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06.29.2009

The Best Pinot Noir in California?: Tasting Pinot Days 2009

pinotdays09.jpgThe Pinot Days grand tasting event, which took place yesterday at Fort Mason in San Francisco, brings together one of the largest collections of Pinot Noir producers in North America for the tasting pleasure of the public.

I was interested to see whether attendance at this year's event would be noticeably lower, but if it was, I couldn't tell. The place seemed just as packed as ever, which is a good thing -- the California wine industry needs all the help it can get in this recession.

So needless to say, I was in good company tasting yesterday with 3500 of my wine loving friends.

I use such events, comprehensive as they are, as a means of judging the overall quality of the vintage in California, if it is possible to generalize in such a way as this. At this most recent tasting, the 2007 Pinot Noirs were on display, and I found them generally quite good, with excellent acidity, bright fruit, and, increasingly less ripe than past vintages.

The industry thankfully continues to dial back the extraction and ripeness from levels that seemed to peak in the 2002 and 2003 vintages. This is especially true for the wines from the Santa Lucia Highlands which tend to be some of the most overripe Pinot Noirs made in Northern California. Wines from Garys' Vineyard, Pisoni Vineyard, and Rosella's Vineyard, continue to be moderated to saner levels of fruit and alcohol than in the past.

I've called out the few nice roses I found as well as a couple white wines that were on offer.

Enjoy.


WHITE WINES THAT SNUCK INTO THE TASTING
2007 Chasseur Lorenzo Chardonnay, Russian River Valley. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $55.
2006 Bjornstad Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay, Russian River Valley. Score: around 9. Cost: $40
2006 Fort Ross Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $32
2007 Hirsch Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $50


PINK WINES
2008 Clos Pepe Rose of Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $18
2008 Fort Ross Rose of Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. Score: around 9. Cost: $16
2008 Macrostie Rose of Pinot Noir, Sonoma County. Score: around 9. Cost: $20
2008 Inman Family Vineyards Rose of Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $25
2007 Albiouness Rose of Pinot Noir, Carneros. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $15
2008 Lynmar Rose of Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. Score: between 8 and 8.5. Cost: $20
2008 Bjornstad Rose of Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. Score: between 8 and 8.5. Cost: $18


AND NOW LET'S GET DOWN TO BUSINESS:


WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5
2005 Clos Pepe, Santa Rita Hills. $48. Where to buy?
2000 Clos Pepe, Santa Rita Hills. $48.
2004 Derbes Les Pinots, Russian River Valley. $45. Where to buy?
2007 Morgan Hat Trick, Santa Lucia Highlands. $62. Where to buy?
2006 Woodenhead Wiley Vineyard, Anderson Valley. $60. Where to buy?

WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2007 Auteur Sonoma Stage, Sonoma Coast. $50. Where to buy?
2007 Belle Glos Taylor Lane, Sonoma Coast. $45. Where to buy?
1997 Calera Reed, Mt. Harlan. $65.
2007 Chasseur Umino, Russian River Valley. $60.
2007 Chasseur Blank, Russian River Valley. $60.
2007 Clos Pepe, Santa Rita Hills. $48. Where to buy?
2006 Clos Pepe, Santa Rita Hills. $48. Where to buy?
2006 Derbes, Russian River Valley. $47. Where to buy?
2006 Domaine Serene Evenstad, Willamette Valley, OR. $58. Where to buy?
2007 Failla Occidental Ridge, Sonoma Coast. $60.
2006 Fort Ross Pinotage, Sonoma Coast. $32. Where to buy?
2007 Freeman Vineyards Akiko's Cuvee, Sonoma Coast. $52.
2006 Hirsch, Sonoma Coast. $60. Where to buy?
2007 Jim Ball Signature, Anderson Valley. $45. Where to buy?
2006 Keller Estate El Coro, Sonoma Coast. $52.
2006 Morgan Double "L" Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands. $62. Where to buy?
2006 Morgan Rosella's, Santa Lucia Highlands. $85. Where to buy?
2006 Scherrer, Sonoma County. $35. Where to buy?
2006 Scherrer, Russian River Valley. $40. Where to buy?
2007 Woodenhead Humboldt County, Mendocino. $34.
2007 Woodenhead, Russian River Valley. $40.

WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2007 August West Graham Family, Russian River Valley. $50
2007 Auteur Manchester Ridge, Mendocino Ridge. $60
2007 Auteur Shea Vineyard, Willamette Valley, OR. $60
2007 Balletto Burnside Road, Russian River Valley. $36
2007 Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley. $45
2007 Bjornstad Hellenthal, Sonoma Coast. $40
2006 Calera Ryan, Mt. Harlan. $40
2006 Calera Mills, Mt. Harlan. $45
2007 Chasseur, Russian River Valley. $40
2007 Clos Saron Home Vineyard, Sierra Foothills. $45
2007 Dain Savage Juliet, Anderson Valley. $45
2005 Domaine Serene Winery Hill, Willamette Valley, OR. $75
2006 DuNah Estate, Russian River Valley. $45
2006 DuNah Sangiacomo, Sonoma Coast. $45
2007 ENO The One, Santa Lucia Highlands. $35
2006 Expression 44 Degrees - Zena's Crown, Willamette Valley, OR. $48
2006 Failla Vivian, Sonoma Coast. $70
2006 Fort Ross Symposium, Sonoma Coast. $32
2005 Fort Ross Reserve, Sonoma Coast. $49
2007 Freeman Vineyards, Russian River Valley. $41
2006 Gary Farrell Starr Ridge, Russian River Valley. $50
2006 Gary Farrell, Russian River Valley. $40
2006 Goldeneye, Anderson Valley. $55
2006 Inman Family Vineyards OGV, Russian River Valley. $52
2007 Jim Ball Booneville, Anderson Valley. $50
2006 Keller Estate La Cruz Vineyard, Sonoma Coast. $42
2006 Keller Estate Preciosos, Sonoma Coast. $$75
2007 Ketcham, Russian River Valley. $38
2007 Ketcham Estate, Russian River Valley. $48
2007 Ladd Moore Ranch, Russian River Valley. $??
2007 Le Cadeu Equinox, Willamette Valley, OR. $47
2007 Le Cadeu Rocheux, Willamette Valley, OR. $47
2006 Louis Latour Marsannay, Burgundy, France. $20
2005 Louis Latour Les Chaillots -- Aloxe-Corton, Burgundy, France. $45
2006 Lynmar, Russian River Valley. $40
2006 Lynmar Hawk Hill, Russian River Valley. $70
2007 Macrostie Wildcat Mountain, Sonoma Coast. $40
2001 Michaud, Chalone. $n/a
2007 Miner Family Vineyards Garys' Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands. $55
2007 Morgan 12 Clones, Santa Lucia Highlands. $31
2007 Perception Orsi Vineyard, Russian River Valley. $53
2006 Pey-Lucia Frisque, Santa Lucia Highlands. $39
2006 Pey-Marin, Marin County. $39
2004 Pey-Marin, Marin County. $n/a
2002 Pey-Marin, Marin County. $n/a
2006 Roesseler Ridges, Sonoma Coast. $50
2007 Rusack Reserve, Santa Rita Hills. $40
2006 Scherrer Big Brother, Sonoma Coast. $50
2006 Skewis Bush Vineyard, Russian River Valley. $48
2005 Stonier Reserve, Mornington Penninsula, Australia. $45
2005 Varner Picnic Block, Santa Cruz Mountains. $40
2006 Woodenhead Troika, North Coast. $120

WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2006 Abiouness Stanley Ranch, Carneros. $42
2006 Abiouness Hudson Vineyard, Carneros. $48
2006 August West Graham Family, Russian River Valley. $48
2007 August West Rosella's Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands. $50
2007 Balletto Winery Block, Russian River Valley. $36
2007 Belle Glos Las Alturas, Monterey County. $45
2006 Bjornstad Hellenthal, Sonoma Coast. $
2007 Calera, Central Coast. $24
2006 Calera Mount Harlan Cuvee, Mt. Harlan. $30
2002 Calera Mills, Mt. Harlan. $55
2007 Cargasacchi Cargasacchi-Jalama, Santa Barbara County. $??
2007 Cargasacchi, Santa Rita Hills. $??
2007 Chasseur, Sonoma Coast. $40
2004 Clos Saron Home Vineyard, Sierra Foothills. $45
2006 Clos Saron Texas Hill Vineyard, Sierra Foothills. $45
2007 Coterie Fairview Road Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands. $35
2007 Dain Amber Ridge, Russian River Valley. $45
2007 Dain Savage Juliet Reserve, Anderson Valley. $45
2006 ENO Never Say Never, Santa Lucia Highlands. $32
2007 ENO The Brilliant Mind, Santa Lucia Highlands. $32
2006 Expression 44 Degrees - Willakia, Willamette Valley, OR. $48
2007 Expression 39 Degrees - Annabella, Anderson Valley. $48
2007 Freeman Vineyards, Sonoma Coast. $41
2007 Freeman Vineyards Keefer Ranch, Russian River Valley. $46
2006 Freestone Vineyards, Sonoma Coast. $75
2006 Gary Farrell Ramal Vineyard, Carneros. $50
2007 Goldeneye Migration, Anderson Valley. $34
2007 Grochau, Willamette Valley, OR. $24
2007 Grochau Cuvee des Amis, Willamette Valley, OR. $36
2007 Hirsch M, Sonoma Coast. $45
2006 Inman Family Vineyards Thorn Road Ranch, Russian River Valley. $52
2006 Lynmar Quail Hill, Russian River Valley. $60
2007 Lynmar Terre de Promisio, Sonoma Coast. $70
2006 Mac Forbes Coldstream, Yarra Valley, Australia. $50
2007 Macrostie, Carneros. $30
2007 Martinelli Zio Tony Ranch, Russian River Valley. $60
2007 Miner Family Vineyards Rosella's, Santa Lucia Highlands. $55
2006 Morgan Garys' Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands. $62
2007 Papapietro Perry 777 Clone, Russian River Valley. $70
2005 Pey-Marin, Marin County. $n/a
2003 Pey-Marin, Marin County. $n/a
2007 Rusack, Santa Maria Valley. $35
2003 Skewis Floodgate Vineyard, Anderson Valley. $n/a
2006 Tondre, Santa Lucia Highlands. $43
2006 Varner Hidden Block, Santa Cruz Mountains. $40
2005 Varner Holly's Cuvee, Santa Cruz Mountains. $40

WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2006 Albiouness Stanley Ranch Pommard Selection, Carneros. $55
2006 August West Rosella's Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands. $48
2007 Auteur Ophelia, Oregon and California. $38
2007 Balletto Estate, Russian River Valley. $20
2007 Bjornstad Van der Kamp, Sonoma Mountain. $40
2006 Brokenwood, Beechworth, Australia. $25
2000 Clos Saron, Sierra Foothills. $n/a
2007 Coterie Saralee's Vineyard, Russian River Valley. $28
2006 Derby, Central Coast. $42
2007 Hirsch Bohan Dillon, Sonoma Coast. $40
2006 Inman Family Vineyards, Russian River Valley. $45
2006 Kendrick, Marin County. $33
2007 Ladd, Sonoma Coast. $32
2007 Ladd, Russian River Valley. $32
2007 Ladd Cuvee Abigail, Russian River Valley. $??
2007 Le Cadeu Cote Est, Oregon. $47
2005 Louis Latour Chanfleure Pinot Noir, Burgundy, France. $15
2003 Michaud, Chalone. $n/a
2005 Michaud, Chalone. $35
2007 Olsen Ogden, Sonoma Coast. $42
2007 Olsen Ogden, Russian River Valley. $$32
2006 Olsen Ogden, Russian River Valley. $32
2006 Penfolds Cellar Reserve, Adelaide Hills, Australia. $45
2007 Perception, Russian River Valley. $42
2007 Spell Barton, Russian River Valley. $47
2005 Springvale, Tazmania. $29

WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8 AND 8.5
2006 Le Cadeu Cote Est, Oregon. $47
2006 Mayro Murdick, Carneros. $35
2004 Tamar Ridge, Tazmania. $27

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