SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — The 2011 vintage in California was a trying one for wine growers. Luckily, however, there are still some beautiful 2011 Pinot Noirs available from the Russian River Valley, like this year’s selection Gary Farrell selection and Gary Farrell.

With a slow growing season, many grapes didn’t ripen until before the early fall rains and that wreaked havoc on many wines. Russian River Pinot Noirs, however, were some of the grapes that were picked before the rains came.

Firstly, with the Gary Farrell selection, there is a lower alcohol content than usual, which is really a blessing, and so puts them in line the more classic style. I’m so tired of the knock-you-over high-alcohol content wines that call themselves Pinot Noir. This wine has a marvelous bouquet and spicy, floral overtone with plenty of ripe berries that continue right on to the palette. The flavors linger with a fine acid balance.

It would be marvelous to age this for a few years and watch the complexity develop. It’s elegant and with an austere balance; you can expect to be about $45 per bottle.

There is also the Dutton-Goldfield selection from the Fox Den Vineyard. At only 13.5 percent alcohol, it turns out to be another classic Pinot Noir. There’s an elegant berry aroma and flavors with just tannins for a backbone.

It’s balanced enough to drink now but if you wait a few years, it would be simply splendid. Each bottle runs at about $50.


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