TNs: West Coast pinots- Kosta Browne, Beaux Freres, Paul Hobbs, Tantara, Williams Selyem..

One of my tasting groups met recently to blind taste a theme of West Coast pinot noir with the following 18 wines shared amongst 15 in 3 flights of 6:

1996 LAFOND VINEYARD SANTA YNEZ VALLEY- obviously older with browning color, this showed decent fruitiness of primarily strawberry flavor in a light weight body.

1996 LANE TANNER SANTA MARIA VALLEY BIEN NACIDO- from a producer who just announced retiring from winemaking due to the “negative” influence of the movie Sideways on pinot noir, this was also showing its age in color and dissipated fruit dominated by a lot of brettanomyces.

1994 FOXEN SANFORD & BENEDICT- also on the down side, not a lot happening here; just barely drinkable.

1999 BEAUX FRERES- we deserved a break after the first 3 and got it here; still good nice red and black fruit with a palate pleasing smoothness as I`ve experienced many time previously; very good wine and my #2 in this 1st flight and in the top 3 of the night…

2008 PAUL HOBBS RUSIAN RIVER VALLEY- weird from the get go; the fruit just peaks through the heavy toasting; my #6 in the first flight; others liked it more; I never could figure it out.

2006 EXPRESSION 44 WILLAKIA VINEYARD- new to me, this wine rocked; good balance, some oaky toast integrated into the black cherry all the way through the finish; although Im not so much into oak, this somehow worked and its my #! of the flight.


2008 SPELL SONOMA COAST- another new exposure for me, this had some decent fruitiness with good length and opened up in time to a better experience.

2004 RIBBON RIDGE- RIDGE CREST VINEYARD- I guessed this to be local Bien Nacido fruit which it was not; it had the spicy, light peppery notes of a Q or N block; very good pinot and my #1 of this flight and for the evening, good enough for me to be on the lookout for it; purchased for $60.

2008 KOSTA BROWNE GAPS CROWN VINEYARD SONOMA COAST- heavy grapey nose like communion offering; medium body and OK red/ black fruit; finished hot- 14.8% which my guess is closer to 15.8%; most liked this for their #1 in the flight, my #3.

2006 BERGSTROM CUMBERLAND RESERVE- good pinot, lots of fresh, ripe fruit in a full body with richness and depth that lingered on .

2006 TANTARA PISONI- from a good producer and a top vineyard, I liked this and its depth, balance and ripe fruit; my#2 in the flight, others felt different about it.

2005 WILLIAMS SELYEM CENTRAL COAST- surprise; I`ve had a few of this one and they always showed good; this one did not; strange funk in the nose and weird fruit profile???


2006 LINDA VISTA EITING VINEYARD- another new exposure; light weight body and fruit, this had some raspberry/ strawberry notes and was just OK for me; again, others like this more than I did as their #2 in the flight.

2007 WHITCRAFT MELVILLE VINEYARD SANTA RITA HILLS- up front red cherry fruit with some rose petals and mild lavender; my #2 in flight, the groups #6.

2008 WILLAMETTE VALLEY VINEYARDS- BARREL SELECT- pleasant, medium body, a little spice and wild berries; decent drink.

2001 CLOS PEPE ESTATE SANTA RITA HILLS- another strange wine with atypical pinot notes, could be a storage issue;

2006 WHITCRAFT MORNING DEW RANCH MORNINGWOOD= 100% new oak; I recognized this one from the outset as I had just had it 3 days ago; ripe red fruit, a little clove, spice and cinnamon; finished a little tannic; my #4, the groups #1.

2000 MURPHY GOODE RRV- signs of aging color and fruit with some coffee, chocolate and black cherry.

In pinot heaven,

An additional piece of info regarding the 04 Ribbon Ridge which was just called to my attention is that it is the flagship wine from Chehalen Winery branded under a different name and priced above their own labels wines. A winner pinot.