Pinot Noir

Davis Bynum, Pinot Noir 2008

by Tim Elliott on February 21, 2011

Davis Bynum Pinot Noir 2008Davis Bynum is a venerable name in California Pinot Noir having made their reputation back when Joseph Swan was still with us. Founded in 1973, Davis Bynum was the first to produce a single-vineyard Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley; from the now legendary Rochioli Vineyard. And this heritage lives on even after the sale to Rodney Strong Vineyards in 2007. From this tasting, and  a time or two in their tasting room, the wine in the bottle continues to live up to their well earned reputation.

Tasting notes:

Davis Bynum, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley 2008 ($35/sample) – Dark garnet in color with aromas of black cherry, earth, sage and fennel. Tight raspberry fruit flavors with nutmeg and a mineral note finishing with moderate tannins. Needs a bit more time in the cellar to come around or 2 hours in a decanter.

14.9% ABV
Natural cork closure
Rating: ★★★½☆
Score: 89

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adegga listing
CellarTracker note
Snooth listing

Rodney Strong, Pinot Noir 2009

by Tim Elliott on February 14, 2011

Rodney Strong, Pinot Noir 2009Since today is Valentine’s Day I thought I would post a romantic wine. Red Burgundy is world-renound as a silky and feminine wine of grace and balance. And Pinot Noir is the variety of red Burgundy which has been transplanted all over the wine world. California Pinot Noir has come a long way in a relatively short period of time producing some world-class wines. But due to the popularity of the variety since the success of the movie Sideways, finding top grade Cali Pinot for less than $25 a bottle has been tricky.

Rodney Strong has a well established track record for their Cabernet and Merlot based wines but I can’t remember if I’ve ever tasted a Pinot Noir from this producer. But they have been making the variety for a number of vintages from their vineyards in the Russian River Valley where their winery is located. And they did purchase venerable Pinot producer Davis Bynum 5 years ago. So I was surprised to learn that founder Rod Strong had been one of the first to plant Pinot Noir in the Russian River Valley back in 1968. Such foresight makes this wine no less surprising for it’s level of quality at a bargain price.

Tasting notes:

Rodney Strong, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley “Estate Vineyards” 2009 ($20/sample) – Ruby in color with aromas of strawberry, black cherry, forest floor and fennel. Bright cherry and strawberry fruit finishing with fine tannins. A delicious Cali Pinot that I think will get more interesting with a couple more years of cellaring or decant for a couple hours now. An exceptional value for $20 or less on sale.

14.5% ABV
Natural cork closure
Rating: ★★★★☆
Score: 90

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adegga listing
CellarTracker note
Snooth listing

Inman Family, Pinot Noir, Thorn Ridge Ranch 2007

by Tim Elliott on January 21, 2011

Inman Family Pinot Noir 2007Every time I visit Northern California’s wine country, I discover a new producer who surprises me. Early on my current trip, while based in Sonoma County, I enjoyed an outstanding Pinot Noir from Inman Family. The winery concentrates on small-lot production of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley. Founded by Kathleen and Simon Inman, both leaving careers in finance and law in the UK to follow their passion for wine, relocated to Sonoma County in 2000. After this first experience with Inman Family I am looking forward to tasting their other wines ASAP.

Tasting Notes:

Inman Family, Pinot Noir, Thorn Ridge Ranch, Russian River Valley 2007 ($52) – Dark ruby in color with aromas of black raspberry, sage, bay and wet earth. Rich and pure black raspberry fruit on the attack with cocoa and black tea. Very nice acidity and fine tannins finishing very long. A pretty Pinot that will improve with a year or two in the cellar.

14.2%
Screw cap closure
Rating: ★★★★☆
Score: 92

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Snooth listing

RedTree, Pinot Noir 2008

by Tim Elliott on May 5, 2009

It is rare that you see mainstream critics write about so-called “industrial wines” and most unusual when they actually say good things about them. So I was surprised to see Wine Spectator critic Jim Laube blog about an $8 California Pinot Noir a couple weeks ago. Naturally I was curious to taste the wine myself and see how close my experience would be to Mr. Laube’s. The wine in question is from the Cecchetti Wine Company marketed under the RedTree brand. I picked it up on the end-cap at my local Redtree Pinot Noirwine store for $5.50 on sale.

I am somewhat familiar with RedTree from their Zinfandel I tasted recently. You don’t often see Zin in the less than $10 range so when I see a new entrant I try it to see if they will be giving Ravenswood a run for their money in this price category. Sorry to report that the RedTree Zin didn’t live up to expectations with over ripe blackberry fruit overwhelmed by alcohol (listed at 14.5% ABV but likely over 15%). So how could their Pinot be anything other than a light generic red wine?

I’m not sure how they did it but the 2008 RedTree Pinot Noir is an unbelievable value at the less than $6 I paid for it on sale. Even at $12 this wine would give Mark West Pinot some serious competition. Darker than most Pinot, the wine smells like you would expect with strawberry and red cherry fruit with just a hint of the earthiness associated with Pinot. Red cherry and strawberry fruit flavors complete the package finishing with supple tannins. Surprisingly correct varietal character for a Central Valley wine.

12.5% ABV
Screw Cap closure
Rating: ★★★½☆

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My buying advice is to pick up a bottle yourself and then get a case or two if you concur (my retailer had a mail-in rebate for case purchases). I don’t expect to see the same value in the next release but will definitely give it a try next year. In the meantime I’ll be buying some Petite Sirah to see if the Zin was a fluke or trend with heavier bodied reds. They also make a Cabernet, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio.

Thanks for the tip, Jim; keep ‘em coming.

RedTree, Pinot Noir 2008

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