Top 10 Pinot Noir’s of 2015

Pinot, Pinot, Pinot

Time for that most difficult and delicous of grapes, Pinot Noir. One of the all time greats in the world; Pinot Noir is notoriously difficult to make. That is why when you find a Pinot that you love it is such a wonderful thing. Here is the list of our Top 10 favorite Pinots from 2015. All the wines on this list come from Domestic producers (Look for Burgundy 1/18 on our International wines list.).

Unlike our Top 100 which was based upon our staff’s ratings during tastings, as well as popularity with our clients, our top varietal countdowns are based purely upon score (In the event of ties, we award the higher ranking to the more popular wine with our clients). We took the thousands of wines that we tasted and narrowed it down to the best of the best.

It’s not just Pinot Noir we are counting down, take a look at the bottom of this post for full countdown schedule.

*If you are curious on how we tabulate our scores, please see the bottom of this post.

1 – 2011 Marcassin ‘Marcassin Vineyard’

Pinot Noir  |  Napa Valley  |  Available Online

Marcassin Pinot NoirWine Spectrum 97, Robert Parker: There is no doubt that Marcassin is the most difficult appointment for people to schedule, to sit down and taste wine with owners Helen Turley and John Wetlaufer. The legacy they have created in California wine is immense.

The 2011 Pinot Noir Marcassin Vineyard has sweet berry fruit, roasted herbs, incense, a touch of background wood spice and foresty notes all present in this medium-bodied, slightly lighter style of Pinot Noir from Marcassin. This was a challenging vintage, but the wines turned out outstanding, and very Burgundian. The alcohol is 13.9%, which is one of their lowest sugar levels. The wine presents a very attractive, moderately intense perfume, good acidity and excellent precision. Drink it over the next 7-8 years. #13 on our Top 100 Wines of 2015.

2 – 2013 Martinelli ‘Blue Slide Ridge’

Pinot Noir  |  Sonoma Coast  |  Inquire Here

martinelli_logoWine Spectrum Rated 96, Antonio Galloni 94+: The 2013 Pinot Noir Blue Slide Ridge is the most powerful and tannic of the 2013 Pinots I tasted at Martinelli. Beams of firm tannin and acidity give the 2013 much of its energy, focus and intensity. The flavors are dark and savory, but not fully expressive today. Ideally, the 2013 should be cellared for at least another year or two. 237 cases produced. 

Blue Slide Ridge is named for its magnificent formations of blue rock. Directly below the vineyard a sheer cliff drops into the small winding creek, the south fork tributary of the Gualala River, showing off great cerulean shards jutting out from beneath the earth’s surface. This vineyard site was nearly named “Rattle Snake Ridge” due to the large population of rattlers that populate the cool hollows beneath the great blue rocks. In 1995 my parents, Lee and Carolyn Martinelli, planted this 6 acre vineyard of Pinot Noir on a steep slope which was once prime grazing land for sheep. This small vineyard was planted to the specifications of our former winemaker, Helen Turley and her husband John Wetlaufer.  The denser spacing creates more intense flavor in the grapes because each individual vine is asked to focus more attention onto a fewer number of grape clusters. This vineyard is truly a “coastal” vineyard, being located on the second ridge inland from the Pacific coastline. #90 on our Top 100 Wines of 2015.

3 – 2013 Tantara Reserve ‘Evelyn’

Pinot Noir  |  Santa Maria Valley  |  Available Online

Tantara EvelynWine Spectrum Rated 96: ‘Evelyn’s Reserve’ is the flagship Tantara cuvee of select barrels representing the pinnacle of each vintage. Named in memory of Evelyn Waldron, mother of owner Bill Cates, a beautiful, gracious woman whose generosity and faith helped make Tantara Winery a reality. It exhibits those characteristics that make a wine great – balance, suppleness, elegance and mystery. The primary vineyard sites are Dierberg and Tondre H Block. Exceptionally aromatic with notes of truffles, tobacco, and smoked meats. The palate is dense and full weighted showcasing black cherries, kirsch and warm mixed spices. Aged for 16 months in French oak barrels, using 60% new oak. 99 cases made. #93 on our Top 100 Wines of 2015.


4 – 2012 La Pitchoune

Pinot Noir  |  Sonoma Coast  |  Available Online

La_Pitchoune_Pinot_Noir copyWine Spectrum  95+: The 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is a perfect representation of what a La Pitchoune wine should be; elegant, restrained, and yet full of flavor. It is also an excellent reflection of its origin. The soil, the fog, and the influence of the cool ocean air make an impression in the glass. Upon the first sip, the superb viscosity will not go unnoticed. Notes of black cherries, orange blossoms, and the suggestion of black tea soon follow, and continue to tempt the senses. The finish is deliciously spicy, with a distinct characteristic of freshly ground black pepper. While this wine is more than happy to stand up on its own, pairing it with some food will set the tone and enhance any meal. Decanting recommended. Aged in French oak for 11 months. 270 cases produced. #6 on our Top 100 Wines of 2015.

5 – 2013 Sojourn Gap’s Crown’

Pinot Noir  |  Sonoma Coast  |  Inquire Here

Sojourn Gap's Crown PNWine Spectrum 95+, Pinot Report 96: Deep ruby color; complex, lush dark cherry aromas with some spice aromas; deep, earthy cherry flavors with bright fruit and oak notes; moderate tannin; silky texture; great structure and balance; long finish. Dense and deep Pinot that needs patience in your cellars and time in the glass to open. Worth your patience.

