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2010 Wren Hop Pinot Noir “Fire Messenger” Sonoma Coast

Fire-Messenger ColorREVWren Hop Vineyards is a small, Santa Rosa-based label operated by the father and son team of James McDonough and... James McDonough. The focus is Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from top vineyards in the Russian River Valley AVA and Sonoma Coast AVA. These include the Sunchase, Gap’s Crown and Goldrock Ridge Vineyards as well as the Wren Hop estate vineyard. The wines are crafted by Russell Bevan, a very talented producer of expressive, sensual wines.

The 2010 Wren Hop Fire Messenger is dark ruby with a captivating nose of strawberry, Chinese five-spice, black raspberry, tangy herb and blood orange zest. On the lightly creamy palate are a touch of sweetness and very fine texture with terrifically long-lasting red fruit and spice. Enjoy now through 2017. Very Highly Recommended.

2010 Wren Hop Pinot Noir “Fire Messenger” Sonoma Coast

Rating: Very Highly Recommended

Drink: Now - 2017
Release Date: September, 2012

Closure: Cork
Production: 100 cases
Retail Price: $62.00

Winemaker: Russell Bevan

Origin: Gap’s Crown and Wren Hop Vineyards, Sonoma Coast AVA
Aging: 11 months, 100% new French oak
Alcohol: 14.6%

Service Recommendations

Decanting: Not recommended

Temperature: 57º - 61º F

Food Pairings: Seared duck breast

The wine above was purchased by a friend.

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This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2013 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

2011 Lucia Pinot Noir Soberanes Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands

The Soberanes Vineyard is the newest planting (2008) from the Garys (Pisoni and Franscioni) in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA. It’s a long, rectangular 35-acre plot running on a slope immediately to the southeast of the Garys‘ Vineyard. The southeast border of the Soberanes Vineyard abuts the much larger Tondre Grapefields. Gary Pisoni’s eldest son, Mark, is the vineyard manager.

The Soberanes vines have a different orientation than the Garys‘ and there are some clonal differences too. The vineyard includes three varieties: Syrah at the very highest elevation, Chardonnay at the lowest, Pinot Noir in between and with the most acreage. The fruit has quickly become popular with at least 20 producers doing vineyard-designate wines from one or more of the varieties. The Lucia label belongs to the Pisoni family and the younger of the two sons, Jeff, makes the wines.

The 2011 Lucia Soberanes Vineyard Pinot Noir is medium ruby in color, bright and crystal clear. The generous but graceful nose leads with dark flowers, followed by enticing wild cherry and a trace of dry herb. In the mouth its medium to medium-plus in body with moderate and extremely fine chalky tannins. There’s great focus and purity of fruit here with delicious red cherries, raspberry and spice. Drink now through 2019. Very Highly Recommended.

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2011 Lucia Pinot Noir Soberanes Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands

Rating: Very Highly Recommended

Drink: now - 2019
Closure: Cork
Production: 215 cases
Retail Price: $50.00

Winemaker: Jeff Pisoni

Origin: Soberanes Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands AVA
Fermentation: Native yeast
Aging: French oak
Alcohol: 14.1%

Service Recommendations

Decanting: Not required
Temperature: 56º - 60º F
Food Pairings: Roast Chicken Panzanella

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This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2013 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

2008 Inman Family Thorn Ridge Ranch Pinot Noir

Kathleen Inman is a natural winemaker who eschews biodynamic viticulture because it makes use of products which she says necessitate harm to animals, such as the burying of cow horns. However, Inman does heed the lunar calendar and favors organic farming which, she pursues at the Inman Family estate vineyard, Olivet Grange. As a winemaker, Inman strives to use only native yeasts and never adds acid, water, enzymes or tannins.

This particular wine comes not from Inman’s estate vineyard, but from Ted Klopp’s Thorn Ridge Ranch in the Sebastopol Hills. In an area affected by a 2006 redrawing of AVAs, Thorn Ridge used to be classified solely as Sonoma Coast but is now within the Russian River Valley AVA too. It’s an east-facing vineyard with clay-rich Goldridge loam that retains moisture and allows for farming with little to no irrigation even on the steep hillside. The highly-sought after fruit has also been used by Freeman, Talisman and Pali, among others.

The 2008 Inman Family Thorn Ridge Ranch Pinot Noir’s light ruby-colored appearance belies the wine’s deliciously dark and masculine flavors. The aromas and bold flavors are an appetizing mix of black cherry, dry leaves, allspice and rich, and black tea leaves. The palate has medium weight with moderate, integrated tannins and persistent, juicy acidity. Drink now through 2017. Highly Recommended.

2008 Inman Family Thorn Ridge Ranch Pinot Noir
IFW_THN_NVRating: Highly Recommended
Drink: Now through 2017
Bottling Date: August 2009
Closure: Stelvin
Retail Price: $56.00

Winemaker: Kathleen Inman
Origin: Thorn Ridge Ranch, Russian River Valley AVA, Sonoma County
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir - Swan, Pommard & 777 clones
Fermentation: Native yeast
Aging: 11 months, French oak, 40% new
Alcohol: 14.5%

Service Recommendations
Decanting: Not recommended
Temperature: 58º - 62º F
Food Pairings: Crostini of very thin rye topped with warm, paper-thin pastrami

 

The wine above was sampled in a focused tasting at #PinotSmackdown.

