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2009 Siduri Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch Russian River Valley

Siduri Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir is always a popular wine with fans of cool-climate California Pinot Noir. The 2009 vintage won't be officially released unitl later this month, but I had a chance to buy a few bottles pre-release. I tasted a bottle blind with some other Pinot Noir recently and found it to be very good.

The 2009 Siduri Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir Russian River Valley is ruby in color with medium-minus intensity and a pale rim. What the wine lacks in intensity of color, it makes up for on the nose. This Pinot Noir is nearly bursting with dusty raspberries, Persian sour cherry, pomegranate, dry herb and leaves, and even a note of dry grass. The body is supple and lightly creamy with gentle, very well-integrated tannins and moderate acidity. Flavors of cherry syrup and tart grenadine dominate, accented by herb, five spice and drying leaves. The finish is very long and balanced across the full flavor profile. Serve this Siduri Pinot Noir with seared duck breast on wild rice. Decanting is not necessary, but won’t hurt. A better idea would be to let the wine age in bottle for two or more years. Drink now through 2018. Very Highly Recommended.

If you would like read more about Siduri or about the Keefer Ranch Vineyard, check out these previous reviews:
2007 Siduri Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch Vineyard, Russian River Valley
2008 AP Vin Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch Vineyard

2009-Siduri-Keefer

2009 Siduri Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch
Rating: Very Highly Recommended

Drink: Now through 2018
Release Date: April, 2011
Retail Price: $49, contact the winery for availability
Production: 247 cases

Blend: 100% Pinot Noir, Clones: Pommard, 114, Wadneswil, 23, 777 and 115
Origin: Keefer Ranch, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, Sonoma County
Harvest: September 18 - October 2, 2009
Vinification: Each clone and each section vinified separately, some whole cluster
Aging: 100% French oak, ~ 50% new
Alcohol: 14.2%

Closure: Cork

The wine above was purchased for review. It was tasted blind in a flight of three Northern California Pinot Noir.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are at the right above and also below.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2011 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

2008 Pisoni Pinot Noir Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands

For many years now, the Pisoni Vineyard has been the standard-bearer of Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir. Is it because of the vineyard’s unique location, the highest in the AVA and second farthest south? Is it the vines grown from cuttings “borrowed" from Burgundy? Is it the careful and highly-skilled viticulture directed by Mark Pisoni? All of the above.

Of course, Pisoni Pinot Noir is hardly the only high-quality Pinot Noir coming from Santa Lucia Highlands. Some people prefer the specific flavor profile of Garys’ Vineyard or Rosella’s. There are also very good wines made from the Doctor’s, Tondré, Fairview Road Ranch, Paraiso and Sleepy Hollow vineyards, among others. But the Pisoni Vineyard has been a very consistent performer from year to year, seemingly less sensitive to vintage variation than some vineyards in the area. And the fruit usually has its volume knob turned to eleven.

Grapes from the vineyard are sold to a very small group of wineries. As Gary Pisoni likes to say, to get access to the fruit “you need to do three things: be my friend, make great wine and you’ve got to pay me.” Jokingly he adds, “and the last one is the hard part.” Wineries who have bottled Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir include Miura, Patz and Hall, Roar, Siduri, Tantara, Testarossa and, starting with the 2008 vintage, Paul Lato. The Roar and Paul Lato wines are particularly excellent.

For about a decade now, Pisoni has also been making wine from the estate vineyard under its own label. These “Pisoni Pisoni” Pinot Noir have been very good from the outset. From the 2003 vintage they have been consistently excellent. The last three vintages, 2006 - 2008, have been the best ever, with each new bottling better than the last. The wine is improving in a way that conventional wisdom would not predict for a wine from the Santa Lucia Highlands and that is also receiving higher Parker scores every year. The Pisoni Pinot Noir Pisoni Estate is getting prettier, more elegant, more complex and more balanced.

Why is this happening? There are probably many reasons, but some things strike me as being particularly significant. First, the vines are still young and just now beginning to hit their stride. Each year, the fruit has a little bit less youthful exuberance and a touch more complexity. Second, until recently, the wines were made in other people’s facilities, including those of Peter Michael and Copain. There’s clearly nothing wrong with those wineries but, now that Pisoni has its own winery, winemaker Jeff Pisoni is able to have the equipment and layout he wants, do things exactly as he thinks he ought, and dedicate his time and that of his support staff as needed. Finally, with each vintage, he’s gaining experience, honing his processes and dialing things in.

