Transparent garnet and considerably bricking. I actually could smell the wine immediately after popping the cork but before pouring. Heady and sweet. Massively smokey and exploding with blackberry jam. A little classic RRV Pinot barnyard, but polished away to un-offending amounts by gobs of vanilla and sweet dark fruit.
Full and ripe on the tongue, a bit of mint and surprisingly acidic fruit–like pomegranate, but without chewing the seeds. Tannin so mild it is really impossible to discern where the acid leaves off and they begin. Dark, dusty burnt-tire finish–but all mild–again: lots of the *hints* at great Pinot Noir, but nothing to scare the typical Safeway shopper on his way to a house-warming party.
This is the Chateau St. Jean Sonoma Cabernet of Russian River Pinot Noirs. Definite terrior, definite care and consideration, definite classic nuances, but a definite 10,000-case lab-produced crowd-pleasing definition. Current releases are 2012 and 2011 on drug-store shelves everywhere discounted with a 6-pack to the 15$-range. It would be interesting to try the younger stuff. But I don’t have the patience. You do it: let me know. Just too many far more interesting pinots in my queue.
And what is with that label? Is Russian River Valley the appellation or is “Russian River Valley” the *Name* of the wine and Sonoma County is the actual appellation? Or are they including both to educate the consumer? I would applaud the latter but am suspecting the former. I am going to recommend this to the constant “What’s a good PN” queries by people who have not learned to search the good stuff out. It is a great place to start.
24hr Vac-U-Vin: Somewhat oxidized, but shockingly still deeply fruited and structured.
2009 RODNEY STRONG VINEYARDS Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Sonoma Co. 14.5