*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR company for the brand.

Eenie meanie miny mo, which Pinot should go?  Tonight it was the 2011 Star Angel Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir. The Star Angel has a real cork closure and retails for about $27. It hails from the Santa Rita Hills in California, though the Star Angel brand is the invention of the winemaker for the Montes brand from Chile.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Serve this at cellar temperature or slightly below.

2.) As it warmed I found the wine a bit soft.

3.) I served this with salmon, one of my go-tos for Pinot. I think I’d serve it with a vinegar based BBQ sauce given a 2nd chance.

4.) Overall, the wine is ripe and plush and would be a crowd pleaser for those “I don’t like red wine” folks.

On the nose I got spice, pepper, strawberry, and smoke. In the mouth I found strawberry jam, raspberry, and other plush red fruits. There was some acidity on the finish.



Two Nights Two Pinots

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, I managed to pluck the same wine from two different vintages two nights in a row from my basement. Let’s just say the Pinot Noir called my name this winter and the two Rodney Strong ones that were lurking (that sounds ominous, I promise it’s not) in my cellar got caught up in a few day Pinot fury. Had I actually realized I had both of them down there, I would have done a side-by-side comparison. On night one we tried the 2010 Rodney Strong Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. More on night two’s wine, the 2012, another day. The 2010 had a real cork closure and likely retailed for about $25 originally.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Overflowing on the nose with red, red fruit.

2.) Pair with a roaring fire and a cozy couch.

3.) Or with an herbed, roast chicken. That would work as well.

4.) Once again, Rodney Strong comes through with a solid offering for a great price point.

On the nose I found raspberries, red cherries, spice, mint, herbs, and sage. (Yes, I’m well aware that sage and mint are herbs, but there were more than just those there, more of an overall herbal note.) In the mouth I got pomegranate, raspberries, spice, and other red fruit. Overall the wine has acidity to spare and a long finish.



In the Willamette

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery.

Harkening back to our trip to Oregon this summer, Mr. Wannabe Wino and I popped the cork on the 2010 Cornerstone Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.  If you haven’t yet had a chance to get to Cornerstone and connect with Craig Camp you are totally missing out. Especially if you haven’t stopped by their tasting room to do a tasting paired with local cheeses. The 2010 Pinot Noir has a real cork closure, clocks in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for $50 a bottle.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) I would pay $50 for this wine, no questions asked.

2.) Expanding their OR offerings would make me love Cornerstone even more.

3.) My notes for this wine say “Excellent.” I couldn’t describe it better.

4.) If you like dusty earth, dried violets and cherries, and baking cocoa in your Pinot, this one is for you.

On the nose I got spice, pepper, herbs, cedar, smoke, berries, dried cherries, dried violets, dusty earth, and dried raspberries on the nose. As the wine opened in my glass I kept diving back in and finding more good things to smell. The palate echoed the nose with cocoa notes, raspberries, cherries, strawberries, and herbs. All the fruits tasted a bit dried to me and very concentrated.  Overall the wine had excellent acidity and long finish. A very complex and well done wine for the price point, that over-delivered.




In the Clouds

*Brad gave this wine to me. He makes this wine. So I guess I need to disclose that. Does anyone really care?

At the Wine Blogger Conference in Portland this year, I ran into Brad. Who was running around with a case of his wine, the 2009 Black Cloud Altostratus Pinot Noir.  I of course accepted his offer of a bottle and off it went into our case of wine that got packed to come home to VA with us. Which is awesome because it’s from Canada and I’m super excited to try some Canadian wines in anticipation of the 2013 Wine Blogger Conference. Also, I tried Brad’s 2006 vintage and he is way more super duper excited about this one, so that’s always fun. The 2009 clocks in at 13.2% alcohol by volume and has a real cork closure.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) British Columbia. Drink wine from there.

2.) Especially drink Pinot Noir from there.

3.) And particularly if it is from Black Cloud.

4.) The Black Cloud is an amazing violet-y, floral, caramel-y, black cherry glass of deliciousness.

On the nose I got violets, spice, sweet spun sugar, dusty notes, florals, perfume, caramel, roses, blackberry, and black cherries.  In the mouth I found black cherry, black raspberry, blackberry, spice, slight coffee, and earth.  I found the wine to be juicy with great acidity, nice structure, and fine tannins. My overall notes say “lovely.”


2009 Cornerstone Oregon Pinot Noir

Final round of speed dating brings us the 2009 Cornerstone Oregon Pinot Noir. This is a wine I’m very very familiar with. In fact, I drank it earlier today, on Thursday night, and last week I think.  It has a beautiful spicy nose with chocolate, roses, violets, red cherries, black raspberries, and white pepper. In the mouth it’s all about black cherry, black raspberry, spice, acidity, and tannins on the finish.

I always serve this with salmon, but it would also be wonderful with the bacon roasted chicken I make.

2010 ArcherySummit Premier Cuvee Pinot Noir

Round 9 finds the 2010 ArcherySummit Premier Cuvee Pinot Noir. I had a little experience with Archery Summit earlier this year through a Taste Live event and really enjoyed them. This particular Pinot retails for $48 and has national distribution to all 50 states. On the nose I’m finding spice, chocolate, black cherry, pepper. In the mouth I’m getting lots more spice and black cherry, black raspberry, and great acidity.

I’d like this one on it’s own on a chilly fall night.

2010 J. Christopher Willamette Pinot Noir

Up next, for round 8 of speed dating/tasting is the 2010 J. Christopher Willamette Pinot Noir. The price point on this wine is They just joined twitter today! Welcome! The price point is $30. On the nose I’m getting black raspberry, cherry, spice, and lots of chocolatey notes. In the mouth I’m finding layers of red and black fruit, spice, good structure, a mineral streak, and great acidity.
More salmon please.

2009 Johan Nils Reserve Pinot Noir

Round 4 of speed dating tasting brings us another OR Pinot Noir, woo hoo, the 2009 Johan Nils Reserve Pinot Noir!  This wine retails for $45 and can be found mostly in Portland and at the winery, with some distribution in FL, WI, WA, MN, and a few others.  Sniffing the wine I am getting spice and pepper notes with black raspberry and cherry. Nice structure on the palate with bright red fruit, good acidity and a smooth, lingering finish.

Drink with some steelhead trout and enjoy.

2009 Seufert Vine Idly Pinot Noir

Third to our table for speed tasting is the 2009 Seufert Vine Idly Pinot Noir. At only 250 cases produced this makes up about 1/8 of the total winery production and it retails for $30. On the nose I am getting eucalyptus, mint, green pepper, and funk-y earth. Bring on the funk! In the mouth it is dark and stormy, with more earth, funk, herbs, and pepper notes.

Give me a fire and some smoky cheeses with this wine.

2009 Alexana Signature Dunde Hills Pinot Noir

Speed wine dating round two brings our table the 2009 Alexana Signature Dunde Hills Pinot Noir. The Signature is made with their best select 9 barrels and is available only via the tasting room or dtc sales. On the nose, smokey meat with dusty chocolate, violets, and cherries. In the mouth bright red fruit, berries, cherries, and lovely acidity with some herbal earthy notes.

Keeping with my OR wines = seafood theme, this would be amazing with cedar planked salmon. Can someone bring me some now?