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David Graves and Dick Ward have been making wine from Ira and Shirley Lee’s Carneros vineyard since almost the inception beginning in 1982. But thi... Read more
Dear Reader: If you read my previous review of the 2004 Saintsbury Toyon Farm Pinot Noir, I said that wine was my favorite of the three single-vine... Read more
This is the third in a series of single-vineyard designated Pinot Noirs from Saintsbury. (The others are Stanly Ranch and Lee Vineyard). I’ve taste... Read more
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David Graves and Dick Ward have been making wine from Ira and Shirley Lee’s Carneros vineyard since almost the inception beginning in 1982. But this is the first time they’ve designated the vineyard on the label. (It’s one of three vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs, also including Stanly Ranch and Toyon.) It’s also the first wine for new Saintsbury winemaker, Frenchman Jerome Chery. Chery trained in Dijon and was the associate winemaker at Littorai for seven years. The deep purple wine has herbal and mineral notes most assuredly a manifestation of the Lee Vineyard. There are loads of sweet strawberry and wild cherry with lots of elegance, some power and good balance. The tannins are soft for aging up to about 15 years and beyond, if Saintsbury’s track record holds to form. The clonal blend from Lee is 83 percent Pommard and Swan. The wine spent 11 months in French barrels, 40 percent of which was new. The listed alcohol is 14.2 percent and there were only 475 six-bottle cases produced.
Dear Reader: If you read my previous review of the 2004 Saintsbury Toyon Farm Pinot Noir, I said that wine was my favorite of the three single-vineyard designated Pinots from this Carneros producer. Well, I misspoke, slightly. In actuality – and on a technicality – this Pinot from the Brown Ranch, the fourth single-vineyard designated by Saintsbury, is really my favorite. Technically speaking, it’s the only one of the four that is owned by the producer. So, while I liked the others and loved the Toyon, this one from Brown Ranch is my fav – by a slight margin. The wine, just released, shows black fruit, as opposed to the red fruit aromas and flavors in the Toyon and Lee. It’s also bigger (and more expensive) and even better balanced; and it’s a keeper, I’d guess, for up to 25 years. It’s silky and elegant and a helluva California Pinot Noir. The vineyard is on some steeper hillsides than one might find typical of the Carneros. Its soils are comprised of indigenous clay loam and volcanic material and was planted in 1992 to Dijon and Pommard clones. Yields are 2.25 to 3 tons an acre. The wine spent a little more than a year in French oak, 40 percent of which was new. There were 1,850 six-bottle cases produced. Sincerely,Alan
This is the third in a series of single-vineyard designated Pinot Noirs from Saintsbury. (The others are Stanly Ranch and Lee Vineyard). I’ve tasted all three and found the Toyon Farm – with its big power and balancing elegance – to be my favorite. I also think the Toyon will be the longest-lived of the trio, perhaps as much as 20 years. In the end, who needs Santa Rita Hills or Santa Lucia Highlands when one can have this big, deep-flavored wine from Los Carneros? Saintsbury co-owner David Graves told me that “those who like those other wines will think his wines are <I>wimpy.</I>” This wine is anything but. Toyon, once a Morgan horse estate that sits between Saintsbury’s Brown Ranch and the famed Hyde Vineyard in the Carneros’ “banana belt,” so-called because it’s in the northeast corner of the appellation with warm temperatures during the early part of the day. The soils are of volcanic origin and mingle with the more typical marine sedimentary clay loams. It is a new vineyard, having been planted in 2000 and ’01 on Dijon clones. Already, the wines, however, seem as if the vineyard is older what with its fine-grained tannins. The wine fermented for 11 months in French barrels, 40 percent of which were new. The listed alcohol is 14.2 percent and there were a little more than 700 six-bottle cases produced.
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