GETTING SCHOOLED IN SONOMA: AT FORT ROSS -
An Epic Conclusion on the Edge of the Earth by Kevin Day
"These are impressive Burgundian-style Pinot Noirs that merit serious attention.” - Robert Parker
94 2014 Chardonnay
The 2014 Chardonnay Fort Ross Vineyard is a beauty. It spent 10 months in 30% new French oak (785 cases) and shows notes of crushed wet rock, crisp orange blossom, white currant and discrete oak. Some poached pear also makes an impression in this unfined and unfiltered Chardonnay that should drink nicely for 5 to 7 years. Early - Drink 2016-2023
93 2012 Pinot Noir
The 2012 Pinot Noir Fort Ross Vineyard has notes of black raspberries, kirsch, baking spices, subtle earth and a hint of gravel-like minerality. The wine has terrific fruit on the attack and mid-palate, medium to full body, and a long finish. This is a beauty to drink over the next decade. Early - Drink 2016-2026
93 2012 Pinot Noir Symposium
The 2012 Pinot Noir Symposium was aged in 20% new French oak and is actually the only wine that is not 100% Pinot Noir. It is blended with – of all things – 4% Pinotage. There are plenty of sweet cherries, raspberries and floral notes, followed by an earthy, spicy, medium-bodied wine with good structure and finely tuned tannins. The acidity is good and the wine fresh, pure and delicious. Early - Drink 2016-2026
91 2011 Pinot Noir Reserve
The 2011 Pinot Noir Reserve is a tiny cuvée of less than 100 cases in this more challenging vintage. Aged in 40% new French oak for about 10 months, the wine exhibits loads of baking spices, black tea, a floral note, plum, pomegranate and cranberry notes in a medium-bodied, velvety style. Drink it over the next decade. Early - Drink 2016-2026
90 2013 Pinot Noir Sea Slopes
The 2013 Pinot Noir Sea Slopes gets its name from overlooking the Pacific Ocean at an elevation of 1,200 to 1,700 feet. The wine spent nine months in 10% new French oak prior to being bottled unfined and unfiltered. This wine offers loads of Chinese black tea, pomegranate, floral notes and a hint of raspberry in a medium-bodied, fresh, lively, Côte de Beaune style. Drink it over the next 5-7 years. Early - Drink 2016-2023
95 2010 Pinot Noir Reserve
An absolutely profound Pinot Noir is the 2010 Pinot Noir Reserve, with 48% new oak, aged in French barrels for ten months, and bottled unfined and unfiltered. This also has the same alcoholic potency, 14.5%, as its sibling. However, that’s about the only thing it shares in common. This is just spectacular Pinot Noir, with a DRC-like forest floor, black raspberry and blackberry nose, a deep ruby color and fabulous texture. Beet root and Asian spice give additional complexity to this generously endowed, fleshy, yet exceptionally complex and elegant Pinot Noir. This wine, along with the Chardonnay, gives me high hopes that they’ve got a special site on the Sonoma Coast and are on their way to much greater attention and acclaim.
94 2012 Chardonnay
The 2012 Chardonnay comes from an old Hyde Vineyard clone of Chardonnay (80%) and 20% from the old Wente. Aged ten months in French oak, of which 10% was new, and bottled unfined and unfiltered, this is just a killer Chardonnay. A rather thick-looking light gold color is followed by loads of spring flowers, wet rocks, honeysuckle, almond paste and caramelized citrus with a touch of brioche and white peach. It’s beautifully textured, full-bodied, incredibly elegant and intense. This is a superb Sonoma Coast Chardonnay to drink over the next decade or more.
92 2011 Pinot Noir Symposium
The 2011 Pinot Noir Symposium is a smaller cuvée made from 97% Pinot Noir blended with 3% Pinotage, which makes sense given the owners are from South Africa. This sees about 15% new French oak and was bottled unfined and unfiltered. This is spectacular Pinot Noir, with notes of forest floor, Asian soy and plum sauce, mulberry, black cherry and some gamey, smokey notes. The wine is ripe, medium to full-bodied and beautifully made. It should age nicely for 10-12 years or so.
93 Pinot Noir Symposium 2010
The rich, meaty, dense, multi-dimensional 2010 Pinot Noir Symposium tastes like a grand cru from the Cote de Nuits. Notes of forest floor, black currants, black cherries and smoky tobacco leaf are followed by a wine with beautiful fruit and a silky texture. Consume it over the next 5-7 years. These are impressive offerings from Fort Ross.
