Wine Reviews: California Pinot Noir

Posted by | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 09-12-2015

I never tire of tasting California Pinot Noir. Since our last tasting report published in May, I’ve tasted a few newly-released Pinots from across the state. From the $15 multi-regional blends to the $60 bottle with 100% new oak, it’s always fun and educational to explore what’s happening with Cali Pinot.

In this batch, I especially liked the two Masút Pinots, which were the first wines I’ve tasted from the relatively new Mendocino AVA, Eagle Peak. If these wines are any indication of what’s coming out of this region, I can’t wait to taste more.

The wines were received as trade samples and tasted single-blind.

Review: 2013 Tolosa Winery Pinot Noir Estate Clonal Select California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
SRP: $45
Medium ruby colored. On the nose, I get juicy fruit (cherries, raspberries, red currants), some green herbs, peppery spice and light roast coffee. Medium tannic structure, brightness from the acid, the fruit (black cherries, red currants, some raspberry jam) is juicy but shows pleasant tartness. Slight toast and roasted chestnut, also some tobacco and black pepper. Maintains elegance despite youth and the finish is quite long and ends fresh. I’d like to taste this again in two or three years but showing well now, too. (89 points IJB)

Review: 2013 J. Wilkes Pinot Noir California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley
SRP: $26
Deep cherry colored. Dusty and smoky nose with rich red and black plums, some toasted nuts and sweet cola. Bold structure on the palate, full-bodied, medium acid. The black cherry and plum fruit is rich and ripe yet showing some tart edges, tossed with cola and toasted nuts. Forward, rich, a bit intense, although complexity comes in the form of charcoal, roses and tobacco leaf. A bold style, but still a lot to like. (87 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Magnolia Court Pinot Noir California, Central Coast
SRP: $15
Light ruby color. Super fruity nose: strawberry jam, cherry pie topping, black cherry soda, hints of pepper and coffee underneath. Medium-bodied, soft tannins, medium-low acid. Easy-drinking approach, light and slightly chewy. The red fruit is both sweet and tart at the same time, like raspberry and strawberry jam mixed with red apple peel wild cherries. Some toasted coffee on the finish. Fun, crowd-pleasing stuff. (85 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Fess Parker Pinot Noir Parker Station California, Central Coast
SRP: $15
Light ruby color. Nose of strawberries, red cherries, red licorice and some coffee, sweet but fresh. Medium bodied with medium-light tannins, a bit of tang to the acid. Bright strawberries and cherries, mixed with roses and cola and cedar, woven together well. Fresh, juicy, red-fruit-driven, not too complex but a good drink-me-now Pinot for sure. A blend of fruit from Monterey, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. (85 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Liberated Wine Pinot Noir – California, Central Coast, Monterey County
SRP: $20
Medium ruby colored. Tangy red fruits on the nose (currants, strawberries and cherries), a bright appeal but also some sweet cola, roses and clove. Medium-bodied, light tannins, tangy acid; Red and black cherries, some raspberry jam, tart red currants, a juicy approach with notes of clove, cedar and birch beer. Fun, tasty, juicy, shows a level of balance and freshness that is quite attractive. (86 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Masút Pinot Noir Two Barrel Estate Vineyard California, Mendocino County, Eagle Peak
SRP: $60
Medium-dark ruby color.  Nose of deep black cherries, some raspberry and strawberry, too, deeply floral, with violets, also some vanilla cola and cedar. Medium-firm tannins, medium-plus acid, chewy yet pretty fruit (black and red cherries, some strawberry jam). Silky yet full, showing complex flavors of coffee, tobacco, dusty earth, sweet cola, dark chocolate and cedar shavings. Could use a few years, but quite approachable at this point. For 15 months in 100% new French oak, I’m impressed by its balance. (92 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Masút Pinot Noir Estate Vineyard California, Mendocino County, Eagle Peak
SRP: $40
Medium-deep ruby. Lovely, elegant aromatic approach: roses, lavender, lovely red currants and strawberries, some deep and rocky elements, earth and charcoal. Fresh acid on the palate, bright and elegant with dusty tannins and great balance. Tangy yet fleshy red berry fruit, pulls off the rich yet pretty appeal with ease. Complex loam, pipe tobacco and dried roses along with notes of cedar and cherry wood. Long finish. Beautiful, elegant stuff. Beautiful stuff, aged 15 months in 50% new oak. (93 points IJB)

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