Blind tasting of 17 CA/ OR Pinot Noir

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Blake Brown
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Blind tasting of 17 CA/ OR Pinot Noir

#1 Post by Blake Brown » September 6th, 2019, 4:56 pm

Our blind wine tasting group held another monthly event this time featuring Pinot Noir from California and Oregon. One of our members hosted it at his home and arranged for some very fine Italian food to be catered by one of our best local restaurants.

He provided a very nice starter palate prepping champagne, NV Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut which had nice acidity and a fine mousse highlighting the lemon lime fruit.

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Our MO is that we taste through all of the wines in each flight, score them individually, collect the votes and briefly discuss each wine. 15 of us had 17 wines in all.

First blind flight of 6:

2005 AU BON CLIMAT 30TH VINTAGE SELECTION BIEN NACIDO ESTATE PLANTINGS SANTA MARIA VALLEY PINOT NOIR- only 4 barrels were made from Jim Clendenen`s best custom block at Bien Nacido which is comprised of 100% clone 777 with 2/3 whole cluster in the fermentation; it was very selective indeed although it was very atypically sporting some age in the color, aromatics and taste profile with tertiary dried and raisiny dark fruit aided by accents of cinnamon and spice; I say atypically showing age as historically ABC wines have fantastic longevity and improve with maturity; regardless, the group had this #! in the flight; it was my #2.

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2005 LONGORIA SANFORD & BENEDICT VINEYARD STA. RITA HILLS PINOT NOIR- from a historic vineyard and a great winemaker and friend, Rick Longoria, comes this mature beauty; there was slight bricking around the edge of the rim, the nose and taste had dried cherry/ berry fruit that like the ABC, was embellished by accents of spice and cinnamon; the group called this #2 in the flight.

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2006 LUCIENNE DOCTOR`S VINEYARD SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS PINOT NOIR- red purple color; the nose had some uncharacteristic maple notes, but the taste of nice ripe dark fruit was more like it; it was full bodied and was going up hill until it just faded and dried out past mid palate.

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2010 GYPSY DANCER TRIBUTE WILLAMETTE VALLEY PINOT NOIR- as a tribute to the deceased owner/ winemaker Gary Andrus, who founded Pine Ridge Winery in Napa and Archery Summit Estate in the Dundee Hills in Oregon, this was made by Todd Hamina of Biggio-Hamina, a long time friend of Gary’s whose wife Christine, resurrected the label in 2012; he died in 2009; I loved this wine for what was in the bottle and the tribute for which it was designed {yes, I picked it out}; following its brilliant red purple color, came aromas of very inviting mature red and dark fruit which on the palate turned out to be red cherry, cranberry and black raspberry; the mouthfeel was a hallmark with its silky smooth texture; I found it to be in perfect balance and it held on at the end for a grand finish; the group did not like it so much voting it last in the flight. I offered my glass for their dump bucket.
On the back label, Todd shares his feelings of reverence for his friend and mentor- see photo.

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2006 KOSTE BROWNE RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY PINOT NOIR- with a dark brown rim around the edge, the aromatics had a bit of funk in it; the taste consisted of very sweet, super ripe and fruity black cherry; it dissipated toward the end and was scored low by most.

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2000 ICI/LA- BAS les REVELES OREGON PINOT NOIR- Ici/La-Bas comes from Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat who uses this label for wines made outside of the Santa Barbara County region; it loosely means “here and there” in French; this bottle had a light red brownish color; tertiary notes dominate the nose and taste profile with dried cherry/ berry most prominent; there is a touch of spiciness in this medium to full bodied wine.

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2nd blind flight of 6:

2014 JULES HARRISON BIEN NACIDO VINEYARD SANTA MARIA VALLEY PINOT NOIR- made by Joe Davis of Arcadian fame, this was rich and full bodied with smoky, oaky and toasty dark fruit in spades; at first, I thought is was too big and oaky, but in time in balanced out and reached a good place; it was well liked by most.

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2012 MISTRESS BIEN NACIDO VINEYARD SANTA MARIA VALLEY PINOT NOIR- made by Dave Yates former GM/ Good Man of Jaffurs Wine Cellars and brought by another to honor him as he was in attendance: it had a brilliant red color; somewhat mature toasty red cherry in the nose followed by more ripe red cherry flavors with some burnt toast notes coming in late; it had nice balance, feel and length; my #2 in the flight.

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2012 KEN BROWN La ENCANTADA VINEYARD STA. RITA HILLS PINOT NOIR- red purple color; tasty and oaky aromas with sweet and ripe red cherry/ berry flavors joined by my childhood movie going treat, jujube; it was full bodied and a bit too okay for me; the group loved it for #1 in the flight.

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2011 WRATH POMMARD CLONE 4/777 MONTEREY PINOT NOIR- medium dark ruby color; nice smoky, okay and spicy red and black cherry fruit is prominent on the palate; it was full bodied with some complexity; it finished out of balance with more oak prominence; the group called it last whereas I had it 3rd in the flight.

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2013 DOMAINE JASMINKA 90% KICK-ON RANCH VINEYARD/ 9% LEWIS & LEWELLEN VINEYARDS MERLOT- made by a local home winemaking group of which one of our members is part of and the label honors his wife; this had to have been my first Pinot Noir and Merlot blend; the nose had such green notes that my first thought was someone snuck in a red Venho Verde, but the absence of spritz lessened my suspicion; the taste was a bit better with some wild red cherry fruit.

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2014 MELVILLE BLOCK M STA. RITA HILS PINOT NOIR- I actually called this Sea Smoke when noting the profile which seemed to include super ripe fruit with a bit of heat at the end; no doubt, the fruit was super ripe and the oak component showed up past mid palate and was dominant at the finish; the label showed a surprising 14% abc; it got low ratings.

