Creative Juices Wine Blog

Pinot Noir Tasting

What better way to start a week than with a Pinot Noir tasting? You nailed it…there is no better way to start a week!
Last night we went out to Billy Crews’ for his weekly Monday night tasting. They were tasting 12 different Pinots, which they had arranged by price. Maybe not the best tasting order, but it worked nevertheless.

These are the tasting notes from our Pinot Tasting at Billy Crews Monday evening. Sorry for the delay, but without further adieu, here we go. For your sake, we’ve kept our notes to a minimum. Cheers!

First up was Wild Rock Cupid’s Arrow Pinot Noir 2008 from Central Otago, New Zealand. This wine had solid acidity, and a nice distribution of cherry, mineral, vanilla, pepper, and currants. It was lacking on a finish, and left us high and dry overall. This was not the best representation from Central Otago in our opinion, and we gave it 84 points. At $16.45, this was a disappointment, and a pass.

Pinot #2 was Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir 2007 from Oregon. This wine was a bit over-oaked, and had a big vanilla nose, but then fizzled out, and was rather thin in the end. This was another 84 point wine. $$18.81 price tag, and a pass.

Pinot #3 was the 2007Acacia Pinot Noir from Carneros. This wine had a little bit more going on, and exhibited nice strawberry aromas and flavors in combination with a well-distributed balance of oak, and smokiness. At $19.99, this wasn’t a terrible wine. We gave it 87 points, but it didn’t overly impress us.

Pinot #4 was the 2005 Galante Almond Felt Pinot Noir From California. This was pretty acidic, and had a bit of fruit, though none of it really stood out. As the price stands, this wine is not worth it. Galante is a miss at $22.34. This wine was kind of meh, and we waived 83 points at it, and moved on.

Pinot #5 was the Willamette Valley Vineyards Founders Pinot Noir from 2007 (Oregon). This wine felt a little bit more put together, and represented Oregon Pinot fairly well. The one thing that stood out most about this wine was a peculiar pickled peppers aspect that we couldn’t quite get passed. If not peppers, it was definitely something pickled. That being said, we enjoyed this wine enough to score it 88 points. At $24.69, this fits a price point that a lot of people can be happy with. There may be better Oregon Pinot Noirs out there, but this one isn’t stinking up the joint, and is probably worth a quarter Benjamin.

Pinot #6 was from a familiar label, Roessler. This was the Roessler Laurelwood Pinot Noir 2007 out of Willamette Valley. Almost sweet on the attack, this Pinot leads into a smoked meat and red fruit collision on the palate. Very interesting stuff. We scored this wine 89 points, and would probably pick this up at $27. Oregon Pinots are just worth a little bit of extra jingle.

Pinot #7 was the 2007 Craggy Range Pinot Noir from Central Otago, New Zealand. This was a nice spicy, peppery pinot with plenty of fruit, and wood backing it up. This pinot has been on our to taste list for a while now, and we weren’t disappointed upon finally getting around to it. This is a pretty solid pinot, and we rated it 90 points. There are probably better $34 pinots out there, but the Craggy Range is worth giving a try if you’re in the market for a big Central Otago Pinot.

Pinot #8 was from Caymus in Santa Barbara, CA. It was the Caymus Belle Gloss 2007 Clark & Telephone Vineyard Pinot Noir, and really represented the brand well. This wine had a lot of fruit, and exploded with strawberry and cherry flavors that lasted for days. This wine is very tasty, and worth every penny at $39 per 750ml. We rated this pinot 92 points, and would love to revisit this wine in the future. We settled for a second taste, which we definitely didn’t spit.

Pinot #9 Was the 2007 Cakebread Pinot Noir. There’s not much to say about this wine. The Caymus was a tough act to follow, but come on! The Cakebread didn’t even make a showing on this one. This wine has a very confused, awkward palate, and a $50 price tag that makes it an easy pass. This wine, although not having anything going for it, caused the biggest separation in scoring of the evening. So much so that we will give you both scores from Olena (87 points) and Zak (81-83 points). No thanks.

Pinot #10 had the coolest name of the night: Hartford Court Fog Dance Pinot Noir 2006 from Russian River Valley. It had rugged tannins (which we didn’t see coming), a lot of pepper, and strawberry on the nose (which were also evident on the palate). We liked this wine, but didn’t love it. This was an 88 point wine, but at $50, is a pass. There are better bottles out there for $25-40.

