Every vintage we struggle to describe the Hellenthal Pinot Noir. Sure, most years it is the richest fruit with which we work, but we find ourselves asking: what is its predominate fruit makeup, why is the nose so shy in its early development, do those background flavors come from the earthy or mineral side, why are some of the clusters large berried and others tiny berried. After conferring with the Hellenthals, we can honestly tell you it is still a mystery. What we do know is that the vineyard is planted to three different clones, two whose profile should be dark fruits and one that should be lighter red fruits. These inter-planted clones create a wonderful mélange of flavors that challenge traditional tasting notes. The 2014 Hellenthal is just such a bottling, displaying a vibrantly sweet yet elusive nose. On the palate dark berries lead with more subtle red fruits trailing, offering an intense concentration of flavors. There are notable fruit tannins that add structure and definition. The complex flavors offer a depth of layers and the staying power to persist on the palate seemingly forever. As we recently acknowledged to each other, the best Hellenthal vintages have another gear that most wines do not posses. Welcome to a Grand Cru bottling.
2014 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Salzgeber Vineyard
The Salzgeber vineyard located very near the Russian River is true to its appellation. The Salzgeber offers one the most varietally accurate expressions of Russian River Pinot Noir. It has aromas of red fruits and a touch of minerality. In the glass one discovers red cherry and red plum flavors, balanced with the typical Salzgeber drying fruit tannins that add a texture to the experience, finishing with notes of tea, cinnamon and vanilla.
2014 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Balletto Vineyard
As is typical of the Balletto vineyard, some years more than others, this vintage has an initial nose of light white pepper with dark fruits lingering behind. On the palate can be found a mouthwatering entry of blueberries, secondary flavors of black plum and a velvety texture. The hints of white pepper that are found in the nose morph into spiciness on the palate. This full bodied finish is so long it stains the palate.
2014 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Oehlman Vineyard
Due to its lower alcohol this vintage of Oehlman is showing its more traditional self, offering a nose of orange rind, tea leaves and honeysuckle. Luscious flavors of sweet Orange/Cranberry fruits with an almost candied nature exist within a framework of soft tannins with a subtle oak impression, lingering long on the palate. The Oehlman’s lighter fruit profile and feminine nature couple with wonderful mouthfeel and balance to create a harmonious experience.
2014 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
The Russian River Valley offers a multitude of aromas ranging from light to darker red fruits through to floral notes and baking spices. This wonderful blend showcases many of the fruits of its origin offering the beautiful Oehlman entry with its sharply focused flavors and interest, followed by the boldness of the Balletto fruit, accentuated by the fruit tannins of the Salzgeber. A truly rich and rewarding experience that shows off the best that the vintage has to offer.
2014 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Aromas of dark berries and sandalwood. This weighty Pinot Noir is an exotic blend of red and dark stone fruits. A sip reveals a blend of Hellenthal and Balletto that fills the mouth and continues delivering highly concentrated and addicting fruit flavors, with moderate fruit tannins in the foreground leading to an extremely fulfilling long finish.
2013 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Salzgeber Vineyard
The Salzgeber Vineyard has continued to mature over the years. The overt tannin structure and more course fruit flavors that existed in earlier years have changed to offer a wine that is now lead by softer pretty fruit with supportive background fruit tannins. The Salzgeber has aromas of dark red fruits leading into the usual flavors of red and black cherries, cocoa, cola and sandalwood. (128 cases).
2013 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Balletto Vineyard
Even though we have worked with this vineyard and these particular rows for over ten years now, we are still amazed that the vineyard characteristics differ year in and year out. The white pepper that has been present in recent vintages has been replaced this year by a subtle blend of baking spices. Aromas of berries and spice. Flavors of palate quenching black plums, blueberries with a touch of anise. This wine has a great mouth feel and long lasting flavors. (148 cases)
2013 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Oehlman Vineyard
The Oehlman Vineyard has always vacillated between a lighter cran-raspberry profile and a more robust bright red cherry profile depending on the vintage and brix at picking. This year is more like the latter. The first impression is a jubilee of red fruit aromas and citrus. These alluring aromatics entice you to linger here before moving onto a taste. On the palate are sweet red cherries, dried cranberries, citrus rind and dark tea. This weighty experience of rich and bright red fruits is more Californian than some of the Burgundian like examples from the Oehlman wines of the past. (172 cases).
2013 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
A wonderful marriage or ménage a trios as it is between Oehlman on the entry, Balletto in the mid palate and framed by Salzgeber’s structure in the finish. Although Kirk almost always prefers the Sonoma Coast bottling to the Russian River Valley bottling, this vintage has caused him to take pause. This delightfully rich glass of Pinot Noir is unabashedly Russian River Valley with its complex flavors of red fruits that span the spectrum, finishing with a note of cinnamon and a touch of oak. (186 cases)
2013 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
After flirtatious thoughts that the Russian River Valley blend this year might be my favorite, I (Kirk) can once again pledge my allegiance to this Sonoma Coast bottling. There is just something special about how Hellenthal and Balletto Vineyards cohere. This year the Hellenthal fruit offers a little more structure to compliment the more revealing fruit side from the Balletto. The palate entry is a blast of dark berries and cocoa that leads to lively red berries mid palate and finishes with a long brisk viscosity. (141 cases)
2013 Pinot Noir, Fort Ross-Seaview
This bottling from the relatively new sub-appellation of Sonoma Coast will still be familiar to you. Like in 2006, we declassified this 100% Hellenthal Vineyard to note its departure from a typical Hellenthal profile. This 13% alcohol bottling offers sweet red raspberries, lively acidity while being structured but feminine. Due to its lighter profile, we expected the flavors to taper after tasting from the same bottle over four days. We were pleasantly surprised by its staying power. Like the 2006, the 2013 may take longer to come around, but will offer the rewards in the end. (148 cases)
2013 Pinot Noir, Sonoma County
The 2013 Sonoma County bottling is from a single vineyard source off of Westside Road in Healdsburg. This approachable full bodied wine has aromas of strawberry jam and cinnamon while the palate shows sweet ripe strawberries, dried cherries with complementary acidity and structure. Some of you will find this bold and rich Pinot Noir to be your favorite. (87 cases)
Aromas of stone fruits & spice. A very interesting array of both black and red fruits, making it very difficult to describe as it is quite complex. Predominately stone fruits that dance on the palate for a very very long time. This wine will pair beautifully with any rich meats, my choice would be lamb loin chops.
How is it that the most fruit forward wine on the palate can be so shy in the nose? The Hellenthal has a multifaceted fruit profile due to numerous clonal selections comprising the block from which we source. The Hellenthal has typically been either bold or timid depending on that years vintage. The 2012 is the best of both worlds with great fruit strength but oh so alluring.
2012 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Salzgeber Vineyard
Aromas of dried cherries. Flavors of strawberries, cherries and a hint of chocolate that tantalize the palate upon entry, carrying through the mid palate and right through the finish. An oven roasted chicken and a bottle of Salzgeber equals a great night.
Flavors of bing cherry, red plums with generous acidity lead to a velvety mouth feel offering that wonderful fruit tannin that we have come to love from this vineyard.
2012 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Balletto Vineyard
Aromas of black plums & tea. Flavors of black plum, blueberry, dark tea and a slight touch of tobacco are accompanied by a lovely spiciness that is intriguing all the way through to a bright long finish. Enjoy this wine alongside a barbequed steak & portabella mushrooms.
Following the 2011 Balletto which offered a robust fruit experience accented by black pepper, this vintage is a throwback to the standard dark fruits, slight white pepper and this year a hint of tobacco.
2012 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Oehlman Vineyard
Aromas of pomegranate, Earl Grey tea and cocoa. Flavors of sweet dried cranberries folded into a honeysuckle essence with a dusting of orange peel. The long and viscous finish lingers & lingers. This very feminine yet independent wine will shine through any presentation from our oceans.
Sweet cherries and strawberries with a candied concentration offer an exceptional mouthful of flavor.
2012 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
Aromas of strawberry and raspberry. Flavors of bright raspberry, red plums and black tea are wonderfully accentuated by a brisk acidity and mouth watering finish. This wine would complement a duck confit salad with dried fruits.
Rich red fruits stream in offering nice acidity, lots of viscosity finishing in a long balanced experience.
2012 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Aromas of cherry cola. Flavors of black plums flood the palate carrying a mouthcoating array of baking spices balanced nicely with fruit tannins. With this long finish and enveloping viscosity it would pair well with a pork tenderloin topped with a wild berry glaze.
A wonderful marriage of the Hellenthal and Balletto vineyards.