I remember the precise moment that I met Dan Goldfield: I was a consumer attending my first International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) in Oregon back in 2010 and he was pouring some of his wines. Having done my research before the event (mostly by reading Pacific Pinot Noir: A Comprehensive Winery Guide for Consumers and Connoisseurs by John Winthrop Hæger), I knew that Dan was a bit of a legend in California Pinot, maker of wines that tended to be a little on the bigger side.
What I did not know was that Dan hails from Philadelphia (actually, he comes from the suburbs, but I did not hold that against him too much). That sparked a completely different level of conversation, replete with “colorful” language and references to each other’s relatives.
Ever since that encounter, I have been a fan of his wines, but not because of their Philly origins, but rather since they are f*&king good.
Sorry, might have gone a little too Philly there for most of you.
2015 Dutton-Goldfield Chardonnay Dutton Ranch Rued Vineyard, Green Valley of Russian River Valley: Retail $55. A pale yellow with the slightest golden tinge, this Chard is fairly shy in the glass. Eventually, golden apple steeped in lemon rind and wet rock and a touch of oak seeped over the rim. After a minute or two of pondering the wine, I eventually tasted. Wow. The citrus (lemon and tangerine) are intense, but not out of place. At all. Make no mistake, this is a Chardonnay, an American Chardonnay, a Californian Chardonnay, but it harkens the greats from the Côte de Beaune. I try to avoid such grandiose comparisons as it is not fair to either party, but this wine is near the pinnacle of what Chardonnay can be, a thought that I had up until now reserved for Burgundy. Whoa. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
2015 Dutton-Goldfield Pinot Noir Dutton Ranch Freestone Hill Vineyard, Russian River Valley: Retail $72. Fairly light in the glass with a savory Bing Cherry pie with some black pepper and sage. On the palate, great fruit and acidity simultaneously, both subtly competing for attention. The fruit wins initially and on to the mid palate, where the tartness comes roaring back along with some earthy notes, and several layers of depth. The fruit rejoins the party on the finish as do some soft tannins, all of which linger for a while. On day 2, this is much richer and full, and clearly gets a Whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2015 Dutton-Goldfield Pinot Noir Dutton Ranch Emerald Ridge Vineyard, Green Valley of Russian River Valley: Retail $62. I tasted this right after the Freestone Hill, and this is a different ballgame. Slightly darker in the glass, but a completely different profile. Darker fruit here, plum and even blackberry–very un-Pinot like–with Christmas-time spice and forest floor. Rich and full on the palate, with wave after wave of dark berry fruit, buoyed by earth notes and a bright acidity that holds everything together. Even as Dan Goldfield wines go, this is a fairly big one, but oh so delicious. Whoa. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
2015 Dutton-Goldfield Pinot Noir Fox Run Vineyard, Green Valley of Russian River Valley: Retail $62. Another stellar wine. Great black cherry fruit, spicy black pepper, earth tones emanate out of the medium-dark colored wine. The palate is equally stellar, with vibrant, tart acidity, plenty of the aforementioned black cherry fruit, and earthy-chalky notes on the lengthy finish. This is far from the biggest Pinot as it is definitely more on the refined and delicate side. It goes to show Dan Goldfield’s versatility–on one hand he can make a relatively light, delicate, introspective wine like this, right along side a bigger, darker, bolder Pinot. Bravo Dan, don’t get boxed in. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2014 Dutton-Goldfield Syrah Dutton Ranch Cherry Ridge Vineyard, Russian River Valley: Retail $50. There is no doubt, at least in my slightly troubled mind, that “Dutton-Goldfield” means Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (not necessarily in that order), so when this Syrah was in the box-o-samples that ended up on my doorstep, I was intrigued. Nay, I was stoked. (Note: that is largely a California term that was very popular when I lived there over a decade ago. While this term may or may have not have fallen out of common usage since my stay in the Golden State, the sentiment, at least with me, remains strong.) An opaque inky darkness in the glass, with dark fruit (plum, blackberry, cassis) and spice (black pepper, anise, clove) leads to a luscious mouthfeel with plenty of tartness and a fair amount of grip—this is beautiful now, but will likely evolve delightfully. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.