Russian Hill 2006 Pinot Noir “Estate Vineyards”

Russian River Valley, CA; 14.4% ABV
$7 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 24 Feb

RussianHill_2006_Pinot_EstateVinThis is the Russian Hill Pinot Noir that seems to have been most appreciated by most commenters here.  However, my bottle didn’t impress me very much.

Consumed over two nights, it showed characteristic Pinot flavors of darker red cherry, some black cherry / plum, orange, and Pinot funk / earth.  However, it struck me as not very elegant and balanced, with a somewhat rough finish, and not as substantial as either the 2006 Tara Vineyard or the 2006 Leras Vineyard.  I found neither the Tara nor the Leras exceptionally thrilling and this wine, for me, was only Drinkable.


22 thoughts on “Russian Hill 2006 Pinot Noir “Estate Vineyards”

  1. EHL

    Just popped and poured another bottle of this RH ’06 Estate PN before noon…and the first glass was delicate and delicious with that wonderfully complex bouquet I experienced earlier…

    Guess this bottle was from the first batch of the RH Estate PN I picked up at Oakland…very…lucky…am…I.


  2. EHL

    I popped the cork on a SECOND bottle of the ’06 RH Estate PN a couple of days ago. This bottle was from a different box, bought several weeks after my initial purchase of three bottles of this wine in Oakland GO.

    My assessment after tasting the FIRST Estate PN bottle noted: “Well, as advertised, this is a very, very nice wine…with the nose treated to an aromatic bouquet of raspberry, violets, red cherry, assorted floral accents and a pleasant PN funk that ties everything together in a lovely fashion. The wine was medium-bodied, smooth and marked by delicious red fruit…with a prominent tasty finish.

    Wine Enthusiast (WE) in its ’08 review of the Estate PN stated: “Textbook RRV Pinot Noir, a red wine for Cab and Merlot lovers who want to graduate to this great grape. Dry and full-bodied, it actually has some pronounced tannins, with currant and bitter cherry skin flavors and darker, complex notes of pine sap, balsamic and black pepper.”

    Seven years later, I concur fully, although I believe the wine has become more even more elegant with time. It’s amongst the best PNs I have ever tasted — rivaling, if not besting, the Sanctuary Bien Nacido PN I had the privilege of enjoying a couple of months ago.”

    An acknowledged connoisseur, PinotReport’s editor-writer, Greg Walter, formerly the president of Wine Spectator, saw fit to give the ’06 RH Estate PN a 95, describing it as an “amazingly rich and fragrant”…”silky delicious Pinot…”

    True to form, my first taste of the Estate PN knocked my socks off and screamed at me to pay attention — yes, that kind of wine that reeks of refinement, quality and substance from the first sniff and sip. Some might even call it an epiphany of sorts, since wine of that brilliance isn’t easily found…especially at GO.

    Unfortunately, the second bottle of the Estate PN didn’t follow form. What a great disappointment!

    Upon opening, the first thing discerned was the muted nose, much like the Leras PN, with little bouquet and a touch of funk. Furthermore, after tasting it, I can definitely see where BW and RW arrived at their less-than-stellar assessment. I found this bottle of Estate PN to be definitely drinkable, although far from exalting and refined, and perhaps a bit pedestrian in terms of GO dollars spent.

    Why there is such bottle variation in product from an established, well-respected winery that produces world-class wine is exasperating, but one maxim we can all agree on is that there are clearly reasons why wines end up at GO…and usually these are not for good things.

    As we know, it’s a calculated adventure buying wines at GO…similar to Russian Roulette in Deer Hunter…but with much less severe consequences…LOL.

    I do really hope, however, that the other bottles bought in my initial purchase of the Estate PN follow their brother. I loved that wine for all it brought to the table!

    1. Darrell

      These ” it’s a calculated adventure buying wines at GO…similar to Russian Roulette ” experiences we have been encountering is putting a damper on the upcoming sale for me. If I buy a case or so, I can’t be returning individual bottles.

        1. Darrell

          SB, do you always have the receipt? Sometimes mine get lost if it’s a firm purchase and not a tasting purchase i.e., one bottle.

            1. EHL

              Hey SB and Darrell…that’s absolutely true and been my experience at the Oakland GO, where they are very good about their return policy.

