The famous wine region of the Russian River Valley is located in Sonoma County, California. The wind and fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean provide a cool climate that allows the grapes to ripen with all their flavor. Due to seasonal fog and remarkable growing conditions, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes thrive in cool climates.

The history of viticulture in the Russian River Valley, established as an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 1983, goes back more than 150 years. It was during this time that the first vineyards in California were planted here. The ancient soils, a combination of sandstone and clay, and the old vines are maintained by dedicated and experienced winemakers.

Organized into six sub-regions, each produces world-class wines with unique characteristics found only in that region. What they all have in common, however, is the incredible Pinot Noir that the entire Russian River Valley is famous for.

Our best reviews and comparisons of Pinot Noir from the river valley in Russia

1. Hartford Court Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2019

Main product characteristics

Hartford Court Vineyards is proud to express the heart and soul of the Russian River Valley by showcasing not only the best of its vineyards, but of the entire ABA District.

Their Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley comes from small vineyards scattered throughout the region. Most of them are owned by the winery, and there are enough adjacent vineyards to export the wines produced to the Russian River Valley itself.

Characteristics

  • The wine: Hartford Yard
  • Bottle: 750 ml, cap
  • Alcohol: 14.5%
  • Maturation: 11 months in 100% French oak, 29% new.

What we like about Hartford Court Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2019

Aromas of black cherry, black currant, oak, vanilla and spicy chocolate are followed by flavors of raspberry and other black currants, and crushed stone minerals. Tight at the start, it leads to a juicy sweetness supported by acidity, silky tannins and an earthy but subtle finish.

Supple and balanced. Okay, with or without food.

What we don’t like about Hartford Court Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2019

Although we gave it time to breathe out, some ugly features remained. soggy, overripe and almost chemical.

PROS

  • Subtle vanilla and earthy notes
  • Just the right amount of tannin to keep all the fruit under control.
  • Typical Russian river with a touch of pepper

SUMMARY

  • Subliminal, high acidity,
  • Originally resembling a cherry, it quickly fades until it becomes a tart and jams a little on the palate.

2. Merry Edwards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2017

Main product characteristics

Pinot noir is a difficult grape variety to grow. It tends to grow in cooler climates, but as we will see, it is also common in sunny California.

It reflects its terroir, its place of origin, more than any other grape variety. As a result, richer Pinot Noirs from relatively warm regions, such as the Russian River Valley, have darker fruit and fuller, more concentrated and more alcoholic wines.

The 2017 Pinot Noir from the Russian river valley of Jolly Edwards is a near-perfect example, classified by Vivino in the first 1% of wines in the world.

Characteristics

  • The wine: Jolly Edwards
  • Bottle: 750 ml, cap
  • Alcohol: 14.5%
  • Allergens: Contains sulphites

What we like about Jolly Edwards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2017

The bouquet evokes memories of ripe blackberry fields, stewed berries and warm plum pudding. In fact, it would be like a dessert in itself, with spicy Mexican chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg, rich cocoa butter and nutty flavors, except for the balance created by the wood-fired meat, mushrooms and other earthy notes.

The entry in the mouth is round and soft, the palate is subtle but bold. The tannins give the body the right tension, corresponding to a balanced acid profile. But it’s the fruit that stands out in the flavor, especially when paired with figs, sarsaparilla and subtly sweet oak croutons.

All in all, a very polished Pinot Noir, firm on the palate and that can be kept for several years.

What we don’t like about Jolly Edwards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2017

Aromas of dried cherries, ripe berries and cola. It could use a little more acidity to compensate for the ripening of the fruit.

Maybe the alcohol is a little too strong, at least for us.

PROS

  • Very warm body with oak and brown fruit on the palate.
  • Beautiful! Unbelievable!
  • If you ever get the chance to try Jolly Edwards, do it!

SUMMARY

  • It doesn’t hurt to grow up a little for a good finish.

3. EnRoute Les Pommiers Pinot Noir 2018

Main product characteristics

This 2018 EnRoute Pinot Noir Les Pommiers offers energy typical of the Russian River Valley. It seduces with bright red fruit aromas and flavors, spicy accents and a touch of minerality.

Drinking to 2025. Pair it with grilled salmon and wild mushrooms.

Characteristics

  • The wine: Walter Hansel
  • Bottle: 750 ml, cap
  • Alcohol: 14.7%
  • Maturation: 11 months in French oak barrels, 40% new, 60% neutral.

What we like about EnRoute Les Pommiers Pinot Noir 2018

Dried rose petals and a blend of berries give it a lush, juicy start. With nice fruity and spicy notes in the mouth. Flavors of raspberry, blackberry, plum, cherry and red currant fill the middle. Dark chocolate, pepper, sage, clove and other forest floor accents can be found at the end.

With its deep, rich color, enveloping viscosity and beautifully balanced tannins, the 2018 EnRoute Les Pommiers Pinot Noir is as luxurious as silk from start to finish.

What we don’t like about EnRoute Les Pommiers Pinot Noir 2018

An unexpected sweetness. Definitely too sweet to go with our good steak, which was a shame.

PROS

  • What a Pinot Noir should be
  • Just the right amount of oak and tannin.
  • Good fruit, but not overcooked.

SUMMARY

  • After the ventilation, metal enters the body from the nose.
  • Too much fruit. Jelly bomb!

4. Paul Hobbs Russian River Pinot Noir 2017

Main product characteristics

Paul Hobbs is another Russian vineyard in the river valley that wants to showcase all the wineries and small farmers that come from this very special AVA defined by its geography.

Their 2017 Russian River Pinot Noir tends to have a raspberry hue and familiar aromas of violets and cherries. More unusual, but interesting to him, with notes of Earl Grey tea. The last vintage was ranked in the top 1% of wines in the world by Vivino.

Drink now for the rest of the decade. The choice is yours. By the way, what did you pair him with? Although it was delicious with our goat cheese and wild mushroom pie. One thing is certain: Serve at 50°-55° F.

Characteristics

  • The wine: Paul Hobbs.
  • Bottle: 750 ml, cap
  • Alcohol: 14.3%
  • Maturation: 10 months in French oak barrels, 45% new.

What we like about Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir from Russia 2017

On the nose we find black raspberries, strawberries, honey, bouquet garni and crushed violets in bloom. The nose reveals a note of honeyed strawberry. With lots of fruit, great depth and structure in the base and a great finish.

Aged in French oak barrels, it creates a beautiful velvety texture on the palate that accentuates flavors of plum, red clay and orange peel. Fresh acidity lifts it and extends the finish, for a medium-bodied Pinot that is well-polished but never looks too old.

What we don’t like about Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir from Russia 2017

Unfortunately the cap is broken, but maybe we’re just unlucky.

Overall, we were a little disappointed. Fruity, but astringent. Maybe he needs more time in the bottle.

PROS

  • Elegant and very balanced
  • One of the best Pinots in the Russian River Valley.
  • I could drink this all day.

SUMMARY

  • A colour deep enough for a Pinot Noir.
  • It could have been a little deeper and longer.

5. Ants Tina Marie Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015

Main product characteristics

The winery is located in the heart of the Green Valley, with vines planted very close to the slope to create more competition between the vines and reduce yields. It is the survival of the fittest that makes it possible to combine opulence with heady wines.

Anthill Farms’ 2015 Tina Marie vintage is one of the densest and most powerful pinot noirs of the year. Most others need minimal retention, but 2015 needs some time to soften the tannins and let everything fall into place. But you have something to look forward to when that happens.

Characteristics

  • The wine: Ant hills
  • Bottle: 750 ml, cooling wax cap, cork
  • Alcohol: 14.0%
  • Agriculture: Biodynamics

What we like about Antill Tina Marie Vineyard Pinot Noir Farms 2015

Blue fruit notes combine with lavender, mint and spice to give the wine a dark but agile character. The nose swirls slowly from the glass with dark red cherry and raspberry aromas and hints of clove and other spices.

Tina Marie Vineyard’s 2015 Pinot Noir from Anthill Farms is relatively light, making it more subtle in style. The highly aromatic black cherries are complemented by spicy tannins and supported by well-chosen acidity. The length is pleasantly long and fresh.

What we don’t like about Antille Tina Marie Pinot Noir 2015

We found that it was not quite up to the normal standards of Caribbean farms. Especially when compared to last year’s vintage, which Vivino ranks in the top 2% of best wines in the world.

PROS

  • Fruity, light and fragrant.
  • Cherry Light
  • Soft
  • Well balanced and super smooth

SUMMARY

  • The minerality on the finish that doesn’t quite work.
  • A disturbing green apple taste

6. Walter Hansel North side of Russian river valley Pinot Noir 2018

Main product characteristics

This 2018 vintage is made from the very famous French Pinot grape variety 115, known for its rich color with a violet hue, its large bouquet, its rich and elegant aroma and its notes of fine fruit. Also for the good structure, tannins and length.

Walter Hansel’s winery has managed to capture the essence of it all, while producing a Pinot Noir that is more characteristic of the Russian river valley than vines of French origin.

Best Store and Best Beverage 2022-2030, Walter Hansel North Slope Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2018 is highly rated at 95 pts by Robert Parker, Junior Wine Advocate, and 94 pts by Antonio Galloni’s Vinous and is priced better than any other vintage for this Vivino wine.

Characteristics

  • The wine: Walter Hansel
  • Bottle: 750 ml, cap
  • Alcohol: 14.5%
  • Agriculture: Bio
  • Aging: French oak accounts for 50% of the new
  • Production : Limited to 1,087 dozen

What we love about the Pinot Noir Valley 2018Walter Hansel Northside of the Russian River

A typical medium ruby/purple color, the heavy aromas of blackberry, cranberry and rhubarb are accented by additional dark flecks of blood orange, pipe tobacco and forest floor.

The palate is slightly lighter, but still medium, with a strong, bright flavor. The palate is silkier than velvet, fresh and with a long and spicy finish. This beautifully frames the rich, creamy flavors of black cherry, plum, mocha, spice and licorice.  Floral notes and lively acidity add to the mood.

What we don’t like about the Pinot Noir Valley 2018Walter Hansel North Side of the Russian River

Still too young, as it’s recommended for 2022-2030, the aromas and flavors are still underdetermined and a bit hard to define.

We expected more, but then our impatience is probably to blame, not the wine itself.

PROS

  • Quantity mat term fruit
  • Very tasty finale
  • As the golden boy of Pinot Noir and Zinfandel….

SUMMARY

  • The taste of mocha is too strong and intrusive.
  • More power than a typical French pinot.

FINAL CLOSURE

As we discovered, the Russian River Valley in California is famous for its excellent Pinot Noir. The best of these showcase the six different counties that make up this American wine growing region.

We were lucky enough to sample just a few of them, each with its own merits. If we had to choose, we would opt for the 2017 Jolly Edwards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. But fortunately you and we are not limited. Give it more, or even try it and see for yourself!

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