Bailiwick 2009 “Borderline” Pinot Noir, Marin County. From mostly Swan, Pommard, and Dijon clones, about 44% new oak. Medium-light color, with aromas of black cherry, earth, herbs, and undertones of sweet oak. Medium weight on the palate with good structure and balance, this had a lively finish with refined tannins, nice.
Bailiwick 2011 “Borderline” Pinot Noir, Marin County (barrel sample). From 667 clone from Chileno Valley and 777 from Kendric vineyards, about 20% whole cluster with a 28-day maceration. This will spend about 16 months in barrel. Medium-light garnet, this had some pretty floral notes on the nose with lots of upfront black cherry and plum fruit and some spice. Somewhat more structured and tannic at this stage than the 2009, this shows the potential to develop nicely.
Comments: The fruit for both vintages was sourced from both Chileno Valley and Kendric Vineyards. The 2009 was the first release from brothers Bryan and Paul Vais, who also make several nice Pinots from other appellations. Their 2010 Marin Pinot will be released later this year.
Burning Bench Cellars
Burning Bench 2008 Pinot Noir, Moon Hill Vineyard, Marin County. Medium color, this displayed ripe black cherry, plus spice and vanilla/oak on the nose. On the bigger side for a Marin Pinot, this had a tangy finish with moderate tannins.
Burning Bench 2009 Pinot Noir, Moon Hill Vineyard, Marin County. Medium ruby color, showing brighter red cherry fruit, spice, and touches of tea leaf and minerals. Not as weighty as the 2008, with a livelier mouthfeel and some tannic grip on the finish. A promising wine that should improve with a few years of bottle age, nice.
Comments: The fruit from Moon Hill Vineyard, planted about ten years ago with 115, 667, 777, and 828 Pinot clones, formerly went into the bottlings from Brookside Cellars. The vineyard is located in the hills between San Geronimo and Nicasio. The 2009 bottling is easily the best I’ve tasted.
Couloir 2010 Pinot Noir, Chileno Valley Vineyard, Marin County. About 33% whole-cluster fermentation, 25% new French oak. Medium color, with red fruits, earth, herbs, and some spice and vanilla/oak on the nose, plus just a hint of flowers. Medium-bodied with nice acidity and a lively finish with moderate tannins. The whole-cluster character is noticeable but should integrate over time, a nice wine that should only get better.
Couloir 2010 Pinot Noir, Redding Ranch, Marin County. Mostly Dijon clones with a little Pommard, about 50% whole-cluster fermentation, aged in older French oak. Medium-light color, this showed the green/stemmy and earthy aromas upfront, with black cherry and spice playing supporting roles. Lighter on the palate than the Chileno Valley bottling, with much grippier tannins on the finish. An intriguing wine that will probably take years to unwind.
Comments: Jon Grant’s Couloir wines have been impressive, and their fairly intense whole-cluster style sets them apart from most Marin Pinots. Redding Ranch is at about 1,400-foot elevation, overlooking the town of Nicasio – the tiny production of the 2010 Couloir bottling from this vineyard is already sold out.
DeLoach 2009 Chardonnay, Stubbs Vineyard, Marin County. Aged in about 40% new French oak. This showed apply fruit along with toasty oak, vanilla, and spice. Medium-light weight in the mouth with a moderately creamy texture, it displayed lively acidity on the finish.
DeLoach 2009 Pinot Noir, Stubbs Vineyard, Marin County. Medium-light garnet color, with strawberry and cranberry, spice, earth, and touches of black pepper and sweet oak. Medium-light bodied, this had good structure and moderate tannins, nice.
DeLoach 2009 Pinot Noir, Marin County. Sourced mostly from Chileno Valley Vineyard. Medium-light color, displaying riper red fruit than the Stubbs bottling, this also showed bigger spice and oak components, plus some herbal undertones. Richer on the palate than the previous wine, with a smoother texture and medium tannins on the finish.
Comments: These DeLoach wines were made by Dan Goldfield. All were nice, but I felt the Stubbs Vineyard Pinot was the most distinctive of the three.
Dutton-Goldfield 2011 Riesling, Chileno Valley Vineyard, Marin County. Light color, this had intense floral aromas along with ripe, upfront apple and stone fruit notes and a touch of spice. Moderately rich and smooth, it finished with a trace of sweetness.
Dutton-Goldfield 2009 Pinot Noir, Devil’s Gulch Ranch, Marin County. Medium color, this was quite aromatic, with flowers, black cherry and plum fruit, spice, and vanilla/oak. Medium-bodied with a nice texture in the mouth and a lively finish with moderate tannins. A nice wine now that should improve with some time in the cellar.
Comments: The 2011 was Dutton-Goldfield’s first Riesling from Chileno Valley Vineyard, and it was interesting to compare it with the Pey-Marin version.
Foggy Bottom NV Pinot Noir, Marin County. From 115, 777, and a mystery clone! Medium-light color, with red cherry and cranberry fruit, fresh herbs, and a touch of earth. Medium-bodied with lively acidity, that had a clean and pleasant finish, good value for a lighter-style Pinot.
Easkoot 2009 Pinot Noir, Marin County. About 10% whole-cluster fermentation. Medium color, this featured some floral notes on the nose, along with bright cherry and spice, and a touch of vanilla/oak. Bolder on the palate, with more structure and tannin on the finish.
Easkoot 2010 Pinot Noir, Marin County. Medium color, displaying a more floral character, plus ripe cherry, tea leaf, and earth aromas. Brighter acidity in the mouth than the 2009, this also had more noticeable grip on the finish, but the overall balance was very good and this should age well – youthful but quite promising.
Comments: The fruit is sourced from Chileno Valley Vineyard. The Foggy Bottom bottling is an entry-level Pinot that combines wine from both the 2009 and 2010 vintages. Easkoot owners Stephan Schindler and Emily Schindler Weissman also own Winemonger, an import business. (Disclosure – I helped bottle the 2009 Pinot).
Kendric 2005 Pinot Noir, Marin County (unfiltered). Medium ruby color, this showed herbal notes and red fruits, with somewhat higher-toned character than what I recall from earlier tastings of this wine. Medium-bodied, a touch of spice and darker berry fruit came through in the mouth, and the finish was slightly tangy but had good length.
Kendric 2008 Pinot Noir, Marin County. About 75% whole-cluster fermentation. Medium-light color, lighter than the 2005. This displayed more earth and spice on the nose, along with black cherry, minerals, and hints of flowers. A bit lighter weight than the 2005 and livelier on the palate, this had a clean, bright finish with refined tannins. The whole-cluster element is very well-integrated and this is a beautiful example of Marin Pinot that should age nicely.
Kendric 2009 Pinot Noir, Marin County. About 65% whole-cluster fermentation. Bright garnet color, with raspberry and cherry fruit, tea leaf, earth, and touches of flowers and smoky oak. Showing more whole-cluster character than the 2008, with more structure and more grip on the finish. A young wine that will need more time to show its best.
Kendric 2010 Pinot Noir, Marin County (barrel sample). Slightly darker color, featuring brighter aromas of red cherry and strawberry, herbs, and more baking spice than the 2009. Quite lively with fine acidity, this finished with moderate tannins. Another youngster that should settle down with some time in the cellar.
Comments: Stewart Johnson once again poured his wines at this event. They’re all made from estate fruit from his vineyard on the northern edge of Marin, planted to seven clones of Pinot Noir. In recent vintages, Stewart has worked with more whole-cluster fermentations and longer macerations.
Pacheco Ranch Winery
Pacheco Ranch 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate, Marin County. Medium purple, fairly shy aromas of cassis and plum, with earth and black pepper notes. Lighter-bodied for a Cabernet, with plenty of acidity but not too tannic.
Pacheco Ranch 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate, Marin County. Slightly darker color than the 2005, with more intense fruit, plus dried herbs, cinnamon, and more black pepper. More weight on the palate than the 2005, with a lively mouthfeel and moderate but refined tannins, a medium-bodied Cab that is nice right now but should continue to develop in the bottle.
Pacheco Ranch 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, “Reserve,” Estate, Marin County. The reserve wine is a vineyard selection from 40+ year-old vines, and is all free-run. More fruit-forward than the regular 2006 bottling, this also featured more spice, pepper, and vanilla/oak components. Medium-bodied with a bigger structure and a grippy finish.
Comments: The oldest winery in Marin, started in 1973, Pacheco Ranch – located in the warmer eastern side of the county – specializes in estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines are aged three years in barrel and another two in bottle before release. The Cabs are a bit rustic and in a lighter style than most from California – the current 2006 release showed particularly well.
Pey-Marin 2011 “The Shell Mound” Riesling, Marin County. A dry Riesling made entirely in stainless steel with no malolactic fermentation. Very light straw color, featuring floral, pear, citrus, and lees aromas. Medium-bodied, this was viscous in the mouth but with a vibrant acidity and a dry, crisp finish, very nice.
Pey-Marin 2009 “Trois Filles” Pinot Noir, Marin County. Medium-light color, this showed ripe cherry and spice, along with a touch of vanilla/oak. Medium weight on the palate and fairly lively, it finished with milder tannins.
Comments: Pey-Marin’s Riesling continues to be outstanding year after year. Their Marin Pinot is not always sourced from the same vineyards, and the 2009 fruit came from three West Marin locations, using eight Pinot clones.
Point Reyes Vineyards
Point Reyes NV Blanc de Noir, Estate, Marin County. 100% Pinot Noir. Very light pink color, fairly fruit-forward apple and cherry notes along with spice and lees. Lighter-bodied, the acidity dominated on the finish.
Point Reyes NV Blanc de Blanc, Estate, Marin County. Light yellow/straw color, this featured more yeasty aromas, plus citrus and stone fruit. Richer than the Blanc de Noir, this had a pleasant texture and more balance in the finish.
Point Reyes 2007 Pinot Noir, Estate, Marin County. Medium-light color, showing higher-toned cherry, tea leaf, and spicy oak aromas. Lighter-bodied with a tangy finish.
Point Reyes 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, Quail Hill Vineyard, Marin County. Medium color, this featured herbal plum and cassis fruit along with some black pepper and earth notes. Somewhat thin in the mid-palate, it had only very mild tannins on the finish.
Point Reyes 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon, Quail Hill Vineyard, Marin County. Displaying riper red fruits than the 2001, less herbal with more spice and a touch of oak. Medium-bodied, with more structure and tannin than the 2001.
Quail Hill 1987 Cabernet Sauvignon, Quail Hill Vineyard, Marin County. Still maintaining good color, this had very pleasant cassis, herb, and black pepper aromatics along with a touch of baking spice. Medium weight in the mouth with nice balance and still some tannic bite on the finish, aging quite gracefully.
Comments: Point Reyes’ estate Pinot vineyard is less than a mile from the shore of Tomales Bay, while their Quail Hill Vineyard near Terra Linda was planted in the 1960s. The Cabernets displayed good varietal character as well as their cooler-climate origins. The 1987 Cab was showing particularly well – quite a treat to taste it.
Sean Thackrey 2009 “Andromeda” Pinot Noir, Devil’s Gulch Ranch, Marin County. From Dijon and Martini clones, about 25-30% new oak. Medium ruby color, featuring ripe red cherry and raspberry fruit, earth, spice, and a bit of sweet oak on the nose. Bolder on the palate than most of the Pinots at this tasting, but with nice acidity, this had a tangy finish with fairly mild tannins.
Comments: Sean Thackrey and Dutton-Goldfield are the only wineries to make Pinot Noir from Mark Pasternak’s Devil’s Gulch Vineyard.
Viandante del Cielo 2011 Pinot Noir Rosé, Skywalker Ranch, Marin County. From 100% estate-grown fruit, bottled in March. Light pink color, with fresh red berries, herbs, and a touch of spice. Fairly lively mouthfeel and a fresh finish – I thought this was a step up from the 2010 bottling.
Viandante del Cielo 2009 Pinot Noir, Skywalker Ranch, Marin County. Medium color, with black cherry, baking spice, and sweet oak aromas. Medium-bodied, with moderate tannin on the finish.
Skywalker 2009 Pinot Noir, Skywalker Ranch, Marin County. Medium-dark color, this displayed bolder aromatics of darker fruits, clove/spice, herbs, and a minerally note. More rich and full-bodied but with good balance and the structure for aging. Bigger in style than “typical” Marin Pinots but nice nonetheless.
Comments: The Viandante del Cielo (essentially Skywalker in Italian) label is for the more basic wines from Skywalker Ranch, while the reserve wines are bottled under the Skywalker label. 26 acres of vineyard Chardonnay & Pinot Noir are planted, and annual production is around 1,000 cases. Both of the 2009 Pinots have picked up weight and complexity since I tasted them last year.
2007 Pinot Noir, Estate Grown, Marin County. Medium-light color, with earthy plum and black cherry fruit, and touches of baking spice and sweet oak. Medium-bodied and fairly smooth on the palate and on the finish.
Comments: Mary Stubbs was on hand to pour her Pinot at the event. Stubbs Vineyard was planted in 1996 and is certified organic. The Stubbs wines are made by Dan Goldfield.
Willowbrook 2009 Pinot Noir, Chileno Valley Vineyard, Marin County. Medium-light garnet color, this featured tart red fruits, herbs, and lots of spicy oak on the nose. Medium weight in the mouth, with moderate acidity and mild tannins on the finish.
Willowbrook 2008 Pinot Noir, Chileno Valley Vineyard, Marin County. Medium-light color, showing spicy black cherry, smoke, and vanilla/oak aromas. A bit brighter on the palate than the 2008, but with refined tannins.
Comments: Willowbrook owner John Tracy also owns Owl Ridge Wine Services in Sebastopol, and the wines are made there.