T h e   T a s t i n g   R e p o r t

Not only do our wines rock,
they also stack up well

Scroll down to review the tasting of April 28th 2006

The Tasting of April 14th 2007

There is a occupational hazard in winemaking, it is called 'barn-shy'.
It means that you like your own barn so much,
you always want to return to it,
and you then know nothing of other barns.
To avoid this hazard,
and so we don't get all horsed-up,
we have tastings of other Pinot Noirs
that are recommended by local wine merchants,
or we have purchased them at the winery
and at the time we considered them quite good,
or guests bring them.

These tastings are yet another benefit of being a member of the Wine Club because
they are followed by dinners or luncheons where we get to see the wines that have just
been in the blind tasting, but now we get to drink them rather than sip-and-spit,
and we get to enjoy them in the context of food, which is the only
reason they should exist in the first place.

I know that these tastings look rigged... what can I say?
Not only are the tastings blind, they are triple blind!
Meaning the bottles are bagged by one person, then randomized by another person,
and then randomized by a third person, then numbered into the flights.
In addition, we decant all of the wines into liter bottles so the bottles are
exactly the same, and you can't guess which is which when you are pouring them.
Krassi and I are only one-third of the total number of tasters, and another third of
the tasters are not in the industry, they are good tasters, but not advanced tasters.
The last third of the tasters are experienced winegrowers.
This is a nice mix of palettes.

To prove that it does looked rigged, on the first flight of 8 wines, A
HH wines came in
First, Second, Third, and Fifth place.

For the second flight of 8 wines, one was a duplicate, so we eliminated it, and the flight
became a flight of 7 wines, which is why the math doesn't come out perfectly.
HH came in with 2 wines tied for Second place,
and 1 wine in Fourth place.
The nice thing about not getting first place in the second flight of wines was
what did get first place was absolutely stellar wine.  If you come across this wine...
Buy It !
The producer is MacPhail, and the vineyard is in Anderson Valley
by the name of Toulouse.  Don't miss it if you can find it.

Pinot Noir Tasting  --  Flight One

( The AHH wines are all from the 2004 vintage,
they are presently unreleased, as of April 16th 2007,
so the pricing is reflective of last years price, and not the final price
. )

                              the 3 numbers break-out this way...    
Price / Group Score / # of Firsts

AHH 2004 Brickhill Vineyard, Between the Grove Block, Sonoma Coast -  $38?  /  18  /  3  
very stylish with wonderful hints of earthy complexity, great body and feel, very seductive wine

AHH 2004 Bien Nacido Vineyard, Barrel #2 of 6, Santa Maria Valley -  $48?  /  21  /  2
classic rendition of Pinot, still on the fruity-grapey side, the mouth delivers way more than the nose suggests

Hawley 2004 Russian River Valley -   $32  /  27  /  0
a Pinot nose with a dill component of herb, the flavor follows with a little heat, formidable and good

Capiaux 2004 Gary's Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands -  $40  /  27  /  0
dark fruits, seemingly very ripe, very nice mouth feel, this will be good wine when the oak calms down

AHH 2004 Brickhill Vineyard, Entrance Hill Block, Sonoma Coast -  $38?  /  27  /  0   
classic Pinot, warmly integrated oak, nicely proportioned and balanced, will age into serious Pinot

Dutton Goldfield 2003 Devil's Gulch Vineyard, Marin County -  $42  /  28  /  1
interesting dark fruits with higher perfumes, might over commit toward blackberry, very good fruity style

AHH 2004 Brickhill Vineyard, Saddle East, Sonoma Coast -  $44  /  29  /  0
this was a controversial wine, it got 3 second place votes and 3 seventh or eighth votes, see note below *

Sonoma Coast Vineyards 2004 Sonoma Coast -  $40 / 39 / 0
petroly toasted oak, over-extracted, flavors follow, this would be a good to very good Syrah

* note below... well before the tasting,and before the wines are bagged, we taste the wines to see if any of them
are corked.  At that time the Saddle East block showed quite well with it's typical style of refinement yet
having a lot of presence.  During the tasting the refinement turned into the typical way you make wine if you
want them to be noticed in a line-up: too much assertiveness.  Half the tasters liked that, and half didn't.
Then during the mealtime presentation of the wine, it returned to its more familiar state.
Well, the wines is not released, so we can keep and eye on it to see which way it's going to go,
and just keep it unreleased until it matures into its stately self.

