Bottle Notes, Pinot Noir

Paying Respects to Joe Rochioli

Joe Rochioli Jr. died several days ago at the age of 88. He had health issues since suffering a stroke in 2020. The Wine Spectator did a really good job of writing about how integral Joe was in establishing the Russian River Valley as a one of the great Pinot Noir regions in the world. You can read about Joe’s life in Joe Rochioli Jr., Russian River Valley’s Pinot Pioneer, Dies at 88.

For me Rochioli was one of the very first wineries I visited when I moved to Sacramento in the early 90’s. Shortly thereafter I signed up for the mailing list and have been buying their wines for almost 30 years now. This was my first mailing list and certainly helped propel me on my wine journey.

I’ve always appreciated Rochioli for their variety of wines from Pinot Noir to Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Other wines have come and gone including the Ranch Red, a Valdiguie, a sparkling wine and a Syrah. The common thread has always been exceptionally well made wines sold at really fair prices. For this reason I included Rochioli when I wrote Winery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5. Hard to believe that blog post is 10 years old now.

The other big draw for me was the tasting room and vineyard at Rochioli. I’ve probably visited the winery 15+ times over the last 30 years. Typically there were always a few wines available to sample but the big draw was always enjoying a bottle with a picnic lunch at one of the tables overlooking the breathtaking Rochioli Vineyard. In fact we did just this on a visit to the Russian River Valley a few weeks ago. It truly does not get much better when visiting the Sonoma Valley.

Last night we opened a bottle of the 2006 J. Rochioli Pinot Noir East Block Vineyard. East Block was their most treasured single vineyard wine until they made the difficult decision to replant this block almost 15 years ago.

2006 J. Rochioli Pinot Noir East Block Vineyard – Crimson in color. 14.2% ABV. Pretty nose of ripe red fruits, baking spices and flowers. Medium to full bodied with exquisite acidity. Bold fruits that belie 16 years of bottle age. Black cherry, cloves, cola and minerals on the palate. Exceptional length on the finish. Rochioli Pinot Noir at its very best. Best over the next year or so. My rating: 95 points.

RIP Joe.

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