My First Annual Blind Tasting of American Pinot Noirs (Part Two)

On National Rosé Day (June 9th), I invited a few writers here in Houston to my house for what I believe to be was the largest blind tasting of American True Rosés in history. It was both very informative for all (I think) and a ton of fun to get geeky colleagues together and taste a bunch of wines having little idea what we were drinking.

Why taste blind? Well, it helps to re-center one’s tastebuds a bit—without knowing the producer, the retail price, or even the blend, one can better focus on what is actually in the glass rather than, perhaps, what the wine “should” taste like.

Given the relative success of that tasting, I decided to stage another—this time Pinot Noir. I gathered 31 Pinot Noirs (and one Gamay, just for fun) from the West Coast (Oregon and California) and invited my wine peeps over once again for a blind tasting.

I also realized that there are only so many ways that one can describe “cherry” but that is probably best left for another post.

Here are the second sixteen we tasted (I published the other half last week):

2016 Wrath EX Monterey CA: Retail $29. Quite dark in the glass with a bit of fruit, but there is a certain funkiness to it. The palate is big, but not really fruity. Dark and even brooding. Very Good. 87-89 Points.

2016 Denison Cellars Willamette Valley OR: Retail $26. Fairly muted nose with a bit of a chemical note along side the cherry fruit and vanilla. Fruity on the palate, this is much nicer than I thought it would be based on the nose. Really nice, actually, with a bit of tannin on the finish. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.

2016 Chehalem Three Vineyard Willamette Valley OR: Retail $30. Rather nondescript on the nose with some fruit eventually coaxed out. On the palate this is quite tart. And it’s rather tart. Did I mention the tartness? Good to Very Good. 86-88 Points.

2015 Chehalem Gamay Noir Ridgecrest Vineyard Ribbon Ridge OR: Retail $25. Rich fruity nose from a fairly dark wine. The palate is all about the fruit. A bit hot, but not overly so. This is all about the fruit. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90.

2015 Kramer Vineyards Rebecca’s Reserve Yamhill-Carlton OR: Retail $48. Sweet and candied nose with a wonderful palate of ripe cherry fruit, a bit of earth. Really nice. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.

2015 Kramer Vineyards Cardiac Hill Yamhill-Carlton OR: Retail $48. The nose is a bit like a candle shop: sweet, spicy, and floral. On the palate actually quite pleasant. I dig the palate. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.

The reveal.

2014 Kramer Vineyards Willamette Valley OR: Retail $25. Fruity and floral with eucalyptus on the palate with a touch of wet rock. Fruity and well-structured, this is a really nice wine. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.

2014 Lucas & Lewellen Goodchild High 9 Vineyard Santa Maria Valley CA: Retail $35. Subtle nose with delicate fruit but a dark color. Good fruit, but really noticeable tannin. Could use some time, but nice. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.

2014 Lucas & Lewellen EstateSanta Barbara County CA: Retail $24. Sweet spicy nose—almost more of a Syrah than Pinot. Good fruit and structure, nice. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90.

2016 McIntyre Santa Lucia Highlands CA: Retail $38. More of a classic Pinot nose with a classic California palate. This might be one of my faves of the entire tasting. Fruity, but balanced, simply lovely. Whoa. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.

2013 Mi Sueño Winery Los Carneros CA: Retail $40. Black raspberry with crushed rock, good fruit, really good fruit—dark cherry and earth. A classic new world Pinot. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.

2016 Scheid Vineyards Doctor’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands CA: Retail $75. Smoky and black cherry on the nose with some vanilla and earth. A bit extracted and heavy-handed. Likely a crowd pleaser, though. Very Good. 87-89 Points.

2016 Pedroncelli Russian River Valley CA: Retail $22. Fruity and a bit of black cherry kool-aid on the nose. Sweet and fruity with a bit of earth coming through on the finish. No doubt a popular wine. Very Good. 87-89 Points.

2015 Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Russian River Valley CA: Retail $45. Baloney, salami, or maybe bacon on the nose. But tons of fruit on the palate. This wine seems to be a bit all over the place, but there is something about it that I like. Yup, the meat. Very Good. 87-89 Points.

2015 Nicolas Jay Willamette Valley OR: Retail $65. Cherry and dark, a bit of earth. Rich and fruity, with great balance and depth. Yummy. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.

2016 Riverbench Estate Santa Maria Valley CA: Retail $30. Another meaty nose, but with more of a band-aid component to it. Also fruity on the palate, but it drops off a bit on the mid-palate. Very Good. 87-89 Points.

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About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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3 Responses to My First Annual Blind Tasting of American Pinot Noirs (Part Two)

  1. Andrea says:

    We drink a lot of Pinot Noir but I’ve only had one of those on your blind tasting table- the Black Magnolia. Just reminds me of how many different wines there are out there, even from one varietal.

    Like

  2. Gretchen says:

    I love seeing Kramer Vineyards in your mix. They’ve been one of my favorites for a number of years—great wine, great people.

    Like

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