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Wine Enthusiast wine ratings reflect what our editors felt about a particular wine. Beyond the rating, we encourage you to read the accompanying tasting note to learn about a wine's special characteristics.
Classic 98—100: The pinnacle of quality.
Superb 94—97: Highly recommended.
Excellent 90—93: Highly recommended.
Editors' Choice wines are those that offer excellent quality at a price above our Best Buy range, or a wine at any price with unique qualities that merit special attention.
95 "EDITORS' CHOICE" PINOT NOIR SEA SLOPES 2010, Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Here’s more proof that sometimes a winery’s least expensive bottling can be its best. The wine is first class, from the translucent ruby color to the power and delicacy of the mouthfeel. There’s something haunting and distinctly Fort Ross-ian in the wild cherry, mushroom and pine flavors that seem to echo the fog, sun and redwood forests of this remote region. Really delicious now and through 2018 or so. —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.
92 CHARDONNAY 2010, Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Showing the brisk acidity and minerality of this fine Chardonnay vineyard, Fort Ross's 2010 also shows rich, rewarding pineapple, orange, butterscotch and vanilla flavors. Feels opulent, a worthy follow-up to past vintages. —S.H.
95 "EDITORS' CHOICE" CHARDONNAY 2009, Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
A brilliant Chardonnay. Almost nothing quite like it out there. Great, zesty acidity makes the mouth water, and oak is strongly there but perfectly vindicated by the power of the underlying flavors. They suggest ripe pineapples and tropical fruits, peaches, honeysuckle and a firm, stony minerality that has to come from the soil. For all the richness, the wine is terrifically dry. —S.H.
94 PINOT NOIR RESERVE 2007, Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
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.
93 "EDITORS' CHOICE" PINOT NOIR SYMPOSIUM 2007, Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Held back for nearly four years, this Pinot still brims with acidity. Tartness is the shock that precedes columns of raspberries, cherries, pomegranates, persimmons and cola, bearing banners of exotic spices. A precise, intellectually pure wine, it should be decanted now, and will develop interestingly over the years. —S.H.
92 PINOT NOIR 2008, Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Elaborately ripe, this polished Pinot explodes with fresh flavors of raspberries and cherries that taste pie-baked, with the smoky, sweet, toasty crust. It’s just delicious, and also obviously fruity-sweet, with a jammy attractiveness. What it lacks in subtlety it more than makes up for in richness. Drink now. —S.H.
90 PINOT NOIR SEA SLOPES 2009, Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Fruit is the star of this wine. It’s gigantic and forward in sweet raspberry and cherry flavors that taste wild, picked under a hot summer sun. Fortunately, there’s a lot of acidity, and firm tannins provide additional structure. The finish is thoroughly dry. A bit in your face now, but could do interesting things over the years. —S.H.
95 "EDITORS' CHOICE" PINOT NOIR 2007, Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
A beautiful Pinot Noir for drinking now with lamb chops or maybe a rich, exotic Ahi tune tartare. Brilliantly crisp in acidity, with a clean, bracing mouthfeel, it offers dazzingly rich flavors of raspberries, cherries, orange zest, Dr Pepper cola and Asian spices with a smoky oak adding elaborate tiers of vanilla char. For the price, it's a very great buy. —S.H.
93 CHARDONNAY 2008, Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Shows amazingly ripe fruit, offering a blast of pineapple jam, apricot, tangerine, papaya, and lime flavors. The acidity is crisp and tart, and the oak is rich and flamboyant, yet in keeping with the size of the underlying wine. Super-rich and decadent, this Chardonnay is at its best soon. —S.H.
91 CHARDONNAY RESERVE 2005, Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Released unusually at the age of nearly five years, this Chardonnay is losing its primary fruit. It's developing a toasted cashew ans hazelnut character, and the pineapples are transmogrifying to chewy dried fruits and even Christmas fruit cake. Meanwhile the sweet, caramelized oak is fully integrated. Bravo to the winery for holding this back and letting us see what an older Sonoma Coast Chardonnay does. —S.H.
94 CHARDONNAY RESERVE 2004, Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
At the age of four years, this Chardonnay is losing its primary fruit character and picking up rich, complex aged notes of glazed cashews, baked pineapple and dried peaches and apricots. It’s also very spicy. Really fascinates the palate, offering a different experience each second, and should continue to interest for several more years.
92 CHARDONNAY 2006, Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
A truly succulent, opulent Chardonnay. Tastes quite oaky with char and butterscotch flavors, but not too oaky. The barrel regimen is precisely in keeping with the ripe tropical fruit and honeysuckle flower flavors. Feels rich and dramatic.
93 CHARDONNAY RESERVE 2002, Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
What a wine! Only the second release from this winery, and a really good one. Call it Chablisian for its intense mineral, metallic flavors and mouthfeel, and vibrant acidity. It also has lots of oak and lees, and is bone dry, offering tantalizing hints of lime zest, white peach and honey. 2002’S TOP CHARDONNAYS.
92 "EDITORS' CHOICE" PINOT NOIR RESERVE 2002, Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Seems well worth the price differential from the regular bottling, for while the flavors are similarly complex, ranging from cola to black cherries to mushrooms and earth, this wine adds more floral character and a lush, velvety mouthfeel.
91 CHARDONNAY 2002, Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Made in the same style as the Reserve. Shows a cool-climate profile of stones, minerals, cold metal and high acidity, and is dry, elegant and ageworthy. Softening notes from oak provide sweetness. Distinct.
90 "EDITORS' CHOICE" CHARDONNAY 2003, Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Slightly nutty and toasty, but the wood influence is relatively subtle, leaving the main stage to melon and citrus flavors. Plump and slightly buttery, but turns elegant and understated on the finish.
90 "EDITORS' CHOICE" PINOT NOIR 2002, Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Shows the advantages of clonal blending, as the flavors vary from bright, slightly herbal fruit (strawberries and rhubarb) to savory (mushroom and meat) notes. Chocolate, cola and wintergreen nuances give this even more complexity and while the tannins are supple, the acids are crisp and fresh to the finish.
90 "EDITORS' CHOICE" PINOTAGE 2002, Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Shows plenty of spice, blending anise, cracked pepper and tea notes with blackberry and blueberry fruit. The acidity is crisp, yet there's still a slight creaminess to the wine's texture, with some dusty tannins on the finish. Sure to confound the crowd at your next blind tasting.