Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

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Blake Brown
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Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#101 Post by Blake Brown » January 23rd, 2016, 10:53 am

This is just to notify I am now posting the notes from the Williams Selyem retrospective. All showed well and with vim and visor at ages 19-25.
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Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#102 Post by Arv R » August 1st, 2018, 9:59 pm

larry schaffer wrote:Had an 08 Fess Parker Ashley's PN from the Sta Rita Hills and it was very nice - much better than upon release . . .
I've been enjoying an 04 Fess Parker 'Ashleys' PN the last few nights. Very dark, lots of cola and ripe cherries on the nose. Full bodied, and doesn't seem very pinot to me. Basically about 1 glass a night is enough, esp at 14.7% abv. Almost seems more like grenache to me. I'm not sure how much oak they used, but it feels like its still soaking in. Feels like a more flamboyant, fruity kind of PN. I do like it, but I'd rather have shared the bottle with either the spouse or friends, as its a bit heavy just for me during the work week. I'd give it a B+ all things considered.

It really doesn't feel like a teenager though.
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Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#103 Post by dcornutt » August 2nd, 2018, 2:45 am

I had a 1993 Beaux Freres Pinot out of magnum recently. It was incredibly delicious. It didn't taste like Burgundy. It was wonderfully aged pinot. I loved it!
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Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#104 Post by Blake Brown » August 2nd, 2018, 11:18 am

dcornutt wrote:I had a 1993 Beaux Freres Pinot out of magnum recently. It was incredibly delicious. It didn't taste like Burgundy. It was wonderfully aged pinot. I loved it!
Very good Don. Had lots of Beaux Freres, but never in a mag. In fact, I've never seen anything other than 750s.
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Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#105 Post by dcornutt » August 2nd, 2018, 12:18 pm

Blake. These came from my friend Bill's cellar. He was a huge buyer and these I think were made by Michael Etzel for him. Delicious stuff.
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Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#106 Post by Mel Knox » August 3rd, 2018, 10:36 pm

Two years ago Burt W and Raj P arranged a tasting of WS wines going back to 1985. The tasting was held at Becky and Russell's home in Burgundy...everyone was very impressed.

Kevin’s point about site is quite interesting. Years ago The owner of the Sanford and Benedict arranged a tasting of every wine ever made from that vineyard. This guy lived across the street from Stella McCartney and Paul got an award from the Queen that day so he cane over and we all smoked some big bowls together. The wines were spectacular and I would love to see a Rochioli tasting on the same scale
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Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#107 Post by Mel Knox » August 3rd, 2018, 10:47 pm

The question might be, why do you age wine? It used to be that folks cellared tannic wines until they got smoother. These days mist wines are smooth enough so wine has to gain in deliciousness call it complexity to merit ten to twenty years in the cellar.
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Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#108 Post by jon leifer » August 4th, 2018, 8:07 am

Wow, whatta great thread..Unlike Tom Hill, I have not followed this thread from the very beginning..I just stuck my nose in here this morning when the title caught my eye..thanks for the bumps..I previously thought I was the outlier in enjoying my PN's with some age on em..I can see I am not alone..Enjoy my Arcadian, Rhys, Beaux Freres, Loring, Sojourn with at least 5 if not more years on em..Have only had a few go out >10 yrs, probably because I misplaced the bottle in my cellar..
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Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#109 Post by Blake Brown » August 4th, 2018, 8:16 am

Mel Knox wrote:Two years ago Burt W and Raj P arranged a tasting of WS wines going back to 1985. The tasting was held at Becky and Russell's home in Burgundy...everyone was very impressed.

Kevin’s point about site is quite interesting. Years ago The owner of the Sanford and Benedict arranged a tasting of every wine ever made from that vineyard. This guy lived across the street from Stella McCartney and Paul got an award from the Queen that day so he cane over and we all smoked some big bowls together. The wines were spectacular and I would love to see a Rochioli tasting on the same scale
Mel, Burt gave me some details about the whole trip to Burgundy and mentioned Alan Meadows was going to be there so I attempted to contact him, got transferred to his wife, as he had already departed for Burgundy, and asked for Alan`s notes once published. I posted them here. Bottom line: all of the Burgundy producers who sat in were quite impressed and some are still raving about the wines which BTW were all in magnums.

I have WS Rochioli from 1988-97` with a couple of exceptions. Might have to do the vertical thing.

To the other point, I'm working with Richard Sanford currently to doing a retro tasting of wines made during his stewardship by Bruno d` Alfonso. I don't expect we will be smoking big bowls, but maybe a vape. [basic-smile.gif]
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Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#110 Post by Mel Knox » August 4th, 2018, 2:32 pm

To be honest for a change Paul hosted a presser but did not join us...just checking to see if anybody read what I wrote
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Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#111 Post by JohnP » August 9th, 2018, 9:23 am

Mel Knox wrote:Two years ago Burt W and Raj P arranged a tasting of WS wines going back to 1985. The tasting was held at Becky and Russell's home in Burgundy...everyone was very impressed.

