Papapietro Perry Pinot Noir Elsbree Vineyard 2010

RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $56

Raspberries and strawberries, rhubarb, cardamom, camphor. Aah. Forrest floor, cola and citrus zest. Aah. Fruit, savory, earth and sour. Aah, indeed. An incredible wine that is a story in a glass. A wandering tale with convenient roadside rest stops. Beautiful fresh fruit up front, backed by an organic-savory structure, and finishing with a pleasant perk of acidity that sings on the palate seemingly forever. Time in the glass or a gentle decant will reward. There are books, there are novels, there are epic tales — we have the later. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 10/25/14)

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Filed under $51 to $100, California, Pinot Noir

Chock Rock Pinot Noir Chock Rock Vineyard 2011

MONTEREY COUNTY | CALIFORNIA | $32

Red plum, strawberry and cherry with rhubarb, cardamom, leather, tobacco and orange peel. A medium-bodied Pinot with well-integrated, complex flavors stimulate the palate and the mind. Finishes long with a pleasant acidic perk of sour cherry. There’s a freshness here, with a seeming lack of heavy-handed manipulation that can yield an overwrought wine. Instead, a beautiful hand-hewn quality prevails. The expressiveness of a lone, breathy saxophone prevails over the sterile polyphony of layers of synthesizer upon synthesizer. A very good wine. (Reviewed 9/10/14)

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Filed under $21 to $50, California, Pinot Noir

Roar Pinot Noir 2012

SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS | CALIFORNIA | $40

Deep cherry fruit with plum, dried strawberry and blackberry, and earthy flavors of leather, redwood and cola, plus hints of violets and orange pith. Evolves nicely on the palate from subdued dark fruit, to savory umami flavors, to aromatic floral and dried-fruit notes. Complex, well structured, massaging chamois-smooth texture. A blockbuster wine, superior to many in the royalty box. She sits quietly at the table — dark, brooding, observing — reluctant at first, but soon to open — terse, then loquacious — and then there it is, a smile. An excellent wine. (Reviewed 10/25/14)

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Filed under $21 to $50, California, Pinot Noir

Tablas Creek Mourvèdre 2010

PASO ROBLES | CALIFORNIA | $40
Blackberry, purple plum and Mission fig fruit with savory notes of bay, chalky minerals and sage, plus grapefruit and raisin on the finish. Meaty, perhaps a little gamey, with well-integrated, complex flavors that delight the palate. Full bodied, but not over the top: a big-shouldered wine with little pretense and no attitude. You get what you get, and that’s plenty. I asked what wine she desired, she replied, “I want no more white. I want Mourvèdre.” A very good wine. (Reviewed 10/2/14)

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Filed under $21 to $50, California, Syrah/Shiraz | Grenache | Mourvedre

Tensely Syrah Colson Canyon Vineyard 2009

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY | CALIFORNIA | $38
Extracted blackberry and pomegranate fruit with elements of licorice, moist earth, cedar and lavender. Full bodied and jammy (15% alcohol, no less). A big, brooding, fruit-forward wine with massive flavors, a satin texture and a tannin-dry finish. Like a storm on the horizon, purple-black clouds, damp organic soil in the air and a wisp of Spring flowers to come. A very good wine. (Reviewed 9/21/14).

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Filed under $21 to $50, California, Syrah/Shiraz | Grenache | Mourvedre

Cargasacchi Pinot Noir Cargasacchi-Jalama Vineyard 2011

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY | CALIFORNIA | $36
Red cherry and roasted plum fruit showing notes of leather, violets, cacao, sage, black cardamom and a hint of orange peel. A vigorous wine brimmed with flavor, medium bodied, full for a Pinot, nicely complex and superb fruit-savory integration. Super satisfying and thoughtful — altogether enjoyable. He’s a complex, soft-spoken gent who gets things done — he tells it like it is, and the results, they speak for themselves. A very good wine. (Reviewed 9/13/14)

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Filed under $21 to $50, California, Pinot Noir

Tolosa Pinot Noir Estate 2012

EDNA VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $32
Cherry, strawberry and cranberry with accents of rhubarb, cola, oak and soil. Complex, well integrated with thoughtful interplay. An entirely enjoyable wine: light-medium bodied, full flavors, forward fruit, solid structure, velvet texture. “Good natured, by and large,” as he puts it, and that has made Mr. Hanks the most likable in Hollywood — who can disagree? A very good wine. (Reviewed 9/13/14)

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Filed under $21 to $50, California, Pinot Noir

Cristom Pinot Noir ‘Mt. Jefferson Cuvée’ 2011

WILLAMETTE VALLEY | OREGON | $27
Subdued cherry and red currant fruit with subtle notes of redwood, camphor and orange peel with a wisp of petroleum. Medium bodied, lightly flavored, evenly balanced with a perk of acidity and drying green tannins on the finish. A stoic wine, brooding, perhaps contemplative. We have here Walter White before Heisenberg. A good wine. (Reviewed 9/13/14)

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Filed under $21 to $50, Oregon, Pinot Noir

Domaine de Terrebrune Rose 2012

BANDOL | FRANCE | $29
Barely-there salmon-pink color with light fruit flavors of pink grapefruit guava, pear and watermelon, plus notes of hibiscus, savory, coin minerals and lemon zest. Complex yet subtle, quaffable yet thought provoking — here’s a wine for the hoi palloi and bougouis alike. She plays in a Czech folk band alongside grizzled gents twice and three times her age and girth, and holds together rhythm and melody with virtuositic prowess wielding a contemporary bass guitar amongst others’ vintage-relic instruments. 50% Mourvèdre, 25% Grenache, 25% Cinsault. A very good wine. (Reviewed 9/13/14)

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Filed under $21 to $50, France, Syrah/Shiraz | Grenache | Mourvedre

Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir ‘La Bage Au-dessus’ 2009

SANTA MARIA VALLEY | CALIFORNIA | $30
Mature strawberry fruit with rhubarb and black cherry notes, plus satisfying earthy flavors of cedar, nutmeg, cardamom and sweet, damp soil. A suede-like texture gently massages the palate with a well-integrated blend of fruit and savory. Svelte in profile, reserved in nature, yet superbly complex with seemingly effortless balance. The decadent party up above, indeed. A very good wine. (Reviewed 8/15/14)

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Filed under $21 to $50, California, Pinot Noir, Uncategorized