The 2004 Pinot Noir Shootout...
A Wine Challenge

heartheartheartheart = Love at First Sip


Gary Farrell Rochioli-Allen Vineyard 2002 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $60
A very Burgundian-style Pinot Noir. Lively cherry, spice, strawberry, light raspberry, and vanilla cream on the nose and palate. Balanced with depth and velvety round tannins.
(95)(Red)
Perbacco Cellars 2002 "Dionysus" Pinot Noir, Arroyo Grande Valley, $35
181 (6 packs) cases produced
Easy on the eyes medium color with excellent clarity, delightful bing cherries on nose, provocative spices and rich cherry flavors that finish with an elegant structure that lingers seductively.
(95)(Purple)
David Bruce 2002 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, $27
6,500 cases produced
Deep ruby with a rich mixed black berry nose. The mixed black fruit nose is enhanced with black cherry and vanilla flavors. Round tannins and a supple mouth feel make this a wine of elegant depth and character. Forest loam and floral notes join the rich black fruit on a long journey that keeps you enjoying the experience.
(94)(Blue)
Fess Parker Ashley's Vineyard 2002 Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, $45
300 cases produced
The nose hints at mixed wild berries and opens to blackberry, cassis, vanilla, cedar, tar and pomegranate flavors. The finish is long with tart berry components. A structured wine with round tannins and balanced acidity.
(94)(Brown)
David Bruce Winery Estate Bottled 2002 Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, $55
1,323 cases produced
Cassis, black cherry with a touch of tar...the balanced structure and silky mouth feel make this a sensual experience.
(93)(Orange)
D'Argenzio 2002 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $32
258 cases produced
The bright ruby color entices you to sample the deep black cherry and plum aromas. Floral notes add pleasing depth to the nose and replicate through the palate. The full body and balanced structure highlight the depth of the black fruit flavors. Brown baking spice, vanilla, and anise join mid-palate to produce a stunningly long finish.
(93)(Gold)
Estancia Stonewall Vineyard 2002 Reserve Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, $25
Lively raspberry and cherry aromas with bursting cassis, cranberry flavors highlighted by herbal notes. Full body and tart structure highlight the smooth tannins and leave your mouth tingling.
(93)
Fess Parker 2002 Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, $22
4,574 cases produced
Cherry and peanut butter cup on the nose evolving into bing cherry, raspberry, cassis, and tart cherry flavors accompanied by cedar and cola . Soft tannins with hints of forest loam add to the complexity of the long lasting fruit finish.
(93)(Dark Green)
Halleck Vineyard Halleck Vineyard 2003 Three Sons Cuvee Pinot Noir, Russian River, $38
164 cases produced
Pure cassis and black cherry aromas touched by vanilla. Floral notes swirl around cedar and cola on the palate. Medium-full bodied, medium-plus structure and depth lead to a captivatingly long berry finish.
(93)(Green)
Patz & Hall 2003 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, $33
2,800 cases produced
The tight nose hints at forest loam and cherry. Raspberry, cherry and anise flavors are bright in the mouth and then joined mid-palate by tar and black pepper giving accent and increased complexity. A beautifully structured Pinot Noir with a long red berry finish.
(93)(Lilac)
Skewis Wines 2002 Bush Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $42
165 cases produced
An elegant nose with cherry, raspberry and black pepper aromas. There is an explosion of fruit on entry - mixed wild berries, cherry and plum joined by coffee, black pepper, anise and tar. Round tannins with a supple mouthfeel. Everything is abundantly balanced. Great now but will only get better with time.
(93)(Yellow)
Sonoma Coast Vineyards 2002 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, $50
715 cases produced
The bright ruby color doesn't outdo the brightness of the blackberry cherry aromas. Blackberry, plum, cassis, and black cherry join with and mushroom and anise on the luscious entry. Cola, mixed berry and cassis surround the substantial structure leading to a long finish. A wine with depth and character that will age well.
(93)
Fort Ross 2001 Reserve Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Garnet in color with bright raspberry, cherry, vanilla, cinnamon, and clove...a whole potpourri of holiday spices tantalize your nose and palate. Balanced medium body and structure, sensual mouthfeel and elegant length set this wine apart.
(92)(Light Yellow)
Gary Farrell 2003 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $32
5,086 cases produced
Silky and smooth. Black cherry and cassis aromas lead to pure tart red berry, blueberry and black cherry fruit underscored by oak effects (vanilla, cedar, coffee and hints of chocolate). A wine with depth and character.
(92)(Wedgwood)
Papapietro Perry 2002 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $38
904 cases produced
A beautiful classic Pinot Noir with a nose of rose petals, tart cherry, raspberry, anise and a touch of char. This wine is balanced. Cherry, raspberry, allspice, touches of vanilla cream, strawberry, and tart cranberry flavors throughout with a burst of acid on the finish.
(92)(Deep Purple)
Row Eleven 2002 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, $29
1,084 cases produced
Lots to love here. The black cherry, vanilla and cinnamon nose open to substantial fruit flavors of cherry cassis accented by vanilla wrapped tightly around a solid core of oak. Blackberry and anise join the cherry and vanilla on the long full finish.
(92)(Charcoal)
Spy Valley 2003 Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand, $40
10,000 cases produced
Deep ruby color and aromas of ripe raspberry and strawberry entice the nose. The flavors are mixed red berries with anise, vanilla and brown baking spices. Balanced structure, medium-full body with substantial but smooth tannins. Vanilla, cherry cola, red plum and raspberry work together to produce a delightfully long finish.
