2009 pinot noir from California and Oregon are slowly being released. The past few months have seen several reviews of 2009 pinot noir from Jon Bonné, in the SF Chronicle and Allen Meadows just released Burghound #44 (subscription required) with his reviews of CA and OR 2009 pinot noir. Consensus among most pundits has been that following the smoke-tainted 2008 vintage (I was in the Russian River Valley during the fires) the 2009 vintage offers some spectacular wines. Sad to say that I haven't had many. However, I did have the pleasure of drinking a 2009 pinot noir from J Vineyards and Winery several months before its January 2012 release date. I know that it is inappropriate to judge an entire vintage based on one sample, but given that this wine is produced under the broad, and newly expanded, Russian River Valley appellation when most wineries save their best grapes for vineyard-designate and special cuveé releases, I would think consumers should be on the lookout for well-priced 2009 California (and Sonoma-based producers in particular) pinot noir.
J Vineyards & Winery Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
The first thing you notice in this medium red elixir is the complex aromas of cherries, cedar, cloves, raspberries. Only a slight bit of alcohol noticed on the nose causes pause. Luckily, the alcohol is nowhere to be found on the palate. Lots of red fruit (cherries, raspberries, dark strawberries) are complemented by hints of spice and black tea. This basic pinot noir offers an excellent value from a producer with pedigree. Look for it to be on store shelves come February. 14.3% abv Sample $35. Very Good