Kevin’s point about site is quite interesting. Years ago The owner of the Sanford and Benedict arranged a tasting of every wine ever made from that vineyard. This guy lived across the street from Stella McCartney and Paul got an award from the Queen that day so he cane over and we all smoked some big bowls together. The wines were spectacular and I would love to see a Rochioli tasting on the same scale


Just stumbled upon this post. Did Paul come across more of a wine connoisseur or just a jolly indulger? I bet that day was fun!
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Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#112 Post by Mel Knox » August 9th, 2018, 10:54 am

Seriously Paul did not join us for the tasting. I was forced to talk to Jancis’ charming producer Julia Kennedy and The sometimes charming Jasper Morris.
It was a remarkable event that demonstrated Kevin s point about the importance of site.As a friend of mine likes to say, you don’t need a masters degree from Davis to make white wine in Meursault.
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Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#113 Post by Drew Goin » August 9th, 2018, 11:22 am

Sort of related to the OP...


Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews
"Willamette Valley: Strong Candidate for Aging"
by Elaine Chukan Brown
May 1, 2018


"At the end of last year Jason Lett of Eyrie in the Willamette Valley and I sat down for lunch. He brought with him two bottles to taste, both a bit of a risk because of their age, but they were chosen partially for that reason. I’d told him I wanted to talk about the ageability of Willamette Valley wine so he selected two very old bottles...."

Ms Brown describes two or three Eyrie retrospective tastings but, alas, you have to be a member of the Jancis Robinson website to read about the most recent one.

There IS a link to this Eyrie retrospective:

Jancis Robinson
"The Eyrie Longevity Revelation"
by Jancis Robinson
March 10, 2015

Um, nevermind. Paywall...again. :|

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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#114 Post by P Intag » November 24th, 2018, 7:31 am

I was not sure of the answer to this question, but after trying these two older Copains, I can say with confidence that domestic Pinot can indeed be better with age.

2000 Copain Pinot Noir Dennison - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley (11/18/2018)
14.0% abv. Recent purchase from WineBid. I didn't have high hopes for this, especially after opening a 2006 Monument Tree a couple of days earlier that was advanced and past prime.
Cork came out in one piece, with a nice "pop". Was stained almost completely to the top, but there was no visible sign of leakage.
On the pop 'n pour, there was a little "stink", but it blew off very quickly, revealing a pleasant earthy nose. Nothing remarkable here as it was fairly restrained.
On the palate, this was gorgeous! Focused and pure with earthy notes and tertiary flavors that seemed more Burgundian than new world. Very good depth and balance with soft texture. Exactly what I want in aged Pinot. This was so attractive and easy to drink that the bottle was finished in no time. Kicking myself for not getting all five of the bottles that were available on WineBid (for only $15 each - deal of the century)! (93 pts.)

2000 Copain Pinot Noir Hein Family Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley (11/23/2018)
14.0% abv. Recent purchase from WineBid.
Cork came out in one piece but was quite spongy and completely soaked through. No sign of leakage, though.
In any case, I opened this after getting home on Thanksgiving evening from the folks house, having not been able to drink much since I was driving. I poured a small glass and it was, honestly, not very enjoyable and seemed pretty dead. It was pretty late and my palate was probably shot from the Thanksgiving meal and dessert and being pretty wiped out, so I vacuvin'd the bottle and left it for the next evening.
This did the trick, as this was gorgeous with T-giving leftovers. The nose showed fragrant, earthy aromas. On the palate, this offered a nice soft mouthfeel, focused and deep, with lovely Burgundian earth and sous bois flavors. Balanced, seamless, and satisfying. Enjoyed every last drop.
After the great experience with the recently opened 2000 Dennison, I am becoming a big fan of these older Copain Pinots. I did not try these in their youth, but I can't imagine they were better than they are now, so I guess the answer to the question is that Cali Pinot can improve with age. (93 pts.)
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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#115 Post by Blake Brown » November 24th, 2018, 7:37 am

Mel Knox wrote:
August 3rd, 2018, 10:36 pm
Two years ago Burt W and Raj P arranged a tasting of WS wines going back to 1985. The tasting was held at Becky and Russell's home in Burgundy...everyone was very impressed.

I just got a photo from that event from Burt:

fullsizeoutput_208b.jpeg
All Magnums
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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#116 Post by Charles Zedlewski » November 24th, 2018, 10:51 am

My own experience is pretty similar to Paul G's. Most very good US pinots don't improve much after 10 years. To my taste they're typically different, not better or often times they are just worse.

The three most reliable agers in my experience are Rhys, Arcadian and Thomas. But Windy Oaks (go figure), Mount Eden, Rivers Marie and Ceritas all seem to improve with age.