(92)(Light Blue)
Tolosa "1772" 2002 Edna Ranch Select Pinot Noir, Edna Valley - Edna Ranch Vineyard, $42
Inviting plum, blackberry and black cherry aromas and flavors show throughout. Medium body and medium plus tannins and acid. Vanilla and a hint of rose petal combine with the black fruit on the long intense finish.
(92)(Pink)
Beringer Vineyards 2003 Estate Pinot Noir, Napa Valley, $16
7,500 cases produced
Light garnet in color. Nicely balanced in the mouth with raspberry, strawberry, black cherry, nutmeg, allspice, and cassis all playing nicely together. Medium-full body and structure with a burst of acid on the end of the mid-palate leading to a long raised fruit finish.
(91)
Bouchaine 2003 Estate Pinot Noir, Carneros, $25
5,700 cases produced
This Pinot Noir is medium-deep garnet in color. The nose is closed at first opening up to spicy raspberry and cherry with hints of plum and floral notes. Luscious berry flavors, clove, dried herbs, plums, and soothing oak. The wine is smooth and beginning to develop the velvet that makes Pinot Noir so special. This one a keeper.
(91)(Peach)
Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves 2002 Pinot Noir, Carneros, $26
10,900 cases produced
Gorgeous in the glass, exhibiting a deep garnet color. The nose is huge with coffee and anise over cherry kirsch. Raspberries, a rouch of spice and smoky oak on the palate. Full-bodied and complex with a silky mouth feel that will keep you coming back for more.
(91)(Brick)
Kynsi Winery 2002 Pinot Noir, Edna Valley, $28
Pure black cherry, cola and raspberry aromas repeat on the palate and are enhanced by vanilla and cedar from mid-palate through the finish. This Pinot Noir is balanced, structured and has nice round tannins that work together and develop into a long berry finish. This wine will provide much pleasure.
(91)(Dark Blue)
MacMurray Ranch 2003 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, $20
4,800 cases produced
Sexy purple-pink with a ruby rim. Nice clarity and hues. Slight minty nose, plums, cherry, classic cassis, sweet vanilla, all with a long silky finish!.
(91)
Pedroncelli F. Johnson Vineyard 2002 Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, $14.50
4,050 cases produced
Medium-light garnet with a shy mixed red berry nose. Pretty tart strawberry and cassis flavors are framed by cinnamon, clove and vanilla accents. Anise and cedar enhance the tart berry on the long finish. Round tannins.
(91)(Black)
Row Eleven 2002 Quartier 116 Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, $45
Bright cherry, raspberry and cassis aromas entice you and replicate through the mid-palate. Balanced structure and medium bodied with a supple mouth feel. Vanilla and clove lend complexity to a long finish with bracing acidity. Delish!
(91)(Gray)
Villa Mt Eden 2001 Grand Reserve Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, $22
2,400 cases produced
The bright ruby color invites you to delve into a vibrant raspberry, vanilla, cherry, and plum nose. The earthy, mixed berry entry opens to additional notes of black pepper and cherry through the mid-palate. There is plenty of oak, but the wine is still balanced. This Pinot is well-structured with a long berry/cherry finish.
(91)(Pumpkin)
Carmody McKnight Estate Wines 2003 Estate Pinot Noir, Paso Robles, $24
340 cases produced
The nose is as tight as a closed fist. The palate on the other hand is extremely expressive showing sweet cherry cordials, ripe strawberries, wild mixed berry, vanilla, and anise on the entry and the finish. In between you'll find plenty of structure and fine grained tannins, semi-silky mouth feel, medium body, and medium-plus length.
(90)
Davis Bynum 2001 Le Pinot Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $80
90 cases produced
Ripe and concentrated. Cherry and blackberry aromas open to bright cherry and cola flavors enhanced by graham cracker and lovely oak nuances. Tar and anise highlight the graceful finish.
(90)
Estancia Pinnacles Ranches 2002 Pinot Noir, Monterey, $14.99
650 cases produced
Raspberry and strawberry aromas over a mineral and earth base. Cola berry flavors throughout with a tart cherry entry through the mid-palate. Cassis and cranberry dominate on the lengthy finish. Great price!
(90)(White)
Fire Station Red 2003 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $23
575 cases produced
Ruby red suitable to it's name with bright cherry and raspberry aromas. The entry is plum and black cherry joined by cassis, black pepper and nutmeg. A balanced Pinot Noir with good structure. Enjoy!
(90)
Hagafen Cellars 2002 Pinot Noir, Napa Valley, $24
1,300 cases produced
Cherries galore! Smokey red cherry and nutmeg lead to elegant cherry with cedar and floral back notes. Strawberry and currant jump in mid-palate. Medium-light body, balanced structure and good fruit depth on the finish. Serve with salmon! David Jones says this wine makes him feel good - "all warm and fuzzy."
(90)(Hot Pink)
La Crema Winery 2003 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $22
580 cases produced
Vanilla, raspberry and cherry aromas evolve into flavors on the palate of tart berries, vanilla and floral accents with lovely round tannins. Cherry, raspberry and vanilla carry through to the smooth finish. Delightful!
