Ceritas Wines Pick Up and Open House

Had some Ceritas to pick up so headed up to the winery in Healdsburg and while there tasted through several current chards, pinot noir and cabernet and a couple library wines. As you can expect from John and Phoebe, quality is excellent and we are big fans of the wines, especially since we now buy very little chard, pinot noir or cab. There were 8 wines to taste, we didn’t spend a lot of time with each wine so these are my thoughts and impressions. Also I usually indicate ABV levels for those who are interested but did not get a chance yesterday.

2017 “Marena” Chardonnay: This is the blend of vineyards that John pulls from and is always an excellent value. The 2017 version has nice citrus, apple aromas. Flavors of lemon curd, ripe apple, minerals, a bit of toast and a slight bitter note on the finish that does not detract from the overall impression. It actually adds some nice complexity. Medium body with nice acidity the 2017 for me is a bit fuller than previous vintages. This wine is a very nice introduction into the Ceritas Chardonnay world.

2017 Trout Gulch Chardonnay: Onto the single vineyard chards, the 2017 Trout Gulch was a bit tight but with some time lemon oil and sea air emerge. Flavors of lemon peel, tangelo and some white florals but this wine right now is all about the minerality, slate and bracing acidity. Very pure, give this wine time and you will be rewarded.

2017 Charles Heintz Chardonnay: Unlike the Trout Gulch, this wine was open with aromas of citrus, ripe apple and spice. Flavors follow with lemon zest, ripe apple, fennel, with hints of bees wax and a kiss of oak. Good acidity, medium body. Needs time to show best but already showing some fine pedigree.

2013 Charles Heintz Chardonnay (from magnum): A Heintz chardonnay with a few years aging and it shows. This had some nice ripe apple, tropical fruit and cardamon all wrapped around a core of minerals and acidity and a kiss of oak. Nowhere near peak but drinking nicely right now. If I were serving this I would decant for a couple hours.

2017 Hellenthal “Old Shop Block” Pinot Noir: This was the first Pinot served and was open and tasty. Ripe black cherry, blackberry, black tea, rose petal and clove the flavors are nuanced and already layered. There is plenty of acid to carry the fruit. The 2017 Hellenthal can be enjoyed young with a nice decant but will also age gracefully. I want to see this wine with some age on it (10+ years) has the raw material to be outstanding.

2017 Elliott Pinot Noir: For those people that don’t like California Pinot Noir because it “lacks structure” try the 2017 Elliott Pinot Noir. Nose of macerated cherries, cinnamon stick, herbs. Flavors of red cherry, raspberry, apple skin. framed by acidity, minerality and there are grippy tannins that clamp down on the finish. That backbone of acidity and tannins will serve this wine well, it ensures a long future as the entire package integrates. Very different than the Hellenthal but another wine I want to see in 10 years or so.

2017 Occidental Pinot Noir: This was an interesting wine. The more I tasted the more I thought that the 2017 Occidental was a theoretical blend of Elliott and Hellenthal. Effusive nose of cherries, spice rose petal and herbs. Flavors follow the nose with cherry, berry, spice and minerals. Its all framed by mouthwatering acidity and some grippy tannins on the finish. Already a nice drink, will only get better with some time.

2014 Elliott Pinot Noir (from magnum): An Elliott Pinot with a few years. When I first tasted the 2014 Elliott at the winery in 2015 I liked it enough to buy 3 extra bottles on the spot. I don’t regret that decision :slight_smile:. Flavors of Red cherry, cranberry, cinnamon, mint. The flavors are pure and the acidity compliments perfectly. The trademark Elliott Vineyard tannins are present but they are sweet and add to the structure and overall enjoyment of the wine. Drinking well now but will wait a few more years to open one. Plenty of stuffing will ensure this will only get better.

2016 Peter Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon: We don’t buy a lot of Cabernet these days but this Ceritas might just change my mind :slight_smile:. It is a beauty. It is exactly what I would expect a Ceritas Cab to taste like. Ripe red cherry, cassis, hints of blackberry, cedar, herbs and a touch of mint. Very pure flavors, not sure of the oak treatment but I could not detect any. The fruit is framed by good acidity and sweet tannins, along with that pure fruit will make this one you could enjoy young with a decant or put in the back of the cellar and enjoy many years from now. For my tastes this beats 99% of Napa Cabs.

John, Phoebe and the Ceritas staff are always a great visit and the wines are terrific. As an aside John mentioned that he will be dropping and adding vineyards starting with 2018 vintage. Details to come in future Ceritas Newsletters.
If you know John, when talking about wine he is a straight shooter. He mentioned that 2018 is the best vintage in Northern California in 25 years. No heat spikes, long growing season, pick when ready. That is something I am also hearing from many other winemakers. [cheers.gif]



Wanted to hit this up but was in Stockon all weekend in the searing heat watching girls play softball. Whats your take on PNP versus age on the Martin Ray Cab. Thanks for the notes Tom


Hey Sean, hope your girls won. I assume it was a tournament.

Normally I am a big fan of longer decants for younger Cabernet like the 16 Ceritas. The 16 is more concentrated (not extracted) than previous vintages so you could likely go either way. The bottle had been open when we tasted so I would lean toward an hour or so decant before drinking. The balance of the 16 was especially nice.


This was my first time at a Ceritas open house and I was not disappointed! All of the wines showed great site expression; I was particularly surprised with how different the Hellenthal and the Elliot were despite the proximity of the vineyards. The facility is a winemaker’s dream.

Whenever I want to ‘ruin’ a friend’s life to make him/her want to seek out a winery, I serve Ceritas.

I just love their palate/style.

Robert, agree all the wines showed well and the Elliott and Hellenthal were night and day but both have outstanding potential.

Yup, that fresh style is where I like Chard, Pinot and Cab.

Fall release opens up next Thursday. 08/08/2019