Robert Parker 95: From a hillside vineyard situated in the cool Petaluma Gap planted with Dijon clones 115, 828 and 667, the stunning 2013 Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown Vineyard reveals notes of forest floor, baking spices, blue and red fruits, a beautiful, medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, velvety tannins and a stunningly complex texture as well as length. It stood out as one of the finest Pinot Noirs I tasted on this trip. The natural alcohol came in at 14.6%, and the color is a healthy dark ruby. 

6 – 2009 Martinelli ‘Moonshine Ranch’

Pinot Noir  |  Russian River Valley  |  Inquire Here

martinelli_logoWine Spectrum Rated 95: Moonshine Ranch is located off River Road and close to the Santa Rosa airport. It is rocky old loamy benchland soil… planted to Pommard varieties (3) and the old Windsor Garden Clone (Merry Edwards). The 2009 ‘Moonshine Ranch’ Pinot Noir continues to be ripe and powerful – loaded with the typical flavors of dark berries, sassafrass, root beer, and cola notes. A stunning Pinot Noir that remains full of rich, but elegant, flavors. Tasted June 2015.


7 – 2013 Bevan Cellars ‘Petaluma Gap’

Pinot Noir  |  Sonoma Coast  |  Available Online

B5292 labelWine Spectrum Rated 95: The 2014 Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir is similar to the 2012, but it has a fresh acidity, a quality that is expressed in most of our 2013 wines. It has amazing polish for such a young, mouth-filling wine. The flavors go towards plum and cherry, while the finish pushes exotic spice qualities. Russell Bevan, the owner and winemaker at Bevan Cellars, was Wine Spectrum’s ‘Winemaker of the Year’ for 2015.



8 – 2011 Talisman ‘Weir Vineyard’

Pinot Noir  |  Yorkville Highlands  |  Available Online

Talisman WeirWine Spectrum Rated 95: This pretty wine starts with a drool-inducing spicy note reminiscent of strawberry jam smeared on a big, warm rock in the mountains on a sunny day. Lots of bass notes and a hint of cinnamon like little red hard candy valentine hearts melded with a streak of sweet cherry, all perfectly integrated. With a bit of air, layers of aromas emerge: rose petal, mallow, mineral, oolong tea, sandalwood and shiitake aromas along with cola and black cherry flavor accents. The texture is smooth, round, and voluptuous and the finish is mouthwateringly persistent. 220 cases produced. #87 on our Top 100 Wines of 2015.


9 – 2013 Ferren ‘Silver Eagle Vineyard’

Pinot Noir  |  Sonoma Coast  |  Inquire Here

logo_ferrenWine Spectrum Rated 95: The 2013 Ferren ‘Silver Eagle Vineyard’ Pinot Noir is a deep magenta color. The nose is incredibly fragrant, floral and earthy, with brambly black cherries, blood orange and anise aromas. The mouthfeel is rich, fresh and pure. Enticing flavors of bing cherries, plum, clove, and fresh tea lead to a long, clean finish. A wonderful balance of ripe fruit, acidity and tannic structure. #92 on our Top 100 Wines of 2015.

10 – 2012 Ancien ‘Red Dog Vineyard’ 

Pinot Noir  |  Sonoma Mountain  |  Inquire Here

Ancien Pinot Noir Red Dog 2012Wine Spectrum Rated 95: Subtle and alluring, with a finish that goes on for a long, long time.  This vineyard is maturing nicely, exhibiting its dramatically unique terroir within a package of quiet and exotic beauty.  The nose opens to an exotic perfume of candied rapsberry, rose hips, cherry, and orange peelcigar, cedar, followed by more organic and rich aromas of cigar, cedar, and forest floor.  Spiced throughout with orange peel, cinnamon, lavender, and sage.  The fruit expands in the glass and fills the palate with fresh pomegranate, boysenberry, black cherry, cherry preserve, ripe plums, dried cranberries, and hints of geranium, dried mushroom, clove, and mandarin.  The mouth feel is soft and rich, with a considerable acidic lift.  Toward the back, it reveals an earthen and tannic strength, and the finish is long and dominated by fine, dry tannins and dried spices and fruits.  With age this wine deepens and softens, rewarding the palate, while also exhibiting an even more exotic nose as the bouquet develops.  Cellar this wine for anywhere from 6-12 year, and beyond. #96 on our Top 100 Wines of 2015.

Q. Why should I pay attention to the Wine Spectrum score?

A. The reason is simple. We taste and score wines with our entire sale’s team – the owner, the wine buyer, the sales manager, and all of our sale’s advisors. It’s not only one person’s opinion and rating of the wine, but a total average of the whole tasting panel. That adds up to  decades of combined tasting experience to ensure that we bring only the BEST wines to our clients. 

It is because of this and many other factors that our clients have come to respect our score and use it to help determine what wines they want to procure for their cellars and display on their tables. At Wine Spectrum you get a much better representation of how people will ENJOY a wine.

2015 wines of the year release schedule


December Schedule

12/10: #10#9, and #8 ranked wines

12/11: #7#6, and #5 ranked wines

12/14: #4 and #3 ranked wines

12/15: #2 ranked wine

12/16: #1 ranked wine

12/18: #11 – #25 ranked wines

12/21: #26 – #50 ranked wines

12/21: 2015 Winemaker of the Year

12/22: #51 – #75 ranked wines

12/23: #76 – #100 ranked wines

January Schedule

1/4: Top Chardonnay’s of the Year

1/7: Top Pinot Noir’s of the Year

1/11: Top Cabernet Sauvignon’s of the Year

1/14: Top Other Domestic Red’s of the Year

1/18: Top International Wines of the Year

1/21: Top Wines of the Year under $60



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