Thursday, November 14, 2013

Siduri Excels With Single-Vineyard Pinots & Regional Blends

If you’ve never been to Siduri’s winery before, don’t expect views of pristine vineyards or rolling hills. The winery is housed at the end of a row of industrial-style warehouses in the middle of Santa Rosa, a stone’s throw from the 1o1. When I arrived one afternoon last month, the air from the warehouse was filled with the rich and pungent smell of fermenting Pinot Noir.  

I’ve long been a fan of Siduri Pinots.  They possess a lot of diversity, stemming from the wide array of vineyard sources, but the Pinots tend to show bright red fruit and earth flavors along with rich texture. Fresh, lively, with relatively reasonable price tags, it’s hard not to love them. So I was excited to attend a tasting and tour led by Jeff Shaeffer, Siduri’s manager of sales and hospitality. A group of six of us sat around a table as Jeff poured the wines and told us about growing conditions in 2011 and 2012, stories about how Siduri came to bottle their different single-vineyard Pinots, the vineyard composition of the regional blends. It was a highly informative and highly delicious experience. Jeff sure knows his stuff, and he was very generous in showing our group so many wines. He also took us into the barrel room for a bunch of barrel tastings as well, which I always love, although I didn’t take notes on all but one of them.

Year after year, Siduri is one of the most reliable and consistent Pinot producers in Sonoma County. I love their aesthetic, so to speak, the overall approach Adam and Dianna Lee take. And it seems Siduri has done something really special with the 2012 vintage. I enjoy the 2011s a lot, which tend to show that sappy red fruit, crisp acid and the sleeker style of the vintage, while the 2012s offer a bit more structure and grip, yet still maintain elegance and vibrancy. I’ve heard a lot of hype about the 2012s from various parts of Sonoma, and I understand why so many people are so excited about it. 2012 has everything in the just the right amounts, and these wines will only get better with age.

Anyway, on to the wines…

Quick note: the prices listed below are estimates, a compilation of Wine-Searcher listings, the Siduri newsletter or anywhere I could find them being sold. Some, if not most, of these wines are not easy to find, so the prices will vary, and I couldn’t find anything for a few of the wines.

These three whites from the Novy label showed quite well, and I’d be happy drinking any of them again. (Note: Novy is Siduri same folks, same winery but only Pinot Noirs are bottled under the Siduri label, while other wines are sold under the Novy banner.)

2012 Novy Family Wines Four Mile Creek - California, North Coast
Mix of lemon and orange peels on the nose, some green melon and sweet white flowers. Crisp but plump, with juicy white peach and green melon, mixed in with white flowers and some waxy notes. For a white blend that retails for around $15, this is impressive stuff. Mostly Viognier with some Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztraminer. (88 points)

2012 Novy Family Wines Sauvignon Blanc - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
A burst of grapefruit, cantaloupe and pineapple on the nose. Tangy but creamy, with fleshy peach and green melon. I like the undertones of white pepper and herbs. Clean and fresh. (87 points)

2011 Novy Family Wines Chardonnay - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
Aromas of ripe peach, hazelnuts and some vanilla. I love the way the fresh acid contrasts with the creamy body. Flavors of yellow apple, peach as well as nutty, vanilla and caramel notes. Some toast and richness, but this still comes across as an elegant Chardonnay. I loved the 2010, and the 2011 offers a leaner interpretation, but the quality is consistent. I can’t wait to taste the 2012. (89 points)

Pinot Noir
Siduri is Pinot Noir. They love the grape, and they do a damn good job with fruit from all over California (they dabble in Oregon, too). While the single-vineyard designated wines are the cream of the crop, I’m always impressed by the quality of the $20-something regional blends. Jeff described these appellation wines (Sonoma County, Willamette Valley) as a way to introduce consumers to the Siduri style, offering fresh, juicy wines at reasonable prices. I think they’ve succeeded.

For about $20, these two Pinot Noirs are worth checking out.
2012 Siduri Pinot Noir Sonoma County - California, Sonoma County
Cranberry, wild raspberries and rose petals on the nose. Tangy acid combines with fine tannins on this plush Pinot. Juicy strawberry and cranberry flavors, underlined with some smoke, toasted oak and pepper. Fun, tasty, crowd-pleasing stuff to drink in the near term. A solid deal, and if I had a bar I’d put this on the by-the-glass list immediately. (88 points)

2012 Siduri Pinot Noir Willamette Valley - Oregon, Willamette Valley
Smells like tart red fruit (cranberries, wild strawberries). Soft and fresh on the palate, this Pinot takes a lighter approach with its red currant, earth, rhubarb and slight toast. Silky, easy-drinking stuff, but quite tasty. (87 points)

2011 Siduri Pinot Noir Chehalem Mountains - Oregon, Willamette Valley, Chehalem Mountains
Bright cranberries and strawberries on the nose, some red licorice and pepper. Brisk on the palate, showing that tangy 2011 Willamette Valley aesthetic of crunchy red fruit. Lots of herbal tones, spice and pepper, perhaps a bit high on the acid. Seek this out if you’re a fan of leaner-styled Pinots. (87 points)

2011 Siduri Pinot Noir Sonatera Vineyard - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
Aromas of ripe red cherries, raspberries, pepper, earth and even a hint of cannabis (I’m not kidding, three other guys swore they smelled it). Plush texture on the palate, with tangy acid and fine tannins. The pure red fruit is matched with earth, rhubarb and a hint of almond or chestnut. Really sexy stuff that seems ready to go right now. (91 points)

