Three Good Pinot Noirs (Chalone/Russian Hill/Londer)
Over the next week or so I'm going to be writing up a few good Pinot Noirs that didn't make it into my Tasting Room column in our March issue. I tasted 180+ Pinots for the column, so it's no real surprise that there were more good ones than the 27 I recommended (though, unfortunately, not so many good, inexpensive ones). Consider this an addendum or adjunct to the print edition. I'll also be doing a few more comprehensive write-ups on some of the wineries that had more than one good wine in the tasting, such as Loring, AP Vin, Woodenhead and Raptor Ridge.
2005 Chalone Monterey County Pinot Noir ($14) Note that this is not the more expensive estate bottling, but a basic bottling from the Monterey County appellation. Nevertheless, it's an appealingly balanced concoction of light oak toast, wild strawberry and raspberry jam notes—that sweet fruit gets sweeter as it ends, but doesn't quite go over the top.
2004 Russian Hill Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir ($32) Definitely a ripe Russian River Pinot in its cherry-cola aroma and clear cherry liqueur fruit. This is supple and flavorful, not inexpensive but not a bad deal for the quality.
2005 Londer Estate Grown Pinot Noir ($50) The pure, piercing black raspberry aroma here is like a bright bolt of fruit, and an exact indicator of what this dense, rich Pinot tastes like, too. Superb wine, and structured enough to improve over the next few years.