Castle Rock California Cuvee Pinot Noir 2010
Date Tasted: 2/13/13
Price: Suggested Retail is around $12.00 (purchased for $8.00)
From The Winery: 13.5% alcohol. California AVA.
Impressions/Notes: Castle Rock Winery has become well known for its low-priced, readily available Pinot Noirs. Several of America’s top Pinot AVAs are represented in their bottlings, including the Russian River Valley, Willamette Valley, and Mendocino County. The California Cuvee is a blend that features fruit from multiple California AVAs. Let me start by saying it’s a very drinkable wine. My biggest criticism is that it lacks a Pinot identity. The savory strawberry fruit and oak are Pinot-like, but the notes of Black Forest ham, black licorice, tea, and leather provide some varietal confusion. There’s not a lot of depth, but I wasn’t exactly anticipating that characteristic in a $12 Pinot. Look to the Mendocino wine for better quality at a nominally higher price.
Rating: Not Too Shabby (84), 3/5 Value
Stoller SV Estate Pinot Noir 2007
Date Tasted: 1/6/13
Price: Suggested Retail is $40.00
From The Winery: 13.9% Alcohol. Dundee Hills AVA.
Impressions/Notes: Stoller Vineyards’ SV Estate Pinor Noir is selected from the “senior vines” amongst the 180 acres of Stoller’s vineyards planted in Oregon’s Dundee Hills AVA. The aroma profile of the 2007 vintage is super enticing, with savory roasted chestnuts, black truffle, rhubarb, cranberry, and light sandalwood. Medium in color, there’s a great deal of transparency with this Pinot. In the mouth, the fruit is refreshing and bright, while savory components and a moderate oak influence add further dimensions to the palate. The body is just a shade below medium and the tannins are very light. This is one well-rounded Pinot, and in my opinion well worth the $40.00 price tag.
Rating: Highly Recommended (90-94), 3.5/5 Value
MacMurray Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2010
Date Tasted: 12/24/12
Price: Suggested Retail is $35.00 (Purchased for $15.00)
From The Winery: 13.5% Alcohol. Russian River Valley AVA.
Impressions/Notes: Rule of thumb–if you see a Russian River Valley Pinot Noir priced at $15.00, you buy it. MacMurray Ranch’s 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir presents with a medium garnet hue and has a shy nose of cherry, strawberry, red licorice, and oak. In the mouth, red fruit flavors are met with slightly bitter oak flavors and light tannins. There’s nothing remarkable about this wine and I don’t see it standing out in a lineup, but it’s balanced and very drinkable. It’s a questionable buy at $35.00, but worth purchasing if the price is right.
Rating: Recommended (86-89), 2/5 Value
From the kick off of this blog on January 17, 2012 through tonight, I have reviewed approximately 250 wines. I would like to give special recognition to 50 of those wines, along with one winery that has really stood out this year.
WINE OF THE YEAR/RED WINE OF THE YEAR: Groth Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Napa Valley’s Groth Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is an unforgettable, regal wine that electrifies the senses and does the highly lauded Oakville AVA proud.
WHITE WINE OF THE YEAR: aMaurice Cellars Columbia Valley Viognier 2010
aMaurice Cellars features a flat-out impressive lineup of both white and red wines. Their Columbia Valley Viognier is a delicate, beautiful, and exciting wine that is quite obviously made with care.
$20 BELOW RED WINE OF THE YEAR: Gifford-Hirlinger Stateline Red 2009
With their 2009 Stateline Red, a Cabernet Sauvignon dominated blend, Gifford-Hirlinger proves that there are age and cellar-worthy Cabs available for under $20.00. Retailing at a mind-boggling $16.00, I have purchased more individual bottles of this wine than any other this year.
$20 BELOW WHITE WINE OF THE YEAR: Tempus Cellars Evergreen Vineyard Riesling 2011
Of all of the high quality, low-priced Rieslings that I tasted this year, the Evergreen Vineyard Riesling from Walla Walla up-and-comer Tempus Cellars led the pack. Wine consumers everywhere should rejoice that wines like this one are available for $16.00!
WINERY OF THE YEAR: Rotie Cellars
Winemaker/owner Sean Boyd is doing some amazing things with Rhone varietals at Rotie Cellars in Walla Walla. I had the opportunity to sample six of Rotie’s current releases, highlighted by the 2010 Southern Blend, and I simply can’t recommend their wines enough (if you can find them).