(90)(Magenta)
La Crema Winery 2003 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $24
1,600 cases produced
Cherry cola with a twist of lemon. Cherry and tart red berry throughout the palate. Medium body with extra acidity. Cedar and vanilla join in on finish. Lovely!
(90)(Turquoise)
Robert Stemmler Winery 2002 Pinot Noir, Carneros, $32
3,755 cases produced
Medium deep ruby color, with a fairly tight nose hinting at mixed red berry. The hints pan out with mixed red berry flavors that integrate nicely with the addition of cherry and mushroom. Medium body and structure, with a tart delicious berry finish.
(90)(Light Green)
Roessler Cellars 2003 Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $36
Shy black fruit on the nose opening to black cherry, blackberry, pomegranate, and raisined plum flavors with smooth, round tannins. The length hangs in there making this a thoroughly enjoyable wine
(90)(Burgundy)
Tolosa Edna Ranch Vineyard 2002 Estate Pinot Noir, Edna Valley , $25
2,474 cases produced
Blueberry and dill notes on the nose. The mouth is bigger than expected with strawberry and ripe black cherry. Substantial tannins and oak. Rich, dark and elegant. One for the cellar.
(90)(Beige)
Wild Horse Winery 2001 Cheval Sauvage Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, $50
A wonderful Pinot Noir representative of the big, full-bodied California-style. The cherry, raspberry, earth, and mushroom aromas replicate through the mid-palate. Mint, anise, cedar, and bright red berry join in. Full tannins with bracing acidity on the finish.
(90)(Blue Green)
Williams Selyem Winery 2002 Westside Road Neighbors Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $59
388 cases produced
A deep rich color with clarity that sparkles. A pleasing and graceful nose with blackberry, plum and cola that carry through onto the palate. The finish is long accented by oak, blackberry and full tannins.
(90)
Esser Cellars 2002 Pinot Noir, California, $9.99
5,000 cases produced
Tasty and a real value! A nicely balanced, lighter-style Pinot Noir. Strawberry and cherry aromas and flavors with hints of cranberry and cassis joined by black pepper, herbs and earth mid-palate. The long berry finish completes the package. An incredible wine at only $9.99!
(90)(Dark Gray)


heartheartheart = An Affair to Remember


Wente Family Estates 2002 Reliz Creek Reserve Pinot Noir, Arroyo Seco - Monterey, $18
6,500 cases produced
Cassis and cola touched by sour cherry, tar and subtle oak. Cranberry with a touch of lemon peel on the finish of this full-bodied Pinot Noir.
(89.9)
Copeland Creek 2001 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
The aromas jump out of the glass bursting with mixed berry, floral notes and an underlying hint of vanilla and wax. The tart red berry entry is present throughout with added brown baking spices, cedar, coffee and black pepper joining the melody mid-palate. Medium body and depth, balanced structure and red berry finish form a wine that is sure pleasure.
(89.8)
Laetitia Vineyard and Winery 2002 Estate Pinot Noir, Arroyo Grande Valley, $25
4,000 cases produced
Decadent and intense purple-blue in color. Alluring cherry aromas, grandma's fragrant dark blackberry jam and anise backed by hints of chocolate and black cherry. The aromas carry through onto the palate with vanilla, cedar and allspice enhancements. The big and rich flavors make this a worthy choice for those who like bold wines!.
(89.8)
Coho Wines Coho Stanly Ranch 2002 Estate Pinot Noir Estate, Los Carneros, $35
Bright ruby with a light pink rim. Luscious cherries, velvety nose of leather, raspberries, caramel, medium light body, good structure, cola adds to the nice finish!.
(89.7)
Kynsi Winery 2002 Pinot Noir Estate, Santa Maria Valley, $36
165 cases produced
The wine is garnet, bright and inviting. Aromas of cherry, blackberry and raspberry with hints of earth and lavender lead to tart cherry cassis flavors on entry gaining in richness in the mouth with oak accents and nice acidity. A Pinot Noir with a medium-light body and structure with good balance and length.
(89.7)
Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves Gravel Knob Vineyard 2001 Pinot Noir, Carneros, $40
Ruby in color and slightly cloudy with sweet light cherry and strawberry aromas. Tart mixed berry fruit with coffee, black pepper and eucalyptus are delivered on the palate. Round and rich. Tart berry on the finish with a slight prune note.
(89.5)
Rabbit Ridge Live Oak Vineyard Westside Reserve 2002 Pinot Noir, Paso Robles, $35
48 cases produced
An elegant bright red color with a soft nose of fruit stand cherries and wild ripe berries, jammy, big on the palate, last fall's dried leaves with dusty tannins and a sumptuous medium body whose finish you'll remember!
(89.5)
Pezzi King 2001 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $30
580 cases produced
The nose is subtle alluding to soft red berries and coffee. The aromas deliver onto the palate joined by black cherry, vanilla, black pepper, and plum lending complexity through the finish. A full- bodied wine with structured depth and length.
(89.3)
Davis Bynum 2001 Lindley's Knoll Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $50
325 cases produced
A well-made and balanced wine...spicy cinnamon and cider aromas develop into a jubliee of black fruit flavors with coffee and clove notes wrapped around a solid core of oak.
(88)
Davis Family Vineyards 2002 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $30
400 cases produced
Dark red fruit aromas and flavors accented by earthy, forest floor notes. Soft on the palate, nicely balanced with good fruit/oak ratio.
