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Sunday, October 30, 2004. Report on the 1st annual Pinot on the River tasting, h
eld at the Retreat Resort and Spa in Guerneville. The event focused on North American Pinot Noir, with an emphasis on those of the Russian River Valley.

This event was held over multiple days, and encompassed seminars, dinners and comparative tastings, finally finishing with a large outdoor tasting with wineries pouring at least one of their currently available wines. As you might assume from below, many wineries elected to pour only one wine, though others had brought 3-4 wines for sampling. I only attended the tasting portion of this event, which was very up-front and friendly, offering plenty of opportunity to talk with the proprietors and winemakers first hand, and tasting about 50 wines.

The tasting notes below give a brief description of the wine's attributes and/or qualities. These wines were generally the current releases for each winery, although some wineries were offering samples from yet-to-be-released vintages.

Some Favorites

2002 DuNah - Sangiacomo
2003 Loring - Cargasacchi
2001 Martinelli - Zio Tony
2002 Merry Edwards - Sonoma Coast
2002 Peay - Sonoma Coast
2002 Papapietro-Perry - RRV
2002 Tandem - Keefer
2003 A. P. Vin - Garys'
2002 Woodenhead - Buena Tierra

Overall impressions: The Retreat Resort provided a nice venue, though they could have had a few more munchies about. But overall, there was an excellent lineup of Pinot producers, and it was a fabulous tasting.

I've tried Pinots from many of these producers in the past, and knew what to expect. However, I found several surprises in the lineups - all pleasant! Pinots from Davis Bynum, D' Argenzio, Inman, and Morgan were all very good. Others - notably from DuNah, Peay, Woodenhead, Martinelli and Tandem were among the my favorites.

Disappointments? Well, actually none - although it would have been nice if had wineries provided some greater depth by pouring a few of their additional bottlings. Nonetheless, there were plenty of wines available, and with this many producers, it might truly have been an excess of wines to taste (though I can't believe I said that).

Selected Tasting Notes

2002 Pinot Noir - St. Clair. Nice dark cherry nose. Very nice balance and flavor profile with black cherry and a touch of cola through the long finish.


2003 Pinot Noir - Garys'. Lovely floral-scented black cherry, with touches of cinnamon and herb. Lightly sweet on the palate, full and chewy throughout, with a nice lingering finish.


1999 Pinot Noir - Moshin/Bynum. Lots of light and dark cherry aromas in the nose. Very good balance and off-sweet flavors, nice long finish.

2001 Pinot Noir - Three Vnyd. A bit sharp and high-toned in the nose, the mouthfeel is nicely balanced, and flavors hold through the long finish.


2001 Pinot Noir - Dutton. Big light and dark cherry nose, with just a touch of earth. Chewy mouthfeel, big but elegantly balanced through the long finish.

2002 Pinot Noir - Castelli. Not quite as large-framed as the Dutton, with more strawberry rather than dark cherry fruit.


2002 Pinot Noir - Russian River. Nose of bing and dark cherry, floral aromas, and a bit of earth. Slightly fat and round in the mouth, good balance and finish.

2003 Pinot Noir - Russian River. Though similar in profile, this is somewhat brighter and more balanced than the '02 version.


2002 Pinot Noir - Sangiocomo. Nose of lovely dark cherry, with spices and floral notes. Rich mouthfeel, and very well balanced throughout.


2000 Pinot Noir - Sonoma Coast. Lighter notes of strawberry and bing cherry. Seems a bit underfilled on the palate, the the balance and finish are nice.


2003 Pinot Noir - Sonoma Coast. Rich and ripe in the nose, with a touch of coffee, floral notes, wild strawberry and black cherry. Full in mouthfeel, chewy and delicious, nice long finish.


2003 Pinot Noir - Russian River. Plush nose of red fruit, with touches of plum and flora notesl. Full mouthfeel, very good balance, chewy fruit, and long finish.


2001 Pinot Noir - Green Valley. Nose of strawberry and wild cherry, with a touch of clove. Lightly sweet and juicy on the palate, with plenty of fruit, excellent balance, and long tasty finish.


2002 Pinot Noir - Sonoma Coast. Nice aromatics, with touches of earthy forest and light cinnamon spices. medium-full bodied, and balanced very nicely.


2001 Pinot Noir - Van der Kamp. Nice old-vine nose (40-yrs) of dried strawberies and cranberries. Smooth and silky - at the risk of seeming a bit underfilled, but quite balanced and delicious.

2001 Pinot Noir - Kastania. Nose of dark cherry, with light background notes of coffee. Medium-full bodied, nice spicy flavors, long finish.

1999 Pinot Noir - Kastania. Meaty nose, but also seems a bit veggie, with a distinct tomato scent. Decent body and flavor, but one can't help picking up the aroma profile in the mouth.


2003 Pinot Noir - Clos Pepe. Nose of wild cherry with interesting floral aromas. Full and chewy on the palate, long finish.

2003 Pinot Noir - Rosella's. Lots of strawberry and floral scents in the nose. Rich mouthfeel, with a nice bite to the finish.

2003 Pinot Noir - Cargasacchi. Nose of wild berry with streaks of meaty and smoky aromas. Seems a bit tart at first, then the blanket of fruit fills the mouth, and hangs there through the long finish. Beautiful balance.


2001 Pinot Noir - Quail Hill. Nose of wild cherry and strawberry, off-sweet fruit - maybe not the most complex of wines, but very tasty nonetheless.


2002 Pinot Noir - Russian River. Slightly sweet mouthfeel, well balanced, nice fruit, though a briefer than expected finish.

2002 Pinot Noir - Anderson Valley, Toulouse Vnyd. Similarly sweet as the RRV version, but bigger and gutsier, with more distinctive aromatics.


2002 Pinot Noir - Green Valley. Medium cherry nose and flavors, good balance long finish. This didn't ring my bell nearly as much as it did at the Green Valley tasting. Where were the floral aromas?


2001 Pinot Noir - Russian River. Very nice nose of dark and light cherry fruit. Full bodied mouthfeel, very nice balance, and long finish.

2001 Pinot Noir - Zio Tony Ranch. Beautiful dark cherry and wild strawberry nose, with a slight earthy streak. Excellent balance, pure fruit, and lingering long finish.

2001 Pinot Noir - Bondi Home Ranch. Wild strawberry and raspberry scents dominate the nose. Very good balance, tasty fruit, and long finish.


2001 Pinot Noir - Sonoma Coast. Loads of red and black fruit, with spice and some earthiness - really nice! Rich and full on the palate, smooth throughout, with a silky long finish.


2002 Pinot Noir - 12 Clones. Nice somewhat light strawberry nose. Tasty mouthfeel, if a bit underfilled.

2001 Pinot Noir - Rosella's. Big fruit-driven nose, and even bigger mouthfeel, which takes you a bit by surprise given the lighter extraction. Very nice!

2002 Pinot Noir - Double L. Moderate fruity aromas in nose. Big and chewy mouthfeel, very nice balance, and long tasty finish.


2002 Pinot Noir - Russian River. Classic RRV strawberry-wild cherry nose. Rich mouthfeel, excellent balance and very long finish.



2002 Pinot Noir - Green Valley. Beautiful cherry and strawberry aromas, with excellent balance and nice long finish.


2002 Pinot Noir - Sonoma Coast. Lots of black cherry, with touches of blackberry and blueberry. Spicy mouthfeel with a nice grip at mid-palate, great balance, seamless long finish.


2002 Pinot Noir - Sonoma Coast. Floral and slightly earthy, the wine seems very well balanced throughout. Flavors of cherry and strawberry are nice, but not exiting.


2002 Pinot Noir - Meredith. Bright cherry nose, excellent balance, and nice long finish.

2000 Pinot Noir - Leras. Nice nose of cherry fruit and spice. Nice fruit on the palate as well, but the higher acids become annoying very quickly.


2002 Pinot Noir - Sonoma Coast. Slightly sweet and maybe a little burnished fruit in the nose. Plenty of fruit, nice balance, with long lingering finish. I liked this wine, despite the slightly overripe background note.


2002 Pinot Noir - Oregon - Wadenswil Clone . Earthy with dark cherry in the nose. Nice body and balance, earthy fruit flavors, and long finish.

2002 Pinot Noir - Oregon - Pommard Clone. Very nice fruit, forest floor, earthy and feral in the nose. Nice complexity on the palate with plenty of fruit, though bracing acids and detectable oak that hang on through the huge long finish.


2002 Pinot Noir - Sangiocomo. Nose of dark cherry, coffee, and flower petals. Slightly off-sweet mouthfeel, rich and full, great balance, with tasty long finish.


2002 Pinot Noir - Palazzio. Nice fruity aromatics. Big and rich in the mouth, with nice flavors, and very good balance. This blend of vineyards might lack a little complexity, but really delivers on the fruit.

2002 Pinot Noir - Garys'. Tasty, but seems surprisingly tamed in both nose and palate. Somewhat sweet in mouthfeel, but not overly so.


2002 Pinot Noir - Russian River. Prototype RRV, with nice lightly spicy strawberry aromas and flavors, touches of earth and leaf, medium body, good balance, and a nice long finish.

2003 Pinot Noir - Russian River. Bigger framed and fuller in body that the '02. Nose and palate seems sweeter, more new world. Interesting comparison of styles.


2002 Pinot Noir - Russian River. Nose of strawberry and rhubarb. Nice flavor profile, though it didn't seem quite as fruit-driven as the previous versions.


2002 Pinot Noir - Buena Tierra. Quite spicy black cherry and pomegranate in the nose. Terrific mouthfeel - rich, chewy and flavorful, with a big, long finish. Neat stuff!

2002 Pinot Noir - Wiley. Nose of black cherry and cinnamon, with touches of clove. Big mouthfeel, slightly earthy, touch of root beer, very long finish.

2002 Pinot Noir - Humboldt Co. Lots of dark fruit in the nose - bit less spicy than the other bottlings. Big and rich on the palate, sweet tasty long finish.

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