Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Gary Farrell Winery Pinot Noir Tasting

Wow, weren't we the lucky ones?   On Tuesday, August 11th, we had the distinct pleasure of taking part in a virtual wine tasting with some great media folks, Sam Folsom of Folsom + Associates and the lovely Theresa Heredia, winemaker at Gary Farrell Winery.  We had a fantastic line up for 7 single vineyard Pinot Noir and want to share our thoughts on some of our favorites....


Here's the line up of these unique and delicious wines that we sampled.  We actually made an afternoon of it, ordering a charcuterie board and inviting a few friends.  It would be a shame to have 7 bottles of wine go to waste.  A few of the folks from our group had never tasted Gary Farrell wines, so this was a win-win for everyone!

  • 2016 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley
  • 2016 Fort Ross Vineyard Pinon Noir, Fort Ross-Seaview
  • 2016 Hallberg Dijon Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley (Green Valley)
  • 2016 Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russion River Valley (Green Valley)
  • 2016 Martaella Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
  • 2016 Toboni Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
  • 2016 Gap's Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir, Petaluma Gap
While all of these wines are absolutely beautiful and unique, the three highlighted wines above were collectively our group's overall favorites.  Some of them also happen to be some of the least expensive of the bunch, so maybe we are cheap dates?

The 2016 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley was very vibrant with ginger and pomegranate aromas that really permeated the nose and mouth.  Tons of bright red fruits and dried herbs were on the palate and the notable acidity created a long, lovely finish.  If you haven't had any memorable Pinot Noir before, this is where you should start.  Absolutely delicious.  And....you might just find your favorite here!    Drink the Bottles score:  96/100


Next in the lineup was the 2016 Fort Ross Vineyard Pinot Noir, Fort Ross-Seaview and it presented rustic and earthy aromas including dusty book, blackberry and notes of crushed violet petals.  There are tons of plum flavors up front and a hint of soy sauce with a fun, spicy finish.  The colors on this wine are stunning!  Drink the Bottles score:  92/100


Asking a winemaker what wine is their favorite is similar to asking a parent which child is their favorite.  And while Theresa did share some hints to how she leaned, we will tell you up front that the 2016 Hallberg Dijon Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley was our overall #1 wine of the day.  The blue colors against the deep red center were very unique and mesmerizing.  Strawberry jam, cigar box and chocolate on the nose.  In the mouth is a light to medium bodied combination of strawberries, black tea, cigar leaf and raspberries.  The palate gives a bright tingle and Jeff thinks that this is absolutely a great cigar wine!   Drink the Bottles score:  96/100


It's not every day you get to taste a wonderful line up of very individually-tasting wines.  But that's what makes this fun.  Most people have an idea of what a "typical" Pinot Noir tastes like.  However, when you put multiple bottles together, you get to see, smell and taste the differences of the unique growing climates.  Theresa really went into depth about Brix and clones and vineyards, which was absolutely fascinating.  We were surprised to see different some of the wines looked on the cork.

What's a wine tasting without amazing charcuterie?

Halfway through the tasting experience is the 2016 Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley.  Ripe black cherries, cola and young flowers are prominent.  The tasting was more herbal with wintergreen and sweet cherries.  Full disclosure here - this wine was very unique and all over the place for us.  It seemed like every sip presented new flavors and we would love to try it again sometime.


The 2016 Martaella Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley was another real stunner for us!  Blueberries and cedar were dominant and mouth-watering.  This wine seemed to have more structure and was incredibly silky.  Blueberry pie filling, home made biscuits and baking spices were what really stood out in this lovely and fine example of Pinot.  You can really get lost in this wine and at only $65 per bottle and a small production of 618 cases, you should get this one fast!
Drink the Bottles score:  95/100


From the blueberry pie to Syrah.....and we aren't mad!   2016 Gary Farrell Winery Pinot Noir Toboni Vineyard, Russian River Valley was more flowery on than many of the other wines we tasted this day.  In addition to vanilla custard, we noted cedar box, fresh cut flowers and cherries.  There's a solid full body feeling with this wine and it could easily be an every day drinker for the Pinot fan.  Jeff definitely could see some Syrah similarities in this wine and thought the flavor and overall mouthfeel was unique.  The stronger tannins give this wine an edgier feel but your mouth will thank you when you sit back and smile at the juicy finish!  Drink the Bottles score:  94/100

Look at the gorgeous color of these Pinot Noir wines!


Our final wine of the day was the 2016 Gap's Crown Pinot Noir, Petaluma Gap.  At $80 a bottle, it was the most expensive of the lot.  At one point one of the other media participants asked about wine pricing.  Theresa explained that some of the pricing structure had to do with whether or not the winery paid for the grapes or what the yield was for that season.  This wine was definitely the most herbaceous of the group, showing dusty road, saddle leather and hanging potpourri.  Pomegranate was again introduced into the line up with this wine along with cherry preserves, cherry cola and mushrooms.  The color of this wine is reminiscent of a pomegranate and left us with a warm and welcoming finish.  
Drink the Bottles score:  94/100

It was a perfect day for an outdoor Pinot tasting!

If you get the opportunity to taste wines with a winemaker, don't let it go to waste.  Whether it is 7 different varietals or a vertical tasting, you will absolutely love the experience.  We are looking forward to our next virtual tasting.

We invite you to visit Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery to learn more about these wines and purchase them directly from the winery.  In fact, most of the wines presented here are available ONLY from the winery.   Tell them we sent you!  Cheers!













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