(88)
Reynolds Family Winery 2003 Pinot Noir, Carneros, $45
300 cases produced
A sinful deep ruby with ripe cooked cherries, black pepper, baking spice, black cherry, and cassis in the nose. Delightful on the palate bolstered by plum flavors and chocolate notes.
(88)
Robert Stemmler Winery Nugent Vineyard 2002 Pinot Noir, Russian River, $32
488 cases produced
Classic Pinot Noir aromas. Balanced with bright acid and red fruit enhanced by oak, earth and forest loam notes. A powerful wine that will improve with time.
(88)
Signorello Vineyards 2002 Pinot Noir, Carneros, $32
Elegant and understated. Bright ruby with a shy raspberry, vanilla nose. The aromas repeat on entry with a myriad of flavors joining in...cherry, mushroom, forest loam, cranberry, cassis, and plum. The tannins are still prominent but this balanced wine will age well.
(88)
Windy Ridge 2002 Pinot Noir, North Coast, $7.99
1,800 cases produced
Fresh and clean. Nice middle fruit and a pleasant finish.
(88)
Toad Hall Cellars 2003 Lavender Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir, Carneros, $25
Rich black raspberry combines with cherry cobbler, baking spice and brioche aromas and flavors. The clean black fruit is accented by black tea and graphite notes in this medium-bodied wine.
(87.8)
Chumeia Vineyards 2001 Estate Pinot Noir Estate, Santa Lucia Highlands, $28
335 cases produced
The light ruby color with bright cherry, raspberry and vanilla aromas leads to elegant red berry flavors that extend from entry through the finish with vanilla, cherry, cedar, and nutmeg accents. The tannins are round with a supple mouth feel, medium body and silky length. This Pinot will light up your evening.
(87.6)
Schug Carneros Estate Winery 2002 Pinot Noir, Carneros, $30
Cranberry and cherry aromas burst out of the glass and carry through onto the palate deepening with plum flavors mid-palate and finishing with berries and cherries on the finish. Supple in the mouth.
(87.6)
Avila Winery 2003 Pinot Noir, San Luis Obispo County, $13
10,000 cases produced
The wine is opaque, purple from the core to the rim. Bing cherries, rose petals and raisins emanate from the sweet nose. Deep, concentrated and youthful.
(87)
Gary Farrell 2003 Starr Ridge Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $40
968 cases produced
Graceful and inviting aromatics beckon you to taste this balanced wine. Lively fruit enhanced with spice and lovely oak notes.
(87)
Harmonique Wine 2002 The Noble One Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $48
370 cases produced
A powerful, well-balanced wine. Gutsy Pinot style. Clean fruit that is developing the traditional velvety texture that we love about Pinot Noir.
(87)
Papapietro Perry 2002 Peter's Vineyard Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, $42
Sweet strawberry aromas with foresty notes. Lots of strawberry fruit on the palate with spice rack full of spice on the finish. Needs time.
(87)
Rodney Strong Vineyards Jane's Vineyard 2001 Reserve Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $30
1,935 cases produced
Dusty tannins over blackberry and sandalwood. The wine is a little edgy at present but should show well in a year or two.
(87)
Signorello Vineyards Las Amigas Vineyard 2001 Pinot Noir, Carneros, $32
260 cases produced
A big Pinot Noir with lots of cola, berry, cherry and vanilla in the nose. The wine is totally different in the mouth with oaky cassis flavors. A full bodied Pinot Noir with lots of cleansing acidity.
(87)
Surprise Valley Ranch Shandel's Oppenlander Vineyard 2002 Pinot Noir, Mendocino, $30
221 cases produced
A mouth-filling wine - a barnyard nose with rich cherry flavors. An earthy thread run through this complex wine.
(87)
Toad Hall Cellars Lavender Hill Vineyard 2002 Pinot Noir, , $22
680 cases produced
Aromas and flavors fill the senses...blackberry jam and nice ripe cherries play tag with brown baking spices, medium bodied with the right tannins on finish.
(87)
Wild Horse Winery and Vineyards 2002 Cheval Sauvage Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, $50
593 cases produced
A complex wine. Still very youthful. Bright black cherry and plum fruit. Good depth and extraction. Rich and full on the finish.
(87)
Caernarvon Cellars 2002 Pinot Noir Estate, San Lucas (Monterey County), $25
167 cases produced
Violets, baking spice, cooked strawberry and coffee on the nose and in the mouth. Geranium notes present throughout. Lots of acidity.
(86.8)
Tassajara Cellars Ward Vineyard 2002 Pinot Noir, Contra Costa County, $18
75 cases produced
The enticing plum, blackberry, nutmeg, and cinnamon aromas replicate on the palate. A wine with a silky mouthfeel. The classic structure exhibits a complex, delightful wine.
(86.8)
TarraWarra Estate 2001 Pinot Noir, Australia, $32
3,000 cases produced
Medium-light ruby with a tight nose that doesn't prepare you at all for the chalky, tar and layered black fruit depth accented by plum flavors. Chalky tannins, full bodied, mouth coating and an interesting wine that is sure to cause lots of discussions among Pinot lovers.
(86.5)
David Bruce Winery 2002 Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, $40
760 cases produced
Big and beefy black fruit, full-bodied, huge structure with fruit to age gracefully. Still somewhat disjointed - give it time.
