The Second Annual Blind Tasting of American Pinot Noir (Part Six and Final)

Thanks to the fine people at Willamette Valley Wine and Pinot in the City* as well as Jackson Family Wines, the response to this year’s call for samples was close to overwhelming. In fact, I decided to split the tasting into two days since I received one hundred bottles of Pinot Noir (actually it was 166 bottles if you count the wineries that sent two bottles of each wine).

I thought the table might give out….

*Pinot in the City is a large tasting of Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon and it is coming to Houston in February! You can get tickets and more information HERE.

Before I get to the overall results, which are listed below the following tasting notes, I have a few general impressions. First, as with last year, there seems to be no correlation between price and score (r = 0.07) and little correlation between score and the order in which it was tasted (r = – 0.139). What does that mean? Not a whole lot if you are not a math geek (it really means that price and score were not related nor, did it seem, that latter [or earlier] wines were judged more harshly/favorably–in order to suggest a possible relationship, you need to find r > = 0.30).

Also, I have to say, there were a couple of stunners. The 2107 Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir Vintner’s Reserve California found itself on three of the “top wines” list. That is pretty amazing for a $20 that is likely in your local grocery store right now.

For me, the other was the 2017 La Crema Pinot Noir Monterey. While it was not on my “top” list, I still rated it 92-94 Points and Excellent. And it’s $13. Now that’s a bargain!

I also have to remark that by and large, the wines were excellent (the average “score” was just over 90 Points) and also quite fruity. While most New World producers have always celebrated the fruit, some had tried to emulate “Old World” wines which focus more on earth, restraint, terroir. For the most part, I did not see much of the latter in this sampling.

Last, I would really like to thank my wife (for obvious reasons), my fellow tasters, and of course those who submitted their wines!

Here are the last four flights we tasted over the two days (followed by the lists of “best wines”).

2018 Siduri Pinot Noir Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $35. Rich and fruity, almost cherry-cola on the nose. Strawberry Kool-Aid on the palate. Did I mention “fruity?” Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.

2016 Ridgecrest Vineyard Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, Ribbon Ridge, OR: Retail $45. A bit dark with dark fruit and a bit of heat and earth. Surprisingly fruity, on the verge of really fruity. This seems to be a trend. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.

2017 Dobbes Family Estate Pinot Noir Grande Assemblage Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $30. Tart dark fruit, a bit of menthol. Another particularly fruity wine on the palate. Delicious. Excellent. 90-92 Points.

2017 La Crema Pinot Noir Monterey, CA: Retail $13. Lovely nose of cranberry and the palate is equally delightful. Good juice. Really good juice. Excellent. 92-94 Points.

2017 Siduri Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $35. Fruity and rich nose, mostly red fruit. Whoa. Tart and delicious on the palate: great fruit, a bit of depth. Fruity. Excellent. 92-94 Points.

2017 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir Russian River Selection, CA: Retail $45. A bit funky on the nose, but really tart and fruity on the palate. Close to a whoa. Excellent. 91-93 Points.

2017 Etude Pinot Noir Grace Benoist Ranch Carneros, CA: Retail $47. A bit extracted and overly so on the palate. I do like it, but it is not my style of pinot. Very Good. 87-89 Points.

2016 Cambria Pinot Noir Julia’s Vineyard Santa Maria Valley, CA: Retail $25. Oaky and dark fruit, a bit of smoke. Lovely on the palate with balance, fruit, tannins at the backend. Whoa. Excellent. 92-94 Points.

2016 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir Bernau Block Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $65. Shy on the nose with some nice cranberry eventually. Lovely nose once it comes around. Good fruit. Nice acidity. In fact maybe a bit too tart. Excellent. 90-92 Points.

2015 Davis Bynum Pinot Noir Clone 667 Jane’s Vineyard Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $55. Funky (Brett) on the nose and really fruity, dark fruit, on the palate. There’s a ton going on here, but not always in concert. Very Good. 87-89 Points.

2017 Failla Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $30. Dusty and dirty on the nose, really mineral. Fruity on the palate but holy cow is there a ton of tannin here—drying my mouth out right away. This may need some time, maybe a lot of time. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.

2017 Bricoleur Vineyards Pinot Noir Bricoleur Vineyards Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $45. Big fruit, dark and chewy. Tannin and fruit. Nice. Excellent. 91-93 Points.

2017 King Estate Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $25. Cranberry and cherry on the nose. Tart and lovely, really nice on the palate. Excellent. 91-93 Points.

2018 King Estate Pinot Noir Inscription Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $20. Shy on the nose here tart on the palate. Nice and tasty. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.

