Gary Farrell 2019 Russian River Valley Rochioli-Allen Vineyards Pinot Noir
Gary Farrell was an early interpreter of Joe Rochioli’s pinot noir vines on a rise above the Russian River. Theresa Heredia makes the wine today, presenting a brisk, clean pinot noir saturated with flavor without excess weight. The fresh red currant scents parallel the transparent ruby color, while the dusty, mineral-inflected tannins have a freshness that mirrors the fruit. A Russian River Valley classic. —J.G. (295 cases)
Williams Selyem 2020 Russian River Valley Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir
John Dyson began planning this vineyard after purchasing 51 acres on Westside Road in 2002, where the Williams Selyem Winery is now based, and 30 acres of vines now rise up the hillside. They produced a layered and complex 2020 with a natural feel (rather than a natty feel). Tart blackcap raspberry flavors and spruce bough scents accent the plush texture, a wine of charm and harmony, sexy and sure of its intentions. —J.G. (928 cases)
Gary Farrell 2019 Russian River Valley Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir
This wine’s fresh fruit character brings to mind lingonberries from the north, bright and zesty in their sweet and tart ripeness. The tannins are gamey, iron-rich and tight, providing a formidable structure for the fruit. Youthful, dense and tight, this has a long life ahead. —J.G. (888 cases)
Kosta Browne 2020 Russian River Valley Gap?s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir
Lovely coastal cool infuses everything about this wine. Its berry scent and black cherry flavors have a cool and crunchy forest fruit character without being excessively green. Picked at the right moment of ripeness, the fruit lasts with a rose fragrance, open and airy. —J.G. (2,900 cases)
Kosta Browne 2019 Russian River Valley Treehouse Vineyard Pinot Noir
With its oak in check, this wine shows off its varied shades of fruit, from pink grapefruit zest to ripe strawberry and darker cherry notes. It’s tart and lean, long and spicy, the tannic extraction handled with delicacy. The acidity is firm enough to place it with roast fish edged with some tomato in the sauce. —J.G. (900 cases)
Gary Farrell 2020 Russian River Valley Russian River Selection Pinot Noir
Saturated with dark berry flavors, this wine’s rich oak tannins meld into its initial earthy, pink peppercorn spice. Jordan White of NYC’s *Naro found this “opulent with a wet earth and mushroom savor. The tannins are gentle but persistent.” (3,339 cases)
Davis Bynum 2019 Russian River Valley Lindley's Knoll Pinot Noir
Rustic and refreshing, this is a meaty wine that sustains its energy and freshness. It feels playful, and would work well with offal, like yakatori chicken livers. —J.G.
DeLoach 2019 Green Valley Pinot Noir
Bright cherry, tart strawberry and rhubarb notes form the center of this wine, all edged in mineral tannins. The flavors are light and transparent, their delicacy and finesse lasting, along with a heavier note of extract that may merge into the wine with a year in bottle. —J.G.
Raeburn 2021 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
This is a project from Derek Benham, who founded Blackstone and, later, Purple Wine Company. He’s offering an impressive value in a pinot that’s nuanced and brisk. Neither fruit-driven nor oaky, it focused on tannic complexities in a mineral wash under green herbs and sappy rosemary scents. —J.G.
Gary Farrell 2019 Russian River Valley McDonald Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir
Ripe, plummy warmth infuses this wine’s briney-sweet black-olive and green-tea tannins. Those tannins are brusque and stemmy, with a pine note and a layered transparency. This needs plenty of time in a decanter to serve with slow-braised meats. —J.G. (604 cases)
Merry Edwards 2020 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Heidi von de Mehden has been working with Merry Edwards since 2015, taking over in 2020 as winemaker when Edwards retired. Now part of the Roederer Collection USA, the winery’s style has shifted incrementally, if this 2020 is an indication. Rich rather than sweetly ripe, this has lasting depths of flavor. A wine with stamina and no excess weight, it has a simplicity and naiveté that adds to its appeal. We had often recommended Merry Edwards’ Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, as well as a number of her single vineyard wines, but this is the first time since the 2007 vintage that the Russian River wine has earned an exceptional rating. —J.G. (3,170 cases)
Williams Selyem 2020 Russian River Valley Foss Vineyard Pinot Noir
Green herb scents last through this fresh, sour cherry scented red. It’s refreshing even if it is weighty, with red cherry sweetness perking up the end. For ribs. —J.G. (902 cases)
Williams Selyem 2020 Russian River Valley Rochioli Riverblock Vineyard Pinot Noir
Grown at a legendary site along the Russian River, this wine’s flavors of cherry stems and tart blueberries are lasting and fresh. If there is any impact from the challenges of 2020, it’s in the texture, which feels thick, with smoky, wood-scented tannins. But that may also just be the wine’s youth. —J.G. (509 cases)
Atelier 2021 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Fresh and floral, this wine’s pretty red fruit comes up against tannins that taste of dark roast coffee. Those tannins take over the focus and direction of the wine, but they don’t diminish its pleasure. —J.G. (1,400 cases)
Buena Vista 2019 Russian River Valley Bela's Selection Pinot Noir
This has the scent of a classical RRV pinot before its lush red cherry character turns leaner, toward cranberry and bitter tangerine pith in the end. It’s a little vegetal and doesn’t deliver on its promise, but it may well with time. —J.G.
DeLoach 2019 Russian River Valley Sebastopol Hills Pennacchio Vineyard Pinot Noir
Rich and toasty, this is freighted with California fruit tannins but doesn’t feel excessively heavy. A note of tomato leaf marks the persistent acidity in a tough black finish, needing cellar time to mellow. —J.G.
Gary Farrell 2019 Russian River Valley Rochioli Vineyard Pinot Noir
Jordan White of Naro found this wine pretty, with “pristine ripe fruit.” I found it a little blunt and heady, with sour cherry and tobacco notes. Easy to enjoy now, this is a wine with a notable provenance and may gain depths with bottle age. —J.G. (426 cases)
Iron Horse 2020 Green Valley of Russian River Valley Winery Block Pinot Noir
A vintage focused on the weight and spice of tannins, rather than the freshness this Green Valley vineyard often gives, this has notes of dried cranberries, orange zest and South Asian spice. —J.G. (269 cases)
Williams Selyem 2020 Russian River Valley Calegari Vineyard Pinot Noir
A contrast of sweet and savory, this wine layers notes of dried fruits and cooler black cherries, a little zesty, a little thick. It needs a year in bottle to integrate. —J.G. (537 cases)
Balletto 2020 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
A clean, crowd-pleasing style, this has simple pinot noir grape flavors edged by sappy spruce and fir scents. For beef tenderloin. —J.G.
Williams Selyem 2020 Russian River Valley Eastside Road Neighbors Pinot Noir
Soft and simple, this has the scent of black grapes, a creamy texture in the middle and an austere finish with some peppercorn heat. —J.G. (1,597 cases)
Williams Selyem 2020 Russian River Valley Allen Vineyard Pinot Noir
Warm and ripe, with the sweet scent of raspberry cordial, this is a simple, saturated pinot noir for roast beef. —J.G. (231 cases)