91 Pinot Noir Reserve 2009
The 2009 Pinot Noir Reserve possesses a deeper color and ratchets up the level of concentration. Copious aromas of forest floor, spring flowers, sweet strawberries and cherries, roasted herbs and spice are found in this beautiful, expressive Pinot. It is ideal for drinking over the next 3-4 years. These are impressive offerings from Fort Ross.
90 Pinot Noir 2009
The deep ruby-colored 2009 Pinot Noir reveals an outstanding bouquet of loamy soil, underbrush, red and black cherries, and a hint of oak as well as a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel and a velvety texture. Drink this sexy Pinot over the next 5-6 years. These are impressive offerings from Fort Ross.
90 Pinot Noir 2011, Fort Ross Vineyard, Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma Coast
Red raspberry is at the core of this crisp, fresh and medium-bodied estate wine, savory in cranberry and tea. Seamless and silky, it finishes tart, a complex example of a cool site and cool vintage crafted by an experienced winemaker, Jeff Pisoni. —V.B.
90 Pinot Noir Symposium 2011, Fort Ross Vineyard, Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma Coast
Estate grown and produced, with the added expertise of winemaker Jeff Pisoni, this is an oaky, stemmy and earthy coastal wine, silky and seamless in red cherry, pomegranate, nutmeg and brambly black tea. Exotic, slightly savory and well-restrained, it includes 3% Pinotage, another specialty of the producer. —V.B.
93 Pinot Noir Sea Slopes 2012, Fort Ross Vineyard, Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma Coast
Pleasantly pungent in ripe damson plum, this Pinot has lovely acidity, giving it a spicy mouthfeel around firmly present tannins. Full-bodied midpalate, the wine mellows through to the finish, ending in juicy fruit and earth. — V.B.
92 Chardonnay 2012, Fort Ross Vineyard, Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma Coast
Unctuous and ripe in caramel and toasty aromas, this is deep golden in color but completely crisp and balanced in the glass. The nose is so overwhelming that the flavors take time to show. Once they do, it’s a celebration of green apple and melon enveloped in complex minerality and a supple body. —V.B.
90 Rosé of Pinot Noir 2013 Fort Ross Vineyard, Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma Coast
A saignée-method rosé given three months in neutral French oak, this wine is dark raspberry in color. Vibrant and fresh, it offers swirls of spicy herb and wild strawberry, a hint of watermelon adding to its mouthwatering quality. Dry and savory, it also has some meat on its bones, a lovely go-to for meals of all kinds. —V.B.
93 "Cellar Selection" Pinot Noir 2010 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Released a year after their spectacular Sea Slopes bottling, this small production Pinot shows the elegance of the far Sonoma Coast, and also the ageworthiness of a fine wine. Dry and crisp, it has deep flavors of cherries, pomegranates and persimmons that are fresh and tart. It will have no trouble negotiating the next six years, growing earthier and more complex. Cellar Selection. —S.H.
93 "Editors' Choice" Chardonnay 2011 Fort Ross Vineyard, Fort Ross-Seaview
Made from grapes grown in a coastal, cool-climate vineyard, this Chardonnay is gracefully minerally and acidic. It has all the tart, wet-stone tang you could want, along with intense quince,golden mango and Asian pear fruitiness. This lovely wine is worth every cent of its price. Editors’ Choice. —S.H.
93 "Cellar Selection" Chardonnay Reserve 2011 Fort Ross Vineyard, Fort Ross-Seaview
This is a big Chardonnay that’s oaky and ripe with fruit. Flavors of cream, lees, toast, Mandarin oranges, apricots and stewed peaches all mingle together in a spicy, complex and dry wine. Four additional years in the cellar will allow it to integrate beautifully. Cellar Selection. —S.H.
93 Bicentennial Bottling Pinot Noir 2010 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
This commemorates the original Russian settlement of Fort Ross. The wine is dry, intense and delicious, showing brisk acidity and tannins that frame ripe raspberry, cherry and pomegranate flavors. It’s fine to drink now, but will develop bottle complexity over the next 5–6 years. —S.H.