2016 Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot Noir Clay Court Vineyard Willamette Valley, Chehalem Mountains, OR: Retail $60. The first bottle was corked, which was too bad since it seems like there is a good wine there. After the reveal, I decided to open the second bottle, which was fantastic. Good fruit, balance, a hint of funk on the nose but that blew off eventually. Delicious. Excellent. 91-93 Points.

2016 Van Duzer Pinot Noir Westside Blocks Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $60. Coffee, mocha. Odd. Fruity, fine, just lacking depth. Very Good. 87-89 Points.

After tasting through the 100 Pinots (actually 103 since we opened a few second bottles when we thought the first was flawed), I asked the other writers in attendance for their top wines.

Here are the wines that appeared on four “ballots”:

  • 2017 Chateau St. Jean Pinot Noir Single Vineyard Gap’s Crown Petaluma Gap, CA: Retail $70.
  • 2017 Etude Pinot Noir Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills, CA: Retail $50.
  • 2017 Maggy Hawk Pinot Noir Jolie Anderson Valley, CA: Retail $66.

On three ballots:

  • 2016 Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir Machado Sta. Rita Hills, CA: Retail $80.
  • 2016 Cambria Pinot Noir Clone 667 Barbara’s Santa Maria Valley, CA: Retail $80.
  • 2017 Failla Pinot Noir Bjornson Vineyard Eola – Amity Hills, OR: Retail $45.
  • 2017 Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir Vintner’s Reserve California, CA: Retail $20.
  • 2016 Saffron Fields Vineyard Pinot Noir Spectrum Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $60.
  • 2017 Siduri Pinot Noir Anderson Valley, CA: Retail $35.

And on at least two ballots:

  • 2015 Angela Pinot Noir Angela Vineyard Willamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton, OR: Retail $35.
  • 2016 Apolloni Pinot Noir Estate Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $40.
  • 2017 Bricoleur Vineyards Pinot Noir Bricoleur Vineyards Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $45.
  • 2016 Saffron Fields Vineyard Pinot Noir Dijon Clones Willamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton, OR: Retail $60.

Here are my personal top wines. Tier one:

  • 2016 Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir Machado Sta. Rita Hills, CA: Retail $80.
  • 2015 Brittan Vineyards Pinot Noir Cygnus Block Brittan Vineyards Willamette Valley, McMinnville, OR: Retail $65.
  • 2017 Failla Pinot Noir Bjornson Vineyard Eola – Amity Hills, OR: Retail $45.
  • 2017 Maggy Hawk Pinot Noir Jolie Anderson Valley, CA: Retail $66.

Tier Two:

  • 2016 Apolloni Pinot Noir Estate Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $40.
  • 2016 Cambria Pinot Noir Clone 667 Barbara’s Santa Maria Valley, CA: Retail $80.
  • 2017 Chateau St. Jean Pinot Noir Single Vineyard Gap’s Crown Petaluma Gap, CA: Retail $70.
  • 2017 Etude Pinot Noir Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills, CA: Retail $50.
  • 2017 Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir Vintner’s Reserve California, CA: Retail $20.
  • 2016 Saffron Fields Vineyard Pinot Noir Dijon Clones Willamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton, OR: Retail $60.
  • 2017 Siduri Pinot Noir Anderson Valley, CA: Retail $35.
  • 2016 Stoller Pinot Noir Helen’s Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills, OR: Retail $75.

And Tier Three:

  • 2016 Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills, CA: Retail $40.
  • 2015 Brittan Vineyards Pinot Noir Basalt Block Willamette Valley, McMinnville, OR: Retail $48.
  • 2016 Cambria Pinot Noir Julia’s Vineyard Santa Maria Valley, CA: Retail $25.
  • 2017 Davis Bynum Pinot Noir Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $35.
  • 2017 Hyland Estates Pinot Noir Coury Willamette Valley, McMinnville, OR: Retail $64.
  • 2016 King Estate Pinot Noir Domaine Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $70.
  • 2017 La Crema Pinot Noir Monterey, CA: Retail $13.
  • 2017 La Crema Pinot Noir Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $35.
  • 2017 Maggy Hawk Pinot Noir Afleet Anderson Valley, CA: Retail $66.
  • 2017 Raptor Ridge Pinot Noir Temperance Hill Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $50.
  • 2017 Siduri Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $35.
  • 2018 Westmount Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $25.

 

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.
This entry was posted in Pinot Noir, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Second Annual Blind Tasting of American Pinot Noir (Part Six and Final)

  1. aFrankAngle says:

    Now that’s a lot of wine. Cheers to the effort by the tasting team.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.