              However, once up at the Seattle SoDo GO, a smarmy, anal clerk gave me some BS when I tried to return an unopened bottle without a receipt…and I just told him in front of a lot of customers to keep the #%& bottle and walked away in disgust.

            2. Seedboy

              If I do not have a receipt, I only expect store credit which I use right then.
              The explanation for the scanning thing is that once a product is entered into their system it stays there. I’ve returned wines years later.

            3. lim13

              I can’t speak for GO, Seedboy…but in the retail wine shops I worked, as long as the product showed inventory anywhere in the system of stores, it would scan. So if there hadn’t been any in Oakland for months or years, but there was still some on the shelves in some other GO, it would scan. And if it scanned, it was refundable…just as you said. And EHL…that entire Sodo GO (IMHO) is on the smarmy side…especially the wine selection that headed down the tubes about a year and a half ago. So it doesn’t surprise me that they were less than receptive to a return/refund. My GO just refunds to my credit card if that’s how I purchased it…no questions asked.

    2. seedboy

      Muted could mean cork taint. Sometimes, even if there is not enough of it to impart that wet cardboard flavor, it can mute flavor and aroma.

  3. RW

    I tasted another batch of 3 bottles of RH 2006 PN (Leras, Tara, and Estate) over the weekend.

    Pretty much the same experience with Leras and Tara.

    The Estate one this time was good (so, apparently, the over oxidized one I mentioned a few days ago was the bottle variation). Agreed with BW’s comments above – not very elegant and balanced, nothing exciting about it. I’d put it on par with Tara (comparing to Leras).

    Both Estate and Tara have some bitter taste (caramelized sugar or kind of) at the finish.

    1. EHL

      I tried a bottle of the ’06 RH Leras PN after reading the comments on the blog.

      I was not impressed.

      First of all, there was an absence of bouquet, short of a little PN funk, and though I tried mightily to discern elements of the nose — swirling, swirling and more swirling — compared to the Estate PN’s richly intense bouquet, the Leras was a symphony of non-notes.

      As to the flavor, in sum, compared to the Estate, the Leras just seemed thin, dead and lifeless, although drinkable.

      Perhaps the subtlety and nuance of the Leras is wasted on me but I have to concur with SB’s initial assessment that the “Leras vineyard wine is past its prime…”

      However, I still feel that I got my money’s worth from the wine and am glad that I experienced it… just wouldn’t buy any more of it, not while there are so many other worthier options.

      1. BargainWhine Post author

        Hi EHL. I love your metaphor of “a symphony of non-notes.” If you like a heavier Pinot Noir, and that’s not saying much here, that’s very apt.

        1. EHL

          Hey BW…yes, as oft-said, wine appreciation is all a matter of personal preference and subjective perception, especially when imbibing Pinot Noir, a pretty sophisticated varietal in its own right.

          1. EHL

            Oh…I forgot to mention that that’s even assuming that we are indeed tasting the same wine, a pretty relevant factor given the looming bottle variation issues we have been experiencing at GO lately.

            Maybe the solution is to do tastings together and then contemporaneously compare notes, eh…LOL!

  4. EHL

    Well, BW, it sounds like you got a suspect bottle of the ’06 RH Estate PN, perhaps like RW’s experience.

    That’s really too bad.

    Mine was exceptional and sublimely satisfying, although I am, admittedly, no Pinot connoisseur.

    I found this on-line review of the wine to be illuminating, however:

    1. BargainWhine Post author

      Hi EHL. I’m glad to hear other bottles were better than mine. “Sublimely satisfying” is not at all how I’d describe it.

    1. Darrell

      Hoping to make some distinctions, SB, I found the 1996 unlike most of the others with less barrel extraction while the 1998 and 1999 had more of the grape and for me were complex. The 2000 had a bit less varietal while for me the remainder of the younger offerings just were basically congeners of torrefaction from the barrels, i.e. coco, tar, coconut and the like.

  5. seedboy

    After consuming a fair amount of these wines over the past several days, my current view is that the vineyard designates are more interesting than this wine, and the red label wine is lesser than the lot. Moreover, the syrahs are better wines. All of these pinots are still available at the Berkeley store. Syrah long gone.

    1. Darrell

      The SRP for the PN ranged from $25-$30 a bottle while the SRP for the Syrah went up to $40 bottle. Palo Alto still has Syrah. “After consuming a fair amount of these wines over the past several days” I am glad to drink some CS and Meritage for dinner.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s