TNs: 1980 and 1984 Joseph Swan Estate Pinot Noir

1980 Joseph Swan Estate Pinot Noir - Saturated cork and low fill. Forest floor and truffle nose. Intense sweet fruit with multi-facted savory/truffle complexity. Probablly the most complex and intellectual north american wine Ive had.

1984 Joseph Swan Estate Pinot Noir - Forest floor and slightly floral nose. Much more restrained and lighter than the 1980. Dusty fruit and mineral palate. Last sip was the best so probally would have been better with more and slower air but fun to drink.

Sweet! Would love to try a Swan with that much age.
Nice work, Berry.

Wow. Great stuff. It has been a rare occasion that I have tasted a +25 domestic pinot. Where these cellared since release?



Awesome! 80 seems to be a great year for Cali Pinot - I snagged a few Chalone Vineyard from the same vintage and the first was fantastic! I plan to open the second for my 30th in Feb.

Coincidentally, I had the '80 two weeks ago, and it was great. Opened a bottle of '75 the next day, but it was over the hill.


I think aged Swans are hit and miss. However, what isn’t. The '74 is supposed to be a classic although I have not had any luck with the couple of bottles I have tried. Barry, If you are interested in driving over to Novato, we are still talking about doing a Swan retro with Rod Berglund some time int eh near future. The collective group has just about every vintage of the Estate and we are going to try to move through many of what Rod thinks are the best…

Nice notes, Berry. Sounds like pure Swan there. they are such delightful wines when they’re old. Awesome stuff.

Very very interested. Thank you!

So with that much age, does it taste more like old Vosne Romanee or old Penfolds Grange?

Meaning - is it obviously Pinot Noir, or is it still in that nebulous region between Pinot Noir and Shiraz?

I disagree with the premise of your question. Ive never tasted a Swan Pinot that didnt taste clearly of Pinot.

Which Swan Pinot have you tasted that had any simialrity to Shiraz/Sryah or any grape other than Pinot?

We opened the 1981 a few months ago and it rocked. One of the best Pinots I’ve opened all year.

Concur … I haven’t had one that tasted anything but of pure Pinot. Some better than others, obviously, but it is so firmly rooted in the qualities of Pinot Noir, Syrah couldn’t ever possibly come to mind. Of course, I say that having tasted perhaps half of the vintages produced from this vineyard … so based on that experience, I’d disagree.

OKAY, TAKE TWO: At 25 to 30 years of age, do these Pinots taste at all Burgundian?

Or are they still solidly Californian?

The more california pinot and the more burgundy I drink the less I feel like I underdstand what “burgundian” means. These wines had the structure to develop in the bottle for decades and develop teriary complexity so in that sense they are like vin de garde burgundies. On the other hand they speak very explicity of the trenton estate terroir.

That’s really hard to say. The thing that is so defining about Swan Pinots is that they are Burgundian in the sense that they speak of their place – which is California. So with that aside, these are very true Pinots. They get excellent floral and mushroom secondary characteristics. A striking thing at that age, on the best examples, if that they retain this vibrant life to the fruit. So, really, it’s the same old answer to questions like this: It’s not Burgundian in a literal sense because it doesn’t come from Burgundy, but it is Burgundian in the sense that most of us use it in that it speaks precisely of its place and the unique terroir of the vineyard. These are unmistakably Pinot Noir in their fruit and complexity profile, even as they age.