The latest and greatest of the wines is the 2008 Pisoni Pinot Noir Pisoni Estate. I’ve tasted it three times from bottle now with consistent notes. It’s one of the best California Pinot Noir I’ve ever tasted. Of it, Robert Parker wrote, “an absolutely stunning fireworks display of aromatics” and “extremely layered.” He also gave it 98 points which is bad news for you, because the 600 case production disappeared immediately upon release. I’ve been buying Pisoni wines for a few years so I was able to get an allocation of six bottles (at the full $65 release price). You can get the wine from various resellers now, but online prices start at $125 per bottle. [If you want to get ahead of the curve for future releases, you might start with the 2009 Lucia Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands which will be released before the 2009 estate wine. I tasted this blend of appellation fruit made by Jeff Pisoni for the family’s non-estate label in January. Though it’s not yet released and tasting conditions weren’t scientific, I can very highly recommend the wine with confidence. It should be about $40 at release.]

My most recent tasting of the 2008 Pisoni Pinot Noir Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands was on Super Bowl Sunday. I did not decant the wine. It was ruby-colored in the glass with medium to medium-plus intensity and colorless legs. Aromatically, the wine had medium-plus intensity and was complex from the outset. Black cherry, raspberry, dry forest floor, clove, allspice, dry green herb and caramel were easily discerned. In previous tastings, I’ve also gotten floral notes.

The palate was lighter than one might expect for Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, on the elegant side of medium-plus. There was generous, food-friendly acidity and the alcohol was very reasonable for the Santa Lucia Highlands at 14.2%. Both were balanced by moderate, slightly grippy tannins. The flavors resembled the nose but offered less complexity right now. I found dark cherry, raspberry, dark spice and caramel, all of which lasted nearly a minute.

The 2008 Pisoni Pinot Noir Pisoni Estate raises the bar for Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir and changes perceptions of the potential of that AVA for finesse. It is an excellent food wine, but take care not to overwhelm it by pairing foods suited for denser Pinot Noir. Seared duck breast with wild mushrooms and Israeli couscous would be marvelous. The wine is easily drinkable now but won’t approach its peak for another two to three years. It will drink well for a decade or more. Highest Recommendation.

2008-Pisoni-Estate

2008 Pisoni Pinot Noir Pisoni Estate Santa Lucia Highlands
Rating: Highest Recommendation
Drink: Now through 2021 Release Date: 4th quarter, 2010
Retail Price: $65.00 at release
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir Origin: Pisoni estate vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands

Aging: 11 months in French oak barrels, 65% new. No racking until the pre-bottling blending.

Alcohol: 14.2%

Closure: Cork

The wine above was purchased for review. It was not tasted blind.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are at the right above and also below.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

2007 Joseph Swan Pinot Noir Cuvee de Trois Russian River Valley

Joseph Swan Vineyards’ Cuvée de Trois is a Pinot Noir made with grapes taken from four vineyards. Yes, four. I guess Cuvée de Quatre doesn’t have the same charm... Anyway, the wine is always made from the same vineyards, but in different proportions from one year to the next. The vineyards are Joseph Swan’s Trenton Estate Vineyard and the neighboring Trenton View plus Saralee’s and Great Oak. Winemaker Rod Berglund’s goal with the blend is to make a good table wine — food-friendly and drinkable when young — that shows Russian River Valley Pinot Noir personality.

2007 was a good vintage for the Russian River Valley in general. Ripeness was not difficult to achieve. People who value complexity over strong primary fruit may want to bottle-age their 2007 Russian River Pinot Noir longer than normal to allow secondary flavors to emerge. While Joseph Swan Vineyards’ Pinot Noir are often dialed back relative to some other wines from the region — and at 13.8% alcohol for the 2007 Cuvée de Trois vs. offerings at more than 15% from many neighboring wineries, this “C3” is no exception — Rod Berglund suggests that the 2007 does want more time in bottle than most previous vintages.

The 2007 Cuvée de Trois was released in the Summer of 2009. Soon thereafter, it was tasted by James Laube of Wine Spectator. He gave the wine 93 points and a spot in that magazine’s Top 100 List for 2009. I tasted the wine then and found it similarly attractive. I opened another bottle last night and saw the wine in a middle phase. The beautiful, forward fruit has stepped back substantially, but there isn’t yet a cornucopia overflowing with secondary aromas. I do sense them peeking around the corner though.

