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Pinot Noir of the World
updated: Sep 24, 2010, 9:45 AM

By Marc Liberts

Drake Whitcraft of Whitcraft Winery was the featured speaker at Spiritland Bistro's BYOB Wine & Dine event on Wednesday September 22, 2010 in Santa Barbara. Drake brought a number of his Pinot Noirs which he shared with all the guests and he also talked about each one, discussing the various production techniques, winemaking, and his philosophy about wine and winemaking. We enjoyed a very nice dinner, and were all able to taste about 30 different Pinot Noirs from California and France.

Here are my reviews of the PInot Noirs I was able to taste:

1. SIDURI - Hirsch Vineyard - Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2006: Featuring an elegant herbal nose, I found this wine to be medium-bodied and balanced, with a pleasant cherry cola palate and a long clean finish. I rated this wine 93 Points.

2. DIERBERG - Pinot Noir - Santa Maria Valley 2005: This wine was a Wine Spectator Top 100 wine of 2008, ranked #49. It had a nice perfumed nose with a fruity, cherry palate and soft finish. I rated it 91 Points.

3. UNDERCOVER - 2008 Pinot Noir - Bien Nacido Vineyard - The WineHound's new private label produced by Fess Parker Winery - a nice nose with good color and a smooth fruity mouthfeel. I rated it 88+ points. A nice value for $24.99.

4. RANCHO SISQUOC - Flood Family Vineyard 2008 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir - A quiet nose, light wine that is pleasant but gritty on the palate. I rated it 85 points.

5. FOXEN Pinot Noir - Sea Smoke Vineyard - Santa Rita Hills - 2005 - It has a big cherry cola nose with big fruit on the palate and a nice balanced level of acid, with a huge long finish. I rated it 91+ points.

6. CARIVINTAS WINERY - Brooklyn & Georgia - Pinot Noir - 2006 Santa Barbara County - Nice nose with a pleasant cherry cola and caramel mouthfeel. Fruity but a bit out of balance. I rated it 86 points.

7. ALLAN HANCOCK COLLEGE - Pinot Noir - 2009 Sierra Madre Vineyard - North Canyon - Intriguing but light and a bit disjointed. A fun effort. I rated it 84 points.

8. BABCOCK - Rita's Earths - 2008 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir - Nice crushed rocks on the nose with a weird and slightly disjointed palate. I rated it 86 points.

9. BREGGO - 2008 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir - Perfume nose with a light fruity flavor profile and light finish. Good balance. I rated it 87 points.

10. TALLEY VINEYARDS - 2008 Pinot Noir - Edna Valley - Starts with a nice herbal nose and big cherry cola flavors. Well balanced and nice overall. I rated it 89+ points.

11. BROADLEY VINEYARDS - 2008 Estate Pinot Noir - Willamette Valley - Oregon - An unfortunate, burnt medicinal nose which continues to the palate and finish. I rated it 81 points.

12. BRIDLEWOOD - 2008 Reserve Pinot Noir - Santa Lucia Highlands - Starts with a nice fruity nose, decent cherry cola on the palate and a punchy finish. I rated it 86 points.

13. CAMBRIA - Julia's Vineyard - 2007 Pinot Noir - Santa Maria Valley - Nice nose, thin on the palate but well balanced. I rated it 88 points.

14. BOURGOGNE - 2005 - Domaine Henri Perrot-Minot - Begins with a creamy herbal nose. Herbaceous on the palate. Plush with a slightly disjointed finish. I rated it 87 points.

15. HAYMAN & HILL Pinot Noir - 2007 Santa Lucia Highlands - Reserve Selection. Starts with a nice nose with a plush fruity mouthfeel. Good balance. I rated it 85 points.

16. LUCAS & LEWELLEN 2006 Pinot Noir - Goodchild High 9 Vineyard - Santa Barbara County - Simple, quiet nose with light fruit on the palate. I rated it 86 points.

17. WHITCRAFT WINERY - 2007 Pinot Noir - San Luis Obispo County - Aubaine Vineyards - Dark color with a cement dust nose. The nice crushed rocks and cherry on the palate. Good finish. I rated it 89 points.

18. DRAKE - Pinot Noir 2004 - Aubaine Vineyard - San Luis Obispo County - A big cherry nose with crushed rocks on the palate. Dense & firm with good fruit and nice acid. I rated it 90 points.

19. PAUL HOBBS - 2005 Pinot Noir - Russian River Valley - Nice nose with dark fruit & cherries on the palate. I enjoyed the wine but others didn't. I rated it 91+ points.

20. ALMA ROSA - Pinot Noir - Santa Rita Hills - 2007 - Pleasant and well balanced with nice fruit and good acid. I rated it 88 points.

21. ESTANCIA - 2008 Pinot Noir - Monterey County - Pinnacles Ranches - Decent nose with a plush fruity mouthfeel and a decent finish. I rated it 88 points.

22. MELVILLE - 2009 Estate Pinot Noir -Verna's - Decent nose with a big plush cherry hit on the palate and a big finish. A big young with high acidity. I rated it 89+ points.

23. FOLEY - 2008 PInot Noir - Sta. Rita Hills - Rancho Santa Rosa - Nice nose with dark fruit and cherries on the palate. Good balance but young. I rated it 90 points.

24. 2002 Domaine du Ch√Ęteau de Chorey (Germain) Beaune 1er Cru Les Vigne Franches Vieilles Vignes - The Old World finally showed up! Dark fruit and spice on the nose. Black cherries, cherry cola and nice acid on the palate. Big earthy and herbaceous finish. NICE! I rated it 92+ ponts.

25. INOCENCIO - Pinot Noir - Santa Barbara County - 2007 - Medicinal scents with cherry cola and herbal notes on the palate. I rated it 88 points.

26. GEVREY-CHAMBERTAIN - 1er Cru - Les Champeaux - Domaine Tortochot 2005 - A classic Premier Cru Burgundy from France. Unfortunately, it was bretty from the start to the finish. I did enjoy the earthy and herbal notes on the palate. Overall, a decent example of French Burgundy. I rated it 88 points.

27. CHAMBERTAIN CLOS DE BEZE - Grand Cru - Frederic Magnien - 2002 - A famous and classic Grand Cru Burgundy from France also. However, the aroma of burnt wood was present immediately on the nose and on the palate. Beyond the wood, it was smooth and minerally on the palate with an interesting finish. I rated it 90 points but it was a disappointment, costing over $125.00 for the bottle.

28. WHITCRAFT WINERY - 1996 Pinot Noir - Santa Maria Valley - Bien Nacido Vineyard - this wine starts with an Old World nose of herbs and fruits. It was really well balanced on the palate and had a really nice finish. I scored it 91+ points and was really happy to see a local wine hold up so well over almost 15 years.

The overall winner was clearly the SIDURI - Hirsch Vineyard - Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2006. Siduri has been on a big roll in the past few years producing small lot, single vineyard designated Pinot Noirs.

The next dinner features Pinot Noir again - California vs. France. The date is Wednesday September 29, 2010, and the featured winemaker will be Joe Davis of Arcadian Wines.

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