Banshee Pinot Noir 2016
This is the most important wine in the Banshee lineup, and they treat it as such. The 2016 edition is an exciting, yet friendly wine, bursting at the seams with aromas of macerated wild berries and an elegant, soft earth undertone. The flavors combine both sweet and tart, reminiscent of Santa Rosa plums and wild blackberries that grow so commonly in Sonoma Wine Country. The finish is bright, slightly herbal, and savory making this an excellent food wine, as well as a charming drinking experience by itself.
Portalupi Pinot Noir 2016, Dolinsek Ranch, Russian River Valley$59.00
In 1996, Jim Dolinsek purchased the 10.5 acres property located on Laguna road that was then planted with apples and grapes. Jim’s father coincidently used to pick cherries on the ranch in the 30’s. The ranch was originally planted by the Frati family which included Old Vine Zinfandel. The vineyard has a rich Italian history of making field-blends including Alicante bouschet, teraldago, tempranillo, golden chasselas, black muscat and mouverde. The soil is the rich Russian River Valley Gold Ridge soil that provides complexity and muscle to the wines.
Tim Borges of Portalupie Winery has known Jim and his brother for over 30 years and had the good fortune to start working with Dolinsek Ranch with the first vintage of Zinfandel in 2009. In 2013, Portalupi started purchasing the entire crop of Pinot Noir. Portalupi has been producing award winning Old Vine Zinfandel and Pinot Noir since.
Baked bread and compost aromas compete with oak toastiness and ripe dark cherry in this wine, which veers into a beautiful velvety mouthfeel.
Saxon Brown Pinot Noir 2013, Rosella’s Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands$52.00
Saxon Brown’s winemaker, Jeff Gaffner, began his career at Chateau St. Jean, under the tutelage of renowned vintner Richard Arrowood, who Jeff credits with teaching him the importance of being as passionate about growing the grapes as making the wine. While at Chateau St. Jean, Jeff was part of the winemaking team responsible for the winery’s celebrated 1996 Cinq Cepages, which was named Wine of the Year by Wine Spectator Magazine. Jeff launched Saxon Brown to focus on small single vineyard bottlings reflecting his preference for elegantly structured, well balanced and age worthy wines. In addition to Saxon Brown, Jeff enjoys critical acclaim as consulting winemaker for artisan labels including Xtant (Napa Valley), Stephanie by Hestan (Napa Valley), Black Kite Cellars (Anderson Valley) and Ram’s Gate Winery (Carneros).
Sustainably farmed, the Saxon Brown PInot Noir 2013, Rosella’sVineyard, Santa Lucia Hioghlands is “deep and detailed with very pure, ripe cherry fruit, neatly placed oak and hints of dried flowers in the nose. Inviting flavors build on its aromas, very well-constructed, at once succulent and sleek with the balance and fruity stamina of a wine destined to age famously. Tasty now. A carefully made Pinot Noir.” Connoisserur’s Guide 91 Points. “Another terrifric wine. A beautifully textured and forward style.” Wine Advocate 91 Points. Blended 50% of the infamous Pisoni Clone for the wild, exotic and slow-revealing elements, and 50% of the baked cherry 777 clone. It shows flowers, spice, tobacco and a dark, brooding palate. Only 226 cases made.
Cherry Pie Pinot Noir 2013, Stanly Ranch$58.00
Cherry Pie is another innovative offering from visionary winemaker Jayson Woodbridge, creator of Hundred Acre and Layer Cake Wines. Jayson sought out the owners of Stanly Ranch, on the Napa side of the Los Carneros appellation – their grapes were some of the most sought after Pinot Noir grapes in California. Then, in early 2008 while perusing New York’s Soho District, Jayson happened upon the Campton Gallery during its exhibition of paintings by artist TR Colletta. Like TR Colletta’s art, Jayson’s art is evocative, complex, textural and fundamentally American. His Cherry Pie Pinot Noirs are dazzling in their rich, layered, sensory excellence and are redolent of the flavors and aromas of something delicious baking in a warm kitchen – comforting, inviting, and with their rich, dense, dark fruit flavors.
The 2013 Stanly Ranch is blockbuster Los Carneros Pinot Noir. Saturated ruby hue, concentrated black cherry and red fruit aromas introduce a full creamy palate. Layers upon layers of fresh red fruit, strawberry jam, cocoa and toast. Mouthwatering, ripe red fruit and buttery vanilla linger on the palate. Beautifully textured and ready to enjoy.