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Best Pinot Noirs From Sonoma

best-pinot-noirs-from-sonoma

Pinot Noir is one of France’s most legendary grapes and the grape that earned Burgundy its reputation. The parent of varietals like Pinot Gris/Grigio and Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir is blue to violet to indigo in color with relatively thin skins, and it is said to have been cultivated in France for more than 2,000 years.

At its best, Pinot Noir creates elegant wines that are filled with primary red fruit aromas and flavors while young, revealing with an array of secondary characteristics like earth, smoke, violet, truffle and game with age. The varietal is also known, perhaps better than any, for its ability to translate terroir, or a sense of place. While the best Pinot Noir still comes from Burgundy, it is being produced with increasing success in cooler climates around the world. In France, it is part of the trifecta of grapes that can go into Champagne, and it is also grown in Alsace, Irancy, Jura, Savoie, Lorraine and Sancerre.

In the US, Pinot Noir has found suitable growing conditions in the cooler parts of California, including Carneros, the Russian River Valley, the Anderson Valley, the Sonoma Coast, Monterey County, the Santa Lucia Highlands and Santa Barbara County, as well as in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

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Kosta Browne Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2017

The appellation 2017 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast reveals a ruby/purple, translucent color as well as a stunning perfume of black raspberries, cassis, crushed violets, spice box, sweet earth. It’s rich, medium to full-bodied, has beautiful depth, a kiss of background oak, and a great finish. Mostly destemmed and aged 17 months in 40% new French oak, it’s a brilliant wine to drink over the coming decade or more.

Tasting Notes

Sourced from a slew of outstanding vineyards, including Kanzler and Gap’s Crown, this coastal wine is smooth, seductive and earthy, with focused acidity and tension. Orange, blackberry and strawberry are seasoned in cardamom and dried herb. This wine has it all. Its evocative aromas and flavors of wild strawberries and ripe blueberries are perfect. Pair this wine with roast turkey and enjoy. Lots of the blue fruits and dried flowers on the nose. Oyster shell too. Medium to full body, linear and vibrant. Energetic. Clean and intense finish. Drink or hold. Medium ruby, it’s broodily scented with black cherries, underbrush, pencil shavings and dried tobacco leaves with notions of spice and red berry sparks. Light to medium-bodied and earthy in the mouth, it has a pleasantly chalky frame and great juicy freshness, finishing long. 7,550 cases produced.

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Paul Hobbs Russian River Pinot Noir 2017

Highlighting a collection of estate and grower parcels that are defined by their proximity to the coast and Russian River, the wine displays a crimson hue and aromas of violet, Earl grey tea, and baked sour cherry. The velvet texture on the palate combines with flavors of Damson plum, red clay, and orange peel that ends with fresh acidity that lifts the palate, lengthening the wine’s finish. Enjoyable with a Brabander goat cheese from Holland or roasted wild mushroom tartine.

Tasting Notes

Aromas and flavors of red cherry and cassis with layered notes of baking spice, savory herbs and dried rose hips. The flavors are elevated on the palate by bright acidity and fine tannins.
Exotic aromas of ripe strawberries and orange peel with hints of foie gras and crushed stone. Full-bodied, dense and tight with firm and chewy tannins that are slightly austere, providing form and structure. Give this time to soften, but it already shows energy. Drink after 2021.
Aged in about 20% new oak, the 2017 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley is pale to medium ruby with a nose of pomegranate, cranberry and rhubarb with warm wild blackberries, graphite, smoke, dried tea leaves and flowers with hints of cinnamon stick and orange peel. Light to medium-bodied, it’s silky—soft but strong—with a good core of spicy fruits, juicy acidity and a long, spice-laced finish. 1,500 cases produced.

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DuMOL-Wester-Reach Pinot-Noir-2017

DuMOL Wester Reach Pinot Noir 2017

The wine is dynamic, alive and precise. It begins in a coastal style–sleek, focused and linear. The deep entry expands along strong lines with good drive and detail to its red and black fruit flavors. As it fully opens, natural Russian River textures and volume takes hold – broad, supple and layered. Savory elements steer the wine toward complexity that will continue to build in bottle.

