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2009 Masut Pinot Noir

The headwaters of the Russian River are in Redwood Valley, and here the grandsons of Bobby Fetzer are making a Pinot Noir that would make you think, tasting blind, that it came from downriver into the Russian River Valley. The nose has plenty of soft cherry and strawberry, a bit of vanilla, and a touch of sea salt. On the palate comes loads of red fruit, strawberry, black cherry, and some cranberry, tempered by a touch of sage and a sprinkle of sea salt, with underlying wood-effect vanilla. It's a mouthful, a big California Pinot, so look for food that matches. Drink with duck, but make sure you're going with the dark meat. Recommended.
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2008 Stoller Vineyards JV Estate Pinot Noir

The screwcap signals “drink now.” Typical Pinot Noir aromas of charred oak, tar, and cotton candy greet the nose, with a touch of earth too. It’s pretty fruity, with a burnt sugar undertone and a medium-light body. But though it’s fruity, the wine is never too sweet. Finish is a tad hot. Drink with light meats, medium fish, tomatoes, too. Recommended.
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Trotting Towards Tannins

You have probably arrived at a winery in a car or in a limo, but have you ever trotted up on horseback? The next time you find yourselves in the rolling Red Hills of Dundee, Oregon for wine sampling, grab a set of Tennessee Walking reins and fall in line for an equestrian oenophile adventure.
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2007 Stoller Vineyards SV Estate Pinot Noir

“SV” on the label signifies the estate-grown Stoller Vineyards grapes, and also the “senior vines” the grapes are grown on. The wine is warm and earthy with a hint of rose in the aroma. Fruit arrives first on the palate, then the underlying char from the barrels. There's a bit of spicy tannin on the finish. With good elements, the wine is still a bit delicate. All in all, this wine has a “narrow spectrum” of flavors, as Bill Stoller put it during a tasting in my kitchen yesterday. We both expect the wine can develop further over the next five years. Okay now, recommended with aging.
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2007 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Laurène Cuvée Pinot Noir

Clear, bright, medium-pale ruby red. Clean nose with aromas of earth, minerality, pungent purple flowers, red fruits, and blueberries. Dry on the palate with medium acidity, tannin, and body. Flavors of blue and red fruits, rhubarb, and cranberry. Very gentle oak leads to a medium-long finish. Recommended.
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2009 Von Holt Suacci Vineyard Pinot Noir

The color is a bright, clear ruby. On the nose, a small hint of funk is a corona to dried cherries, sage, and a bit of brown sugar. The palate leads with the dried cherry and a bit of dried cranberry, all with a wet black dirt undertone. Sage shows up on the mid-palate along with some river rock minerality, then the most interesting thing happens—just at the end of the wine in your mouth, really in the transition between mid-palate and finish, there is a pronounced, but ephemeral, flash of flavor, like sticking your tongue in a plate of crushed black pepper with a little red pepper and just a few finely chopped bits of jalapeño added to the mix. Then it is gone, instantly. The finish is of moderate length. Drink with cedar planked salmon. Highly Recommended.