91 Pinot Noir Sea Slopes 2011 Fort Ross Vineyard, Fort Ross-Seaview
You’ll find deliciously ripe raspberry and cherry flavors in this wine, making it instantly appealing. Yet it’s so bright with acidity, and so deeply complex with earthy, mushroomy notes, it’s sure to gain some traction in the cellar over the next few years. You can drink it now if you want, but give it an hour or so in a decanter. —S.H.
93 Pinot Noir Reserve 2009 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Classic Fort Ross Pinot Noir, this is rich and textural. The flavors of raspberry parfait and cherry pie are spicy, honeyed and brightened by acidity. Drink now, but it will slowly evolve in the bottle over the next eight years.
94 Pinot Noir Reserve 2007 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast - October 2011 Issue
A very beautiful wine that shows the exotic, feral quality of the greatest Pinot Noirs from the Fort Ross area. It’s explosive in wild raspberry and cherry flavors, with hints of pine, cola, wintergreen, anise, bacon and smoky, sweet vanillins from oak barrels. A wine of great pedigree, it’s showing well now, and should hold for the next six years. —S.H.
95 "Editors' Choice" Pinot Noir Sea Slopes 2010 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
92 Chardonnay 2010 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
TOP WINES OF 2011 - #28 CHARDONNAY 2009
95 "Editors' Choice" Chardonnay 2009 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
92 Pinot Noir 2008 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
93 "Editors' Choice" Pinot Noir Symposium 2007 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
90 Pinot Noir Sea Slopes 2009 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
95 "Editors' Choice" Pinot Noir 2007 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
93 Chardonnay 2008 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
91 Chardonnay Reserve 2005 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
94 Chardonnay Reserve 2004 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
92 Chardonnay 2006 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
92 Pinot Noir Reserve 2002 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
93 Chardonnay Reserve 2002 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
90 Chardonnay 2003 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
91 Chardonnay 2002 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
90 Pinot Noir 2002 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
90 Pinotage 2002 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
90 Chardonnay 2014 Fort Ross Vineyard, Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma Coast
Robust and richly flavored, built around honeyed apricot, fig and melon notes, with cedary oak accents. Drink now through 2020. –JL
90 Chardonnay 2012 Fort Ross Vineyard, Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma Coast
Seductively smoky, toasty oak meets rich, full-bodied pear, apple, honeydew and nectarine flavors. The finish is juicy and spicy, with a green fig aftertaste that lingers. Drink now through 2019. –JL
90 Pinot Noir 2010 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Offers a firm, rustic backbone, dense and tight, with blackberry, raspberry, anise and spicy notes. This is young and chewy, ending with a persistent finish and vibrancy that suggests a long life ahead. Drink now through 2021. –JL
90 Pinot Noir Reserve 2009 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Offers lots of smoky, toasty oak, with fruit to match, cloaking rich dark berry flavors that are intense, deep and persistent. Shows impressive purity, backbone and density. Needs time. Best from 2014 through 2023. 303 cases made. –JL
90 Pinot Noir Sea Slopes 2010 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
This offers an exacting mix of fresh, vibrant dark berry, crushed rock, watermelon and raspberry flavor. Intermittently supple, yet very firm on the finish. Drink now through 2022. 924 cases made. –JL
90 Pinot Noir Reserve 2007 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Offers deep, complex, focused plum, mineral and black cherry fruit that's supple and delicate. Full-bodied, ending with a subtle mix of flavors laced with sassafras. Drink now through 2016. 344 cases made. –JL
92 Pinot Noir Reserve 2005 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
92 Pinot Noir Reserve 2004 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
91 Pinot Noir 2007 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
90 Pinot Noir 2005 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
91 Pinot Noir 2004 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
91 Pinot Noir 2003 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
92 Pinot Noir Symposium 2003 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
90 Pinotage 2004 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
91 Pinotage 2003 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
90 Chardonnay 2009 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
90 Chardonnay 2004 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
93 Chardonnay 2003 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
90 Chardonnay Reserve 2002 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
18 Exciting California Reds: James Laube- The best values include a $37 Fort Ross Pinot Noir 2007 from the true Sonoma Coast.
Tasting Highlights: California Pinot Noir: James Laube- More great wines as vintages shift gears. From the elegant 2005 and the rich 2004 vintages come nearly two dozen remarkable wines.
A Discovery on the Sonoma Coast: James Laube- Fort Ross Vineyard has found a groove. It's a relatively new brand of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that wine lovers should pay serious attention to.
