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10.31.2006

Sonoma's Best Pinot Noir: Tasting at Pinot on The River 2006

There's nothing quite like spending a lazy sunny Autumn day amidst the shifting colors of the vineyard leaves sipping Pinot Noir with friends. OK, that wasn't how I spent Sunday afternoon, but there were plenty of people doing that while I tasted my way through a couple of hundred new Pinot Noir releases from Sonoma County http://www.vinography.com/archives/images/pinot_on_river06-thumb.jpgand farther a field in California as part of the 3rd Annual Pinot on The River Festival.

In this third year of its incarnation, the festival outgrew its original digs at a small hotel and spa in Guerneville and moved down the river to a larger facility provided by the Vintner's Inn outside of Santa Rosa. While still in the Russian River Valley, the new location while offering more space certainly didn't have as much charm as the gravel paths and tents of its first two years. Lost, too, was a little bit of the laid back atmosphere that made the first couple of years such a pleasure to attend. Not that this year's event wasn't pleasurable, mind you -- tasting wine in a hotel ballroom isn't nearly as nice as being outside in my book.

The new location for the event apparently came with its own set of logistical problems which I've learned are not the fault of the organizers, rather the result of last minute demands and inflexibility on the part of the venue owners. So I won't spend any time bashing the registration process and signage and parking situation. If the event ever uses the same venue again, I'm sure there will be a lot of things that need to change.

On to the more important stuff. Like wine.

As usual, the wines were very high quality, though I think the 2003 vintage was overall a stronger one, if my memory of last year's wines serves me well (which it may not). I found a lot of wines to enjoy at this tasting, including several I had never tried before, which is always a pleasure.

Here are my notes, which you can hopefully use to find a wine to enjoy with your friends some Sunday afternoon sometime soon.

TASTING NOTES:
All wines are California unless otherwise noted. Prices are as quoted by the winery representative.


WINES WITH A SCORE OF 9.5
2005 Peay Vineyards "Scallop Shelf" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $50.
2004 DuNah "Estate Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $45. Where to Buy?
2004 DuNah "Sangiacomo Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $45. Where to Buy?
2004 Roessler "La Brisa Peay Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $45.
2004 Moshin Vineyards "Lot 4" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $35. Where to Buy?
2005 Kosta Browne "Koplen Vineyard" Pinot Noir (barrel sample), Russian River Valley. $52.
2004 Ken Brown "Cargasacchi Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills. $50. Where to Buy?
2004 Cargasacchi Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills. $40. Where to Buy?
2002 Fort Ross Reserve Pinot Noir, Mendocino. $40. Where to Buy?
2004 Woodenhead "Buena Tierra" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $46. Where to Buy?


WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9 and 9.5
2004 Arista "Ferrington Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley. $54
2005 August West "Rosella's Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands. $45
2004 Derbes "Los Pinots" Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier Blend. $42
2004 Peay Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $48
2005 Peay Vineyards "Pomarium" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $50
2005 Pellegrini Vineyards "Olivet Lanne Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $27
2001 Elke "Donnely Creek Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley. $??
2004 Russian Hill "Lera's Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $38
2004 Roessler "Alder Springs Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Mendocino. $42
2004 Roessler "Savoy Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley. $45
2004 Papapietro Perry "Peters Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $45
2005 Kosta Browne "Garys' Vineyard" Pinot Noir (barrel sample), Santa Lucia Highlands. $52
2004 Ken Brown "Clos Pepe Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands. $45
2005 Harrington "Maurice Galante Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $30
2005 Harrington "Gap's Crown" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $35
2005 Belle Glos "Clark Telephone Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara. $38
2005 Belle Glos "Las Alturas" Pinot Noir, Monterey. $50
2005 Halleck Vineyard "Farm Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $55
2004 Native 9 "Rancho Ontiveros Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara. $??
2004 Kanzler Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $42
2004 Dutton Goldfield "Sanchietti Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $55
2004 Dutton Goldfield "McDougal" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $52
2004 Failla "Hirsch Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $60
2005 Failla "Occidental Ridge" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $60
2002 Fort Ross "Symposium" Pinot Noir/Pinotage blend, Mendocino. $28
2002 Fort Ross Pinotage, Mendocino. $32
2004 Freeman Vineyards "Keefer Ranch" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $45
2004 Skewis "Bush Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Vally. $42
2004 Skewis "Montgomery Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Vally . ??
1999 Windward Estate Pinot Noir, Paso Robles . n/a
2004 Woodenhead "Morning Dew Ranch" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley. $46
2004 Woodenhead "Wiley Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley. $46
2003 Tandem "Auction Block" Pinot Noir, Sonoma . $58
2005 MacPhail "Pratt Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $54
2004 Buenavista "Ramal Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Carneros. $45
2004 Buenavista "Dijon Clone - Ramal Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Carneros. $45


WINES WITH A SCORE OF 9
2003 Copeland Creek Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $30
2004 Arista "Longbow" Pinot Noir, Russuan River Valley. $38
2004 Arista "Toboni Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $54
2005 A.P. Vin "Keefer Ranch" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $46
2003 Derbes Pinot Noir Russian River Valley. $40
2004 Elke "Donnely Creek Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley. $28
2004 Russian Hill "Estate Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $32
2004 Russian Hill "Tara's Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $42
2004 Roessler "Griffin's Lair Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $45
2004 Roessler "Clos Pepe Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills. $50
2005 Patz & Hall Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $36
2005 Patz & Hall "Alder Springs" Pinot Noir, Mendocino. $50
2005 Loring Wine Company "Keefer Ranch" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $48
2005 Loring Wine Company "Durrell Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $48
2004 Keller Estate "La Cruz Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $34
2005 Inman Family Pinot Gris, Russia River Valley. $25
2005 Harrington "Brousseau" Pinot Noir, Chalone. $50
2005 Belle Glos "Taylor Lane Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $50
2003 Orsi Papele Pinot Noir. $40
2005 Halleck Vineyard "Three Sons" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $38
2005 Halleck Vineyard "Halberg Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $55
2005 Pali "Cargasacchi Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills. $44
2005 Pali "Inman Olivet Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $40
2004 Dutton Goldfield "Devils Gulch" Pinot Noir, Marin. $52
2004 Freeman Vineyards Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $35
2004 Freeman Vineyards "Akiko's Cuvee" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $48
2004 Skewis "Salzgeber Chan Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Vally. $40
2004 Macrostie "Wildcat Mountain" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $42
2004 Windward Estate Pinot Noir, Paso Robles. $30
2004 Tandem "Silver Pines Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Mountain. $48
2004 T.R. Elliot "Quesle Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $35
2005 MacPhail "Tolouse Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley. $42


WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 and 9
2004 Copeland Creek Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $30
2004 D'Argenzio "Thorn Ridge Ranch" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $48
2003 Elke "Donnely Creek Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley. $28
2003 Row Eleven "Sanchietti Ranch" Pinot Noir. $36
2004 Inman Family Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $42
2003 Point Concepcion "Salsipuedes" Pinot Noir, Central Coast. $35
2005 Pali "Turner Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills. $44
2004 Etude Estate Pinot Noir, Carneros. $42
2004 Etude "Deer Camp Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Carneros. $60
2004 Freeman Vineyards Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $35
2001 Sanford Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills. $40
2004 Martinelli "Lolita Ranch" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $??
2004 Lost Canyon "Dutton Ranch" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $40
2004 Lost Canyon "Las Brisas" Pinot Noir, Carneros. $40
2005 MacPhail "Ferrington Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley. $46


WINES WITH A SCORE OF 8.5
2004 Acacia "Lone Tree Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Carneros, Napa. $50
2004 Anthill Farms "Demuth Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley. $35
2004 D'Argenzio "Bacigalupi Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $30
2005 Deloach Pinot Noir, Green Valley. $45
2004 Hop Kiln "Generations" Pinot Noir. $36
2003 El Molino Pinot Noir, Rutherford, Napa. $55
2004 Landmark Vineyards "Kanzler Vineyard" Pinot Noir. $48
2004 Landmark Vineyards "Grand Detour" Pinot Noir. $30
2004 Testarossa "Palazzio" Pinot Noir, Central Coast. $??
2004 Testarossa "Garys' Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands. $??
2004 Testarossa "La Cruz Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Central Coast. $??
2004 T.R. Elliot "Three Plumes" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $35


WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8 and 8.5
2004 Acacia "St Clair Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Carneros, Napa. $50
2005 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir, Mendocino. $35
2005 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir, Russian Valley. $35
2005 Deloach Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. $20
2004 King Estate Pinot Noir, Oregon. $28
2004 Landmark Vineyards "Kastania" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $48
2005 Landmark Vineyards "Grand Detour" Pinot Noir. $30


WINES WITH A SCORE OF 8
2004 Row Eleven "Sanchietti Ranch" Pinot Noir. $36

Comments (11)

Geoff Smith wrote:
11.01.06 at 10:29 AM

Yes Alder, I agree with you on the DuNah Estate. One great pinot noir!

Cheers,

Geoff

11.02.06 at 8:46 AM

Sorry that I was unable to taste the DuNah. The crowd was a little overwhelming to me at times, but still a great event.

Dave wrote:
11.05.06 at 3:06 PM

Wouldn’t that be “up the river and over the hill?” Sounds like it was a great time, and ah lots-o’ good wine to spit!

Nice tell Alder–ty:)

carlos Serafim wrote:
11.05.06 at 5:44 PM

I haven't had any CA pinotage. How does it compare to South African? Is it as leathery tasting? I like the SA version but only as part of a blend.

Alder wrote:
11.05.06 at 9:51 PM

This Pinotage is actually better than any of the dozen or so SA pinotages I have had, including some "top" producers. It does not have the leathery, green wood character that I find so off-putting with South African PT.

ackgal wrote:
11.05.06 at 11:17 PM

The best Pinotage I've had from California is J Vineyards & Winery's. Their latest release is the best ever.

ackgal wrote:
11.05.06 at 11:17 PM

The best Pinotage I've had from California is J Vineyards & Winery's. Their latest release is the best ever. It's only available at the winery however but you can always order it.

Eric Hall wrote:
11.16.06 at 4:21 PM

I think Fort Ross is making a Pinotage as well.

Bruce wrote:
11.20.06 at 11:15 AM

I went the this event and enjoyed it immensely. So many great producers I had not tried before. I was just looking at the Wine Spectator's reviews of many of these same wines. Some of the disparities between his opinion and mine (and Alder's scores as well) were pretty eye-opening. Laube was not impressed with a number of wines I quite enjoyed (Arista, Harrington, Freeman). Each to his own I guess.

Dan G Erken wrote:
01.12.07 at 4:59 PM

I was finally able to taste three of the Sonoma Pinot Noirs rated 9.5 by this article. Based on the bottles I drank from, I would raise one ranking, but lower the other two, as follows:

Down to 8.5 to 9 goes the 2004 DuNah Estate.

Down to 9 goes the DuNah Sangiacomo Vineyard.

Up to 9.5+ goes the 2004 Ken Brown Cargasacchi Vineyard...the lush, deep,
red and blue fruit flavors of this wine have haunted me (in a nice way) for weeks. Unforgettable !

Alder wrote:
01.12.07 at 5:09 PM

Dan,

Takes all kinds! Kind of you to come back and report your thoughts, and glad you enjoyed the Ken Brown wine as I did.

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