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3rd blind flight of 5:

2015 JAFFURS WINE CELLARS SANTA BARBARA COUNTY PINOT NOIR- I believe the fruit for this wine was sourced from a vineyard just west of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation in the Lompoc, CA area and therefore would definitely qualify for being a cool climate Pinot; it had a youthful red color, lots of fruitiness in the nose which in the taste profile turned out to be jujube, cranberry and red cherry; a nice streak of spice pervaded throughout; it was a good Pinot and this is coming from a notoriously really fine Rhone varietal producer; it received mid level scores.

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2014 RICHARD G. PETERSON SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS PINOT NOIR- Dick Peterson made this wine 2 years ago when he was 85; it was his 2nd vintage release and is made from 2 different clones, R-4 and Wrotham; the color was a very youthful, vibrant dark ruby; it was full bodied, very rich and luscious, loaded with dried red and black cherry and had nice mouthfeel; it reminded me of Au Bon Climat Knox Alexander which i have enjoyed since its inception in 97`. This came in 1st in the flight.

Some more info about Dick Peterson: he authored the book ‘The Winemaker”, was chosen by Andre Tchelistcheff in 1968 to replace him at Beaulieu Vineyards; invented many wine techniques still in use today, such as ‘no topping, bung-and-roll,’ a practice for barrel aging red wines; showed that winemakers do not need to ‘top off’ barrels to prevent oxidation because the head space inside a barrel of wine is not air, but a vacuum; is the original designer of the steel barrel pallet, which allows wine barrels to be handled mechanically instead of by hand and probably more well known to most today, is the father of renown winemaker, Heidi Peterson Barrett.

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2014 HILLIARD BRUCE SKY STA. RITA HILLS ESTATE PINOT NOIR- youthful, vibrant and highly energetic all the way through, this had very ripe cherry berry fruit delivered in a feel good texture which aides in the pleasant finish; highly rated.

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2014 RUSACK MT. CARMEL VINEYARD STA. RITA HILLS PINOT NOIR- made from clones 667 and 2A and aged 11 months in French oak; bottled 8/28/15; young in color with pure red purple; mild fruity aromas on the nose, super ripe and sweetened red cherry in the the taste profile; by mid palate, it showed some heat suggestive of high alcohol content although its labeled at 13.8%.

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2015 DOMAINE DROUHIN DUNDEE HILLS WILLAMETTE VALLEY PINOT NOIR- I`ve had some really good Pinots from this producer and had I known what I was drinking beforehand, I would probably have liked this more, but in truth, it did not show all that well IMO; the fruit profile was weird, being really grapey as in an Amarone; in finished with a sour component that really left an unpleasant taste in the mouth; hopefully, this is a bottle variation; it did not get much love when it came time to vote.

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As with all blind tastings, it was educational and in some instances very humbling. Our host went over the top in providing wonderful appetisers and pre wines and creating a good ambience for us to have a stellar evening.
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Cheers,
Blake
"In victory you deserve Champagne. In defeat, you need it".
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“Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!” – Winston Churchill

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Anton D
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Re: Blind tasting of 17 CA/ OR Pinot Noir

#2 Post by Anton D » September 6th, 2019, 5:12 pm

Great notes!!!

Thank you!
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Todd Hamina
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Re: Blind tasting of 17 CA/ OR Pinot Noir

#3 Post by Todd Hamina » September 7th, 2019, 10:52 pm

Nice line up.
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Re: Blind tasting of 17 CA/ OR Pinot Noir

#4 Post by dcornutt » September 8th, 2019, 2:45 am

Nice job Blake. Thanks for these notes.
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eat or drink,because eating without a friend is the life of the lion or the wolf." Epicurius

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Blake Brown
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Re: Blind tasting of 17 CA/ OR Pinot Noir

#5 Post by Blake Brown » September 9th, 2019, 5:02 pm

Anton, Todd and Don, thanks, much appreciated. Great to hear from you Don.
"In victory you deserve Champagne. In defeat, you need it".
Napolean Bonaparte

“Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!” – Winston Churchill

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Re: Blind tasting of 17 CA/ OR Pinot Noir

#6 Post by Todd Hamina » September 9th, 2019, 7:32 pm

Glad you enjoyed the Tribute.
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Blake Brown
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Re: Blind tasting of 17 CA/ OR Pinot Noir

#7 Post by Blake Brown » September 10th, 2019, 6:59 am

Todd Hamina wrote:
September 9th, 2019, 7:32 pm
Glad you enjoyed the Tribute.
Todd, it was as much a tribute to you as it was for Gary. Love the wine and others you have made.
"In victory you deserve Champagne. In defeat, you need it".
Napolean Bonaparte

“Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!” – Winston Churchill

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Re: Blind tasting of 17 CA/ OR Pinot Noir

#8 Post by Bryan Price » September 10th, 2019, 9:47 pm

Loved these tasting notes, and appreciate you posting pics! These notes were especially fun for me as I've had at least 1/8th of the bottles. Was that Hilliard Bruce's last vintage?
Life's too short to drink bad wine.

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Re: Blind tasting of 17 CA/ OR Pinot Noir

#9 Post by Blake Brown » September 11th, 2019, 7:33 am

Bryan Price wrote:
September 10th, 2019, 9:47 pm
Loved these tasting notes, and appreciate you posting pics! These notes were especially fun for me as I've had at least 1/8th of the bottles. Was that Hilliard Bruce's last vintage?
Bryan, I do find that they at least produced wines in the 15` and 16` vintages. Here's a link for more info re the producer: https://www.independent.com/2014/03/27/ ... h-and-sky/
"In victory you deserve Champagne. In defeat, you need it".
Napolean Bonaparte

“Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!” – Winston Churchill

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