91 Pinot Noir 2010 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Rich aromas of strawberries and cranberries showing some fresh mushrooms. Palate has some preserves and a long, big finish. This is a full-bodied wine showing nicely balanced acidity.
94 Pinot Noir Reserve 2009 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
This is a gorgeous wine with complex aromas and flavors of strawberry and spices with hints of briny beef. Voluptuous mouthfeel. Very balanced tannins. All here.
92 Pinot Noir 2009 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Super nose of leather, chili, shiitake mushroom, and berries. Full-bodied, with wonderfully focused tannins and a spices. So refined and pretty. Gorgeous.
91 Pinot Noir Bicentennial 2010 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
A red with rich aromas of strawberries and cranberries showing some fresh mushrooms. Palate has some preserves and a long, big finish. This is a full-bodied wine showing nicely balanced acidity.
91 Pinot Noir Symposium 2009 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Interesting aromas of cherries and beef jerky follow through to a full bodied palate with strawberry and aspic. Big tannins for a PN. Give it a year or two to soften.
EXCEPTIONAL: 2009 Fort Ross Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, “Symposium”
Classy aroma of cherry, tea, very faint note of pepper, and a weight that’s a bit Burgundian. A wine that needs aeration; will be lot more complex in 2-3 years.
EXCEPTIONAL: 2007 Fort Ross Pinotage, Sonoma Coast
This thick skinned South African grape often makes an odd wine, but here special clonal material personally cleared through official channels makes a dark, blackberry/plum scented wine with weight in the mid-palate and graceful structure. Faintly rustic finish; a great wine to serve blind to a wine snob.
Pinot Noir 2002 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Pinot Noir Symposium 2002 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
★★★★★ EXCEPTIONAL: Pinot Noir Rosé 2013
Medium full reddish pink. Very fine quality: supple, rich, and balanced; a wine with strawberry jam, watermelon, cherry, peach, rosehips, and grapefruit aromas/flavors, and a long, harmonious finish. Terrific quality and value. Aged 3 months in older French oak barrels. 375 cases. 13.5% [2014-2016]
★★★★ EXCELLENT: Pinot Noir 2010
★★★★½ EXCELLENT: Pinot Noir Reserve 2010
These are refined, elegant Pinots. The standard bottling is rich and ripely flavored; a full bodied, complex, lightly tannic wine, with good balance, and a firm, long finish. In aroma/flavor, it tastes of cherry, raspberry, plum jam, juniper, toast, nutmeg, and cooked beef. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 35% new. Unfined, unfiltered. 973 cases. 14.5%.
The Reserve is more subtle and refined, with full body, good balance, a long flavor evolution on the palate, and a persistent finish, tasting of rosehips, cherry, raspberry, vanilla, toast, and oak. 14.5% [2014-2016]
★★★★ EXCELLENT: Pinot Noir Sea Slopes 2012
Elegantly flavored (strawberry, cherry, raspberry, with vanilla and oak), full bodied, and balanced; a Pinot Noir with very good balance and a long finish. Excellent quality. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 4% new. Unfined, unfiltered. 2,038 cases. 13.8% [2014-2016]
★★★★ EXCELLENT: Pinotage 2010
Rich and supple in style, this is a distinctly flavored Pinotage (plum jam, cooked meat, rhubarb, herbs), with overtones of vanilla, toast, and oak. Very long finish. Excellent. 13.5% [2014-2016]
★★★★★ EXCEPTIONAL: Pinot Noir Reserve 2009
Subtle and elegant.... The Reserve is outstanding: a rich, full bodied wine with supple texture, light tannin, and a long finish, tasting of plum, raspberry, toast, rosehips, and spicy oak. Very fine quality. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. 303 cases.
★★★★ EXCELLENT: Pinot Noir Bicentennial 2010
★★★★★ EXCEPTIONAL: Pinot Noir Sea Slopes 2010
Subtle and elegant... The Bicentennial (celebrating the founding of Fort Ross in 1812) is a bit more floral in character and also more complex. It is full bodied, moderately rich, and well balanced, with a persistent finish, tasting of rosehips, strawberry, red currant, plum, toast, and orange. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. 199 cases.
