Tag Archives: Pinot noir

Visit to Chanin Wine – Silky and elegant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Santa Barbara

During our short stay in Santa Barbara county, Chanin Wine was one of the producers I really wanted to taste, since I have been impressed with their wines before. During the visit we also tried their “sister winery”, LUTUM, but I will make a separate post about those wines.

Chanin Wine source all their grapes and they are working with vineyards that are farmed organic or sustainably and have older vines. The winemaker Gavin Chanin is definitely a rising star in the region and he focuses on making elegant wines with good balance.

A few short notes about how Chanin Wine produce their wines

  • The only use native yeast
  • Use gravity as much as possible in the process
  • Their Pinot Noirs include approximately 20% new stems
  • They use a cold soak for 4-5 days
  • No other additives other than a small amount of SO2
  • No filtration
  • Aging in French oak, of which 15% are new.

Tasting notes for the wines from Chanin Wine

2014 Chanin Pinot Noir Los Alamos Vineyard

Los Alamos is their warmest vineyard with a dominance of sand. Planted in 1969.

Fresh red fruit with a dominance of strawberries initially but then some darker fruit appear on the palate together with some notes of smoke and spices. There is a citric acidity and the texture is smooth. This generous Pinot Noir has a juicy expression with strawberry dominance.

2013 Chanin Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard

Their Bien Nacido is from the older blocks in this huge vineyard that includes both sand and clay, and the latter dominated where this fruit is from.

Nice red fruit from raspberries and wild strawberries and with a slightly sweet touch. Some spices and smoke appear on the palate together with a soft but precise acidity and a very silky tannic structure. In the finish the fruit gets darker and more dense. This is a well balanced and elegant Pinot Noir that is easy to enjoy.

2014 Chanin Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict Vineyard

Pure red fruit of raspberries and wild strawberries but also some floral notes. On the palate we get asian spices and minerals together with the young red fruit. Acidity is very precise and cool which gives the wine a fresh finish. This is a beautiful wine that drinks well already but should develop great with age.

2014 Chanin Pinot Noir La Rinconada Vineyard

Very close to Sanford & Benedict but cooler and more exposed to wind.

Light red fruit and some lime notes on this pretty and elegant nose. On the palate some asian spices appear together with a precise acidity and very silky tannins. This is such an enjoyable wine with the silky texture and the pure fruit. Hard to stop drinking.

2014 Chanin Chardonnay Los Alamos Vineyard

This wine opens up with ripe pear notes and tropical fruit and on the palate a rather racy lime acidity results in a mouthwatering expression. This is a ripe Chardonnay with a rather high alcohol level, but still there is some energy in the acidity which makes it a very nice wine.

Summary of impressions from the visit to  Chanin Wine

The Pinot Noirs from Chanin are very elegant and have a silky and smooth mouthfeel but also a precise and fresh acidity. The fruit is mainly young, red, slightly sweet and accompanied by asian spices. The density of the wines are rather different depending on vineyard and vintage, as expected, with the La Rinconada being very light and the Sanford & Benedict having a rather dense profile, even though these vineyards are neighbors. Their Los Alamos Chardonnay manages to combine a generous and round expression with a rather racy citric acidity.

Chanin is definitely one of the top producers in Santa Barbara county, especially if you are looking for wines with precision and elegance.

Visit to Clos Du Val – Where France meet Napa

Introduction to Clos Du Val

Clos du Val was founded in 1972 by John Goelet and winemaker Bernard Portet and is still under the same ownership. The ambition has from the beginning been to make wines with a French influence. The winery also became world renowned when they took part in the 1976 Paris tasting with their Cabernet Sauvignon and achieved eighth place.

Tasting notes for the wines from Clos Du Val

2014 Clos du Val Estate Chardonnay Block 5A Carneros

Extremely aromatic and floral nose combined with some green apples, oak and ginger. On the palate the fruit is more tropical and there is a lemon acidity. More floral and aromatic than any other Chardonnay I have tried.

2014 Clos du Val Pinot Noir Estate Pinot Noir Block 73

An abundance of cherries but also some smoke and graphite. On the palate we also get raspberries together with a good and juicy acidity. In the finish, the oak notes take a more dominant position. A generous and dense Pinot Noir.

2013 Clos du Val Merlot Estate Merlot Block 6

An abundance of blackberries both on the nose and palate but also with a rather energetic and mouthwatering acidity and a surprisingly strong tannic bite on the palate. Very full bodied on the nose but slimmer on the palate.

2012 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

The wine shows rather fresh dark berry notes where blackberries dominate but there is also some sweet marzipan notes and green pepper. The acidity is vibrant and adds some tension to the wine.

2013 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District

Dense dark berry notes with a soft expression. I find blueberries, currant and blackberries, and on the palate we also get some sandy tannins and a nice acidity that balances the fruit notes well. After a while some more herbal notes appear and there is also some well integrated oak notes.

Summary of impressions from the visit to Clos Du Val

The wines from Clos du Val are rather fruit forward but they also have a fresh and precise acidity to balance the wines. The fruit is mainly dark in the red wines and there are some oak notes but it never gets overwhelming. The Cabernet Sauvignon from Stags Leap District with its complexity was a clear step up from the other wines.

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Tasting of Cobb Wines at Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant in San Francisco

I previously visited Ross Cobb and wrote a post about this visit, which can be read here. In this post you will find some introduction to Cobb Wines and how they produce their wines.

This post is from a tasting of Cobb Wines at Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant in San Francisco and I have only included notes from the wines I had not tried before.

Tasting notes for the wines from Cobb Wines

2014 Cobb Chardonnay Mariani

Fresh nose with pears, apples and some stone fruit. The acidity starts off rather soft but then increases and balances the wine well. On the palate the stone fruit takes over but is also complemented by some lime and lemon. Well made Chardonnay with good balance.

2014 Cobb Pinot Noir Jack Hill Vineyard

The nose is initially very careful but then some dense red and dark fruit notes appear. Extremely smooth and silky on the palate but also with rather dense fruit from cherries, some soft blueberries and fresh notes from spices. This is a very elegant and precise wine, especially on the palate where everything comes together.

2013 Cobb Pinot Noir Jack Hill Vineyard

The nose opens up quickly with an abundance of red and dark fruit. I mainly find cherries and blackberries on both nose and palate. On the palate there is a tartness on the fruit which also stays in a rather long finish. This is a very generous Pinot Noir, and I would have guessed it was higher in alcohol than what the 12.8% it says on the bottle. I think the nose was great, but I lacked some precision on the palate. Still a great Pinot Noir.

2013 Cobb Pinot Noir Rice-Spivak

This wine has intense fruit notes with some ripe raspberries, strawberries and cherries. Acidity is rather smooth but with good precision and the tannins are velvety. This is a very generous and opulent wine but still with elegance. Hard not to like.

2009 Cobb Pinot Noir Rice-Spivak

Initially some ripe fruit notes from raspberries and cherries dominate, but then some herbal notes, earthiness and hints of petrol and bay leaf also appear. Rather intense and mouthwatering tartness on the palate where we get more raspberries but also blackberries. Fresh and energetic wine even though it has a rather ripe initial style.

Summary of impressions from the tasting of Cobb Wines

I had tried some of these wines before, but in this tasting I was introduced to one new vineyard; Jack Hill Vineyard, and I had a chance to compare some vintages. Jack Hill Vineyard is close to the Emmaline Vineyard but there is a clear difference in the wines, where Jack Hill Vineyard produce more generous wines, but both are very elegant and precise. I also had a chance to compare vintages in this tasting, especially 2013 and 2014 and my favorite is the 2014 that is more precise and energetic on the palate where the 2013 is more fruit forward and feels a bit heavier. On the nose the 2014 can have a tendency to close down, where the 2013 has beautiful brimming fruit notes.

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Visit to Mount Eden Vineyards – An important part of history in Santa Cruz Mountains

Introduction to Mount Eden Vineyards

During my visit I met with the well spoken and thoughtful Jeffrey Patterson in the beautifully situated estate with an amazing view. Jeffrey talks about the history of Mount Eden Vineyards and his own philosophies about winemaking.

We talk a lot about the replanting of vineyards since all of the vineyards have been replanted during Jeffrey’s time at the Domaine. Being from Europe where old vines are worshipped I cannot resist asking him if he ever wish he would have kept at least a few of the older vines. Jeffrey is very firm in his belief that the replanting was the absolute best decision and his argument is that the old vineyards were not well structured, did not produce well and were very tough to manage. I ask Jeffrey when he thinks the vineyards will be replanted the next time and he laughs and says it will not be within his lifetime. He also points out that he expect it to be replanting of individual vines rather then a complete replanting in the future. 

If you are looking for a more detailed description of the history of Mount Eden Vineyards I will recommend a good source. It is well documented and I will not make a better job than what they already have done:)

Link to Article: http://www.princeofpinot.com/winery/757/

I still think it is worth mentioning a few important things, like that fact that Jeffrey has been the manager (and later majority owner) of the Mount Eden Vineyards since 1981 and he took over after a period where there had been many changes in management. This makes him one of few persons among California winemakers to have such a long history in the same place. I personally consider this extremely valuable since winemaking at the absolute top level requires detailed knowledge about the vineyards and their personalities. The most amazing wines I have tasted have been a result of long periods of small optimizations from the same group of people or family. Perfection cannot be rushed.

A few short notes about how Mount Eden Vineyards produce their wines

  • Jeffrey strives to create wines with long age ability. He points out that this can make the wines less accessible in their youth.
  • They do dry farming
  • The chardonnays go through malolactic fermentation
  • Natural yeast is used
  • 75% new oak is used for aging of the Estate Pinot Noir
  • Some American oak is used for the Cabernet Sauvignon. To avoid vanilla notes they only use oak that has been dried for 3 years.

Tasting notes for the wines from Mount Eden Vineyards

2013 Mount Eden Vineyards Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains

This is a rather round and generous Chardonnay with an abundance of yellow pears and apples but also some Asian spices. Very smooth an slightly oily on the palate with a soft but tingling acidity and some ripe tropical fruit also appear on the palate together with some slight notes of oak.

2013 Mount Eden Vineyards Pinot Noir

Approximately 30 percent whole clusters.

Intense nose with dense fruit from mainly dark cherries and raspberries but also some earthy undervegetation.  The palate is smooth with a soft but fresh acidity and layered fruit notes. I also get some herbal notes in the finish. This is a well balanced Pinot Noir that I would like to have spent more time with.

2014 Mount Eden Vineyards Pinot Noir Domaine Eden

Approximately 15 percent whole clusters.

An abundance of fresh red fruit, mainly from raspberries and strawberries. Rather light on the palate and with a cool acidity and some young fruit that is slightly sweet. Very fresh and energetic Pinot Noir with a light body.

Summary of impressions from the visit to Mount Eden Vineyards

Jeffrey Patterson is a good representative of the Santa Cruz Mountains, with his long experience from working the same vineyards and his ability to communicate the history of the region. His wines are extremely well made and all have a great balance and depth. My favorites were the Pinot Noirs where the cool acidity adds energy to these rather complex wines. These are definitely wines that will have a long life ahead, but I already find them surprisingly approachable.

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The price tag-wise impressive Oregon pinot joining up with a nebio from Giacosa

Oregon is a young wine region, but certainly an interesting one for sure. Throughout his now half-year time in California, Andreas have confirmed that the most Burgundy-like, coolest and most balanced pinots are found primarily at Sonoma coast or in highest part of Santa Rita hills, but obviously they are found in Oregon. Oregon is further up north on the west coast and as long as there is a cool breeze at nights and great sun exposure, naturally Oregon should have even better conditions for producing less sweet, less alcoholic and more balanced wines. In the last years, several domains in Burgundy has bought land in Oregon because of this and sent their young ones into a somewhat new wild west for wine making.

This time I just happened to be pairing up a newly released easygoing and price-worthy Oregon pinot with a simple nebbiolo from the iconic Piedmont producer; Bruno Giacosa. Even Though, an alternative from Burgundy sound like the obvious choice, It proved out to be a ingenius combo that opens up a door for likeness. 🙂

2015 Acrobat, “Pinot Noir” Acrobat wineries Oregon, USA

Beautiful and opaque red orange and red purple core with pink-cerise edges.

A lovely perfume of thyme, earthy qualities and notes of underbrush at the base as well as normally sweet red berries, but not the normal kind from California or any other new world. Moreover, delicate, quite intense top notes of high-pitched tulips and mesmerizing peony rose petals. There is absolutely a fragrant and lovely Chambolle-like note in here, but with a certain underbrush and divert mineralic twist.

Very silky, very fresh and as its name suggest, a truly impressively balanced wine. Fruit contains some sweet, highly concentrated, ripe wild strawberries, but combines this with cool, aromatic guava and rhubarb fruits. It is a very focused, superslim, generous and a gentle wine tiptoeing its juvenile, pristine and immaculate aromas in a fresh, juicy acidity elegantly to the finish line. It deserves the big Burgundy balloons or the Zalto glasses. Its only backside is its slightly sweet tone, but otherwise we love it! However, its youthfulness shines through with less precision, but the price tag at this quality-level is irresistible (SEK 165 kr, ~€17.30, $18.20) and impressive! (tasted 2016-03-08)

88+p/100

2014 nebbiolo d’Alba, Bruno Giacosa

Red orange, transparent and glowingly core with orange cerise edges.

The classic notes of leather, tar and lovely Ingrid Bergman roses, but here very subtle. Notes of cinnamon, cookies and dog rose too.

Well balanced and dense. Tannins are, of course, youthful but at the same tasty and quite soft considering its age. As always, even her, the precision is amazing at this price level for a non-barbaresco wine. It needs some more time to marry the tannins with the fresh, balsamic and lively acidity. Precision is a notch up compared to the Acrobat, but price is higher at SEK 289 kr (€30.30, $32) (tasted 2017-03-08)

87-88p/100

Visit to Kutch Wines – Producing age worthy wines from colder climates

Introduction to Kutch Wines

Kutch is a young company, founded by Jamie Kutch and producing their first vintage in 2005. They do not own their own vineyards but instead source the grapes. Jamie’s long term plan include acquiring his own vineyards, but the first steps is to move to his own production facility.

Jamie comes across as an analytical person with a strong mind. He has clear opinions and these are based on facts gathered for example from other producers. His ambition is to make wines with a long life.

I think it is worth recommending their website that has a good presentation of the vineyards (with visuals) and a vintage chart with recommendations for the individual wines. Hope more producers will start presenting this information about their wines.

A few short notes about how Kutch Wines produce their wines:

  • Almost always use 100% whole clusters for Pinot Noir which is rather unique. Jamie’s reasoning behind the decision is that the best and most long lived wines use whole cluster fermentation and that the conditions in California, which a warm climate, almost always ensure ripe stems. The stems add a tannic structure to the wine, something not so common in wines from Californian since the warm climate reduces the amount of tannins in the grape skins. The other option would be to add tannins via oak, but since they use neutral oak this is not an option.
  • Stomp down done by feet twice a day during fermentation.
  • For Pinot Noir the use only neutral oak and for Chardonnay the use 20% new oak. The neutral oak he buys from other producers, but always barrels that have previously been used for Chardonnay.
  • No racking of the wines.
  • No cold soak. They actually heat the juice to initiate the fermentation.
  • 8-14 days of fermentation.

Tasting notes for the wines from Kutch Wines

2014 Kutch Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

Blend of Sonoma Coast vineyards with high elevation and sandy soil.

Intense, mainly dark, fruit with plums, blackberries but also some strawberries and hints of marzipan that adds some sweetness. Rather careful acidity but with a fresh and cool expression, and a rather soft tannic structure. On the palate there is also an abundance of cherries. Well balanced and pleasant wine.

2014 Kutch Pinot Noir McDougall Ranch

Vines are 15 years old. Soil: Graywacke, sandstone

Rather dark but vibrant fruit notes, dominated by blackberries and cherries. There is a rather tannic structure and good acidity, resulting in a well balanced wine with lots of depth and complexity. Some Gevrey Chambertin vibes to the wine.

2012 Kutch Pinot Noir Falstaff Vineyard

Vines are 13 years old. Soil: Marine quarts sandstone, Goldridge

This is a soft and rather round wine with a fruit dominance, especially on the nose. The fruit has a bright expression and contains both red and dark berries, with raspberries, blackberries and cranberries. Both acidity and tannins are rather soft but definitely present in the wine. A very accessible wine.

2014 Kutch Chardonnay

From two vineyards, and vinified separately. Mallo started but not completed.

Fresh green apples, citrus and some floral notes dominated the nose. On the palate there is a juicy but rather soft acidity with some lemon notes. The finish has a fresh expression of minerality. Great and well balanced Chardonnay.

2015 Kutch Pinot Noir Rosé

Has not gone through mallo.

Young raspberries, strawberries and water melon dominate the wine that also has a fresh acidity. There is a slight sweetness on the nose and palate.

2016 Kutch Pinot Noir Sans Soufre

Carbonic masceration and no added sulfites.

Very fruit driven wine with some fresh and slightly sweet red fruit from mainly raspberries and strawberries. Light on the palate but with some tart fruit note. Too early to say what the wine will develop into.

2015 Kutch Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

Tasted from the tank right before bottling.

17 months in neutral oak. 12,9%.

This is a rather fruit forward wine with young and slightly tart red fruit from strawberries and cherries, but also some herbal notes and ginger.The acidity is vibrant and very good. This wine needs some time to wind down but has good potential and will drink well rather soon.

2015 Kutch Pinot Noir Falstaff Vineyard

Tasted from the tank right before bottling.

12 months in neutral oak. 12,3%. This vineyard has the coldest climate of the Kutch Vineyards.

This is a very tight wine with a strong tannic bite and razor sharp acidity. The fruit contains mainly young and slightly tart raspberries but there is also some spices and an abundance of minerals. I think the acidity is fantastic and it will ensure a long life ahead for this wine. Great potential but let it age a few years first.

2015 Kutch Chardonnay

Tasted from the tank right before bottling.

Dry farmed vineyards planted in 1971-1972.

Intense notes of green apples but also stone fruit and lime. The vibrant acidity has great precision and gives a mouthwatering feeling. This is a great Chardonnay in a classical style.

Summary of impressions from the visit to Kutch Wines

I think the Kutch wines seem hones and transparent towards vintage and vineyards, resulting in clear differences between the wines I tasted. They have both attitude from the tannins (the reds) and acidity, and elegance from the fresh fruit notes.

Even though Jamie use stems in all the Pinot Noirs, I do not detect any green notes and the wines do not get overly herbal. Still you get a distinct tannic structure and the wines do require some food pairing when young. In general the Pinot Noirs has a dominance of rather young red fruit, especially the 2015, and combined with a good acidity this results in fresh and energetic wines. It will be interesting to see how the wines age and if a more complex expression will emerge with time.

The chardonnays were both good, but my clear favorite was the 2015, that had more energy and precision.

 

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The 2015 Littorai Les Larmes is truly elegant and made with finesse

Ted Lemon is the owner of the estate and the winemaker focusing on wines low in alcohol, balance and with finesse. They are obsessed with sustainable farming and biodynamics. Furthermore, Ted has worked at several of the top producers in Burgundy, e.g. Romanée Conti, Roumier and Bruno Clair, so the wines are obviously made in a Burgunish way and with a non-interventionist approach. This wine is from the cool coastal  area of Anderson valley in California.

2015 Les Larmes “Andersson Valley”, Littorai

Notes of clove, herbs, dog rose, some more spice. Its inner perfume emerges much later with fresh red flowers, underbrush. It is currently a truly slow, but it is so young.

