Left Coast Cellars 2014 Pinot Noir "Cali's Cuvee"

Oregon is still a land that lets her wines speak of the vintage.  Perhaps it is the dominance of Pinot Noir.  Perhaps it is the preponderance of organic and biodynamic vineyards.  Whatever the reason, these wines are influenced in significant ways with the vagaries of the year's weather.  And the Left Coast Cellars 2014 Pinot Noir "Cali's Cuvee" is no exception.

Left Coast Cellars 2014 Pinot Noir "Cali's Cuvee."

$24 Retail

Rated 88/100 Points.  B

A pleasant Pinot Noir showing the warmth of the vintage instead of Oregon's grace.

It's a Pain Perdue nose with gingerbread and rich red raspberry and blackberry jelly. There's plenty of acid, but you've also got spice and melted red fruit on the palate. Deliciously leaning into the warm 2014 vintage.


"Growing conditions were mostly dry and warmer than normal throughout the spring providing a great environment for flowering and fruit set. The result was large clusters that ripened evenly over the course of the warm, dry summer. The 2014 vintage broke the previous record for heat accumulation during the growing season, set in 2006. This record was broken not by the daytime highs but rather the overnight lows being higher than normal for most of the year." - 2014 Oregon Harvest Report. 

There is incredible detail about this vintage here.


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F.T.C. Disclosure:  This wine was provided as a sample by the winery in return for an honest review.  I am personal friends with one of the owners of the winery.  I work for Cutting Edge Selections and represent many competitive Oregon wineries in Ohio and Kentucky.

Despite all of that, this is an honest review of the wine!

Forman 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged Wine Review

Wine-fanticide.  It is the dirty secret of the Napa Valley.  Far too many premium wines are opened long before they are ready.  One study found that 90%+ of wines that cost $100 or more were consumed within five hours of purchase!  There is no way these are tasting as their winemakers intended.  The great Forman Napa Valley Cabernet is not exempt from this scourge.  So, when a bottle of 2002 was found in the back of the Cutting Edge Selections Warehouse, I had to try it.

Forman 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon 'Napa Valley.'  ~$75 retail

Rated 92/100 Points.  A

Rich, warm, & smooth. The mahogany of an old British Private Club.

The dark center is gradually starting to turn a rich red. Red candied licorice with dusty pipe tobacco and old leather aromas. Seductive silky texture and warm flavors with laid-back intensity. Warm lingering finish. A masculine and comfortable wine.

*tasted from 375ml


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F.T.C. Disclosure:  I work for Cutting Edge Selections and distribute this wine in Ohio and Kentucky.  This wine was tasted during normal working hours.   This is not an advertisement for CE or Forman and we do not have this vintage available to sell.

A Well-Aged Vertical: Chehalem 2005 Pinot Noir Reserve and 2008 Pinot Noir Reserve

Pinot Noir taunts you as it ages.  It shows majestically on one day and then crawls into hiding on the next.  So, whatever one says about about an old bottle of Pinot, it should always be taken with some salinity.  But decade old Pinot Noir from Oregon is quite the catch and I'd be remiss to not share my "insights" into these Reserve Pinot Noirs from Chehalem.

In addition to the label differences, the 2005 is bottled under cork and the 2008 is screwcapped.

In addition to the label differences, the 2005 is bottled under cork and the 2008 is screwcapped.

Chehalem 2005 Pinot Noir Reserve.  $33.99 Retail (375ml)

Rated 94/100 points.  A.

Chehalem's website calls 2005 "an old-style Oregon Vintage ... cooler and damper than the average modern vintage."  Perhaps the vintage or perhaps the faster aging of the cork seal lead to a wine that was significantly into secondary flavors.  The aromas were feral and crushed fruit.  Imagine field of black raspberries that has been ravaged by a wild animal. 

The texture of the wine was quite smooth with toast, smoke, and musk aggressively playing with the fruit.  The finish was quite long and felt at times like it was picking up steam.


Chehalem 2008 Pinot Noir Reserve.  $33.99 Retail (375ml)

Rated 94/100.  A.

2008 was "the best vintage" on the market when I first discovered Oregon Pinot Noir.  It is hard to believe that these wines are now eight years old and solidly mature.

The wines aromatics were red purity with the mind imagining perfectly ripe raspberries, cherries, and strawberries.  The palate moved the fruit into red preserves, again deliciously pure.  Coquettishly, there were flavors of gingerbread that came and went throughout the 45 minutes I spent tasting this wine.


A little about Chehalem Pinot Noir Reserve and Comparing the Vintages.

Chehalem makes this wine to express the feminine essence of Pinot Noir.  It is considered their "optimally ageable" bottling.  Historically, this wine was largely from the Ridgecrest Estate, but in 2008 it became 100%.

The wines showed completely differently.  The 2005 was all secondary funk and wild complexity, while the 2008 was red fruit purity.  I'm inclined to blame the difference on vintage character and the issue of the seal.  2008 was the best vintage and is also three years younger, so it is likely that fruit would show more strongly.  The screwcap may also delay aging and preserve fruit.

I do, however, view these wines as having equal quality, despite the very different character.

And I do want to taste as many older bottles of Chehalem as I can manage.


FTC Disclosure: My opinions are my own.  They are not paid for by any company and do not necessarily represent the opinions of any company.  I purchased these wines at employee discount pricing.  I work for Cutting Edge Selections which distributes these wines in Ohio and Kentucky.