Tasting Notes

DuMol’s highest volume Pinot Noir is a fairly deep, balanced, firm yet accessible, effort made from a blending of four vineyards. It might have turned out to be just another generalized blend, but that is not the case here. Rather, the wine has both the focus and the depth that one expects from the better Russian River Valley bottlings. It does suggest that it might drink a bit sooner than DuMOL’s single vineyard bottlings, yet it has the structure and the solid fruit to ask that a half decade and more of patient cellaring be considered.
The 2017 Pinot Noir Wester Reach is pale to medium ruby with cranberry, crushed black cherry, woodsmoke, oolong tea leaves and pipe tobacco on the nose with notes of earth, strawberry and cola. The light to medium-bodied palate offers a great interplay of spicy fruits and earthy character, with seamlessly woven grainy tannins and juicy acidity, finishing long and spicy with loads of energy. Give this another year or two in bottle.

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Williams-Selyem-Westside-Road-Neighbors-Pinot-Noir-2018

Williams Selyem Westside Road Neighbors Pinot Noir 2018

A gorgeous nose of red fruits and red rose jump from the glass. Orange peel adds a wonderful refreshing lift to the aromatics while a touch of star anise adds depth; the oak is beautifully integrated. Broad at the entry, the wine showcases red fruits and minerals. Texturally, the wine is like velvet and saturates the palate. The tannins are refined, and subtlety drive the palate along.

Tasting Notes

Slow at first, the 2018 William Selyem Pinot Noir grew slowly and assuredly with just a little bit of time. TASTING NOTES: This wine is at once explosive and gentle. Its lovely focused aromas of red and black fruits intertwine nicely on the palate. Enjoy it with a garlic and rosemary accented, roasted lamb shank.

The 2018 Pinot Noir Westside Road Neighbors is racy and overt from the very first taste. Succulent dark cherry, plum, cola, spice, vanillin, mint and lavender infuse the 2018 with striking depth and resonance. I would prefer to drink this juicy, flamboyant Pinot over the next decade, give or take. Drinking window: 2020 – 2030

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Hartford Court Seascape Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017

Aromas of raspberries, rose petal and pomegranate with sous bois highlight the Seascape Vineyard Pinot Noir. A savory mouthfeel of cherry cola, currant and spice is followed by silky, one grain tannins in this distinctive cool climate Pinot Noir.

Tasting Notes

Pale to medium ruby-purple in color, the 2017 Pinot Noir Seascape Vineyard gives up pronounced notes of warm cranberries, Bing cherries and raspberry coulis with hints of lilacs, underbrush and fungi. Medium-bodied, the palate is charged with red berries and earthy sparks, framed by silken-textured tannins and bold freshness, finishing long and mineral laced.
The 2017 Pinot Noir Seascape Vineyard is bright, fruity and beautifully focused. Sweet red cherry, raspberry, mint and earthy notes grace this expressive, coastal Pinot Noir from Hartford Court. This mid-weight, gracious Pinot has so much to offer. Drinking window from 2020 – 2027.
Buoyant acidity backs a flavor profile that features savory richness to the dried raspberry and cherry notes. Sanguine details emerge on the powerfully spicy finish, offering accents of portobello mushroom. Drink now through 2025.

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Wayfarer 2015 Wayfarer Vineyard Estate Grown Pinot Noir

This rich, harmonious Pinot Noir, a cuvee of 12 clones, comes from their estate vineyard on the rugged Sonoma Coast. The wine reveals beautiful garnet and deep violet hues in the glass, and opens with delicate floral notes of violets and rose petals. The aromas evolve into bright red fruit expression of raspberry, strawberry and cherry, accented with complex hints of vanilla, forest floor and freshly peeled bark. The red fruit intensity carries over onto an ample, juicy palate, with balanced acids, firm tannins, and an intriguing slate minerality on the lingering finish. This elegant, focused wine will continue to develop complexity in the bottle over the next 10 years.