★★★★★ EXCEPTIONAL: Pinot Noir Symposium 2009
★★★★★ EXCEPTIONAL: Chardonnay 2009
★★★★½ EXCELLENT: Chardonnay 2010
★★★★½ EXCELLENT: Pinot Noir Sea Slopes 2009
★★★★ EXCELLENT: Pinot Noir 2009
★★★★½ EXCELLENT: Rosé of Pinot Noir 2007
★★★★★ EXCEPTIONAL: Pinotage 2006
★★★★★ EXCEPTIONAL: Pinotage 2002
★★★★½ EXCELLENT: Pinot Noir Reserve 2005
★★★★★ EXCEPTIONAL: Pinot Noir Reserve 2002
★★★★★ EXCEPTIONAL: Pinot Noir Reserve 2001
★★★★ EXCELLENT: Pinot Noir 2002
★★★★ EXCELLENT: Pinot Noir 2001
★★★★ EXCELLENT: Chardonnay 2006
★★★★ EXCELLENT: Chardonnay 2002
91 Pinot Noir Sea Slopes 2012
Well-defined, ripe-cherry fruit is met in the nose by a nice dollop of sweet oak and hints of stony soil spice, and the same is true of the like-minded flavors that follow, but in both cases, the wine holds back just a bit owing to its very obvious youth, and it winds up for now on the firmer side of the varietal spectrum. That, however, is certain to change over time, and we are eager to see what awaits once it has had a chance to soften and smooth.
91 Pinot Noir 2010
Even if starting to show a slight note of aged complexity and a touch of early suppleness on the palate, this solid, well-structured wine is a few years away from finding its full voice. Its deep and very continuous themes of extracted cherries are accented by intriguing highlights of green tea and forest-floor spice, and, while still a bit grippy and tannic, it has more than enough fruity flesh on its ample bones.
91 Chardonnay 2012
Do not be concerned about the slightly hazy appearance of this deep and wonderfully well-filled Chardonnay for there is absolutely nothing amiss here. From its rich, mildly creamy aromas of ripe apples and pears to its like-minded, very long-lasting flavors, it is as clean as it is juicy, and generous fruit abounds at every turn.
91 Chardonnay 2011
91 Pinot Noirt Reserve 2007 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Wonderfully juicy and bursting with sweet and slightly pulpy, apple-like fruit and enriched by an enticingly creamy bit of caramelly oak in its very deep and well-focused aromas, this fully filled-out Chardonnay is enlivened by plenty of pert acid and, while claiming only 12.8% alcohol, is surprisingly concentrated and very fleshy in feel. If sure to age gracefully, it is quite showy now and will match up nicely with well-seasoned salmon fillets in the immediate term.
90 Pinot Noir 2009 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
90 Pinot Noir Symposium 2009 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
90 Pinot Noir Reserve 2005 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
90 Chardonnay 2005 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
91 Chardonnay 2004 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
90 Chardonnay 2003 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
90 Chardonnay Reserve 2002 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
90 (Best Buy) Chardonnay 2008, Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
||SF CHRONICLE: TOP 100 WINES OF 2008
Chardonnay 2005 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Chardonnay Reserve 2002 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
||A Dream California Coast Road Trip
Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery: Taste perfect Pinot Noir
Rarely is good wine made close to the Pacific (too cold and windy); a notable exception is Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery, which produces a fantastically lively Pinot Noir. Another benefit of the two-year-old tasting room's location: the panoramic view of the ocean, ringed by redwood and madrone trees.
Chardonnay 2004 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Best New Chardonnay, Best 18 Bottles, Ray Isles.
A string of tiny vineyard parcels only a mile from the ocean- and anywhere from 1,200- 1,700 feet above it- produced this vivid white. Its intense pear fruit gains complexity from hints of hazelnut and smoky lees.
||90 Pinotage 2003 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Pinotage 2002 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
||DECANTER: In Focus Sonoma
In Focus Sonoma Producers such as...Fort Ross Vineyards, however are taking the coastal risk and making it pay off...
||Winemaking in a Hostile Climate on Sonoma's Coast
Among the newcomers are small, idealistic operations like...Fort Ross Vineyards near Cazadero.
The Sonoma coast pinot noirs have...shown themselves to be among California’s best and most distinctive wines...
||Sonoma Coast Pioneers at Fort Ross
"Fort Ross Wines have a depth of pure fruit without being over-extracted. The 2005 Reserve Pinot Noir is lively and intense with great structure and acidity; the 2006 Pinotage shows juicy plumy-berry flavors and the 2008 Chardonnay is bright and crisp and more mineral than the tropical flavors found in many California Chardonnays." -Gerald Boyd, former Editor of Wine Spectator