What I can happily say is that I found many wines that I really enjoyed. I’m going to be listing my favorites from this tasting and I want you to know that I enjoyed all of these wines. In fact, allow me to go so far as to say I enjoyed these wines the most out of the entire line-up, even though this is not simply the highest-rated wines. Simply put, they are the wines I enjoyed the most.
Why, you ask? Well, it’s simple: these are all wines made in a style that works for me. I’m sure others will disagree. At least I hope so, since this is not the be all and end all in wine recommendations, but each and every one of these wines delivers pleasure. And, if you ask me, that’s what wine appreciation is all about.
2007 Domaine Drouhin Dundee Hills Pinot Noir Laurene
Slightly nutty on the nose with a hint of roasted herbs, sweet thyme, lavender, dirt and even a seductively soft insinuation of cinnamon all embedded in crushed red fruits. On entry this is light and notably dry, yet the immediate aromatic intensity in the mouth is just the first hint of the fine richness of flavor exhibited on the mid-palate. All the structural elements are finely balanced and integrated, giving this an early impression of softness. The wine offers up wonderful, pure, lightly brambly red berry fruits with such a silky texture that it almost floats through the mouth. The finish sees this grow in size and intensity as the true depth and breadth of this wine are revealed. 93pts
2007 Freeman Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir Akiko’s Cuvée 14.2%
Seared cherry fruit, beetroot, parsnip and lightly toasted wood greets the nose, to be joined by a touch of persimmon and some dried floral tones. This is smooth as silk and elegant on entry, though by no means meek. It delivers vivid, bright, expressive flavors of wild cherry framed with soft, well-judged notes of spice, herbs, and a gentle mineral backdrop. The balance is excellent: supple yet with a firm spine that offers nice cut on the backend and onto the long, succulently fruity finish. With time the mid-palate gains a nice aromatic quality, adding a touch of violet pastille to the array of floral notes, and the flavors gain the quality of sweet fruit without an impression of sweetness. There’s a touch of oak that emerges on the finish but it only adds to the complexity. This is singing today. 93pts
2007 Soter Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir Mineral Springs Ranch Estate
Meaty at first on the nose, with a touch of cherry followed by note of wild flowers, mineral water and a hint of honeycomb. On entry this reveals stunningly pure hard candy blackberry fruit with real power and assertive yet integrated acids. The tannins are nicely ripe and help fill out the mid-palate, though the wood does become a bit obvious with time. The fruit here is very ripe but offers superb purity and brilliant transparency. The finish is long and ends with another pop of wood spice and tannin. 93pts
2008 Twomey Santa Barbara Pinot Noir 13.4%
Subdued on the nose, with a soft blackberry note topped by a light, dried citrus zest tone and gentle, smoky oak notes. Rather tense on entry and with fairly assertive acids, though the fruit fairly quickly conceals most of the acidity. The tannins are small and fairly finely textured but not so polished as to render this with textural contrast. The mouthfeel is honest and fresh, and the mid-palate shows nice cherry fruit with a hint of red plum, before turning slightly spicy with herbal top notes and a creamy, oak-inflected element that drives the subtle yet long finish. This is a somewhat understated wine, but for those who favor subtlety over power and enjoy an elegant Pinot this is a solid choice. 93pts
2008 Lange Winery Dundee Hills Pinot Noir Lange Estate Vineyard
Wow, this is aromatically intense and complex with huge spice notes joined by briary pipe notes, deep floral sweetness, blueberry tobacco leaf, black tea, earth and spice -- it just keeps growing in the glass. Big on entry with huge fruit, but still remaining very fresh with lots of soft tannins contributing some weight yet this remains crisp and transparent. There’s a slight pomegranate seed edge to the mid-palate, which adds nice contrast to the gorgeous red fruits that are firm and focused from start to finish here. This tightens up nicely on the long finish and ends with layered notes of spice, earth and pure, sweet fruit. 93pts
2007 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills 14.5%
Nicely spicy and complex on the nose, with some wood spice, hints of roasted peach, intense floral tones, some fine nuanced herbal edges and fresh, spicy red berry scents. This is light, fresh and bright in the mouth with wonderful balance and while it’s a bit fruity for some palates it’s really pure and poised. The tannins creep in towards the back but remain well integrated, if tactile, and the oak adds some chocolate tones to the pure, vivid red cherry fruit, which gains an orange rind note on the moderately long, lightly smoky finish. This is just fantastic Pinot, not the most complex but with a brilliant combination of fruit, structure and purity. 92pts