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Pinot Noir from Block 7 and Samsara

This past week we investigated two relatively affordable Californian Pinot Noirs.  The Block 7 is produced by another winery from its own declassified fruit.  Samsara is a producer I am unfamiliar with so I grabbed their entry level wine.  The Block 7 is a decent drink with a lighter, fruitier personality.  My recommendation is to spend a few more bucks to embrace the power and vitality of the Samsara.  There is no mistaking this bottle of Californian Pinot Noir and if that is what you want to drink, you will enjoy drinking the entire bottle. Both of these wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2010 Block 7, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast – $22
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from the Sonoma Stage Vineyard which is planted with Dijon clones.  It was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged sur lie for 11 months in 30% new French oak.  This is a light ruby color in the glass with a touch of garnet.  The light nose steps out with red fruit which is definitely Cali-Pinot.  In the mouth there is an intial burst of bluer than red fruit, a touch of toast, then some spices.  The flavors lighten up and almost come across as watery at first but after a few hours they flesh out.  There are notes of toast and spices in the finish.  ** Now.

2010 Samsara, Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills – $26
This wine is 100% Piont Noir which was fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation, and aged for 18 months in French oak barrels.  The nose is reminiscent of floral red fruit with the addition of gobs of cinnamon spice.  In the mouth there is a lot of fruit with prickly strawberry, cinnamon, and mouthfilling spice.  This textured wine is full of energy and wants to jump out of the glass. There are flavors of sweet spice in the finish.  It is a little spicy, initially unrestrained (in a good sense) before settling down with air, taking on a creamier mouthfeel.  It then reveals an inky nature, supple black fruit, and power.  *** Now-2017.

A Couple of Pinots at Shane’s

October 18, 2011 Leave a comment

The original plan was to taste a bunch of New Zealand Pinot Noirs at Shane’s house.  Unfortunately he had caught the never-ending cold that was circulating in these parts.  So we opted to save the New Zealand wines for another day.  When I showed up Shane had two decanters sitting out.  I first guessed that the Sojourn decanter contained a Grenache blend and that the Etude decanter was definitely Pinot Noir.  Hah!  In the end I enjoyed the treat of two wines centered around the Petaluma Gap.

2009 Sojourn Cellars, Pinot Noir, Rodgers Creek Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir (Pommard Clone and clone 777) that was fermented with native yeast then aged in 50% new French oak.  The fruit is sourced from vines planted in 2001 at the Rodgers Creek vineyard.  It is located at 300 feet on the top of the Petaluma Gap and is exposed to the wind and fog.   At first whiff I noticed young, sweet red fruit.  In the mouth the raspberry/cherry fruit had dark red, almost blue fruit, undertone.   There was a bit of spice and earthiness, in this medium to full-bodied wine is compact and balanced.  It slowly unveiled over several hours and I really think could use at least a few years of age. ***(*) 2014-2019.

2005 Etude Wines, Pinot Noir, Temblor, Carneros
This vintage is the inaugural release of the Temblor Pinot Noir.  The fruit is sourced from the Temblor vineyard located in the northwest corner of Carneros.  The vineyard is directly influenced by the Petaluma Gap.  This was certainly fun to taste as it was obviously mature.  The fruit was redder with flavors of strawberry and cherry.  There were plenty of mature, earthy, forest like aromas and some spice.  This medium-bodied wine is drinking perfectly right now and is probably best consumed within the next few years. **** Now-2014.

Three American Pinot Noirs

These bottles were purchased at MacArthur’s.  The Roth cost $20, the Bouchaine cost $22, and the Shea is insanely priced at $47.  According to Wine-Searcher the Shea typically runs $35-$38 per bottle.  Jenn’s favorite wine was the Shea and I must agree, it is quite nice and a reasonable buy at the $35-$38 range but not at the $47 price point.  The Roth is a good wine and incredibly priced at $20 if you do not mind the assertive Pinot Noir style.  It is worth a try, I like the savory aspect with the dark sugar and spice notes.

2008 Shea Wine Cellars, Pinot Noir, Estate, Willamete Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir with 13% of the fruit fermented in wood tanks.  The wine was aged in 46% new and 54% used French oak.  This young wine took several hours to develop so we put it back in the wine fridge to taste later.  On the second night the nose revealed roses and spice in a dense package along with barrel toast.  The dark red fruit mixed with racy minerals with a midpalate of lifted, blue/black fruits and incense.  There is a pleasing finish before a mixture of minerals and persistent hard blue fruits come out in the aftertaste.  Lovely but needs to be cellared.

2007 Bouchaine, Pinot Noir, Carneros
We did not like this as much as the Roth.  There is a light nose.  In the mouth the flavors of dark red fruits are a steely, somewhat grapey and show some heat right before the finish.  There are dusty notes in the aftertaste.  This wine comes across as mature.  I would drink this now.

