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September 13, 1999 • Vallis Restaurant

Although all wines varied stylistically, the overall quality was outstanding. The Pinot fanatacism of PfW was exposed by the extra samples that were voluntarily provided by multiple members. The food accompaniment of Cheese Crostini, Beef Medallions Au Poivre and Skewered Beef Bourguinon was perfect and the consensus determined this was the most enjoyable tasting we've held. Ranking was difficult; eight of eleven wines scored within a narrow range of two percentage points...we'll just have to do this again!

Vintage, Varietal or Type
Appellation -$ price

Consensus Tasting Notes

Buying Advice

1996 Pinot Noir
Santa Maria "Reserve" -$35.

Medium ruby; complex, mature varietal aroma with red cherries, vanilla, kirsch (or chemical?), cocoa, bacon, toast, smoke and oak; complex, delicious flavors add spice and a suggestion of sweetness; quite rich with a supple, smooth velvety texture, well-balanced; medium-full body; very long finish. Mouthfeel and balance made this wine the winner.

Very Highly

1997 Pinot Noir
Russian River "Rochioli" -$32.

Medium ruby; attractive, complex, ripe cherry, cola and pencil-lead aroma with some leather, dust and barnyard notes; subtle, red raspberry flavors with a sweet hint of alcohol or terpine; rich mouthfeel, medium-to-full-body, soft tannins in a long finish with a faint bite.

Very Highly

Gary Farrell
1997 Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley -$22.

Light ruby; pleasant, youthfully bright, varietal candied cherry aroma with hints of vanilla, coffee grass and a faint funk; light fresh, young strawberry and cherry flavors are faintly stemmy; light-to-medium body, lively acidity, could use richness; medium-long finish. This lighter overall style sparked tart controversy and showed better with food.

Very Highly

1997 Pinot Noir
Anderson Valley -$13.

Light ruby; attractive, light, complex, tomato and strawberry varietal aromas with hints of mint, maple, vanilla, smoke and tar; pleasant, ripe strawberry flavor; dry, slightly rich with youthful acidity, light to medium-body; soft tannins and a long, faintly stemmy finish.

Very Highly


1995 Pinot Noir
Paso Robles -$33.

Medium-dark ruby; very ripe to overripe, intense, plum, black cherry and mint aromas with hints of coconut, cassis, leather, tobacco and diesel; deeply extracted plum, cherry, oak and briary flavors with noticeable alcohol; very big, velvety rich, yet somewhat rough, full-body; very long finish.

#5 (tie)

1997 Pinot Meunier (!)
Anderson Valley -$18.

Medium ruby; pleasant, young, sweet, bright cherry, grape and strawberry fruit aromas with some spicy oak and hints of bananas and carbonic maceration; deep, slightly grape-jammy, raspberry, strawberry and somewhat oaky flavors; mouth-filling, medium-to-full body, slightly rich; somewhat harsh, candied finish.(This stealth ringer fooled everyone.)

#6 (tie)

1997 Pinot Noir
Chalone "Estate" -$24.

Medium-dark ruby; pleasant, but muted black cherry aroma with hints of perfume, caramel, smoke, earth, oak and bacon fat; clean cherry and slightly spicy flavors don't quite deliver what the aromas promise; medium body, faintly tart balance; somewhat short finish. Seems youthful and does offer potential to develop.


Santa Cruz Mountain
1979 (YES!) Pinot Noir
"Rider Ridge" - ($15. at release)

Dark garnet; spicy oak, cedar and charred scents dominate ripe tomato, plum, berry, cassis and faintly minty aromas; big, intense, meaty, woody, oaky flavors; mouth-filling, medium-to-full body, needs richness; dry, tannic finish.(Although wood completely upstages fruit, this wine amazingly showed only the barest hint of age.)


1997 Pinot Noir
Carneros "Sangiacomo" - $20.

Medium ruby; sweet ripe cherry, dark chocolate and faintly minty aromas with some bramble, earth and a slight funk; tart cherry and gamey flavors with a hint of tar; medium-to-full body, mouth-filling and slightly rich; long, tannic finish. More enjoyable with food.

#9 (tie)

Flowers "Moon Select"
1997 Pinot Noir
"Camp Meeting Ridge" - $50.

Medium-dark ruby; complex, ripe cherry, minty and leather aromas with vanilla, violets, smoke and tar; deep, ripe, very extracted cherry and smoky flavors, slightly hot; medium-to-full body, mouth-filling and slightly rich; long, slightly rough, tannic finish.(Easily the most controversial wine with equal numbers of 2nd, 3rd, 10th and 11th rankings. Some panelists objected to a "bubblegum" component.)

#10 (tie)

1996 Santenay Comme
Côte de Nuits -$22.

Light ruby; sweet, bright black cherry and blackberry aroma with mint, cola, currant, violet, pepper and blood orange notes; light cherry and plum flavors are tight, slightly earthy and tart; medium body; medium-long finish.


This panel included Mark, Deanna, Glenn, Diana, Roy,
Marlene, Jon, Ray, Jim, Ron, Greg and James

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