In the glass, the wine is medium minus ruby with a broad pale rim that fades to water white. The nose offered dark cherry and cranberry with cedar, rosemary and mild dark spice. The flavors are much the same with the on cherry and herb dominant. The wood flavor is oak rather than cedar. It is a medium-bodied wine with food-friendly acidity. Tannins are on the light side of medium and lightly drying. The finish is medium plus and clean. There were a few tartrate crystals and a bit of sediment. No decanting is needed, but pour carefully. The wine is very good now, but I’d wait until Fall of 2011 when it should be closer to peak complexity. It would be a nice choice for your 2011 Thanksgiving meal. It will be at peak through 2014. Recommended/Very Highly Recommended

2007-swan-cuvee-de-trois

2007 Joseph Swan Pinot Noir Cuvee de Trois Russian River Valley
Rating: Recommended/Very Highly Recommended

Drink: Now through 2014
Retail Price: $29
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir

Alcohol: 13.8%

Closure: Cork

The wine reviewed above was purchased at retail. It was not tasted blind. While I share the Joseph Swan's last name, I am in no way related to him or the winery.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are at the right above and also below.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

2008 AP Vin Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch Vineyard

A. P. Vin is a small-production winery based in San Francisco. Winemaker/owner Andrew P. Vingiello started the company in 2003 and made it his full-time gig in 2005. The wines he makes are single-vineyard Pinot Noir from some of the best sites in California. Among them are Kanzler Vineyard and Ridgetop Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA, Garys’ Vineyard and Rosella’s Vineyard from the Santa Lucia Highlands, and the Clos Pepe Vineyard of the Sta. Rita Hills. The only Russian River Valley Pinot Noir produced by A. P. Vin is from Keefer Ranch Vineyard.

The Keefer Ranch Vineyard is in the Green Valley AVA of Russian River Valley. Keefer Ranch is one of my favorite vineyards for Pinot Noir in the Russian River AVA. My experience is that the wines start out rich and fruit-centric with hints at complexity but really blossom with bottle age. It’s tempting to dive in early and enjoy the boisterous strawberry, but I try to wait. I had the opportunity to try a bit of the 2007 Siduri Pinot Noir from Keefer Ranch recently at Twist restaurant in Las Vegas. It was the best sniff and sip I had in a long weekend filled with a whole lot of sniffing and sipping.

A. P. Vin wines are sealed with Stelvin screw cap closures, something that I really appreciated. While the incidence of cork taint in high-quality wines has declined somewhat recently due to greater focus by both the cork industry and diligent wineries, it is still a problem. Cork taint in a wine is never welcome, but it’s particularly unfortunate when found in aged wines that might no longer be returned and certainly cannot be replaced. I also believe that good screw caps, such as those offered by Stelvin, keep wines fresher longer. While they may develop more slowly, that also means they can be kept much longer. This creates more opportunities for interesting vertical tastings. With their complex, yet often delicate, aromatics, I think that Pinot Noir is a great candidate for screw cap closures.

The 2008 A. P. Vin Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch Vineyard, purchased recently at retail, was medium ruby in my glass with colorless tears and a water-white rim. On the nose I found tea, blood orange, brown spice, wild strawberry and watermelon rind. The body was on the generous side of medium as was the acidity. Tannins were on the light side. The wine was silky in my mouth and had flavors of cherry, cola, brown spice and vanilla.

The wine was very good from the outset and worthy of recommendation, but really came alive after breathing for a couple of hours in the glass. It had become even smoother and a lot more complex while the alcohol became less noticeable. If you are going to taste this wine soon, I would strongly recommend decanting it. If you have the patience to let it age in bottle for two or three years, you will be rewarded. Serve it with tea-smoked duck. Drink now through 2018. Highly Recommended.

2008-AP-Vin-Pinot-Noir-Keefer-Ranch-Vineyard

2008 A. P. Vin Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch Vineyard
Rating: Highly Recommended
Drink: Now through 2018
Release Date: August, 2009
Retail Price: $44.99 (BTW, it’s on sale now for $39.99 here.)
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir (clones P4, 2A, 777 & 23)
Origin: Keefer Ranch Vineyard, Sonoma County

Aging: 11 months in French oak barrels, old and new

Alcohol: 14.5%

Closure: Screw cap

The wine above was purchased for review. It was tasted blind in a flight of four Pinot Noir from Northern California.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are at the right above and also below.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

2006 Moshin Vineyards Pinot Noir Russian River

Moshin Vineyards Winery is the culmination of years of “spare time” work for Rick Moshin. He started making wine in 1977 but didn’t make wine his full-time business until 2005 when he opened the current winery on Westside Road in the Russian River Valley. In the meantime, he had to work his wine pursuits around his job teaching math at San Jose State University.