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Sonoma Coast

Au Contraire Pinot Noir 2014

Au Contraire Pinot Noir 2014

The 2014 Au Contraire Pinot Noir is vastly more charming than I expected it to be given the price point. A well-crafted Pinot for less than $25.00 is a rarity and this bottle exceeds expectations. Swoon-worthy aromas of seedy raspberry, black cherry, underbrush, dried rose petal, and warm spice surge from the glass. In the mouth, caressing layers of silky tannins gracefully enfold raspberry turnover and rhubarb compote. It's well-balanced and admittedly hard to put down. 14.3% ABV | Sample Palm Bay International 9.0 Points  ...

J Vineyards Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2014

J Vineyards Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2014

Flat out pretty, J Vineyards Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2014 is sourced from the Russian River Valley, and is a shade more nimble than expected. Robed in translucent garnet, and delivering a pent-up array of woodland berries and raspberries still on the vine, underbrush and rose petal and a dusting of warm spice. It's a poised wine, impeccably balanced with silky, fine and fully integrated tannins. A pleasure to drink. Sample J Vineyards 9.2 Points ...

Square Peg Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2014

Square Peg Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2014

Lovely purity of fruit in Square Peg's 2014 Estate Block 8 Dry Farmed Pinot Noir from Green Valley. Grown at an 800' elevation a mere eight miles from the Pacific Ocean—winemaker William Knuttel has coaxed red berries from this cool climate Pinot along with nuanced aromas of underbrush, rose petal, dried orange peel, and baking spice. I particularly love this wine's rather linear acid—it courses through a tart cherry and cranberry core, a spray of arrows, homing in on a mouthwatering finish tipped in white pepper. Sample Square Peg Winery 8.9 Points...

J Vineyards Brut Rosé NV

J Vineyards Brut Rosé NV

I had the chance to visit J Vineyards in 2015, and was impressed (no pun intended) by the large Coquard press flanking the processing bay of the winery. The Coquard press is traditionally used by Champagne houses, and is extremely gentle. J's Brut Rosé NV is as I remember it, fresh and vivacious, brimming with red apple skins, fresh from the market raspberries, and white flowers. The color of rose gold, the attack is clean and bright, kissed with pomegranate, pomelo and limestone that meanders to a lingering finish. Sample J Vineyards 8.9 Points...

J Vineyards Brut Rosé NV

J Vineyards Brut Rosé NV

J Vineyards is the only domestic sparkling wine producer I've seen with a Coquard press, which is de rigueur in Champagne, but not so across the pond. Their NV Brut Rosé is a spirited blend of 66% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay, and 1% Pinot Meunier, all from the Russian River Valley. The mousse is lively and assertive, boasting notes of creamy strawberries and tart cherries. On the palate, it's crisp and bright with just a touch of biscuity, autolytic character and a medium-length finish. 12.5% ABV | Sample J Vineyards & Winery 8.8 Points...

Gallo Signature Series Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2013

Gallo Signature Series Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2013

An elegantly styled, full and fleshy Sonoma Chardonnay from Gallo’s Signature Line. The 2013 blossoms in the glass with aromas of bruised apple, yellow peach, caramel, acacia flowers and toasted hazelnut. High glycerol and admittedly high alcohol of 14.8%, but this is well integrated on the palate and nicely balanced by a burst of acidity, which leads into an extraordinarily long finish that ends in wet dough, ginger and apple skins. For the $33.00 price tag, I wouldn’t hesitate to class this with Sonoma Chards that cost twice as much. Well played, Gallo Family Vineyards. 9.1 Points...

Coquerel Terroir Pinot Noir 2012

Coquerel Terroir Pinot Noir 2012

Almost Burgundian in expression, the 2012 Coquerel Terroir Pinot Noir offers aromas of crushed raspberries, dried cherries, allspice, caramelized brown sugar, earth and mushrooms. Bright acidity lends lift to a core that is sweetly outfitted in red fruit, with marked purity, low tannins, and acid that hits the sides of the tongue and pleasantly lingers. There is an echo of spice and game on the finish— it should pair beautifully with savory fall dishes, Delicata squash or game hens stuffed with wild rice and dried fruit. Sample Coquerel Wine 9.0 Points...

Auteur Pinot Noir Sonoma Stage Vineyard 2007

Auteur Pinot Noir Sonoma Stage Vineyard 2007

The 2007 Auteur Sonoma Stage Vineyard Pinot Noir is tired and feels like the fruit is fading. On the nose, aromas of dust, dried cherries, dried rose petal and a hit of alcohol. In the mouth, a stemmy high note, followed by rose petals and red berries, but nothing really precise. It finishes hot, too. As we say in WSET speak, it's long past its best. Auteur Winery 8.0 Points/Flawed...

Dehlinger Estate Bottled Pinot Noir Rosé 2014

Dehlinger Estate Bottled Pinot Noir Rosé 2014

The 2014 Dehlinger Pinot Noir Rosé offers up a nose of fresh strawberries, with a touch of tart cherry. Not overly complex, though enjoyable. There is, perhaps a trace of lemon pith on the finish. I have enjoyed other wines from Dehlinger, particularly their Syrah. My advice: skip this one, great Old World, especially Provence rosé can be obtained for less. Dehlinger Winery 8.7 Points...

Failla Occidental Ridge Pinot Noir 2005

Failla Occidental Ridge Pinot Noir 2005

The 2005 Failla Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir is austere and bright at nearly 10 years on. The nose is dominated by red fruit: rhubarb, cranberry, and crushed raspberries. It's lean and spare and incredibly tart on the palate with pronounced, angular mid-to-back palate tannins. The tartness, unfortunately dominates the profile, giving impression that it's a bit out of balance. I think perhaps it might have given a bit more fruit at a younger age. Failla Wines 8.8 Points...