FAB 50 OF 2012
- Groth Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($125.00)
- Woodward Canyon “Artist Series” Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($54.00)
- Long Shadows Wineries Pirouette 2007 ($50.00)
- Rotie Cellars Southern Blend 2010 ($40.00)
- Rasa Principia Reserve Syrah 2008 ($85.00)
- Ridge Geyserville 2009 ($35.00)
- Carlisle Montafi Ranch Zinfandel 2009 ($45.00)
- Rotie Cellars “Little G” 2010 ($45.00)
- Long Shadows Wineries Sequel Syrah 2007 ($50.00)
- Buty Columbia Rediviva Phinny Hill Vineyard 2008 ($48.00)
- aMaurice Cellars Columbia Valley Viognier 2010 ($25.00)
- Maison Bleue Graviere Upland Vineyard 2010 ($45.00)
- Gramercy Cellars Third Man GSM 2009 ($45.00)
- Rasa Doctrina Perpetua Syrah Block 5 Bacchus Vineyard 2009 ($60.00)
- Betz La Cote Rousse Syrah 2007 ($55.00)
- Kistler Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay 2010 ($65.00)
- aMaurice Cellars Columbia Valley Chardonnay 2009 ($28.00)
- Buty Connor Lee Vineyard Chardonnay 2010 ($32.00)
- Proper Syrah 2010 ($36.00)
- Ravenswood Teldeschi Vineyard Zinfandel 2008 ($35.00)
- J “Barrel 16″ Pinot Noir 2010 ($75.00)
- Wild Horse Cheval Sauvage Pinot Noir 2008 ($60.00)
- L’Ecole 41 Estate Merlot 2008 ($36.00)
- L’Ecole 41 Apogee Pepper Bridge Vineyard 2008 ($49.00)
- Saviah Cellars Une Valee Walla Walla Valley 2009 ($32.00)
- Ravenswood Barricia Vineyard Zinfandel 2008 ($35.00)
- Ridge Lytton Springs 2009 ($35.00)
- Girard Artistry 2008 ($40.00)
- MacPhail Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2010 ($39.00)
- Trio Vintners Plaisir 2009 ($26.00)
- Stolpman Estate Syrah 2009 ($34.00)
- Gifford-Hirlinger Stateline Red 2009 ($16.00)
- Erath Pinot Noir Estate Collection 2009 ($34.00)
- Trefethen Dry Riesling 2010 ($22.00)
- Frank Family Vineyards Zinfandel 2009 ($36.75)
- Walla Walla Vintners Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley 2010 ($28.00)
- Aberrant Cellars Confero Pinot Noir 2009 ($35.00)
- Reininger Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2008 ($42.00)
- Seghesio Rockpile Zinfandel 2010 ($38.00)
- Mackey Vineyards Concordia 2009 ($38.00)
- Tempus Cellars Evergreen Vineyard Riesling 2011 ($16.00)
- Syncline Mourvedre 2010 ($30.00)
- Sokol Blosser Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2009 ($38.00)
- K Syrah “Pheasant Vineyard” Wahluke Slope 2010 ($35.00)
- Mackey Vineyards Merlot 2009 ($36.00)
- Tamarack Cellars Merlot Columbia Valley 2008 ($28.00)
- Kontos Cellars Merlot 2009 ($32.00)
- Sequoia Grove Carneros Chardonnay 2009 ($28.00)
- Amavi Cellars Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2010 ($29.00)
- Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2011 ($12.00)
**Please note that detailed reviews and tasting notes for these wines can be located via the “Search” feature in the right column.
Posted on December 8, 2012
in $20 Above, $20 Below, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, Chardonnay, Grenache, Merlot, Mourvedre, Oregon, Pinot Noir, Red Blends, Riesling, Syrah, Viognier, Washington, Wine Column, Zinfandel
Aberrant Cellars Confero Pinot Noir 2009
Date Tasted: 11/30/12
Price: Suggested Retail is $35.00 (purchased for $32.00)
From The Winery: 14.1% alcohol. Willamette Valley AVA. (Detailed description of vineyard and clone Information available by clicking the link above). 560 cases produced.
Impressions/Notes: Aberrant Cellars’ 2009 Confero (Latin for “to bring together”) Pinot Noir is a blend of fruit from vineyards and clones from sub-regions of the Willamette Valley, including the Yamhill/Carlton and Chehalem Mountain AVAs. As I sipped on this excellent wine last night, it hit me that I did not buy/taste enough Oregon Pinot Noirs in 2012–a “problem” that I will have to remedy in 2013. The 2009 Confero is a bright, delicate, and tempting Pinot that presents with a medium garnet color and emits subtle aromas of cherry, raspberry, autumnal leaves, dark chocolate, and sandalwood. In the mouth, this wine has a light-medium body, slightly grainy tannins, and a nice, long finish. I would classify this Pinot as leaning toward the fruitier side, but there are certainly some earth and spice elements that add extra dimensions to the aromas and flavors. I haven’t come across many $35.00 Pinots out there that approach this level of quality. The Confero is a must-buy and a killer deal at this price point.
Rating: Highly Recommended (90-94), 4.5/5 Value