Tasting Notes

Even in its youth this wine packs a punch and delivers unbelievable beauty, opening in aromas of perfume and game. Seductive, supple and spicy, it is undoubtedly full figured and hauntingly complex, with layers of dark cherry, charcuterie, sea breeze and forest floor. The tannins are firm yet polished, intense yet behaved. The salty, briny, beguiling minerality is what lingers longest on the finish.

Sadly, because Pinot Noir yields were down by around 60% in 2015, no Golden Mean, Mother Rock or Paige’s Ridge were made this year. The good news is that all that superlative fruit went into this “straight” Pinot Noir label. Medium to deep ruby-purple colored, the 2015 Pinot Noir Wayfarer Vineyard delivers pronounced crushed black cherry, black raspberry and red currant notes with touches of forest floor, tea bark, rose hip tea, cracked pepper and cedar. Medium-bodied, the palate is superbly poised and intensely flavored, with a firm backbone of very fine, ripe tannins and great freshness supporting the generous red and black berry notes, finishing with lingering earth and savory nuances

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Kistler-Vineyards-Cuvee-Natalie-Pinot-Noir-2017

Kistler Vineyards Cuvee Natalie Pinot Noir 2017

The source for our Cuvée Natalie Pinot Noir since 2006. One of the rare uplifts of older iron oxide driven soils in the area, mixed with gravel, which creates an exceptional growing medium for Pinot Noir. Produces a consistently elegant, perfectly weighted wine marked by red wild berry and floral notes, a rose petal like textural complexity and striking perfumes.

Tasting Notes

Medium ruby-purple, the 2017 Pinot Noir Cuvée Natalie Silver Belt Vineyard, from red volcanic soils with patches of iron oxide, has a beautiful perfume of charcuterie, gravel dust, dried rose petals and potpourri with touches of peppercorn and tea leaves over blackberries, black cherries, cranberries and dried red cherries. It’s light to medium-bodied and elegant, offering intense flavor layers of spicy, amaro-tinged fruits with a soft frame of finely woven tannins and juicy freshness, finishing very long and flavorful.

The 2017 Pinot Noir Cuvée Natalie is endowed with serious concentration. Inky red and purplish berry fruit, cloves, new leather, lavender and menthol race across the palate as this sumptuous, full-bodied Pinot shows off its curves. This is a decidedly flamboyant style with tons of pure power and intensity in every dimension.
Elegant and perfumed, with rose petal aromas, this is a bright, spicy (as in cloves and cinnamon), dark-cherry-fruited Pinot with a fair bit of tannin and a lush texture. The vineyard in Russian River Valley is planted with a mix of Swan and Calera clones. Winemaking is pretty pure: no cold soak, pump overs, punch downs or press wine.

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Flowers-Russian-River-Pinot-Noir-2017

Flowers Russian River Pinot Noir 2017

Aged in about 20% new oak, the 2017 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley is pale to medium ruby with a nose of pomegranate, cranberry and rhubarb with warm wild blackberries, graphite, smoke, dried tea leaves and flowers with hints of cinnamon stick and orange peel.

Tasting Notes

Aromas and flavors of red cherry and cassis with layered notes of baking spice, savory herbs and dried rose hips. The flavors are elevated on the palate by bright acidity and fine tannins.
Exotic aromas of ripe strawberries and orange peel with hints of foie gras and crushed stone. Full-bodied, dense and tight with firm and chewy tannins that are slightly austere, providing form and structure. Give this time to soften, but it already shows energy. Drink after 2021.
Aged in about 20% new oak, the 2017 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley is pale to medium ruby with a nose of pomegranate, cranberry and rhubarb with warm wild blackberries, graphite, smoke, dried tea leaves and flowers with hints of cinnamon stick and orange peel. Light to medium-bodied, it’s silky—soft but strong—with a good core of spicy fruits, juicy acidity and a long, spice-laced finish. 1,500 cases produced.

