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February 2017


2014 ALFARO FAMILY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 93 points
2014 COAST GRADE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 91 points
2014 LESTER FAMILY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 97 points
2014 COASTVIEW VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 93 points


“Last year about this time I wrote about the compelling 2013 Big Basin Vineyards Pinot Noirs crafted by winemaker Bradley Brown. Bradley is one of a cadre of California Pinot Noir winemakers using significant amounts of whole cluster inclusion in their ferments. I am attracted to Pinot Noir crafted with whole cluster inclusion because I find the wines have more interesting aromatics, flavors and textural nuances. As Bradley told me, “Whole cluster changes the fermentation kinetics to slow things down and adds greater potential for intra-berry fermentation. The benefits are more beautiful aromatics and a layer of dense tannin that lends weight and structure to the wines.”

The vineyards that Bradley works with are very close to the ocean and quite cool, yet he sees very good stem lignification. He has able to use up to 100% whole cluster without introducing astringent and green tannins into the wines. In the 2013 vintage reviewed last year at www.princeofpinot.com/article/1781/, Bradley pushed the use of whole cluster inclusion to 100% in some wines. In the 2014 vintage reviewed here, he was all in, with every Pinot Noir ferment 100% whole cluster.” – Rusty Gaffney

2014 ALFARO FAMILY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 93 points:
“Vines are 15 years old. Clones 114, 115, 667 and 777 planted in sandy gravelly loam. · Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, burnt tobacco, rose petal and spice pick up exuberance over time in the glass. Noticeable stem inclusion character which tended to integrate when tasted two days later from an opened bottle. Mid weight flavors of cherry and red berry with savory notes of burnt tobacco, spice and garden herbs. Silky in the mouth, with invisible tannins, admirable balance and some finishing intensity. A classy example of whole cluster goodness.”

2014 COAST GRADE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 91 points:
“This vineyard, owned and farmed by multi-generation Santa Cruz Mountains farmer Jim Beuregard, is located in Bonny Doon, a few miles north of Santa Cruz, 3 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean at 1,300 feet elevation. A limestone quarry across the street hints at the geology below the vineyard surface (sandy loam over limestone base rock). Clone 115, six years of age. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Intoxicating aromas of cherry, spice, pine sap, rose petal and burnt tobacco. Noticeable mid palate presence of middleweight cherry and red currant fruit flavors framed by modest tannins and a hint of oak. Juicy, with plenty of sweet red fruit tang, an overlay of stem and forest floor, intriguing textural interest, and a long finish. This wine shows the most whole cluster character of the 2014 Big Basin Pinot Noirs and may be overbearing unless you welcome this stylistic dimension.”

2014 LESTER FAMILY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 97 points:
“Very good stem lignification allowed 100% whole clusters. Tremendous color and flavor at low sugar levels. 16-year-old vines planted to Mt. Eden, 115 and 667. Soils are sandy loam over sedimentary base rock. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. This is a glorious wine in all respects. The whole cluster dimension is perfectly complimentary in this wine. Soaring aromas of cherry, rose petal and spice are harmonious. Silky in the mouth, with a deep spice-enhanced cherry and raspberry fruit flavor. Vibrant and refreshing, this wine soothes rather than attacks the palate. Very comforting with impeccable balance and a bombastic cherry finish. Even better when tasted two days later from a previously opened and recorked bottle. In one word, Wow! This wine really emotes.”

2014 COASTVIEW VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 93 points:
“Vineyard is located in the Gabilan Mountains on the east side of the Salinas Valley, six miles south of Calera’s Mount Harlan AVA. Decomposed quartz and limestone over base rock. The vines, perched at 2,200 to 2,400 feet elevation, are 17 years old. Dijon 113, 114, 115, 667, 777, Pisoni and Swan selection. Vines are farmed organically. Aged 15 months in 75% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Seductive aromas of black cherry, cardamom spice, and a hint of stem. Light to mid weight in style, yet highly flavorful, with well ripened flavors of plum, cherry and black raspberry accented with spice and forest floor. Intense mid palate audacity, carrying over to a generous cherry-driven finish. While the juicy acidity is nicely integrated, the tannins are a bit unwieldy at present (but will moderate with more time in bottle). The intriguing texture is hard to adequately describe. While tasting, I wanted to swallow this one.”