Cellar Management

Pick My Next Bottle – 2008 California Pinot Noir

The October installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on California Pinot Noir from the 2008 vintage. As I mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar.

2008 was an average vintage for Pinot Noir in Sonoma. The vintage was book ended by heat spikes in May and September but the Summer was moderate with favorable growing conditions. Yields were down across the board. The contenders in this version of Pick My Next Bottle are all from tremendous producers and are likely ready to drink. The question really is will they continue to age well from here? Polls are open until Saturday afternoon.

The Contenders

  • 2008 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Old Vines –  Red fruits, licorice and spicy oak lifted by orange zest, minerals, mint and a whiff of rhubarb. Densely packed and plump, with a breadth of texture that belies its modest alcohol level. Boasts excellent red berry energy and sap; there’s a crushed fruit quality here that reminded me of Chambolle. The long, rising finish is sweet but quite firm, with plenty of fruit tannins to support the 100% new oak treatment. The vines are planted at 8 by 12 feet, with a huge canopy providing shade and preserving the natural acidity of the fruit. 93 points from Stephen Tanzer.
  • 2008 J. Rochioli Pinot Noir Little Hill Vineyard – Wild, smoky aromas of cherry, blackberry and mocha complicated by candied licorice. Suave and sappy on entry, then lush but restrained in the middle palate, showing a subtle sweetness and staining the palate with deep dark fruit flavor. This pungent, expressive wine conveys a strong impression of soil character. Finishes with broad, chewy tannins and intense lingering perfume. Give this one some time. 92 points from Stephen Tanzer.
  • 2008 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Bucher Vineyard – Vivid red. Ethereal, spice-laced aromas of raspberry, dried rose, anise and underbrush. Sweet, sappy and seamless, with pepper and Asian spice elements giving the intense red berry flavors a deceptive lightness of touch. Finishes with spreading breadth, a jolt of bitter cherry and terrific vivacity. 93 points from Stephen Tanzer.

Which 2008 California Pinot Noir Should I Open?

  • 2008 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Summa Vineyard Old Vines (44%, 14 Votes)
  • 2008 J. Rochioli Pinot Noir Little Hill Vineyard (44%, 14 Votes)
  • 2008 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Bucher Vineyard (13%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 32

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Thanks for voting! I’d love to see a comment below on why you picked one bottle over another. Also, let me know if you have any suggestions for the November installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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