A California Pinot Tasting

From June 2013 – First 30 Days with the Sony RX100

Thursday – went for another series of tasting with Bill. This time, the focus was on California Pinot Noirs. I’d love to do a tasting that compares California Pinots against Oregon and New Zealand Pinots.

2011 Patz & Hall Santa Lucia Pisoni Vineyard $80
First in line-up. Patz has a reputation of charging up for their wines. At $80, none of us were particularly impressed. Very grapey/fruity wines. Quite a bit of oak on it and it tasted pretty hot.

2010 Donum Estate Carneros Estate $75
We got the standard whiff of strawberries with this one that we didn’t quite get with the Patz. Earthy and chalky, with a nice long finish.

2010 Donum Estate Carneros West Slope $95
Everyone liked the Carneros Estate pinot – it was easy to discern the layers of aroma that folded repeatedly onto one another: luscious strawberries, earth, iron. With the West Slope, everything just seemed more subtle, sensual. Silk in a mouthful, essentially. I loved this. Favorite of the evening, although it’s hard to justify the $95 price tag (happily though, I looked the day after the tasting and found a couple of 2009 online for $60 each!). Delicious finish that just rolled on forever in my mouth.

2010 Merry Edwards Russian River Flax Vineyard $54
Bright. Very bright. Some barnyard in the nose, along with some citrusy note and Dr. Pepper (huh!). Tannins at the end. Although its alcohol percentage was only 14.1% vs. Donum, it tasted hotter.

2010 Merry Edwards Russian River Klopp Vineyard $52
More strawberries in the nose than the ME Flax. Sweeter, darker in color. Tannins in the finish also.

2010 Merry Edwards Russian River Meredith Vineyard $57
The best of the three ME we had. Nice nose, less tannins than the prior two MEs. Big bold finish.

2010 Donum Estate Russian River $70

Having tasted the spectrum of Donum against Merry Edwards, it’s really interesting how my one big takeaway was that Donum had that much more finesse, especially at the finish. With Merry Edwards, the tannins were right there, at the very end, and the wines tasted hot, even though the alcohol percentage of the Donums were a tad higher than the Merry Edwards. My palate felt a lot more refreshed with the Donums.

2011 Williams Selyem Sonoma Coast Terra de Promissio Vineyard $80
$80, seriously? Maybe it’s not a fair comparison, but coming off the heels of the Donum, none of us decided we really liked it. We got some salty caramel and peanut in the mouth. It was juicy and sweet in the mouth, but the finish dropped off quite abruptly. Didn’t seem to have any tannins – too acidic.

2009 Maggy Hawk Anderson Valley “Jolie” $60
I think this might just be our “value” wine for the evening. We got mushrooms, pepper, whiffs of forest floors covered with pine. It was delicious, although the finish might have been longer.

2009 Maggy Hawk Anderson Valley “Unforgettable” $60
Unforgettable, it’s not really. It’s odd – everyone tasted “dettol”/hospital antiseptic at the end. Ummmm.


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