Number 6
2008 Raptor Ridge Pinot Noir Reserve

This needs lots of air to clean up on the nose, though when it does, it reveals a musky, earthy core of bright parchment and boiled peanut tinged salted plum fruit. A touch soft on entry, this is rather tight with the tannins being a bit dominant early on. There’s nice fruit here that remains fresh, it’s just very wrapped up in itself at this point. With time, the fruit starts to open up. Like the nose, it’s very much in the plummy end of the spectrum, with some pomegranate accents and spicy, red berry notes on the moderately long finish. A very serious wine. Tense, subtle, well structured and well balanced, with a lovely black fruit and spice finale. Very stylish. 92pts

Number 5
2009 Dutton Goldfield Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir

Surprisingly darkly colored. This is intensely perfumed and distinctly varietal, with wonderful sweet oak, briar, stem, herb and floral aromas accenting the core of black cherry fruit. Silky and broad in the mouth, this immediately reveals a supple core of bold cherry/black cherry/boysenberry fruit on entry. There are some dusty tannins that still show youth, but this is very well balanced and delightfully easy to drink. The back end and finish reveal a touch of minerality that is refreshing, along with some sweetened and spice from oak. This lacks a little bit of complexity and is a tiny bit chunky, but is deliciously drinkable. 91pts

Number 4
2009 Terlan Pinot Nero

Nice intensity on the nose, with very attractive dried herb, wild cherry, spice and mineral aromas and a mineral top note. This really opens up on the palate with intense, juicy wild cherry/wild strawberry fruit framed with herbal, floral and chamomile notes. The texture is so supple yet firm, with nice mineral and leather tones emerging on the back end. Clear and unmistakably Pinot Noir. The finish is lean and elegant, with pure, slightly creamy strawberry flavors and a finale of strawberry seeds. 91pts

Number 3
2009 Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

Intense and clean on the nose, with wonderful, fresh mixed berry notes dusted with some middle eastern spices and topped with fine sage notes. Really deceptive in the mouth. This enters with almost no mass, but it’s actually quite rich. The fruit is subdued but deep, with layers of dark berry fruit, a hint of plum skin and integrated oak notes driving toward the finish. This strikes me as just a bit young, but it has an inner intensity that makes this already appealing. Great persistence to the black berry and black cherry fruit on the long finish. The tannins threaten to become obvious, yet never rise above their fruit-driven cover. 93pts

Number 2
2009 Willamette Valley Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir

Nice, clear cherry fruit accented by a bit of licorice, a base of baking spice, earth and a little hint of salumi cellar, and a big floral top note. There’s really nice richness up front here, not sweet or heavy, just rich. Excellent depth of black cherry flavor quickly turns rather aromatic in the mouth. The tannins are a touch youthful in the mouth, adding some texture. The acid is well integrated, lending this further density that drives a succulent, sour berry fruit finish, which pushes a nice edge of wood spice ahead of it. 92pts

Number 1
2008 Alysian Floodgate Vineyard, Rock Hill Pinot Noir

This is lightly smoky, but with plenty of cola and soil. A gently leafy floral, almost eucalyptus character adds nice detail to the soft black currant fruit. Fairly rich in the mouth but not weighty, with great intensity supported by succulent acidity. The tannins here are round and ripe adding volume to the mouth. This is gorgeous, just packed with berry flavor, spiced nuance, cola that’s not sweet, and lovely citrussy acid that lends this some cranberry notes. There’s some oak spice and a hint of heat on the finish, which is long and redolent of ripe red fruits, dusted with coca and a hint of allspice. Has the power of the best with real finesse and freshness. 94pts

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