California Pinot

McHenry Vineyard

Massaro Vineyard Pinot Noir 1999

This is a long story but worth the read. McHenry Vineyard, which is own-rooted and dry-farmed, was replanted back in the 90’s. While they waited for their vines to mature, they purchased some fruit and this is one of those examples.

The first time I ever had this wine was back in 2007 with some dear friends of ours, celebrating a birthday. Her father was a construction executive who periodically travelled to the Bay Area and happened to bring a few bottles of McHenry back on one of his trips. I was early in my wine journey and remember thinking back then, “This wine is gorgeous and, wow, has it aged really well…for a California Pinot Noir”. In that instant, McHenry became a darling winery for me and I have been enjoying their wines ever since.

Fast-forward to the summer of 2019 when I first visited the vineyard. I mentioned to Brandon that my introduction to McHenry wines was the 1999 Massaro Vineyard and before I new it, he had pulled a bottle from the library. The wine instantly brought me back to that experience in 2007. He even agreed to sell me a bottle to take with me too! Anyway, on this night, since I was with the same group of friends from my first experience 13 years ago.

In the glass, this shows signs of age. There is some sediment and the rim shows a slight brownish tint. On the nose, the fruit is still very alive! A mix of dark and red fruits are the predominate feature but secondary characteristics of mushrooms, leather and damp earth are riding shotgun. On the palate, dried dark and red fruits with mushrooms. The finish is long and satisfying…almost candied in a way. The wonderful structure that McHenry wines are known for has done its job and there’s still life in this bottle and worked very well with the meal.

If you’re still reading this, I should share that McHenry Vineyard suffered heavy damage due to the CZU Lightning Complex fires. The winery, one of the dwellings, their well system and their entire library was lost. The vineyard itself sustained some damage but should be okay. The 2020 crop is a complete write-off. That being said, they were able to secure some fruit from the Christie Vineyard in Corralitos so there will be a small 2020 vintage after all. The family’s heart remains bound to this land up on Bonny Doon and their special vineyard. They are already in the process of rebuilding and I, for one, am very much looking forward to drinking their wines long into the future.
— 3 days ago

Arden, Daniel P. and 12 others liked this
Jay Kline

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@Ira Schwartz thanks for reading!! ✊🏽
David T

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Nice story. It’s unfortunate the tragedies that can befall producers. It made think back to my trip to Alsace in 2015. Hearing their stories of phylloxera in the latter 1800’s and German tanks rolling over their vineyards in WWI & WWII. That’s a lot unfortunate replanting. Cheers! 🍷
Jay Kline

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@David T no doubt...the lives of farmers. One of the reasons why the Hochar family are hero’s of mine.


Marcassin Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013

I tend to avoid American Pinot as I often find them too extracted, opulent and awkward. Marcassin is one of the few I enjoy. It’s not Burgundy and it doesn’t intend to be, and despite the easily detectable use of 100% new oak, it’s well integrated and balanced. I found 2013 to be just about every bit as deep, layered and complex as 2012 showing rich black raspberries and black cherries, baking spice, incense, purple flowers and a terrific midpalate richness that gives way to a long palate coating finish. Maybe I have a subconscious attraction to its exclusivity and rarity, but Marcassin is definitely my favorite California Pinot. — 13 days ago

Shay, William and 16 others liked this
Shay A

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One of these days Marcassin will release this wine to the mailing list!

Peter Michael Winery

Le Caprice Pinot Noir 2011

David T

Happy Thanksgiving! 🍁🦃🍽

Not in love with the style. Glad it was only $55-$60. We’ll see if it pairs better.

For my palate, there is a lot of funk here. The extraction is much more than I prefer.

The fruits are ruby, ripe, tart, somewhat sour; blackberries, black raspberries, plum, black cherries, blueberries cranberries & pomegranate. Edgy, grey volcanics, moist forest floor, cinnamon to stick, nutmeg, pronounced clove, dark spice, tree sap with bark, dry crushed rocks, eucalyptus, mid herbaceous-sage leafing with fresh, withering & candied florals of; dark, red, purple, blue framed lavender. The acidity is ok. The finish just doesn’t seem right to me. The bottles not corked or off. Just not my style or a very off vintage for them. It also shows elevated alcohol burn.

Can’t say the turkey made it better...did get a little better with my homemade cranberry sauce.

