Wine Reviews: California Pinot Noir
By Isaac Baker
We’re back with more California Pinot Noir! Since my last report, I’ve tasted through a range of Cali Pinots. This batch is stacked with goodies.
This report includes some stunners from three excellent Sonoma producers: Three Sticks, La Pitchoune, and Alma Fria. I find the latter to be a seriously impressive effort, and their Chardonnay is amazing, too.
These wines were received as trade samples and tasted single-blind.
Review: 2013 Alma Fría Pinot Noir Plural – California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
Medium ruby color. What awesome aromatics. Fruit-wise I get tart cranberry, bright red cherries and red apple peel, but a bunch of white pepper, sage, floral tea and earthy aromas come out with time – this is just amazing to sniff. Medium-bodied, dusty tannins, crunchy acidity – this has such an airy and elegant feel. But there’s plenty of fruit (crisp red apple, wild cherries, juicy strawberries), which is accented by airy, floral and herbal qualities (white pepper, clove, potpourri, savory spices). This is so pretty but there is plenty to unpack over the next 2-4+ years. Aged 14 months in French oak (10% new). (92 points IJB)
Review: 2013 Alma Fría Pinot Noir Holtermann Vineyard – California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
Light ruby color. Vibrant aromatics, this is a tart, spicy, exotic and floral wine with lots of bright red fruit, pepper, rhubarb and woodsy/earthy elements. Medium-bodied (12.9% alcohol), the wine is framed by tart acidity and fine but structured tannins. Gushing red fruit (cherry, strawberry, raspberry) but it’s so tart and vibrant. Backed up by roses, potting soil, black tea and rhubarb. A vibrant minerality pervades this wine. Fruity and delicious but a tart, tangy, lip-smacking and exciting Pinot. Gorgeous now but I’d love to see this develop over the next four years or so. Aged 14 months in 20% new oak. (93 points IJB)
Review: 2013 Alma Fría Pinot Noir Doña Margarita Vineyard – California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
Light ruby color. Gorgeous aromas of tart strawberries, cranberry sauce, rose hops, white pepper, and notes of mushroom and clay underneath. Pure and silky on the palate (beautiful mouthfeel) as structured but fine tannins combine with bright, lip-smacking acidity. Flavors of red currant, sour cherry, McIntosh apple and pomegranate, the fruit is crunchy but plenty ripe. Complex non-fruit combo of sage, white pepper, clay, rose petals, and hints of clove and cedar add just a touch. Pervasive minerality. Such complexity to unpack in the cellar, as these subtle savory spice elements will surely do awesome things in three or five years. 13.2% alcohol, aged 14 months in 25% new French oak. (94 points IJB)