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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#117 Post by Tariq K » November 24th, 2018, 12:07 pm

Just had an older Domaine Drouhin and I came away impressed:
  • 2003 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley (11/23/2018)
    Opened into the decanter. No serious sediment visible. First taste immediately after decanting. Cork was intact, wine appears sound.

    Medium brick red. I would have expected it to be a little more bricky, to be honest. Clear rim. Pretty bright. Fairly clear.

    On the nose: berry core - blackberries, touch of strawberry. Anise. Earth. Forest floor. Menthol. Beautiful. Surprising how resilient the fruit is.

    On the palate. Wow. Wine is sound. Tannins completely softened. Medium-low acid. Medium alcohol. Fruit has really come into prominence past the tannins and the effect is just impressive. I guess this is what people crave in perfectly aged Pinot Noir. Menthol, eucalyptus, blackberries, anise. No real presence of tertiary flavors.

    What a wine. Wine of the month. No need to age further in my view. (94 pts.)
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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#118 Post by Mike Evans » November 24th, 2018, 12:20 pm

A friend opened a 1990 Hanzell Pinot Noir last night that was sensational, showing a brightness of fruit and touch of mint that spoke of California but with age bringing tertiary complexity and depth.

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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#119 Post by Paul Miller » November 24th, 2018, 1:00 pm

Had some Pinots recently from a well known Sonoma Coast producer, and finding everything older than 2011 to be suspect.

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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#120 Post by Jason T » November 24th, 2018, 1:17 pm

Back in July I had a 1974 David Bruce at Bern’s that was absolute heaven. Wide open on the pop and pour, and lasted the better part of three hours in decanter before fading. Tertiary aromas of forest floor and mushrooms. I was just shocked at how powerful the aromatics were.
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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#121 Post by Wes Barton » November 24th, 2018, 3:28 pm

Paul Miller wrote:
November 24th, 2018, 1:00 pm
Had some Pinots recently from a well known Sonoma Coast producer, and finding everything older than 2011 to be suspect.
A popular style from that region is the result of extended hang time, since the late season coolness allows for the development for darker, fuller fruit without the sugars shooting up. pH is typically already on the high side. The resulting wines lack volatile aromatics and the core to age well. To me (when young) they are flat, boring and have no site expression. making them about the easiest wines in the world to call blind. I suspect the gimmickry is because they are shit sites with nothing to say, because at the same time there are singularly expressive world-class sites there.

Anyway, rant about shitty winemaking and shitty sites aside, I assure you there are great 20 year-old Sonoma Coast PNs that won't be fading any time soon.
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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#122 Post by Mel Knox » November 27th, 2018, 9:51 am

At a ridiculously insane tasting a few years back, ---we're talking wines from the Doris Duke collection, etc-- a special cuvee of '93 Domaine Drouhin was opened and it was great. Paul McCartney was a no show.
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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#123 Post by Tariq K » November 27th, 2018, 12:24 pm

Here's another one that I had recently, though less successful than the previous. Anyone else have an experience like this where the wine rapidly devolves? I've heard of things like this happening with ultra-old wines but I didn't expect it with this 2004 Kistler PN. Of course, my palate could have just become resensitized. Also, I'm buying these wines on the secondary market so who knows how it was stored.
  • 2004 Kistler Pinot Noir Kistler Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (11/17/2018)
    Part PnP, part decanted. Some sediment in bottle.

    Deep rich red, clear at edges. Not really bright. Some floating sediment.

    Cherries, soy sauce, molasses, blueberry, rose, new leather jacket on nose. Smells like it might be hot.

    Wine is sound. Tannins have softened. Solid fruit backbone of blueberries, plus a dusty smokiness, long finish, medium alcohol.

    Really nice wine - showing beautifully now with a little age. Don’t think it needs any longer.

    EDIT 90 minutes later: strangely, this wine devolved over time. It lost its fruit core and became flat - soy sauce forward, unfocused acidity, no life. So decreasing the score from 93 to 88, most of which was earned right out of the bottle.

    EDIT NEXT DAY: Saved the bottle via VacuVin and tried some the next day. Not even drinkable. Deep soy sauce, completely unfocused. Hello, sink. This is probably about five years past its prime. (88 pts.)
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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#124 Post by Wes Barton » November 27th, 2018, 4:47 pm

