon and now also Chardonnay and Syrah. Cabernet Sauvignon is the grape most associated with Sonoma Mountain, but it does best on the much warmer Glen Ellen side. The Steiner Vineyard is not only on the cool side of the mountain, but lies in the breezy Crane Canyon Gap. In 2007, a replanting project was begun at Steiner Vineyard and it isn’t currently a source for Swan.

The 1993 Joseph Swan Pinot Noir Steiner Vineyard is one of two I bought a few years ago. Swan's Steiner Pinots were icons of the area, classic Pinot Noir, so I was very happy to have found these bottles. I drank the last one a couple of years ago and it was great and had plenty of energy. I could tell the final bottle would easily hold up for a few more years.


I cracked that last bottle this week with friends. I paired it with crispy-skinned game hen on black truffled pappardelle. The wine looked fairly fresh in our glasses. There was sediment in the bottle and some bricking of the color but, overall, it was still predominantly ruby. The of color intensity was light, but this wine was born lean — just 12.1% alcohol!

The nose was medium in intensity with aromas of forest floor, earth, dried strawberry and old moist wood. As the wine breathed, the fruit become more and more prominent and other notes developed too. The palate resembled the nose, though the tart, yet pretty, strawberry fruit was vibrant from the outset. That flavor was complemented by deciduous forest floor, earth and cedar. The wine was medium at most in palate weight with medium-plus acidity providing focus. The finish was long and the flavors faded gently and in unison.

I wish I had a few more bottles of this wine. It still has years of life ahead. If you fine one, snap it up.


The wine above was purchased. I have no familial relationship to the Joseph Swan of wine fame.

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This article is original to Copyright 2012 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.