(86.4)
Alexander Valley Vineyards Wetzel Family Estate 2002 Pinot Noir, Alexander Valley, $20
2,850 cases produced
A BIG wine! Cherry, anise and cola with a judicious use of oak. The finish is soft and sensuous.
(86)
Barefoot Reserve Pinot Noir 2002 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $12.99
2,289 cases produced
Lavender, cherry and currant aromas and flavors abound in this elegant wine. Very aromatic and a good example of Russian River Pinot Noir.
(86)
Cuneo Cellars Cana's Feast 2002 Cuvee "G" Pinot Noir Estate, Willamette Valley, $40
270 cases produced
Garnet color with a fairly closed nose hinting at cherry and opening to cherry cassis vanilla cream notes joining the soiree. Balance and elegance are the watchword in this wine.
(86)
Davis Bynum 2002 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $28
Lovely texture and mouthfeel. Leather, oak and cooked cherries on the full middle palate and through the long finish.
(86)
De Bortoli 2003 Gulf Station Pinot Noir Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, $19.99
100 cases produced
Fragrant aromas of minty cherry and raspberry develop into cranberry, cassis and strawberry with hints of tar and cola with round tannins and a tart finish of mixed red berry.
(86)
Foppiano Vineyards 2001 Estate Bottled Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $21
880 cases produced
Vanilla over fresh cherry aromas and flavors. Lemon accents on the finish. Not a typical Pinot Noir but a very pleasant wine.
(86)
Gary Farrell 2002 Starr Ridge Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
Lightly perfumed aromatics of violets, raspberries and cherries lead to lush berry flavors layered with oak and an elegant, satiny finish.
(86)
Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves 2001 Rust Rock Pinot Noir, Carneros, $40
300 cases produced
The color is bright ruby with touches of amber. The nose is shy at first with subdued smoky cherry aromas opening to dark black cherry, black raspberry, strawberry, orange peel and black pepper flavors. Rich mouthfeel. Nice textural quality.
(86)
Hamel Wines Campbell Ranch Anapolis 2003 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, $28
550 cases produced
The nose is closed at first opening to earthy notes and finally to some bright strawberry fruit. The fruit flavors are crisp, almost tartlike with forward oak and cleansing acidity.
(86)
Harmonique Wine 2002 Delicace Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $48
550 cases produced
Sitting in Grandma's kitchen - enjoying her fresh baked scones with strawberry jam. Vanilla, strawberry jam, cloves, and coffee notes in the nose deliver the same on the palate with a long juicy finish.
(86)
Laetitia Vineyard and Winery 2002 Reserve Pinot Noir, Arroyo Grande Valley, $40
530 cases produced
Lively spice, rich fruit - ligonberry accented with sassafras backnotes. Rich fruit and a long inviting finish.
(86)
Lynmar Winery 2002 Quail Cuvee Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $40
Cherries! Lovely fruit - great mouthfeel. A balanced quaffer.
(86)
Lynmar Winery Lynmar 2002 Quail Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $30
2,276 cases produced
Wonderful color with raspberry, cherry, pomegranate, cola, tea, and barnyard aromas. Soft, elevated raspberry flavors dominate the entry. Full on the palate, with a nice full mouth turning to sour cherries and cola backnotes. Soft tannins on the finish.
(86)
Phillips Hill Estates Oppenlander Vineyard 2002 Pinot Noir, Mendocino, $40
100 cases produced
Very dark in color. Cherry cola nose. Heavily extracted - big bold fruit. Lip-smacking bing cherry with enough acidity to carry the heavier weight. A bigger style Pinot that will make for fun drinking for the next 2-3 years.
(86)
Sullivan Birney Winery 2002 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, $28
565 cases produced
Lots of oak, earthiness and barnyard overlay the strawberry aromas that are repeated on the palate. Bold not elegant.
(86)
Roessler Cellars 2002 Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, $26
476 cases produced
Dark cherry and cola aromas and flavors. Still quite tannic and a bit bitter but we believe there's enough fruit to create a nice wine in time.
(86)
Row Eleven Wine Company 2001 Quartier 116 Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, $55
115 cases produced
Elegant wine in the mouth. The nose is very closed opening slightly to reveal cola notes. Light, tart cherry flavors. Will this smooth out with more time?
(86)
Salentein 2002 Reserve Pinot Noir, Mendoza, Argentina, $29
800 cases produced
Subdued and elegant wine. The finish is short but may develop with time.
(86)
Salentein 2002 Estate Pinot Noir, Mendoza, Argentina, $17.99
This is a big wine, lots of oak and lots of tannin. Give it time to show some grace.
(86)
Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery 2003 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, $15
16,300 cases produced
The toasty Pinot Noir nose leads to black skinned fruit flavors with lots of oak and tannin. A heavy style Pinot Noir.
(86)
Stangeland Vineyards & Winery 2000 Winemakers Estate Reserve Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $60
100 cases produced
Cherry, raspberry and vanilla on the nose joined by a touch of greenness on the palate. The flavors show a decent amount of ripe fruit. The finish is long and memorable - loaded with cherry and cassis.
(86)
Sullivan Birney Winery Katherine Vineyard 2002 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Mountain, $34
433 cases produced
Ah, cherry cola! Pronounced fruit, a silky profile and seamless continuity. An obvious and enticing wine.
(86)
Ventana Vineyards 2001 Estate Bottled Pinot Noir, Arroyo Seco Monterey, $24
575 cases produced
A California-style Pinot. Big dark fruit in the mouth with touches of barnyard. The finish is long with green pepper notes.