Pinot Noir Tasting -- Flight Two

                                                  Retail / Group Score / # of Firsts

MacPhail 2004 Toulouse Vineyard, Anderson Valley -   $37  /  14  /   2
truly classic Pinot, big lush mouth feel, it's like watching a steam locomotive go across a prairie of grain

AHH  Bien Nacido Vineyard, Barrel #3 of 6, Santa Maria Valley -   $48?  /  20  /  2
the mark of Pinot with a tiny perfume of dill, classic and lively in the mouth, zesty yet well behaved

AHH 2004 Brickhill Vineyard, Pablo's Point, Barrel #1 of 2, Sonoma Coast -   $34?  /  20  /  0
a showy and complex nose, the mouth isn't yet delivering on the promise of the nose yet, a keeper

Sunce 2004 Estate Vineyard, Russian River Valley -          $42  /  25   /   1
a very alluring cross between classic Pinot and black fruits, a lively structure with the tannins slightly overstated

AHH 2004 Baysee Vineyard, Barrel #2 of 3, Married barrels, Sonoma Coast   $34?  /  27  /  1
this is a wine of potential and did receive a first place vote, right now it's brooding well as Pinot

Archery Summit 2003 Premier Cuvee, Willamette Valley, Oregon   $45  /  34  /  0
as the wine breathes petroly oak eclipses the forward fruit, the tannin is strangely overstated for Pinot

Soter 2003 Yamhill District, Oregon   $48  /  46  /  0
smoky oak with wisps of dairy spoilage, odd green flavors, too much tannin,very stylized but not my style

- The Menu -

- 1st Course -
A Ragout of Mushroom, Onion, Gala Apple, and Marsala served on
homemade sourdough crostini

- 2nd Course -
Green Salad with homegrown Arugula, Garlions, and featuring Radishes
with Bruce's Polenta done as slow pan grilled crackers

- 3rd Course -
Freshly smoked wild Salmon
purchased that morning at the Santa Rosa Farmer's Market
over Flagolett beans and veggie Brats with subtle East Indian spices

- 4th Course -
Flourless, creamless, chocolate birthday cake by Tart to Tart, San Francisco.
Happy b-day Nate!

The Tasting of April 28th 2006

Well, we had some fun.  Our first Wine Club Tasting was very well received.
Of course the results looked rigged for the first flight of tasting, but the second flight
produced only a twinkle of humility.  And the Entrance Hill Block that won the first flight
was supposed to be in the second flight.  Ah well!  We will take #1 & #2 when we can get it!
The bottle of 2003 Saddle East Block was corked, and still did respectably, but it's not reported.
The tasters skill level can be characterized as 2 experts, 2 very good, 1 good, and 1 just OK.
The wines were tasted double blind and all of them were decanted into 1 liter bottles.
When I write these rankings down, it seems silly because they were all good wines.
We are lucky to be at a point in California history that Pinot Noir is starting
to be understood and the bigger-the-better style is really on the wane.
Style, elegance, and the expression of the vineyard with a sense
of place was the rule for all of these fine wines.

Pinot Noir Tasting  --  Flight One
                                                                                      Price / Group Score
Ahh 2003 Brickhill Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, Entrance Hill Block - $38 / 14
very stylish, great body and feel, nose seemed modest compared to the complex flavors

Ahh 2003 Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, Barrel 2 of 4 - $62 / 15
nose opens dramatically to regal Pinot character, this will repay bottle-aging well

Siduri 2004 Clos Pepe, Santa Rita Hills -             $52 / 18
cherries are a theme, fresh and baked, power on the pallet, slightly elevated tannin will age beautifully

Siduri 2004 Olivet Grange, Russian River Valley -      $45 / 21
power in the nose which opens to good farm complexity, a bit tannic, but rounded with sweetness

Davis Bynum 2002 Lindley's Knoll, Russian River Valley -  $55 / 32
with a little less oak, it is easier to enjoy the pleasant spicy and delicate fruit with its complex vita

Marimar 2002 Estate (Cristina), Russian River Valley -    $47 / 34
at the tasting room this didn't seem so masculine and tannic; if you like that, you'll love it

Pinot Noir Tasting -- Flight Two

After we put the chickens in the Pizza Oven to smoke-n-roast,
we had the perfect amount of time for another leisurely flight.
Because there was not as much agreement among the taster's rankings,
I thought it would be helpful to list the number of first place rankings to
give you a feel for the difference of stylistic opinions.  For Krassimira and I,
the last was first, the second place was second, and the first third.

                                                  Retail / Group Score / # of Firsts
Navillus Birney 2004 Sonoma Coast                 $35    /     15     /    2
the nose starts big with juicy Pinot aromas, the structure is lovely, the oak restrained, and it's an ager

Ahh  Lot 34  Pinot du Jour, California                $22    /     17     /    0
it heralds the spice and herbs of classic Pinot, nice structure, slightly advanced vita, alluring finish

Lynmar 2002 Quail Hill, Russian River Valley         $30   /     19    /     2     
Krassi and I liked this a lot in the tasting room, it is a big wine, but not overly muscular, it has strong devotees

  Hartford 2004 Sonoma Coast                    $30   /    19     /     0
if you like up front fruit, this wine is highly recommended, it has done very well in other tastings

Siduri 2004 Willamette Valley, Oregon             $19.50   /   20    /    2
this is the best Pinot Noir buy that I know of, it has a feminine elegance that I can rave about

Before dinner we had time to stroll the garden paths,
enjoy the view from the parapet, see the little waterfalls,
and yes, best of all,
feel that spring is busting-out all over!

It was a wonderful 5 course dinner (2 courses of dessert), and the surprise course was
an exotic mayo-less cole slaw that matched perfectly with a dry Gewürztraminer,
The recipe is almost done in the cookbook section.
A beautiful time was had by all.

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