Ready to drink, homerun Pinot Noir from an epic source in the Russian River Valley. This $34 Pinot Noir drinks like a $60 bottle.
Lot 952 2021 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir comes charging out of the gate in ready-to-drink fashion. It’s sourced from an epic vineyard run by the nicest mom-and-pop farmers who harvest pristine grapes from their special site in the fog-shrouded rolling hills of southern Russian River Valley in the Sebastopol area.
What got our attention immediately is that this wine is absolutely classic Russian River. Dark berry fruit, earth, cola, and cedarwood notes—the latter being hallmarks of aging in expensive French oak from excellent coopers, including the likes of Bel Air, François Frères, and Sirugue. These are top-of-the-line barrels often reserved for a winery’s flagship Pinot Noir—ones that cost $60-$160, and yes, you read that right! Lot 952 is already strutting its stuff, showing off those classic Russian River qualities with secondary notes emerging like black tea and truffles. Translation: this is ready for you to enjoy right now and at $34, trust us when we say this drinks like a wine double the price. Because it should be double the price. But not for you—and that’s why you’re a CH Wine fan!
Watch or listen as Chris Lafleur, Sommeliers Creed for Cameron Hughes walks us through a tasting.
Wine Tasting Highlights: 00:00 Intro
00:35 In the Glass
00:58 The Nose
01:40 The Palate
02:17 Food Pairing
02:32 Where in your cellar?
Lot 960 2018 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is a distinguished expression of top-shelf estate Russian River Pinot Noir for a weeknight price.
If these Russian River Valley Pinot Noir grapes could talk!! They’d spill the beans about their origins, and then you’d know all about the source winery’s remarkable single-estate vineyards that contributed to this structured blend. Good thing those grapes were crushed, fermented, and turned into one of the most delicious Pinot Noirs we’ve had the privilege of sourcing this year. CH Wine fans… this is a diamond in the rough.
In the glass, Lot 960 2018 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir has a lovely ruby sheen with a hint of purple in the core and an orange-rimmed hue. At 5 years old – this is a wine that has been cellared for you! It’s a heady Pinot with dark brambly fruits, red and black plum, and hints of allspice framed by oak and vanilla. Hello beautiful! It literally leaps out of the glass with expressive fruit, building with mouthwatering acidity, plenty of lift, and a complex vein of minerality through the medium-bodied finish. This is a lovely structured Pinot Noir hitting its stride right now and capable of another 2-4 years of bottle aging.
Super-high-class Swan, DRC, and Pommard clones of Pinot Noir (the same clones coveted by big-name Russian River producers of triple-digit priced Pinots) were blended together to create this utterly dynamic Pinot Noir. Lot 960 delivers a medium-bodied and fashionable wine that was a special Lot selection from the source winery’s epic estate vineyards. This is a wine people would normally pay $70 for, but as a CH Wine “insider” you get these special deals. You and your best wine friends will be fawning over this heady and lifted Pinot with its plummy goodness, baking spice accents, and underpinnings of cedarwood and vanilla. Expressive fruit and minerality, mouthwatering acidity, and the gusto to pair with everything from baked fish and roasted chicken to rack of lamb and Wagyu burgers.
Watch as Katy Long, Director of International Wines for VWE walks us through a tasting of this 2018 vintage Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.
Tasting Video Highlights:
00:13 Lot 960 Info
00:22 Russian River Valley
00:37 Color of the wine
01:00 On the Nose
01:28 The Taste
02:02 When to Drink
Katy Long says:
Hello and welcome back to the CH Wine tasting room. I’m Katy Long and today I have lot 960 this is a 2018 Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley. Some regions are synonymous with their grape varieties and Russian River Pinot Noir is just one of those examples. There is a reason why there’s Pinot Noir planted in this area, and that’s because it thrives and it creates these beautiful wines of complexity.
So taking a peek at that color, it is a lovely ruby. It has a hint of purple in the core, almost a bit of orange at the rim, which is kind of to be expected of a Pinot noir, especially one with a few years of age. So what I’m really excited about with this wine is that it is a 2018, which means we’ve done the cellar thing for you.