(86)
Laetitia Vineyard and Winery 2002 Single Vineyard La Colline Pinot Noir, Arroyo Grande Valley, $60
A very masculine wine, deep, dense and concentrated with rich black cherry and black tea backnotes.
(85.8)
Orchid Hill 2002 Pinot Noir, Central Coast/Paso Robles, $23.5
135 cases produced
The nose is very dense and closed at first, opening slowly to oak and vanilla and finally to some nice blueberry and cherry. Lots of tannin and oak overshadow the lively underlying fruit. Needs time.
(85.8)
Amici Cellars 2002 Pinot Noir, Mendocino, $35
165 cases produced
Bright cherry with dill notes lead to cherry cola flavors with elevated acidity and oak that hangs in there through the finish.
(85.75)
Buchli Station 2003 Pinot Noir, Carneros, $12
8,900 cases produced
A lighter style Pinot Noir with cherry pie aromas evolving into cherry, plum and cranberry with black pepper backnotes.
(85.75)
Mt. Hood Winery 2002 Wy'East Vineyards Pinot Noir, Columbia Gorge, $22
168 cases produced
Yummy berry nose leads to a lighter style of Pinot until the finish which is heavy with oak.
(85.6)
Oak Knoll Winery 2001 Vintage Reserve Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $29.95
A nice wine...spicy with solid cherry flavors.
(85.5)
Coho Wines 2002 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $30
182 cases produced
Smokey, but no bandit. Warm and plummy fruit, toasty cedar, butterscotch, vanilla, root beer.
(85.5)
Schug Carneros Estate Winery 2003 Pinot Noir, Carneros, $20
5,355 cases produced
The shy nose hints at mixed berry and opens to cola berry flavors with the addition of black pepper mid-palate. A balanced wine with lots of acidity on the finish.
(85.5)
Opolo Vineyards Opolo Vineyards 2002 2002 Pinot Noir, Westside Paso Robles, $24
930 cases produced
A dark, brooding Pinot Noir with a big inviting cherry, raspberry and strawberry nose, lots of oak in mid-palate finishing with a blast of tart cherry.
(85.4)
Esterlina Vineyards 2001 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $35
790 cases produced
Expressive cherry, raspberry and plum aromas replicate throughout. Round tannins, fleshy mouthfeel. A hedonistic wine. A bit light on the acidity.
(85.3)
Barefoot Reserve Pinot Noir 2003 Pinot Noir, , $12.99
A pretty wine with strawberry, cherry, tart cranberry, and smoke in the nose and the mouth.
(85)
Baileyana 2002 Pinot Noir, Edna Valley, $23
4,330 cases produced
The concentrated cola and berry nose evolves into wild cherry flavors with light spice backnotes and oak on the finish. A nicely balanced wine.
(85)
Bartholomew Park Winery 2001 Pinot Noir Estate, Sonoma, $28
426 cases produced
A pleasant, easy drinking wine. Sweet candied cherry aromas lead to cherry cola flavors with nice oak accents.
(85)
Claiborne and Churchill Winery 2002 Twin Creeks Pinot Noir Estate, Edna Valley, $32.5
397 cases produced
Cooked cherry and spice notes in the nose carry through onto the palate. Sour cherry pie in the mouth finishing with nice acidity.
(85)
Fetzer Vineyards Five Rivers Ranch 2003 Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, $70
Dense, focused black fruit with hints of cola and baking spice. Brown sugar accents on the soft palate.
(85)
Fort Ross 2000 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
The nose is pure cherry but delivers tart cranberry on the palate in this very structured wine.
(85)
Frei Brothers Reserve 2002 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $24
290 cases produced
Juicy! Nice acid and balance with crushed red cherries that linger on the finish.
(85)
Ketelsen Vineyard and Winery 2002 Tudor House Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $28
128 cases produced
A simple, fresh style of Pinot Noir showing cherry, plum and vanilla notes with cedar accents.
(85)
La Crema Winery 2003 Pinot Noir, Carneros, $22
Sweet plum jam with a round mouthfeel. Drink now...why wait?
(85)
MacMurray Ranch 2003 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $32
Strawberry and cherry aromas extending to the palate with lots of clove on the finish.
(85)
Paraiso 2002 Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, $20
2,990 cases produced
A simple light style of Pinot Noir with cola and cherry flavors accented by forest notes.
(85)
Robert Stemmler Winery 2002 Ferguson Block Pinot Noir, Carneros, $40
Cherry and black cherry on the nose. A big wine with lots of tannin.
(85)
Rodney Strong Vineyards Jane's Vineyard 2002 Reserve Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $30
Smoky, toasty, charred aromas with some barnyard notes. Lots of oak with light black cherry and currant fruit.
(85)
Toad Hollow 2001 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $19.99
5,000 cases produced
Sweet cherry aromatics touched with tobacco notes. The mouth shows interesting layers of light smoke and cherry.
(85)
Wild Horse Winery 2002 Pinot Noir, Central Coast, $22
20,000 cases produced
Candied cherries. Yum! Nice balance. Good fruit.
(85)
Murphy-Goode Winery 2002 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $30
1,400 six pack cases cases produced
One for tonight! Plum, rose petals and enticing oak accents...clean palate reflective of the nose.
