So here is my first group of tasting notes on 9 Pinot Noirs.
I would like to give some context to the tasting, however.
I held a blind-format wine tasting for a group of friends that came and shared some wines throughout the course of the evening. There were initially 9 different pinot noirs from the 2012 vintage. Eight were California wines and 1 was from Oregon.
The bottles were placed in a brown paper bag and labelled with the name of a singer - songwriter. In such a setting, the use of names of songwriters, rather than numbers or letters, sparks discussions about their music in addition to talking about the wines. I knew the wines selected but did not know which bottle was in which brown paper bag.
The group that tasted through the wines during the course of the evening did not all take notes nor did they taste each wine. In such a format, the focus tends to be on the sharing and enjoyment of the wine and the company and not on any formal analysis or technical discussion.
My impressions of several of the wines changed over the course of the tasting as I had food, the wines warmed up from the initial cellar temps to room temperature, and as I hopped from one sip to another tasting across the line-up. All were enjoyable and there was not a bad bottle nor a flawed wine in the bunch.
The wines were not decanted. Corks were pulled about two hours before the tasting.
2012 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Calegari Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (11/20/2015)
This wine was labelled Damien Jurado.
Dark purple color. Dark cherry flavors with some bright acidity on the finish. While the fruit shows some rich sweetness, there remains a freshness to the wine. This was one of the more favored wines in the group tasting.
2012 Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir Balcombe Vineyard Dundee Hills - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills (11/20/2015)
This wine was labelled Bob Dylan.
Sadly, I did not have enough time to follow this wine. My initial impression was that it was nicely balanced with brown spice, red fruits, and some red clay element.
2012 Radio-Coteau Pinot Noir La Neblina - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast (11/20/2015)
This was labelled Jens Lekman.
The wine seemed a bit disjointed. There were some earthy-mushroom flavors that rose above any fruit. A savory flavor profile of forest floor and herbal notes.
After the brown bag was removed, I was disappointed as I expected more form this wine.
2012 Burt Street Cellars Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast (11/20/2015)
This wine was labelled Tom Waits.
Dark red color. Shows some dark fruits with a bit of brown spice. Dark cherry flavor with a touch of cola. Nicely balanced. A good wine but not yet quite intriguing enough to merit a higher ranking.
The Tallest Man on Earth (Kristian Matsson)
2012 Sandler Wine Company Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands (11/20/2015)
This was labelled The Tallest Man on Earth (Kristian Matsson).
Deep, dark red ruby color. Earthy notes on the nose. A rich style with dark red fruits but with a nice core of acidity that gives the ripe fruit some lift. Very good.
This was one of the more favored wines of the group.
2012 Ceritas Pinot Noir Hacienda Secoya Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley (11/20/2015)
This was labelled Suzanne Vega.
Light ruby color.
Nose shows bright acidity and red raspberries.
There is an elegance to this wine. It is light in mouthfeel but quite bright with high tomes of sour cherries and the bright acidity that runs throughout. Quite engaging.
2012 Kutch Pinot Noir Falstaff Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
This was in a bottle labelled Cat Power (Chan Marshall).
Herbal nose showing some likely whole cluster element and a cool climate site. A bit cloudy color. There is an intriguing savory side with white pepper to balance the bright red fruits. Started to show some green notes towards the end of the evening (about 4 hours into the tasting).
2012 Poe Wines Pinot Noir Hudson Vineyards - USA, California, Napa / Sonoma, Carneros (11/20/2015)
This was in a bottle labelled Patti Smith.
Wow. That was my initial impression. Light ruby color. Good fresh raspberries on the nose.
Taste: Fresh red berries with bright acidity. Light in weight but good fruit kept fresh and lively by the acidity. Over time, it started to show an Indian spice component that complimented the fresh red fruits. Enjoyable.
2012 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Summa Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast (11/20/2015)
This was in a bottle labelled Sia.
Cloudy color. At first, the nose showed a bit of funk. Initially, a little odd mix of herbs and fruit that, at first, was disjointed.
With a little time, this wine blossomed, opening up with a good core of red fruits, some cranberry and orange, and an inviting dose of acidity to keep it fresh.
Here are photos to help boost the donation.
Line up of the wines pre-bagging:
Full line-up after the unveiling:
A closer look at some: