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TNs from our May BAWE Event: RRV vs Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Sunday was our Monthly BAWE tasting, the theme this month: Sonoma Coast vs. Russian River Pinot Noir. How we ended up with 13 people and 21 wines remains something of a mystery Wink but there you have it! It was a great tasting, with some great disappointments (corked Marcassin – AGAIN!!), some revelations ( who’s ever heard of (Orogeny)?) and some confirmations (Dehlinger remains a top producer of Pinot). Here are the wines and the votes – in parenthesis are the number of 1st place votes/2nd place votes, followed by a weighted score – 3 points for 1st, 2 points for 2nd), with the top two wines of each flight in bold.

Flight #1
1999 Landmark Kastania - CORKED
2000 Argyle “Nuthouse” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley (4/2 - 16 points) #2 wine of the flight!
2000 Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast (0/0 - 0 points)
2001 Wesmar Olivet Lane Pinot Noir, RRV (4/6 - 24 points) #1 wine of the flight!
1997 Mueller Pearlessence Pinot Noir, RRV (3/2 - 13 points)
2001 Merry Edwards Olivet Lane Pinot Noir, RRV (0/2 - 4 points)
1997 Marcassin Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast - CORKED

Flight #2
1999 Hartford Jenifer’s Vineyard Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast (0/1 - 2 points)
2000 Dehlinger High Plains Pinot Noir, RRV (7/0 - 21 points) #1 wine of the flight!
2001 Siduri Sapphire Hill Pinot Noir, RRV (2/2 - 10 points)
2000 J Vineyards Robert Thomas Pinot Noir, RRV (0/0 - 0 points)
2002 Mac Murray Ranch Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast (3/4 - 14 points)
2001 Dehlinger Pinot Noir, RRV (2/7 - 20 points) #2 wine of the flight!

Flight #3
2001 Iron Horse Thomas Rd. Pinot Noir, Green Valley, RRV (2/1 - 8 point)
2002 (Orogeny) Pinot Noir, Green Valley, RRV (1/8 - 19 points) #1 wine of the flight!
2001 Fort Ross Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast (4/0 - 12 points)
2001 Dehlinger Goldridge Pinot Noir, RRV (4/2 - 16 points) #2 wine of the flight!

Flight #4
2002 Castle Rock Pinot Noir, RRV - CORKED
2001 Dumol Pinot Noir, RRV (2/6 - 18 points)
2002 Radio Coteau Savoy Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley (4/4 - 20 points) #2 wine of the flight!
2000 Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast (6/2 - 22 points) #1 wine of the flight!

On to the notes!

We started things off with a 1987 Acacia St. Clair Vineyard Pinot, which (as expected) was showing pretty tired, but still drinkable.

Flight #1
1999 Landmark Kastania – CORKED Frown

2000 Argyle “Nuthouse” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Very dark dense ruby in color, this Pinot really stood out from the rest of the lineup with a very different profile. Very fruit driven, with loads of spice, black cherry, and berry notes. Smooth and rich on the palate, with plenty of ripe fruit and good acidity. I had guessed this to be a Santa Rita Hills Pinot – imagine my shock to discover it was from Oregon! My #4 wine of the flight, but it was very close behind.

2000 Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Medium ruby red in color, with a lively, lovely nose of spice, black cherry, and cocoa, this wine displays great structure, moderate tannins, a wonderful core of spicy pure fruit, and an elegant finish. My #3 wine of the flight.

2001 Wesmar Olivet Lane Pinot Noir, RRV
Clear ruby in color, with a fine focused nose of cherries, cola, and spice. Focused and pure, the wine glides in the palate with fine ripe integrated tannins, and an excellent finish. My #2 wine of the flight.

1997 Mueller Pearlessence Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Clearly a wine with a bit of age, the color was showing some browning around a nice dark core. The mature nose also revealed some age, with a wonderful depth of forest floor, spice, cherries, and berries. The palate on this wine is just lovely, smooth, rich, and elegantly silky and fine, with depth, complexity, and concentration. Excellent, my #1 wine of the flight.

2001 Merry Edwards Olivet Lane Pinot Noir, RRV
Very nice nose of spice, raspberries, and blackberries, this wine showed good fruit, but somehow lacked complexity and depth. While tasty, it came across fairly simple and one dimensional.

1997 Marcassin Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast – CORKED
Of four bottles of this wine David has been kind enough to share, 3 have been corked. I really hope David takes this up with the winery, something had to have gone terribly wrong here.

Flight #2
1999 Hartford Jenifer’s Vineyard Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Extremely dark purple in color, the nose on this wine shut down hard quickly after pouring, and didn’t really give in much to aggressive swirling. Still, nice aromas of black cherries, blueberry cream, and cassis are present, and the palate is nicely integrated and rich. I think this wine needs some time to come around.

2000 Dehlinger High Plains Pinot Noir, RRV
A medium red color, the nose on this wine is soft, deep, and elegant, showing clove, cinnamon, red cherries, and plum. In the mouth this wine is that lovely fine texture that makes us pinot-heads go simply nuts, smooth a lithe, complex and subtle, finishing elegantly. A terrific wine, and my #1 wine of the tasting.

2001 Siduri Sapphire Hill Pinot Noir, RRV
While displaying plenty of ripe rich fruit, this wine showed excessively hot, you could smell the alcohol on the nose, and taste it on the palate. Also showing fairly high acid, along with sweet cherries and firm tannins, with a finish I found slightly bitter.

2000 J Vineyards Robert Thomas Pinot Noir, RRV
Light ruby in color with possibly just a hint of bricking at the edge, the nose shows a touch of brett, along with Rhubarb and raspberries. Gripping acidity and moderate tannins lead to a short finish.

2002 Mac Murray Ranch Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Many at the tasting were calling this wine the slut at the party, and I can certainly see why. This has a huge, in-your-face nose that actually reminded me exactly of my Mom’s strawberry-rhubarb pie! There was also an almost candied aspect to the nose, while the wine was very fruity and easy drinking. I didn’t find this showed all that great as far as Pinot character goes, but it was a fun drink to be sure.

2001 Dehlinger Pinot Noir, RRV
Slight brett on the nose that’s easy to get past for the wonderful aromas underneath. Smoked meat, berries, strawberries, and earth delight the nose, while the rich smooth texture carries the sweet fruit on the palate. Beautifully integrated tannins, good depth, and a round medium finish complete the package. My #2 wine of the flight.

Flight #3

2001 Iron Horse Thomas Rd. Pinot Noir, Green Valley, RRV
Fairly light in color, the nose on this wine shows soft red fruits and light spice notes along with noticeable oak. A nice Pinot, but not terribly interesting.

2002 (Orogeny) Pinot Noir, Green Valley, RRV
A new wine from the Chalone Wine Group, this comes out of the gate screaming with a big nose of cherries, blueberries, cream, and spice. A real mouthful of a wine, very extracted, yet nicely balanced with good structure, tannins, and acidity. My #2 wine of the flight, very nice.

2001 Fort Ross Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Medium dark in color, not nose shows a bit of Brett, but only muted fruit. With some aggressive swirling, nice red fruit, raspberries and strawberries emerge. Very nice on the palate, with bright acidity, a smooth texture, and a pleasant medium finish.

2001 Dehlinger Goldridge Pinot Noir, RRV
Bright ruby red in color, with an outstanding nose of wild berries, spice (clove and cinnamon), and ripe red cherries. Excellent balance and depth, with a smooth rich texture, structure, and fine ripe tannins. My #1 of the flight!

Flight #4

2002 Castle Rock Pinot Noir, RRV - CORKED

2001 Dumol Pinot Noir, RRV
Soft approachable nose that seemed just classic Pinot in character, with sweet cherries, raspberries, and a touch of earth and spice. Nicely balanced, spreading broadly across the palate, and a fine medium finish.

2002 Radio Coteau Savoy Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley
What more can be said about this outstanding wine? This wound up being my #2 of the flight, but wow was it a close call! Outstanding nose loaded with spice, mint, cherries, a touch of cocoa, and some floral notes. Textured, intriguing, and perfumed on the palate, with just gobs of spice, finishing with a smile.

2000 Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Interesting that we wound up with two of the same wine, with this bottle showing quite a bit better (likely due to decanting). Oddly however, despite this being my #1 wine of the flight my notes are awfully brief… Simply excellent deep, complex with wonderful spice notes. Rich, smooth, palate, great stuff!

Once ... in the wilds of Afghanistan, I lost my corkscrew, and we were forced to live on nothing but food and water for days. - W. C. Fields
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