Wine Reviews: California Pinot Noir

Happy New Year, all!

I’m back to start off the new year with a bunch of California Pinot Noirs. In the fall, I started receiving a lot of California Pinots and Chardonnays. I don’t often get to do comparative blind tastings, so I was excited to collect them and taste through them. (The Chardonnay report can be found here.)

This is a nice mix of inexpensive, widely-available brands, with some single-vineyard, smaller production stuff.

J Vineyards’ Sonoma Pinots provide wines that deliver a great classic cherry and cola goodness that I’ve grown to love.

The Maggy Hawk wines are all really exciting, and stood out with their finesse and elegance. These wines are made by Pinot Noir veteran winemaker Tony Rynders, and all sourced from the same vineyard. Each of the four wines, however, is a blend of different blocks and clones. These are really interesting wines that I’d recommend seeking out if you like Anderson Valley Pinot.

The full report is below. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted single blind.

2018 Lucky Rock Wine Co. Pinot NoirCalifornia
SRP: $22

Nose pops with sweet cherries, strawberry jam, along with rhubarb, rose petals and cola. Light and smooth tannins on the palate, there’s a nice streak of acid that makes this refreshing to drink. Tangy cherries, sweet raspberries and strawberries, this is a fun and accessible wine with notes of rhubarb, cola, toffee. There are these cool earthy and cinnamon stick notes. Fun, fresh, delightful style, solid value. A mix of fruit from Monterey, San Benito and Sonoma Counties, aged nine months in 10% new French oak. (87 points IJB)

2017 The Paring Pinot NoirCalifornia, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
SRP: $25

Aromas show black cherries, dark plums, raspberries, with these notes of warm black tea, clove, rose potpourri, some coconut and coffee. Wow, this has a lot of freshness on the palate, medium-bodied frame, smooth tannins, this is a fruit-forward but fresh Pinot. Plums, black cherries, saucy raspberries, the fruit is rich but vibrant. Coffee, vanilla and coconut shavings mix with tilled soil, black tea and rose petals, some mineral, rocky tones. This is fun stuff for near-term drinking, but it shows a lot of complexity (and value), too. For a wine at this price point, this style is rare. (89 points IJB)

2016 Talbott Pinot Noir Sleepy Hollow VineyardCalifornia, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
SRP: $50

Smells like fresh cranberries, strawberries, strawberries, red apple peel, with rhubarb, white pepper, black tea notes. Medium/full-bodied, smooth tannins, medium acidity, balanced nicely. A core of raspberries and spiced cranberry jam, the fruit is bold and ripe but pretty, too. Nuanced notes of rose petals, rhubarb, white pepper and bay leaf. Cola and roasted chestnut elements mix well with the savory, floral tones. Quite complex, very delicious, open for business now but this could hold for a few years. (90 points IJB)

2017 Steele Wines Pinot Noir Writer’s BlockCalifornia, North Coast, Lake County
SRP: $18

Aromas of spicy strawberries and raspberries, with pepper, cola, rose hips, leather and earth. Medium-bodied with silky tannins and a fresh, zippy appeal. Sweet cherries and raspberry jam mixes well with nuanced notes of cola, pepper, roses, bay leaf. Has a lot of fun spice and herbal tones to accent the fruit. Ready to drink, but a lot going on. Aged 12 months in 10% new French oak. (89 points IJB)

2018 Clos Pegase Pinot Noir Mitsuko’s Vineyard California, Napa, Carneros
SRP: $40

Nose shows pretty red cherries, chilled strawberries and raspberries, with rose potpourri, pepper, sage, slight cola note. Brisk and mouthwatering acidity, this holds its full body well, with smooth tannins, lovely balance. Cool cherries, raspberries and red apple fruit. Complex notes of bay leaf, rose petal, sage and pepper, all of which add a vibrant, floral and earth sense to accent the red fruits. Delicious stuff, ready to go….

Source :