The Fourth Annual Blind Tasting of American Pinot Noir (Part Two)

As I mentioned Tuesday, I tasted 48 American Pinot Noirs over the weekend. The design was to taste through the wines blind, which means that I did not know which wine was ever in my glass (well, my four glasses, as I tasted that many at a time).

Tasting wines blind is always a good exercise as knowing what a wine is can always introduce bias when it comes to evaluation. Blind tasting also can produce a few surprises, as was certainly the case this time around.

All 49 lined up, ready to be popped.

Here are the second set 12 wines, in the order I tasted them:

2018 Fullerton Wines Pinot Noir Fir Crest Vineyard, Yamhill-Carlton, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $65. Light to medium color with a rather muted nose but some spice and a bit of heat. The palate is much more expressive with good, but subtle fruit, more than ample acidity, and an earthiness that is often lacking in American Pinot. Excellent. 90 Points.

2019 Stoller Pinot Noir Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $35. Under screw cap. Medium color, rich nose, very enticing and rich and layered on the palate. I really like this wine even though it comes off as a bit extracted. Nuance, depth, very nice. Excellent. 91 Points.

2019 Rodney Strong Pinot Noir Knotty Vines, CA: Retail $15. Under screw cap. Medium dark color, muted nose with some dark cherry and earth. The palate is also quite shy but some fruit and tartness comes through eventually. Might need some time to open up. Very Good. 89 Points.

2018 Stoller Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $65. Medium color with a ripe vanilla cherry and a bit hot on the nose. The palate, though, is quite fruity, rich, and inviting with good acidity and a bit of spice on the finish. It does come off as a bit high in alcohol, though, but otherwise… very nice.  Very Good. 89 Points.

2018 Brooks Pinot Noir Rastaban, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $25. A lot of salinity here, almost a seashore salty mist going on joined by a meaty component. Not much fruit to find on the nose, however. The palate comes off a bit flat as what fruit there is comes off as dried and there is a rather unpleasant meaty (stinky sock?) aspect on the finish. 87. After tasting again, the odd elements were reduced if not eliminated. Excellent. 92 Points.

2019 Lange Pinot Noir Reserve, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $40. Dark in color with a meaty, almost bacon aspect to the nose, along with a bit of heat. Not much fruit on the palate until the finish where both a sour cherry and its accompanying acidity roar in. I am not quite sure where to go with this other than the need to revisit. Very Good. 89 Points.

I thought the table might give out….

2018 Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, OR: etail $42. Fairly dark in the glass with a very un-Pinot like: cedar, pine forest. On the palate it is a bit shy, but there is an underlying richness, again, unlike most Pinots, but I really am drawn to it. Would be great with a ribeye. No one else liked it. But me? You bet. Outstanding. 93 Points.

2017 Left Coast Estate Pinot Noir Cali’s Cuvée, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $25. Under screw cap. On the dark side of Pinot, again, with a bit of spice and some baked fruit and a hint of vanilla. The palate is also reserved, but eventually some fruit ekes out and pairs well with the spice. Excellent. 90 Points.

2019 Tongue Dancer Pinot Noir Sly One, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $65. On the dark side of Pinot again with a very rich nose that I could sniff pretty much all day long. As I do, there is some spice and clove, as well as, perhaps, some rose petal. Whoa. The palate is rich, layered, and truly fantastic. Long, rich, layered, balanced, holy cow. Whoa. Outstanding Plus. 97 Points. 

2020 Flaunt Wine Company Pinot Noir Peake Ranch Vineyard, Sta Rita Hills, CA: Retail $55. Medium to dark color with another fabulous nose; rich and fruity with a lovely tart cherry. The palate is equally fantastic with rich fruit, vanilla, Yowza. Outstanding. 95 Points.

2017 Torii Mor Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $35. Medium color with a meaty, bacon fat nose and some baked fruit. Meh. The palate is another story. Again the fruit is a bit baked but it has incredible balance and a lengthy finish. Yum. Excellent. 92 Points. 

NV Roco Pinot Noir Gravel Road, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $28. Under screw top. Dark color and aromas with black cherry and a slight lavender aspect that seems out of place. The palate, once again, is another story. Good fruit (dark), nice acidity, and a wonderful balance. Lovely. Outstanding. 93 Points.



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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