(84.9)
Cosentino Winery 2002 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $32
169 cases produced
Cherry and raspberry aromas and flavors dominate this semi-silky wine with additions of black pepper, cassis and earthiness. Look for the burst of acid at the end of the mid-length finish.
(84.8)
Rabbit Ridge 2003 Pinot Noir, Paso Robles, $16
620 cases produced
Deep in color - running to purple. Black cherry, plum and a hint of chocolate on the nose. Plenty of structure and length. Cherry cola flavors dominate.
(84.75)
Claiborne and Churchill Winery 2002 Pinot Noir Estate, Edna Valley, $16
The light cherry aromas open to tart berry and cherry flavors enhanced with toasty oak and a nice cherry finish. A lighter style with nice acidity.
(84.7)
Bogle Vineyards 2002 Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, $13
4,000 cases produced
A youthful smelling wine with bright fruit especially strawberry.
(84.5)
Bargetto Winery 2002 Reserve Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, $30
The color is deep ruby with cherry, blackberry and earthy backnotes on the nose. The palate is cassis and cranberry with baking spice and floral accents. Plenty of oak and tannin here.
(84)
David Bruce Winery 2002 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $40
2,668 cases produced
A spicy nose, a palate of dried cherries and brown spice...the finish lingers.
(84)
Dutch Bill Creek Heintz Ranch 2002 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
473 cases produced
Delicate strawberry on the nose with cola and orange notes on the finish.
(84)
Hill Family Estate 2002 Pinot Noir, Carneros - Napa Valley
40 cases produced
Dark and spicy. Nice wine but is this Pinot?
(84)
Kim Crawford 2003 Anderson Vineyard Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand, $17
40 cases produced
Deep red, almost black in the glass. Bright cherry pie, extracted. very ripe fruit with firm grape and oak tannins.
(84)
King Estate Winery 2001 Domaine Pinot Noir, Oregon, $50
1,066/six-packs cases produced
Aromas of cola, berry, cherry and violets in the nose carry through onto the palate. Oak is prominent now but this balanced wine with medium tannins should evolve nicely over the next year or so.
(84)
La Crema Winery 2003 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, $20
500 cases produced
This blood red wine is chewy and dense with deep cherries, vanilla and coffee in the nose and mouth. Nicely balanced.
(84)
Michel-Schlumberger 2002 Pinot Noir, Dry Creek Valley, $38
480 cases produced
A big, big wine! Floral notes, cherry and black cherry on the nose and in the mouth. Lots of tannin. Should smooth out in time.
(84)
Perbacco Cellars 2002 Pinot Noir, Arroyo Grande Valley, $25
207 cases produced
An earthy style of Pinot Noir with soft fruit and nice acid.
(84)
Rodney Strong Vineyards 2002 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $18
1,920 cases produced
Cherries, cherries and more cherries! The mentholated cherry nose opens to light cherry flavors in the mouth and sour cherries on the finish.
(84)
Stangeland Vineyards & Winery Stand Sure Vineyards 2002 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $24
Vanilla and cola in the nose and mouth. Sour cherry notes on the finish. Oak is a bit heavy-handed.
(84)
Thomas Fogarty Winery 2001 Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, $25
1,664 cases produced
The nose is slightly off at first but develops ripe cherry and red berry fruit with floral backnotes that repeat on the palate with the addition of vanilla notes. Medium body and depth with a fairly long finish.
(84)
Willamette Valley Vineyards 2003 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $17
Candied strawberry Jolly Rancher nose leads to very fruity style of Pinot Noir. Simple and enjoyable. A good sipper.
(84)
Fess Parker Marcella's Vineyard 2002 Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, $40
265 cases produced
Closed aromas which open up after aeration to dark intense flavors of spicy herbs and cherries with brown sugar notes on the astringent finish.
(83.8)
Londer Vineyards Londer Vineyards 2002 Paraboll Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $45
496 cases produced
Deep and dark flavors with lots of plummy accents and lots of tannin.
(83.8)
Londer Vineyards 2002 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $28
Very distinctive with a meaty, peppery nose. A dollop of cherry with herb flavors. A touch of heat on the finish.
(83.7)
Cavit 2003 Pinot Noir, delle Venezie igt (Italy), $8.99
120 cases produced
Beaujolais anyone? Fruity, simple and pleasant.
(83.5)
Fetzer Vineyards 2002 Reserve Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, $40
867 cases produced
Spice driven aromas open to a wine with backbone and structure. Dark very ripe fruit in the mouth.
(83.5)
Claudia Springs Klindt Vineyard 2002 Pinot Noir Estate, Anderson Valley, $24
425 cases produced
The nose is reminiscent of Celestial Seasonings berry tea. Herbaceous raspberries in the mouth with good fruit, good acid and a nice finish.
(83.5)
Gundlach Bundschu Winery 2002 Rhinefarm Vineyard Pinot Noir, Sonoma Valley, $32
1,337 cases produced
A simple Pinot Noir with light cherry on the nose. There is an unusual element at first sniff but it dissipates with time. Cola, tart cherry in the mouth and a finish with nice acidity.
(83.5)
Castoro Cellars Bien Nacido 2002 Reserve Pinot Noir Estate, Santa Barbara County, $17.95
765 cases produced
Strawberry jam and cola aromas deliver bright fruit on the palate. A clean and well-balanced lighter style Pinot Noir.
