Top Ten Pinot Noirs of 2016

I tend to taste and drink a lot of wine over the course of a year. I am in a few tasting groups, sometimes the wines are consumed at various local wine store tastings and a number drunk with friends and family.

2016 Jax Vineyards Pinot Noir Y3, USA, California, Sonoma, Russian River Valley, Wine Review

Deep Ruby/Purple in color.  The nose has sour cherries and spice.  On the palate, this has big fruit; mostly sour cherries, some cherries.  Good balance.  Long finish.  This is a big, fruit forward style of Pinot that will work very well on its own.  It is delicious.  It will work with some bigger foods as well.  Promises to be a crowd pleaser.  

2011 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Occidental Ridge Vineyard, USA, California, Sonoma, Wine Review

Really drinking in a nice place right now.  Very elegant and refined IMO, at least compared to other vintages.  Ruby in color, clear and bright.  The nose is very nice with macerated cherries, spice and slight fresh cherries.  On the palate, this is not a big wine.  Cherries and cherry juice with layers of damp forest floor.  Good balance.  Delicious too.  Nice finish.  Very food friendly for a wide range of foods.  Very nice today.  It might not get better but no hurry.  

2008 Rhys Pinot Noir Bearwallow Vineyard, USA, California, Mendocino, Anderson Valley, Wine Review

Purple in color.  The nose is great with black cherries, slight cola and a bit of roasted herbs.  On the palate, this has a great texture.  Black cherry fruit.  Very clean.  Still not yet at maturity, it may still have some upside.  Good balance with nice acidity.  Would work great with steakfish or fowl.  Rhys started commercially in 2004 and there wines have gotten better over time, but even the earlier ones seem to age quite well.  

2003 Walter Hansel Winery Pinot Noir The South Slope Vineyard, USA, California, Sonoma, Russian River Valley, Wine Review

Purchased on release, this is holding up and in fact, drinking quite well at age 15.  It did need about 20 minutes to shed some bottle stink though.  Purple in color.  The nose has nice cherries, slight sour cherries, and some barnyard funk.  There is some Brett on the nose and palate showing as barnyard and slight band-aid.  On the palate, drying tannins.  Slightly sweet cherries.  And a bit of barnyard  comes through.  This is not drinking old, but probably never was a top level Pinot Noir.  Still, it has a nice complexity right now and seems in balance.  Would work well with fowl.  There

2013 Jax Vineyards Pinot Noir Y3, USA, California, Sonoma, Russian River Valley, Wine Review

Ruby/purple in color.  Cloudy.  The nose is sweaty socks.  Perhaps some macerated cherries.  On the palate, this is very soft.  Very sour cherries with some dank earthiness.  It is a style of Pinot that I like but this seems either mishandled or way past prime at this young age.  Not sure if this bottle was representative  It reminds me of some of the unclean Burgundies that were more prevalent 25 years ago.  That is not to say undrinkable or even bad, as this wine is certainly offering some nice and interesting notes, but more to say, what this might have been (or a pristine bottle is).

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