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Failla-Sonoma-Coast-Pinot-Noir-2017

Failla Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2017

Winery Notes: “A combination of select vineyards throughout Sonoma Coast, including 30% estate grown fruit. 20% whole cluster, native yeast fermentation. Aged in 15% new and 85% neutral oak.”

Tasting Notes

The 2017 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) is a very pretty wine. Rose petal, mint, lavender, wild cherry, earthiness, blood orange and savory herbs are all nicely lifted in this attractive, engaging appellation Pinot Noir from Failla. A touch of whole clusters (25%) add aromatic nuance.
Lots of cherry and currant fruit as well as subtle smoked earth and graphite all flow to a medium-bodied, nicely balanced, elegant wine from Failla that has integrated acidity and the classic, understated style of the estate front and center. Drink after 2021.
Aged in about 20% new oak, the 2017 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley is pale to medium ruby with a nose of pomegranate, cranberry and rhubarb with warm wild blackberries, graphite, smoke, dried tea leaves and flowers with hints of cinnamon stick and orange peel. Light to medium-bodied, it’s silky—soft but strong—with a good core of spicy fruits, juicy acidity and a long, spice-laced finish. 1,500 cases produced.

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dutton-goldfield-freestone-hill-vineyard-pinot-noir-2014

Dutton-Goldfield Freestone Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014

The weather in 2014 was so perfect, even Dutton-Goldfield’s usually fog-shrouded vineyard in Freestone saw plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures. Their cooler coastal sites love warm summers and temperate fall weather, and reward them with generous, rich, elegant fruit.

The red fruit notes carry the lead this year, with cranberry and red raspberry mingling with cardamom, nutmeg and bramble spice notes. There’s an enveloping quality to the aromas that promises the richness ahead. The first sip fulfills that with plush raspberry pie flavors, carried on firm medium-grained tannins. The berries are accented with thyme notes and dark, exotic sandalwood incense—the famous “Freestone spice”— before ending in an assertive and lingering finish that carries another promise of a long and beautiful life ahead.

This is a great match for smoked duck or herb-roasted pheasant.

Tasting Notes

The Freestone Hill vineyard is one of the coolest in the Russian River Valley, just inside the Pacific-influenced southwest border of the appellation; Dan Goldfield has worked with the vineyard since 1999. In cool years it can be an edgy site, growing tense pinot noir with a pronounced conifer scent. This 2014 is perhaps not quite as deep or complex as some other vintages, but it’s a smooth and fresh red, with nooks of lifted floral tones hidden in its deep purple robe of fruit—sleek, ripe and delicious.

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Patz-Hall-Sonoma-Coast-Pinot-Noir-2016

Patz & Hall Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016

This vineyard sits high on a rock strewn, windswept hill directly overlooking the Petaluma Gap, the coastal mountain feature that feeds the cool Pacific air into the Russian River basin. Usually the last vineyard we pick each year, this extremely slow ripening site shows deeply fruity aromas of black cherry, plum, and cassis. Notes of sandalwood, moist fresh earth, and a faint waft of ocean spray define this wine as one of the most unique in our lineup. A crowd-pleasing richness is tempered by a fresh beam of mouthwatering acidity. Gap’s Crown Vineyard is a very long-lived wine that rewards patient cellaring.

Tasting Notes

More deeply colored, the 2016 Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown comes from a great site on the Sonoma Coast. It has a rich bouquet of black currants, toasted spice, and earthy notes as well as a powerful, full-bodied style on the palate. This is a big, concentrated effort that has plenty of tannins, a big mid-palate, and a great finish, and despite all its richness, it stays nicely balanced and pure.
The 2016 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast comes from a handful of sites on the Sonoma Coast, and it too is more ruby/plum colored. Ripe strawberries, dried flowers, sweet earth, and spice notes all emerge from the glass, and it’s medium to full-bodied, has a silky, elegant texture, ripe tannins, and a great finish. As Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir goes, it’s another rich, powerful wine from this estate. It should keep for 8-10 years or more.

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