Soft, slightly sweet but clean fruit, mainly a unique combo of wild strawberries, sloe berries and lychee fruit, infused with gravel and herbs. Super-smooth, pliant and truly elegant wine with a lot of finesse and its absolute only downside is its just a little short and slightly dry finish. The latter might be because of its youth. (Tasted 11/2-2017)

93-94p

A german pinot with precision and true terroir

Nowadays, pinot noir is grown everywhere in the world, but actually it has been grown for quite some time in Germany and more precisely as spätburgunder. To be honest, it had not caught my attention previously since my impression so far has been that the wines have had too much oak flavours or/and frankly just been dull and dry. This wine is something else. It is from the very best region of Ahr in the south-west of Germany and more precisely Pfarrwingert in the town of Dernauer. 40 km south of Bonn. The young Julia Bertram appears focused on low alcohol (label says 12.5%) and to raise her wines in no new oak at all to achieve true terroir expression as well as affecting the grapes as little as possible, e.g. not using pumps. What a joy to hear that our preference is making its way through even here in the better parts of Germany for wine. We read that she was crowned “the wine princess” in Germany for her efforts of promoting German wine abroad back in 2013. Super-interesting producer!

2015 Ahrweiler Spätburgunder, Julia Bertram

A combo of translucent cerise and somewhat pale pink-orange-red core with cyan edges.

A graceful perfume of slate, Sicilian orange, tiny notes of dry honey, spice cumin, nutmeg and lovely red flowers. A lovely, fragrant and genuine nose that resembles a chambolle 1er cru.

The fruit is very pure, on the brick of overripe and currently in the background of the overly vivid and currently gnarly acidity wrapping distinct orange-peel and some spicy element. Also underbrush and slate gravel. Texture is smooth, chewy and pliant. This certainly is just a baby and needs to rest a few more years to come together, but it is obvious to me that this is a wine that broods over remarkable purity, unique honest terroir and balance.

92-93p

A very price-worthy 2015 Chilean pinot from Casablanca valley

The grapes collected for this wine grows on the pacific hillside in the Casablanca valley, Chile, 100 km north-west of the capital Santiago. The breeze from the sea renders a preferable long ripening cycle with good balance of fruit, tannins and acidity. 40% of the juice is raised in french new oak for 6 months. It is a family business and the wine maker is the son of Thierry Villard, Jean-Charles.

2015 Villard expresion reserve pinot noir “Casablanca Valley”

Interesting nose of rowan berries, cranberries, chalky gravel dust and dog rose. On the palate, earthy, ripe and creamy strawberries, notes of apricot and cranberries. It has some complexity, but its balance, pliancy and generous fruit is what stands out. It is very good wine made with finesse, especially considering its remarkably low price tag and certainly something special. (Tasted 4/2-2017)

90-91p

Tasting of DuMOL 2014

I attended a mini tasting of the DuMOL wines in November, which gave a good introduction to their wine. It was the 2014 vintage that was on display, a vintage where winemaker Andy Smith Is very pleased with the results.

My impressions after the tasting is that this is a producer with a high lowest level. All wines showed a god balance and the most common denominator was a fresh and energetic acidity.

At the end of the tasting my favorites where the “Isobel” Chardonnay and the “Ryan” Pinot Noir.

2014 DuMol Russian River Valley Chardonnay

This is a rather forward Chardonnay with lively but broad acidity, an abundance of ripe dense tropical fruit and some notes of oak. The denseness in the fruit is lower on the palate than on the nose. The finish is dominated by acidity but there is also an ever so slight bitterness.

DuMOL Isobel 20142013 DuMol “Isobel” Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

A very generous wine with layered fruit, where stone fruit dominate, on the nose but also a waxiness and some herbal notes to give a freshness. The acidity is mouthwatering and well integrated with the wine. There is almost a sweet touch on the palate of the wine.

2014 DuMol Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

A rather dense nose with both black and red fruit with a fresh expression. On the palate a precise and energetic acidity take the front seat and the red fruit dominates the black. This is a good wine characterized by fruit and a fresh acidity.

2014 DuMol “Ryan” Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot NoirDuMOL Ryan

Complex nose with bright red fruit but also dense blueberries and marzipan. Great acidity on the mid palate but unfortunately with a slight slight bitterness in the finish. Some herbal notes also appear on the palate. Need some time to integrate but this is a good Pinot Noir.

2014 DuMol Russian River Valley Syrah

I find the wine light for at Syrah both on nose and palate but there is no lack of fruit, where the red fruit dominate. I would have preferred some more nuances and perhaps an earthiness for a more complex expression. Still this is a quality wine with good energetic acidity.

 

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