2012 Siduri Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch Vineyard - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
Rich aromas of black cherry, dark plums, sweet roses and a liberal dose of charcoal and smoke. Bright acid, the tannins show grit. Seems like a young wine in need of a good decant or some cellar time, but the quality is undeniable. I love the mixed berry fruit, so rich and sexy, with notes of caramel, smoke and pepper. This Pinot holds itself together really well, and will no doubt improve with a few years of age. Siduri always does amazing work with Keefer Ranch, and in 2012 they really nailed it. (93 points)

2012 Siduri Pinot Noir Pratt Vineyard-Sexton Road - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
Such dense red and black fruit on the nose, and loads of secondary flavors: campfire smoke, eucalyptus, dried herbs. Bold but so well-structured, the balance of tannin and acid is superb, making this a velvety wine. Dark plums meet fresh strawberries, and add in some rich earth and mocha undertones. A big wine, but a beauty. This will be fun to watch over the next few years. (92 points)

2011 Siduri Pinot Noir Hirsch Vineyard - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
Cherries and all sorts of red berries on the nose, along with root beer and a kick of pepper. Firm tannins, more weight than the Sonatera, this Pinot shows fleshy red plums and red currant fruit. Root beer, cola and roasted coffee notes are tossed in, and it works together really well. Another tasty Pinot from Siduri, although this 2011 could benefit from aging. (90 points)

2012 Siduri Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands - California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
Smells jammy, with darker fruit than the 2012s from Sonoma. I also pick up some cedar and rose notes. Big and full on the palate, the dark plum fruit mixes together with some blueberry as well. Smoke and coffee on the finish. Despite the rich fruit, the wine maintains some tartness. (88 points)

2011 Siduri Pinot Noir Sierra Mar Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
All sorts of fruity aromas: bright red cherries, a little jammy, with plums and red currants. I like the acid on the palate, the medium tannins and the overall lighter approach. Flavors of tangy red cherries play off of mocha, cedar and even a hint of mineral. Another fresh and tasty 2011 from Siduri. (90 points)

2012 Siduri Pinot Noir Cargasacchi Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Sta. Rita Hills
Pure and juicy cherry aromas, with an awesome combination of tobacco, toast and pepper. Juicy and plummy on the palate, with black cherry fruit. The soil, rhubarb, mocha and chestnut flavors add all sorts of complexity. Lovely stuff. (91 points)

2011 Siduri Pinot Noir Soberanes Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
Soft cherries, plums, red flowers and a distinct red apple peel aroma. The acid provides freshness, the fine grain tannins give it some structure. Juicy red fruit, cherries, raspberries, McIntosh apple, underlined with mocha, earth tones and tobacco. Complex and inviting now, but will likely provide even more in a year or two. (90 points)

The barrel sample Pinot Noirs were gnarly.
2012 Siduri Pinot Noir Parsons’ Vineyard - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
This is the only barrel sample I wrote about, so I don’t think it’s yet available for purchase. So incredibly rich on the nose, all sorts of berries, spice, vanilla, but the wine clearly needs more time to show its full aromatic potential. Bold and rich yet balanced and inviting on the palate. A ton of complexity to the fruit and spice in this wine. I’d love to try this again once it’s been bottled and given some time to settle down. My tasting buddy thought this was the wine of the night, and while I enjoyed a few others slightly more, this is so good that it’s hard to argue. (91 points)

Palate Cleanser
2012 Novy Family Wines Pinot Noir Blanc de Noir - Oregon, Willamette Valley
After a slew of delicious Siduri Pinots, we tasted this white Pinot as a palate cleanser. I was really surprised by the quality and depth of this wine. It’s got this light copper color, and aromas of white flowers, orange peel, toasted bread, limestone and minerals. Seriously, it smells like still Champagne, and I love it. Let me be clear: the acid on the palate is searing, but for my palate it provides verve to the creamy peach and nectarine fruit. The mineral tang lasts long on the finish. This is so clean and bright, and it would go great with salads and shellfish. As a palate cleanser, this is perfect. (90 points)

Topping it Off
We ended the evening with two of Novy’s Syrahs and, finally, a unique dessert Viognier.

2010 Novy Family Wines Syrah Napa Valley - California, Napa Valley
Dark purple color. Aromas of blackberries, smoke, mocha and spice rub. Grippy, mouthpuckering tannins, but some medium acid. The concentrated black cherry is blended with notes of vanilla, smoke, bacon fat and black pepper. Dense and age-worthy, and an easy decision at $20. (88 points)

2011 Novy Family Wines Syrah Sierra Mar Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
Looks like squid ink. Dark and brooding on the nose, with blueberries, charcoal and pepper. Inky and full on the palate, the black fruit tastes pure and delicious. I dig the smoke and pepper (whole lotta pepper), and the notes of bacon fat and granite. This is really beautiful stuff that I’d love to taste again in a year from now. (91 points)

2010 Novy Family Wines Viognier Oley Late Harvest - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
$20/375 ml
A great way to finish off the tasting. Smells like apricot, honeysuckle, sweet caramel and candle wax. On the palate, chunky pineapple and mango topped with honey and caramel. Delicious stuff, but I’d prefer a bit more acid. (87 points)

If you’re interested in buying straight from Siduri, they have an active newsletter and I love how they release different wines all year long. If you’re a California Pinot fan, it’s worth subscribing to their newsletter just to keep up with the new releases and special offers.


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