You can go ahead and open a bottle of this and enjoy immediately, but let me give it a sniff and see if I have anything else to add to that. Oh, this is a heady Pinot noir. There are rumors that just keep unfurling. It is dark bramble fruit. There’s some red plum, some black plum, a hint spice. It might be more of a cinnamon and all spice baking spice component.
And then there’s also this frame of, like oak vanilla. Let’s give it a taste. Hello, beautiful. That wine just jumps out of the glass. Well, on the palate, it’s maybe medium bodied. There’s a good bit of alcohol, and it just kind of lifts up those fruit flavors. It’s mouthwatering acidity. It’s really balanced and it’s a whole lot of fun.
There’s a minerality that also makes it kind of complex. This is a bit more structured than some of the other Pinot Noir, and it is absolutely hitting in its peak window to drink, not to say, though, that it’s not going to continue to evolve for another 3 to 5 years, but I’d say don’t wait, get a case, pop open a bottle and I’ll see you online.
Defined by the fog bank that blankets the region, and home to rare ancient sandstone seabed soils, the Russian River Valley is known the world over as a preeminent, cool climate winegrowing region, famous in equal parts for its Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. The latter is on offer today exclusively to this list’s members, another tasting room-only casualty from the early days of Covid shutdowns that we grabbed to pass the savings on to you!
Lot 863 is a pinnacle example of this region’s ability to bring its fruit to exceptional maturity and not be marred by being over-oaked. A 60/40 oak and stainless blend that saw malolactic fermentation, it’s equally enjoyable for the diehard ‘classic Cali Chard’ fans and the ‘varietally correct’ camp of stainless-steel Chard lovers, culminating in one of the most balanced, beloved, and approachable expressions of Chardonnay we came across from the 2019 vintage. Add in blue chip estate pedigree and a winemaker with decades of experience with the fruit of this region, and you have one of the best Chardonnay values all year.
Watch or listen as Chris Lafleur, Sommeliers Creed for Cameron Hughes walks us through a tasting of this Russian River Chardonnay.
Tasting Video Highlights:
00:16 2019 Vintage Chards
01:18 The Nose
01:59 The Palate
02:54 Where in your cellar?
The thing is, Lot 947 embodies those two things we do (seek out awesome grapes, and make awesome wine). For starters, Lot 947 is 100% Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley—an incredibly exciting region in Sonoma where some of the world’s great Pinot Noir wines are being made today. The winemaking team at CHW will only let us reveal that this was from a premium program that “may have been discontinued,” and they added, “punches way above its weight in both fruit and wood,” and then they told us, “and we’re buying up a bunch of it ourselves!
Lot 947 is a bowl full of juicy raspberry and blackberry fruit, hints of dark earth notes, like rolling over a log in the forest, hints of black tea, and traces of vanilla. Those red and black fruits really pop on the palate, infused with black tea notes and lifted by mouthwatering, racy acidity. Velvety textures are laced with more vanilla and oak spices. Where does this belong in your cellar? With 5 years aging in the bottle it’s ready to go now. Drink up and enjoy with rotisserie chicken and potatoes, roasted and brined turkey, or 48-hour salted steaks, or just pour a contemplative glass and park yourself in front of a roaring fire. Yes.
Watch as Chris Lafleur, Sommeliers Creed for Cameron Hughes walks us through a tasting of this 2018 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.
Tasting Video Highlights:
00:15 Lot 947 Info
00:50 The Color
01:09 The Nose
01:44 The Taste
02:43 Where does it fit in your cellar?
Chris Lafleur says:
Hi, everyone. Welcome back. This is Chris Lafleur, friendly neighborhood sommelier from the wine tasting room. And we have got some Pinot Noir for you today. This is Lot 947. So let’s dig right in. So this is a Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, which is very exciting right away for me. When you think about Sonoma, like it’s so disparate, what can grow here?
It’s really incredible that you go all the way to like Knight’s Valley or Alexander Valley and you’ve got Cabernet Sauvignon that is punching above its weight and comparing very easily with Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. And then you go south and you’ve got some wild expressions of Pinot Noir that have a nice long growing season. So they build up all this remarkable character because that’s what you want.