Pinot #11 was the Ponzi RSV 2007 Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley. This has well integrated vanilla flavors, but then picks up a sour, pickled aspect–which was unexpected, but not unwelcomed. It was a kind of watery on the palate, and overall left us hanging. Once again, the big price tag ($53) hurts the value of the wine. We gave this pinot 86 points, and obviously, a pass. It’s just not worth that kind of dough.

Pinot #12 was La Crema 9 Barrel Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley. We’ve had La Crema before, but not the 9 Barrel, so this was a bottle we were looking forward to at the beginning of the tasting. We were not impressed. It was over-oaked, and lacked in complexity. You won’t find us spending $59 on an 87 point bottle that should be wrapped in a $18 package. Cool label though.

So that’s it. 12 Pinot Noirs. This wasn’t the best showing of Pinot we’ve seen, but there were definitely some highlights. We wouldn’t mind seeing a couple of them again. Thank for reading. Cheers!!!

Thanks for reading. Cheers!!!
Zak & Olena

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Gamba Cellars Russian River Zinfandel 2005

Posted in California, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, Wine Reviews, Zinfandel by CreativeJuicesWine on December 2, 2009

Wow. Ok…

This bottle was given to us by our friend, and wine maker, Vic Poulos of Zin Valle Vineyards in Canutillo,TX. He asked us to let him know what we think of wine, and here we go.

Let us begin by saying that this wine has 15.9% alcohol. That’s freakishly high for most wines, even Zinfandel, which is synonymous with staggering alcohol contents. That being said, one would not know it.

Gamba Cellars has created a monster. Taken from old vines in the Russian River Valley of California, these Zinfandel grapes have been developed into amazing juice that we are clearly pretty excited about.

This wine exhibits nice peppery notes, with a bit of currant, smooth vanilla, and a touch of dirt or clay on the nose. It has a very pleasant bouquet that invites one into the first sip like the sly seductress it is.

Gamba Zin is a well-rounded, full-bodied wine that has rich tannins, and generous alcohol. In the mouth, powerful flavors of vanilla, rose pedal, cotton candy, plum, a pleasant dirtiness or earthiness, that rounds off with subtle cocoa and blueberry flavors as it finishes. We were also very impressed that we got as much sediment from this wine as we did given its age.

This is a very good wine, and if you see it anywhere, pick it up. It was a gift to us, so we aren’t going to disclose a price, however, it’s worth it. This is a 92 point wine. Delicious.

Thank you, Vic. This was a truly amazing gift, and we enjoyed it thoroughly. Cheers!

DeLoach Russian River Pinot Noir 2007

Posted in California, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, Wine Reviews by CreativeJuicesWine on October 26, 2009

This evening we enjoyed a bottle of DeLoach Russian River Valley Pinot Noir with our meals at Mesa Street Grill here in El Paso. This was most likely an effort to make up for last night’s debacle. In the end, it proved worth it.

The following is a description directly from the DeLoach website:
The cool, foggy Russian River Valley climate allows for slow ripening, enabling grapes to develop full flavor maturation over an extended time. The fruit for our 2007 blend was hand-harvested from select vineyards around the valley and crafted using traditional Burgundian techniques: fermentation in small, wooden, open-top vats; hand punch-downs; basket-pressing; and French oak barrel aging.
Ripe raspberries lift from the glass and mingle with tempting aromas of strawberry-rhubarb tart and cola.  Delicate notes of anise, cardamom and gingerbread spice lace the fruit to unfold a rich palate of black cherries supported by medium-fine-grained tannins. The finish lingers with attractive, subtle, toasty undertones, fine acid and excellent balance.  Pairs beautifully with barbecued leg of lamb or braised pork tenderloin.

We ordered the bottle, and our waiter Marc, decanted it for us. By this point, we had ordered our meals, and as per usual, there was a distance between them.
Olena’s Order: An unorthodox one that included Salmon, Chilean Sea Bass, Big Eyed Tuna, Shrimp and Scallops. She’s more adventurous in her pairings.
Zak’s Order: Rack of Lamb served over mashed potatoes with asparagus (An obviously more traditional order).
Although neither of the pairings were perfect, Zak’s was the safe choice that proved to be a friendlier match.
The only thing that really stood out about this wine was that it was spicier than most Pinot Noirs from the Russian River Valley in California. This can’t be said of all domestic Pinots, but in this case, it was definitely a factor. By no means does this insinuate the wine that was substandard, or varietally inaccurate. This was an excellent pinot that we ranked a 91.
We highly recommend this bottle that we bought at a restaurant for $40. At retail, you should be able to find it for around $19. Go out, and try this wine. Cheers!

Zak & Olena