This did come around a bit after nearly 5 hours in the decanter, 9.0 to 9.1. Who thought I should have started decanting it at noon.
— 9 days ago

Vanessa, Severn and 30 others liked this

Churchill Cellars

Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2018

Churchill Wine Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2018: Medium-bodied, red & dark fruits & spice yet it is so much more than this! So many levels of aromas & flavors, this was the perfect wine for our Thanksgiving meal. Churchill Wines congrats on your first Pinot Noir release! I loved it and can’t wait to drink more! Nice work. Cheers🍷 — 7 days ago

barak heller, Mike and 1 other liked this


Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2012

David T

Do you have a “Wine Santa?” I do (top right). He brings me really old Bordeaux every year! Like a kid, I can’t wait for Christmas! 🎄🎅❄️⛄️🎁🌟

Notes from a couple weeks on the 2014 will work, not entirely different. Just a little leaner on fruit & body.

Interesting how it put on some weight the longer it decants.
— 6 days ago

Sofia, Ryan and 26 others liked this

Williams Selyem

Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2012

David T

Salad just needs the dry, dark cherries to make the pair.

Previous notes from awhile back will work.

Enjoying the 12 but, will be much better in four to six years.

Dried apricots after Bordeaux & Napa Cabernet.
— 10 hours ago

Brian, Aravind and 18 others liked this
Neil Valenzuela

Neil Valenzuela

I love this wine. Cheers!

Eric Premium Badge


Patz & Hall

Sonoma County Pinot Noir 2017

Double decant and pour. A mysterious dark garnet color. On the nose: cherry, floral, pine, little raspberry, smoke, licorice. Taste: A rich, smooth medium body wine with restrained cherry, orange peel, mushrooms, vanilla oak and a not my favorite spiced sour strawberry medium plus finish. First time with this Winery...expecting more...though not one of their many single vineyard pinots. — 12 hours ago

Brenda, Deborah and 10 others liked this


Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2012

David T

I’m not in at winery or retail price but pre-aged @ $50 on the secondary market, yeah, ok.

The nose reveals; ripe, sour, dark cherries, blackberries, black raspberries, dry cranberries, strawberries, plum, raspberries & blueberries, spice, clove, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, vanillin, anise to black licorice, sweet tarriness, dark, rich, earth, tree bark/sap, eucalyptus, maple syrup, dry crushed rocks, volcanics, limestone with some very bright, brilliant, candied fresh & withering; dark, red, purple & blue florals.

The nose at this point is better than the palate.

Ripe, sour, dark cherries, blackberries, black raspberries, dry cranberries, strawberries, plum, raspberries some rhubarb & blueberries, dark spice pronounced palate heat, clove, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, vanillin, anise to black licorice, dark, sweet tarriness, dark, rich, earth, tree bark/sap, eucalyptus, dry stems, maple syrup notes, dry crushed rocks, volcanics, limestone with some very bright, brilliant, candied fresh & withering; dark, red, purple & blue florals. The acidity is a February waterfall in Hawaii. The finish is a little hot but, palatable, well balanced, nice tension & structure, elegant, lush, ruby, persistent, landing on deep spice & earth.

Hits 9.2 rounding up a bit.
— 14 days ago

Christina ChampagneJames
with Christina and James
Sofia, Severn and 27 others liked this

Hirsch Vineyards

Block 8 Pinot Noir 2013

Okay... I buy Hirsch to get my allocation of Chardonnay. I pick up one or two of the Pinots and dutifully display them in the cellar. BUT... this is what I’ve been hoping... light garnet, slight browning. Impeccable lightness and brilliance in the glass. Ripe strawberry on the nose, a bit fuller in the mouth. This wine rocks on so many levels. Beautiful... simply beautiful. — 9 days ago

Shay, David and 2 others liked this

Girasole Vineyards

Mendocino Pinot Blanc 2019

This is a very nice Pinot Blanc from Mendocino County in California. Showing citrus, lemons, green and yellow apples, light grapefruits, spices and light earth.

Dry on the palate with medium plus acidity. Crisp and refreshing.

Nicely balanced with a long, tangy finish.

Very easy to drink and good by itself or with food. I had it with Brie cheese by the lake.

Organic and vegan.

13.5% alcohol by volume.

89 points.

— 14 days ago

Daniel, Daniel P. and 13 others liked this