You want cold climate pinot to show like a cold climate Pinot. So here’s what we have on the color. You can see it’s still deep at its core with some ruby and garnet, but on the edges, nice and pale. Like this is not an opaque wine. You can see your hand through it right away. You get to see that this is a solid wine with a light thin skin.
Pinot Noir in a nutshell. Let’s talk about the nose. Oh, boy. And we’re going to talk about the nose for a while. That’s real good. Okay, so we have some red fruit here. We’ve got black fruit here. I’m thinking of, like, crunchy raspberry and bramble berry, a little bit of black berry. And there’s also a hint of, like, dark, dark earth, which which to me expresses like ice.
Like I always say, it’s forest floor. Like, roll over that log, get a smell. There’s a little bit of black tea on here on the nose as well. And there’s just a touch of vanilla suggesting this spends a little bit of time and oak. And I think we’re going to have to taste it to confirm. But I mean, woe is me.
I got to taste wine today. All right? Can’t spit it. Can’t spit that one. Still good. Can’t spit it. Okay. I hope we get to do multiple takes of this one. It tastes so good. Okay. So on the palate right away. Lots of red fruit. Lots of black fruit, too. In that texture, after that slight astringent note is present.
But it’s not driving the bus because this is a pinot noir. It’s built by race in it. And if you’re tasting this alongside me right now, you know that your mouth is watering. Is that how good this wine is? There’s still a little bit of that forest floor that’s not hitting on the palate because nobody wants to taste rotten leaves.
But you do love that smell of like walking through the fall and feeling the foliage in the air. It’s incredible. This is a great wine with great texture that’s only rounded out by the amount of oak on it. It’s not overpowering it, but it gives you this beautiful bouquet presented to you in a nice clutch of vanilla and oak.
Beautiful. Where does this fit in your wine cellar? I mean, I hope it’s obvious that this is a Pinot noir that you have to have. It’s incredible. For the price point on this one, I would expect probably to pay three times the amount if I saw this on the store shelves somewhere. So very good value. Where does this fit in?
Your wine cellar is a tough question because you won’t keep it in the cellar for very long. You’re probably going to drink it really quick unless you buy a lot of it because you can have this with dinner. It’s versatile. With almost every kind of meat. You’re going to have chicken, turkey, steak, whatever, but you can also sit in front of a nice fireplace in the fall or a campfire and enjoy this as well on its own.
Just contemplate really enjoying the company of all your friends who are thinking the same things as you. How is this wine so good? So I think that’s it for me. Go and enjoy the rest of this glass of wine on your own and think deeply and I will see you at the next glass.
For those of you that are fans of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, this is a release not to miss.
Lot 885 2019 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir was sourced from an ultra high-end program nestled between the Mayacamas Mountain Range and Sonoma Mountain in the heart of Sonoma Valley. Although we can’t disclose the exact source, we can tell you that the winery has been a Sonoma mainstay since the 1980s, and its cellar has played host to some of the most celebrated and award-winning winemakers in California history. Maybe a few rock stars too. Their entry-level Pinot regularly scores 90+ points from respected critics, and Lot 885 is coming out of their reserve-level Pinot program which sells for over $50 a bottle. Simply put this top-notch RRV juice and a screaming deal at just $24.
Lot 885 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir pours a beautiful ruby color in the glass with notes of ripe cherries, blueberries, and fresh earth. On the palate, that pretty cherry core and dark fruit are perfectly framed by that forest floor, earth element, all rounded out nicely by new French oak, ending in a long, dry finish. This is a beautiful balance between new-world fruit and old-world terroir and oak and will pair nicely with an array of cuisines or simply sip it as you enjoy a Summer evening.
Watch as Katy Long, Director of International Wines for VWE walks us through a tasting of 2019 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.
Wine Tasting Video Topics:
00:00 Introduction to the Tasting Panel and Katy Long
00:15 Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs General Information
00:41 Color and Legs of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
01:00 On the Nose with Lot 885
01:11 Give this RRV Pinot a Taste
02:03 Aging and Enjoying Lot 885 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir