Monday, August 4, 2014

Tasting Emeritus Pinot Noir Releases

A month ago I was scheduled to do a live tasting (I sure do a lot of them!) with Charles Communications and Brice Jones of Emeritus Vineyards. Unfortunately, life got kind of crazy for a time and I wasn't able to join in the small crew of bloggers invited to this exclusive tasting. Fortunately for me, the wines had arrived and the folks at Charles Comminucations were understanding of my absence.

Fast forward several weeks and things had calmed down, somewhat, so I was able to open and taste the wines, taking some notes along the way. We were sent two single vineyard pinot noirs, from Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley AVA's, respectively. Also, a rosé made from 100% pinot noir, in the saignée method.

I'll spare you from an attempt at explaining the Emeritus Vineyards story and get straight to the wines, but you can scroll down to see a little bit of it and then click the link to find out more.

2013 Emeritus "Ruby Ruby" Saignée Rosé Russian River Valley:
Pours a candied red, gently paling towards the rim of the glass. On the nose I get some herbs and tart red berry, oak barrel, and alcoholic heat. At 14.0% abv (listed), this is about 2.5% higher than I usually go for with a rosé. On the palate there's that same nice mix of herbaceous and red fruit, like fresh red cherries. It's a touch sweet (perhaps from the alcohol) and tastes like it's seem some oak too, but I can't find any mention in the tech notes. I like the acidity because it helps restrain the exuberance of the fruit in this, whilst setting the wine up for pairing with summer foods. For those of you who enjoy more full-bodied rosé wines, this is right up your alley. $25 SRP.

2011 Emeritus William Wesley Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast:
Nice garnet in the glass, good depth, lightly pale at the edge. With some air, aromas of raspberry, strawberry, pie crust, and baking spice rush out. The mouthfeel is quite lovely, with great acidity and very fine tannins. I like how the flavors don't overload my palate, rather, they gently usher themselves in. Lots of tart strawberry and a touch of oak, spicy peppercorn, and licorice. There is a touch of heat on the finish but it's certainly not a big deal. I have to say I was impressed with this pinot, it's got all the elements in play and maybe just needs a touch more bottle age. $68 SRP. 14.0% abv. Recommended.

2011 Emeritus Hallberg Ranch Pinot Noir Russian River Valley:
Light purple going towards garnet at the edges of the glass. On the nose I get baked cherry pie, forest floor, mushrooms, and black peppercorns. With more swirling, these elements find an impressive balance. This is riper than the Sonoma Coast bottling, but still maintains nice acidity and balance. There is more sweet cherry pie going flavors here, which indicates ripe fruit and perhaps new French oak, along with a softer baking spice flavor that meanders across the palate. I think this is a bit young, it hasn't had time to develop any secondary flavors. The finish is excellent, a gentle tapering of flavor that cleanly disappears after a solid 15 seconds. $42 SRP. 14.0% abv. Highly Recommended.

I suggest surfing over to the Emeritus Vineyards website and checking out their story. Brice Jones has had a very cool life, from flying in the Air Force to starting Sonoma–Cutrer, then selling it and buying a large vineyard and devoting himself to producing premium Pinot Noir. He now has two sites, the two bottlings I tasted.

California Pinot Noir is not in abundance in my cellar but these two wines would certainly be welcome, that Russian River Valley bottling was excellent. It's priced fairly too, at $42. I preferred it to the Sonoma Coast, which is rare but always fun, because there seemed to be better acidity and a more interesting set of flavors. That said, either bottle will make pinot lovers happy and both will pair with food. I'd recommend salmon, duck, even marinated, grilled pork chops.

Visit Emeritus on the internet.
Emeritus Vineyards on Facebook

These wines were samples for review purposes.

Beau Carufel

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