Tariq K wrote:
November 27th, 2018, 12:24 pm
Here's another one that I had recently, though less successful than the previous. Anyone else have an experience like this where the wine rapidly devolves? I've heard of things like this happening with ultra-old wines but I didn't expect it with this 2004 Kistler PN. Of course, my palate could have just become resensitized. Also, I'm buying these wines on the secondary market so who knows how it was stored.
The '04 vintage for CA PN was an anomaly. What I tasted young generally seemed a notch below normal for the various producers. Not bad, but in points terms maybe 2-3 lower. They seemed to be lacking a dimension of structure and complexity. As aged wines, some fell apart in bottle fairly early, while proximate vintages from the same producers are going strong. So, I'd advise against making broad judgments about the ageability of CA PNs or those of a specific producer from trying an '04. Also, I'm not saying the vintage is to be avoided. There are still plenty of gems, but tread carefully, check recent TNs and so forth.
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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#125 Post by Robert Grenley » November 28th, 2018, 1:29 am

Mel Knox wrote:
November 27th, 2018, 9:51 am
At a ridiculously insane tasting a few years back, ---we're talking wines from the Doris Duke collection, etc-- a special cuvee of '93 Domaine Drouhin was opened and it was great. Paul McCartney was a no show.
Took one of my bottles of 93 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Laurene in a brown bag to my local wine store/hangout a couple of months ago, and after everyone guessing Burgundy, after being told it was domestic Dan the owner guessed 93 DDO Laurene...saying that this was the only domestic Pinot Noir that tasted like that. It really was killer, and showing even better than it did several years ago. Paul McCartney was a no show there too.
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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#126 Post by Karl K » November 28th, 2018, 6:50 am

Mel’s original Paul comment very funny!
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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#127 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » November 28th, 2018, 7:38 am

2007 Rhys Alpine Vineyard Pinot Noir was finally starting to move on the development curve when I opened it for Thanksgiving dinner. For my palate it was better than I ever recalled. My one concern for further development is that is was essentially free of tannin, an issue I have with many domestic Pinot Noirs.
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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#128 Post by Robert Dentice » November 28th, 2018, 7:50 am

A recent bottle of 1981 Calera Reed was very good. Although it did lack the emotional aspect I get from a very old bottle of well stored Burgundy from a good producer/vintage/etc. We drank it without a decant and it disappeared quickly so it might have gotten better with more time.

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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#129 Post by Fred Bower » November 28th, 2018, 8:12 am

I've never been moved by older Calera, but they are tasty. Older Mount Eden and Chalone have been emotional for me.

I've been working through a stash of 1992 Domaine Drouhin Oregon half-bottles. There's some variation, but the good ones are delicious. I love DDO and have been a buyer from almost the start.

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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#130 Post by GZar » November 28th, 2018, 10:13 am

below is list from top of mind of recent experiences.

- 1997 Marcassin Marcassin - drinking beautifully now
- 1998 Marcasshin Marcassin - see above (I say this despite knowing most of members feelings as to this producer)
- 2003 Marcassin Three Sisters - struggling to hold on, fading fruit
- 2000 Martinelli 7 Mule - struggling to hold on, fading fruit
- 2004 Southing Ten - drinking well, still holding fruit, typical Southing "oak/vanilla" that I hate with these young PN's has faded
- 2000 Brewer Clifton Melville - see above, drinking very well
- 2004 Dunah Estate Sonoma Coast - Greg La Follette Flowers, past prime
- 2005 Patz Hall Sonoma Coast - past prime
- 2002 Daedalus Cellars Labyrinth - gorgeous
- 1980 Chalone - thin, but still holding some fruit
- 1997 Calera Jensen - delicious
- 2005 Kistler Pinot Noir Cuvée Elizabeth Bodega Headlands - just lovely
- 2002 Domaine Drouhin “Cuvée Laurène" - would have swore it was a burg
- 1998 Belle-soeur "shea" - past prime
Last edited by GZar on November 28th, 2018, 6:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#131 Post by MitchTallan » November 28th, 2018, 10:16 am

This reminds me to ask; who was it who had "Age your Lorings" as his by-line?

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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#132 Post by J Dove » November 28th, 2018, 5:59 pm

MitchTallan wrote:
November 28th, 2018, 10:16 am
This reminds me to ask; who was it who had "Age your Lorings" as his by-line?
Someone who probably doesn't have that as a by-line anymore, I suspect.
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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#133 Post by P@u1_M3nk3s » November 28th, 2018, 6:41 pm

MitchTallan wrote:
November 28th, 2018, 10:16 am
This reminds me to ask; who was it who had "Age your Lorings" as his by-line?
Calling Russ...
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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#134 Post by Mel Knox » November 29th, 2018, 7:08 pm

The '97 Marcassins were spectacular. Had the estate pinot and the Lorenzo Chardonnay about two years ago...fantastic.
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Re: Aging Domestic Pinot Noir: Better or just different?

#135 Post by GZar » November 30th, 2018, 6:23 am

Mel Knox wrote:
November 29th, 2018, 7:08 pm
The '97 Marcassins were spectacular. Had the estate pinot and the Lorenzo Chardonnay about two years ago...fantastic.
Could not agree more...probably my favorite pinot and chard of all time!!
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