(83.4)
Elkhorn Peak Cellars 2001 Pinot Noir, Napa Valley, $28
1,100 cases produced
Black pepper and an array of spices accent the light cherry and raspberry aromas. An elegant cherry mix with berry, anise and cedar through the mid-palate. This wine is medium-bodied with a balanced structure. Round and smooth tannins. The finish is a bit astringent.
(83.4)
Chumeia Vineyards 2002 Pinot Noir Estate, Central Coast, $16
A nose of cherry and plum with earthy backnotes duplicates on the palate and then morphs into nutty mushroom flavors with an oaky finish.
(83)
Esterlina Vineyards 2002 Pinot Noir, Russian River, $30
Black cherry, light cola and accents of ginger are lovely in the nose and mouth. The flavors are too short-lived - the finish is disappointingly short.
(83)
Gundlach Bundschu Winery 2002 Block 13 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, $19
Wild cherries with lots of herbs on the nose repeat on the palate with the addition of plum notes and a good dollop of oak.
(83)
Hendry Winery 2002 Pinot Noir, Napa, $27
750 cases produced
Good red fruit here but currently the heavy oak is hiding much of the fruit. We'd like to try this wine again in six months.
(83)
Jewel Collection 2003 Pinot Noir, California, $10
9,000 cases produced
Cherry and strawberry jam. Ripe in the mouth finishing with edgy acidity,
(83)
J. Lynne Cameron Ranch 2002 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $23
192 cases produced
Light aromas of strawberry with some oak. The mouth delivers more flavors than expected. A lighter style of Pinot Noir.
(83)
J. Lynne Cameron Ranch 2003 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $23
2,690 cases produced
A very youthful wine showing cherry and strawberry on the palate and cleansing acidity on the finish.
(83)
Laetitia Vineyard and Winery 2002 Single Vineyard Les Galets Pinot Noir, Arroyo Grande Valley, $60
220 cases produced
Barnyard aromas. Very powerful dark cherry and berry palate. Lots of tannin here.
(83)
Matua Valley 2003 Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand, $15
3,000 imported cases produced
Spicy red fruit, cola and smoky notes develop into light strawberry with hints of orange peel. The wine has lots of lively fruit in the middle and a very nice finish.
(83)
Opitz Cellars 2000 Pinot Noir, Napa - Carneros, $28
200 cases produced
Menthol, cherry and oreo cookies greet you as you put your nose in the glass. A big wine that is cab-like in style.
(83)
Row Eleven Wine Company 2002 Pinot Noir, San Luis Obispo/ Mendocino Counties, $24
250 cases produced
The nose is initially closed but with time opens to reveal very Pinotesque aromas. The wine is big and a bit clumsy. We liked the other Row Eleven Pinots a lot better than this one.
(83)
Windward Vineyard Monopole 2001 Estate Bottled Pinot Noir, Paso Robles, $30
1,360 cases produced
An unusual wine. The nose is extremely tight. Cherry fruit mid-palate moving to cranberry. The finish is short.
(83)
Casa Vinicola Tayerle 2002 Pinot Noir Estate, Carneros, $24
200 cases produced
A nice example of classic but simple Pinot.
(82.4)
Artevino 2003 Pinot Noir, Yorkville Highlands, $30
364 cases produced
Light cherry and a hint of mint on the nose. Heavy anise and cassis in the mouth.
(82)
Bargetto Winery 2002 Pinot Noir, Central Coast, $12
856 cases produced
A bit medicinal at first sniff opening to cherry, spice and menthol notes. Nice middle mouth but the finish is a bit hot.
(82)
Row Eleven Wine Co 2001 Ricardo d. & Friends Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, $55
120 cases produced
Candied cherry, red licorice and a subtle mintiness. The fruit is light, as if the grapes didn't fulfill their part of the bargain.
(82)
Weibel Oak Hill Vineyard 2002 Pinot Noir Oak Hill Vineyard, Mendocino County, $8.50
600 cases produced
The nose is slightly funky. Mixed red berry and cherry on entry with a tart berry finish with cola, cedar and vanilla backnotes.
(81)
Fenestra 2001 Pinot Noir, Livermore Valley, $22.5
352 cases produced
A soft wine with a rounded finish. Juicy cherry with anise and earthy notes.
(80)
De Bortoli Wines 2002 Windy Peak Pinot Noir, Victoria, $14.95
500 cases produced
An atypical Pinot Noir. The flavors of cooked cherry and plum are lush at first turning tight and tart on the finish.
(80)
Kazmer & Blaise Cellar 2002 Primo's Hill Pinot Noir, Carneros, $36
1,183 cases produced
Very deep color with a purple hue. The nose has a heavy toast quality wrapped around a core of dark fruit. A bold wine with firm tannins.
(80)
Willamette Valley Vineyards 2000 Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $28
800 cases produced
Shy cherry nose and mouth with camphor notes. Light fruit - smoky tart cassis, bacon and cherry with heavy tannins.
(80)


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Oak Knoll Winery 2001 Oregon Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $13
3,225 cases produced
A lean wine. Menthol and cherry cola aromas. Not enough fruit in the mouth.
(79)
Selby Winery 2003 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, $28
575 cases produced
The soft candied cherry nose with brown spices in the background promise flavors that are not delivered. The heat of the wine destroys the expected fruit on the palate.
(79)
De Bortoli Wines 2002 Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, $32
Dill and tomato on the nose. Cooked cranberry on the finish. The middle mouth never really comes together.
(76)