2009 Roth Estate, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
There is quite a team making this wine.  Roth Estate is the second label of Lancaster Estate which means David Ramey is a consultant and Jesse Katz is the winemaker.  Jesse work at Screaming Eagle, Paul Hobbs’ Vina Cobos, and Robert Foley.  This wine was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels.  It took two bottles to produce this tasting note.  The first bottle was consumed within one evening but we felt the wine finally started to open up as we drained the last glass.  The second bottle was consumed over three nights.  This wine clearly needs to be cellared.  There is a light nose of floral berries.  In the mouth this medium bodied wine has an aggressive start with a bit of heat from alcohol.  It is a little discombobulated right now and could use a few years to come together.  It is compact with black cherry, red fruit flavors, some sweetness, and a bit of wood.  There is a savory character as the wine grows significantly in size with dark sugar and spice notes.  There are some very fine tannins in the long aftertaste.  This is a modern, assertive wine.

1999 California, Washington, and Bordeaux wine dinner

February 5, 2009 1 comment

Our usual group gathered this past weekend for a tasting of 1999 wines from California, Bordeaux, and Washington. It was hosted at Lou and Adrienne’s house. They were joined by Dave, Deniz, Todd, Marissa, Adam, Jenn, and myself.

We started off with the 2002 Argyle Brut then moved on to the 2006 Peay Chardonnay before working our way through the red wines.

All wines were tasted blind. They were also decanted for sediment at 4:30pm. Lou threw in the 2000 Merlust Merlot ringer, purchased for 117 Rand. At the time he didn’t reveal anything about the ringer. The Canon La Gaffeliere was a group favorite followed by the Meerlust. The Meerlust is a best buy.

Here are the groups rankings:
Wine #1 – 35 points – 1999 Ch. Canon La Gaffeliere
Wine #2 – 27 points – 2000 Meerlust Merlot
Wine #3 – 19 points – 1999 Andrew Will, Sorella
Wine #4 – 14 points – 1999 Ch. Gracia
Wine #5 – 12 points – 1999 Ridge, Monte Bello

These three tight for 6th with 8 points each:
Wine #6 – 1999 Andrew Will, Merlot, Ciel du Cheval
Wine #6 – 1999 Ch. Pontet Canet
Wine #6 – 1999 Ch. La Tour Haut Brion

2002 Argyle, Brut
Apples on the nose with mild fizz that feels like a slightly older bottle. Yeasty with medium length and perhaps a touch of cinnamon.

2006 Peay, Estate Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
Very light straw color and cloudy. A light nose of crisp, lemon zest and citrus. Slightly creamy in the mouth with some minerals. A nice wine that some found slightly detracting by some warmth and overtly toasted oak in the finish.

Flight #1
1 – 1999 Ch. Pavie-Macquin, St. Emillion
The nose on this wine disappeared rapidly leaving the fruit behind and impressions of oak, cedar, and some soy sauce. In the mouth there were lean blue/red fruits that got leaner towards the finish where a moderate amount of stout tannins took hold.

2 – 1999 Andrew Will, Merlot, Ciel du Cheval, Red Mountain, Columbia Valley
There was initially some sulphur that blew off to reveal a strong nose of old-world smells: stink, barnyard, and some smokiness. In the mouth there were roundish red fruits that were underripe and overpowered by the tart acidity.

3 – 1999 Ch. Pontet Canet, Pauillac
A medium nose of high-toned, lifted smoke and tobacco. In the mouth the palate really follows the nose with cool blue fruits developing/expanding in the middle. Powerful, fine+ tannins come across in the finish. Almost austere compared to the Meerlust.

4 – 2000 Meerlust, Merlot, Stellenbosch
A muted nose compared to the first three. In the mouth ripe red berries, dark olives, make way to very fine tannins that coat the front of the mouth. There is a fair amount of power and the tannins are quite nice. It gave the impression of needing more time but in the glass it faded with time and became more vegetal compared to the Canon La Gaffeliere.

Flight #2
5 – 1999 La Sirena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Volatile acidity on the nose followed by red cranberries. In the mouth there are soft red-liquor and raspberry flavors that make way to a weak somewhat stinky finish. Eh.

6 – 1999 Ch. La Tour Haut Brion, Pessac-Leognan
Very light nose. There are cool blue fruits, cassis, pencil lead, and tobacco with a thread of minerals the last through the finish. A strong wine that some found hard to drink. When revisited the core of dark blue fruit was still growing but stayed simple in flavor, not getting more complex.

7 – 1999 Ridge Montebello
Chunky red/blue fruit on the nose. Big in the mouth with nice fruit, leaving impressions of power and reminding you with the assertive tannins. I preferred this over #6. When revisisted I found aromas of lipstick and flavors of dusty, herbs, and green fruit. A decent wine that probably will not get better.

8 – 1999 Cornerstone, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
A strong almost singular nose of green pepper with some black pepper spiciness. This immediately turned off half of the group. In the mouth, good weight, not heavy but powerful green pepper flavors supported by watering acidity, and some sweetness/liquorice in the finish. Eh.

Flight #3
9 – 1999 Ch. Gracia, St. Emilion
A light+ earthy nose with good aromatics right away. Some found brett and cooked meat. Good weight to the fruit but there was some heat mixed in with the moderate tannins and toast. Revisited later it became more out of balance and developed a very light nose of candied popcorn.

