Wine Review: 2013 Pinot Noir (Shea Vineyard) by St. Innocent

Tonight’s occasion: 2013 Pinot Noir (Shea Vineyard) by St. Innocent, Willamette Valley, Oregon.

Deep dark clear ruby color. Lovely floral bouquet with bright berries and a hint of caramel. Swirl vigorously to intensify the caramel. Terroir is more on the mineral side of the spectrum as it is typically the case with this region.

Body is more plum than berry. Mild acidity coupled with moderate spice make it a lively affair front to back. Transition to finish is seamless and capped by dry tannic grip and spicy tingle. A touch of minerality and black currant permeates the entire experience, giving it good crisp structure. As it opens up, it becomes increasingly evident that this wine, while very approachable, is still young, despite being a 7 year old vintage.

I’m not the least surprised. Shea Vineyard produces some coveted fruit. Only skilled winemakers get to make wine from such grapes. The last Pinot I had from these grapes was by Roger Roessler Wines. This is well made wine that certainly brings this winemaker to one’s attention. Nicely done!

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Reserve: 2016 Pinot Noir (Babcock Vineyard) by Pali Wine Co

Tonight’s occasion: 2016 Pinot Noir (Babcock Vineyard) by Pali Wine Co), Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast.

Intense ruby color. Bright nose with plenty of cherry, hint of sweet cherry and smooth almost butterscotch caramel. Swirl vigorously to unlock even more caramel. A slight wet sand mineral undertone lingers in the back.

This is a classic central coast Pinot Noir. A fine example at that. Body is very restrained. Medium to light with good mild acid on the attack, moderate buttery tannins create a clean, rounded mouth feel. Good separation keeps your attention without straying too far off balance. A tart blackberry slowly take over the transition to a slightly dry and spicy finish.

This is a one-time limited production using grapes from a coveted Vineyard. Exactly the kind of wine I love exploring. What I like about this winemaker most is their wines are true and representative of their origins. No two are the same. They present a great opportunity to explore varied regions and styles of Pinot. I look forward to exploring more of their wines. Well done Aaron and all of the lively crew at Pali Wine Co! 🍷😁👌🏽

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Guest Review: 2017 Pinot Noir by Sanford

Guest Review: 2017 Pinot Noir (Santa Rita Hills Appellation) by Sanford of the legendary Sanford and Benedict Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara California.

I think I found the Prince of Pinot! Sanford 2017 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills Appellation is an elegant and well balanced Pinot.

Bright ruby red colored, light and fruity aromas of cherries, leather, and baking spices. On the palate, flavors of raspberries, red cherries, oak, and light peppercorn. At 13.5% ABV, this Pinot Noir has balanced acid and tannin structures, a delightful wine for any special occasion.

Need pairing ideas? Try pairing Sanford 2017 Pinot Noir with:

      • Roasted Chicken
      • Salmon or other fatty fish
      • Duck
      • Pasta dishes with pesto, a cream base, or mushroom sauce
      • Beef and garlic dishes

About our guest


Jenn is a Native Texan photographer, wine lover. She thoroughly enjoys learning about wine making, the history behind wines, and of course wine tasting. She also has a passion for travel and is on a mission to find amazing wines from around the world.

You can follow Jenn’s journey via his Instagram page @txblondevoyage


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Reserve: 2017 Santa Barbara Pinot Noir by Pali

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (Huntingdon) by Pali Wine Company.

We’ve seen a few wines from Pali. Alphabets and Riviera most recently. Now the Huntington. All Pinot Noir. All very distinct and quite representative of their various appellations. All medium to light bodied. All on the nuanced side of the spectrum.

The Huntington is a bold departure from the bunch. This is a Big California Pinot. It is unapologetic, jammy, chewy. A full mouthfeel. A dark, spicy, tannic affair. This is a bit of an eyebrow raiser for a Pinot from Santa Barbara County. I suppose even a WineSnob needs a break from the sometimes dreary monotony and strained palate that constant subtlety and nuance can sometimes contrive.

So here we are. I am staring down the second half of this bottle a full day later. It is laughing at me. I folded in confusion last night. I went to bed not sure how I felt about it. I could not fault it either. Not sure what to think. I feel like I lost to this wine. Even now it pretends to be a little more approachable, but then laughs all the way through the finish. This Pinot will eat Napa Cabs for breakfast. I will lay down right next to a Syrah for 15 years and still chuckle at the irony.

Yeah yeah yeah, black currants are more pronounced a day later. Mineral leather too. It’s jammy but not sweet. It’s got big bold tannic structure, a basket-full of berries and an Indian kitchen’s worth of spices. But I feel like I’m still losing. I thought this was going to be another clean crisp “laydown” from Pali. I thought it would be another easy smooth pleaser. But Nooooo! This wine plays dirty. Really dirty.

Pick up a few bottles, lay them down for at least 5-10 more years. Let them mellow out. Taste the magic. You might have better luck taming it that I did last night. I’ll see you again in 2025 Pali Huntington.

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Pali wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Wine Review: 2015 Pinot Noir by Handpicked

Tonight’s occasion: 2015 Pinot Noir by Handpicked from Yarra Valley, Australia.

Deep ruby color. Moderately aromatic nose with berries, caramel and a little leather. You can tell this is a bigger Pinot, not unlike your typical Northern California Pinot Noir. Once it opens up aromas become more intense.

Bright but restrained body shows great balance as subtle tannin quickly steps up to the moderately acidic attack, along with notes of plum. A seamless transition to finish is punctuated by a subtle tightening of tannic grip, capped by moderate spice and heat that quickly dominates the palate and further down the chest.

At 14.5% ABV this is by all accounts a big bold Pinot Noir. However it still manages to be very approachable and not the least overbearing. A testament to the winemaker’s craft. It is clean crisp, and has great character, structure and balance. Well done Mates! 😁🍷

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Handpicked wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Wine Review: 2018 Pinot Noir by Helen & Joey Estate

Tonight’s occasion: 2018 Pinot Noir by Helen & Joey Estate, Yarra Valley, Australia.

Bright, clean, clear, ruby color. Nose is very subtle and delicate with bright notes of sweet cherry and caramel marshmallows. Once opened up a surprising very earthy manure leather emerges along with herbal notes.

Body is clean, crisp, has good balance with mildly acidic attack which quickly transitions to equally mild and creamy tannins. Subtle black currants accompany the seamless transition from attack to finish. Finish is quick and brief. Once opened up, it becomes a long gentle affair with enduring tannic grip and subtle spice. Recommend at least 20-30 minutes decanting. Take your time and follow it through the evening.

If you like subtle nuanced Pinot Noir, this is one I think you should try. It’s a shining example of what a classic Pinot looks like. Keep going back to the California Central Coast Pinot Noir Country. Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara County. Beautiful, delicate, nuanced Pinot. I am reminded why I left Australia last year so convinced Pinot Noir is the best Australia has to offer. Helen & Joey nicely done Mates! 🍷😁👌🏽

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Helen & Joey Estate wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Wine Review: 2017 Sonoma Pinot Noir by Pali

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Pinot Noir (Riviera – Sonoma County) by Pali Wine Company.

Shy nose. A little plum and dark berries. There’s a hint of that Sonoma dirt in the back. Body is fruit forward but shows good balance overall with mild acid and moderate tannins. A good overall mouth feel with notes of cocoa and cherries. Smooth finish which quickly dries out with a touch of spice. The wine paired excellent with smoked BBQ ribs.

This is a great EDC (Every Day Consumption) wine. It presents good value at an approachable price point. It’s definitely what I call a pleaser. Wine is all about mood and if you’re in the mood for a good well made wine without necessarily over analyzing the experience or breaking the bank, you should consider this wine. It is still a little on the young side. I think it just might surprise you 2-3 years from now.

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Pali wines delivered to your doorstep.

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