2012 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Best Buy, 95 points
“Young winemakers Micah Joseph Wirth and Adrian Jewell Manspeaker started out in a garage in 2006 and have slowly expanded, making Russian River wines that tend to emphasize discretion rather than bombast. Their even-handed approach clearly paid off in the moderate 2012 growing season, resulting in this sleek, vivid apothesis of Russian River Pinot noir. The fruit comes from two vineyards on the cooler western side of the Russian River Valley – Appian Way Vineyard and the dry-farmed Hallberg Vineyard – along with Floodgate, a lower-lying vineyard in the center of the valley.
“There’s not an ounce of undue fat on this wine, just a lively concentration of red fruit and firm berry-skin tannins. The wine’s complex, delicate aromas suggest bay laurel and redwood bark scents you might encounter on a hike in the forests above Russian River. This gains clarity and intensity with air, it will be even more captivating in five years’ time.” Buy this wine
2011 Russian River Valley Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir, Best Buy, 92 points
“From a dry-farmed vineyard planted in 2000 on the Goldridge soil of a former apple orchard, this is more about power than delicacy. It’s flavor concentration is compelling, the ripe red cherry tone of its fruit interlaced with a complex spicy aroma that suggests garam marsala. The tannins feel a bit gruff at first, but end up stitching the wine together grounding the fruit as absorbs oxygen and lifts into a more airy vibrancy. Decant it for herb-stuffed pork chops.” Buy this wine