10 – 1999 Andrew Will, Sorella
Red cherries on the nose with some finding too much green. In the mouth more red fruits with citrus like acidity, high-toned, sweet blue fruit with some dustiness. There was a good amount of fruit to this wine that some liked and other thought this was a liquid vegetable cart. Revisisted later it was fading and didn’t last long.

11 – 1999 Ch. Canon La Gaffeliere, St. Emilion
A light, delicate nose with chocolate, meat, and coffee. Lovely in the mouth with cool blue fruits in a undoubtedly rich and full bodied package, that develop into a dark fruit aftertase. Revisited later the wine was still developing with grainy fruit, darker flavors, and some spice coming out. Well done, some thought this must be the ringer and a 2000 Bordeaux.

12 – 1999 Behrens & Hitchcock, Cuvee Lola
Very severe volatile acidity with cherry flavors. Some, like myself, decided to try it and immediately launched it into the spitton. Synthetic cork I believe.

Flight #4 – Let’s drink some more!
1999 Clos du Papes, Chateauneuf du Pape
Focused fresh, bright red berries but not to the purity of Charvin. More red berries in the mouth, this wine is slow to develop and puts on weight with air. Definitely stands out compared to the previous 12 wines. Nice, give it more time or more air.

1982 Ch. Potensac, Medoc
A medium nose of sweaty cedar and some sweetness. A bit sour in the mouth, slightly fading fruit, but the core flavors are there. There are still some unresolved tannins. Better than the 1982 Rouget and in no state of dropping off the cliff but it is best to drink up.

Enjoy!

Pinot on the Deck, Peay, Kistler, KB, Stemmler, and more! 25 August 2008

August 25, 2008 1 comment

This Saturday a group of us got together for a casual evening to taste Pinot Noir outside on our deck. Present were Deborah, Dave, Ross, Angela, Denise, Shane, Jenn, and myself. Deborah, Dave, and Ross are former co-workers. While Dave was in Iraq we exchanged email about wine and promised to get together once he returned. The wines were double-decanted within an hour of tasting and all wines were brown-bagged.

The top-ranked wines were:
1st: Dierberg
2nd: Kosta Browne
3rd: Kistler
4th: Peay and Stemmler

The quality of these bottles spanned a wide range. It was of great suprise to Shane and myself that the Dierberg was clearly the group favorite. We drank a bottle one month prior which we thought was good but certainly not remarkable. This bottle rocked. The Kosta Browne came in a close second. The Kistler, Peay, and Stemmler followed in a tight grouping.

I’ve done my best to summarize the tasting notes:

2003 Shea Wine Cellars, Estate, Pinot Noir, Willamete Valley
Garnet in the glass, definitely an older color. A light nose. In the mouth black fruit, some cool blue fruit, and some creaminess. There are minimal tannins. While some found this wine average, most disliked it with comments of “wow, so bad,” “jammy” fruit, or “alcoholic aftertaste.”

2004 Robert Stemmler, Nugent Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
Almost as perfumed as the Dierberg but definitely a delicate nose. Angela thought it had a “great smell.” Sour red fruit at first then with air it became cloying and herbed. Heavy-handed in the mid-palate. The tannins were present but hidden by the fruit. I decanted all of the wines myself and when I got to this one I could smell it two feet away. It was intense but the power faded off when it came to the tasting.

2007 Sterling Vintner’s Collection, Pinot Noir, Central Coast
Purple-ruby in the glass. A light nose of bright fruit. Purple fruit and toasted flavors in the mouth. Two people enjoyed the long finish.

2005 Dierberg, Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley
The most perfumed and aromatic nose out of all of the wines. Very articulated dark red and blue fruits, black cherries. There was attractive grit to the fruit with excellent supporting acidity. There were fine tannins in the finish. This was deep, lush, and had a long finish. Dave found it “bold.”
Jenn found it “rich.” Deborah thought “It’s almost a religious experience – like being in a rural chapel.” I was certain this was not the Dierberg.

2004 Kosta Browne, Kanzler Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Garnet with slight-brick cast to it. Sweet round fruit that improved with air. Both Deborah and Ross enjoyed the berry flavors. Dave thought that although a high-alcohol wine it was well-balanced.

2005 Peay, Scallop Shelf, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Very light color. A nose that is very lightly perfumed. Red and blue fruits up front then a tad flat in flavor mid-palate. Deborah thought is “very delicate” and many found it a “lush” or “smooth” finishing wine. I think it is a bit young.

2006 Willakenzie Estate, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
A brighter, light raspberry color. Brighter red fruit on the nose. The nose immediately stood the wine out from the rest. Candied raspberry and cherry flavors in this “thin,” “light”, and “austere” wine.

2006 Kistler, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
This was a youthful purple in the glass. A “soft” or “delicate” sweet nose. Sweet fruit, though a little cloying. After the initial fruit flavors, the tannins become evident as they build to a short, slightly hot, coarse-tannic finish. Most people enjoyed the wine’s initial flavors but there were many comments highlighting the short finish and aftertaste.