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

2010 DeLoach Estate Pinot Noir

Like many Burgundian winegrowers, Jean-Charles Boisset believes strongly in sustainability and biodynamic viticulture. All of the vineyards owned by Boisset Family Estates in the United States, France and Canada are either certified-organic or on the way to being so. The Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards of Domaine de la Vougeraie are certified-biodynamic. As of February 2010, so is the 17-acre DeLoach estate vineyard which Boisset acquired in 2004.

2010 was a difficult year for grape-growers in most of California’s AVAs. The Russian River Valley was no different with chaotic weather patterns, described by Brian Maloney, director of winemaking for Boisset’s Sonoma wineries, as “very cool, then hot, then cool, then hot.” Inconveniently timed rain made matters worse. It was the kind of year that can test the resolve of natural and/or low-intervention growers.

DeLoach stayed the course with excellent results. Was it the extra attention they pay to their vines, the natural equilibrium of the biodynamic ecosystem or simply a lucky site? It’s impossible to know. I suspect all three were at work, along with very careful picking and sorting. In any case, nothing in this pretty wine suggests anything other than perfect berries.

The 2010 DeLoach Estate Pinot Noir is a feminine wine, yet packed with enticing flavors that evolve almost continually in the glass. It’s medium ruby in the glass with elegant red fruit, sandalwood, smoke, sweet spice and tangerine. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied with very fine tannins and noticeable acidity. The flavors of red cherry, brown spice, cola and brulée linger for a medium-plus finish. Drink now through 2018. Highly Recommended+.

2010 DeLoach Estate Pinot Noir
2010_deloach_estatepinot-webRating: Highly Recommended+
Drink: now - 2018
Closure: Cork
Production: 375 cases
Retail Price: $50.00

Winemaker: Brian Maloney
Origin: DeLoach estate vineyard, Russian River Valley AVA, Demeter-certified biodynamic
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir, 60% clone 828, 40% Calera
Fermentation: Native yeast, separate fermentations for each clone
Aging: 100% French oak aged, 33% new, 14 months
Alcohol: 14.5%

Service Recommendations
Decanting: Not recommended
Temperature: 58º - 62º F
Food Pairings: Pork fried rice

 

The wine above was tasted at the winery.

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

09 Meiomi Pinot Noir, 09 Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Pinot Noir and 08 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon

Yesterday I reviewed three white wines from the Wagner Family that I received in a 6-pack of tiny TastingRoom.com bottles. Today, I’m covering the three red wines from that package. They are the 2009 Meiomi Pinot Noir California, 2009 Belle Glos Pinot Noir Clark & Telephone Vineyards Santa Maria Valley and 2008 Caymus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley.

2009 Meiomi Pinot Noir California

Meiomi Pinot Noir is crafted from three different cool climate zones within California. Winemaker Joe Wagner selects fruit from up and down the coast to provide a seamless and lush Pinot Noir. The wine obviously doesn’t express a particular site, but an open bottle won’t last long either. The nose is dark with black cherry fruit leather, black raspberry, teak and slight hints of bubble gum and orange zest. The palate is silky with well-integrated tannins and a mouthful of black cherry, mulling spice and plum. Drink it on its own or with seared duck breast with Christmas spice and beluga lentils. A very satisfying wine for the price. Highly Recommended.

Drink: Now through 2014
Release Date: November, 2010
Closure: Screwcap
Retail Price: $22.00
Winemaker: Joseph J. Wagner
Blend: Pinot Noir
Origin: 47% Sonoma County, 34% Santa Barbara County, 19% Monterey County
Aging: 9 months, French oak, 60% new

Alcohol: 13.9%

2009 Belle Glos Pinot Noir Clark & Telephone Vineyards Santa Maria Valley

The 2009 Clark & Telephone Vineyard Pinot Noir from Belle Glos is a solidly-built wine that is very good now and should become more expressive with another year or so of bottle age. The nose is restrained but offers appetizing aromas of caramel apple, red cherry and lavender. The palate shows good tension between its juicy acidity and smooth tannins. Its structure and flavors of caramel, cherry and orange zest will match well with a medium-rare filet mignon or braised and caramelized short ribs. Highly Recommended.

Drink: Now through 2017
Release Date: February, 2011
Closure: Cork [sample was screwtop]
Retail Price: $44.00
Winemaker: Joseph J. Wagner
Blend: Pinot Noir
Origin: Clark & Telephone Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County
Fermentation:
Aging: 9 months, French oak, 60% new

Alcohol: 14.4%

2008 Caymus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

08-caymusI reviewed this wine shortly after it’s release. Tasting it again this week, I found that its texture and balance have developed nicely. Of course, the flavors and aromas remain quite youthful. The concentration of this 2008 Caymus can be seen readily in the glass where the wine is dark ruby and opaque. The nose is complex and inviting. Hallmark Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon aromas of black currant, currant leaf and eucalyptus while the French barrels contribute touches of oak, cocoa and coconut. This is a full-bodied wine with fine, powdery tannins and delicious flavors of black currant, cherry-filled chocolates, coconut and oak. Try it with braised lamb shank or tender, grilled flank steak. Highly Recommended.

Drink: Now through 2020
Release Date: June, 2010
Closure: Cork [sample was screwtop]
Retail Price: $68.00
Winemaker: Chuck Wagner
Blend: Cabernet Sauvignon
Origin: 8 different AVAs within Napa Valley
Aging: 16 months, French oak
Alcohol: 15.2%

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