This and That

* Well, last Saturday, my brother-in-law and I killed the bottle of 2002 Sutton Cellars Pinot Noir made by Carl Sutton of San Francisco with fruit from the CynNes Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. In my previous blog post, I described the wine’s flavor profile, using descriptors like dank, musty, earthy, etc. Upon further review, which occurred while watching the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley prize fight at my in-laws’ house, both of us found this pinot unlike any other we had ever tried. Gone were the red fruit, stawberry and cherry characteristics youthful pinot noir typically possesses. This old gal provided us with a totally different experience, one we both found quite enjoyable. If you’re not into murky, broke-down forest floor kinds of wines, which are really interesting as a change of pace from time to time, this one might have sent you running for a sink or spit bucket. But if you like that sort of thing, you would have had fun with us Saturday night.

2002 Sutton Cellars Pinot Noir Russian River Valley CynNes Vineyard Clone 113

For all I know, Sutton Cellars might be out of this particular vintage of pinot noir. For more info on Carl Sutton’s boutique winery, check out my previous blog post. Sutton sells his wines at his spot at 601 22nd Street at the corner of Illinois in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco. It’s well worth the trip to check out Carl’s offerings and other fun spots in the area. It’s a cool, unexpected experience.


* Enjoying Sutton’s 2002 pinot noir reminded me of a dinner party my parents threw, I don’t know, maybe six years ago. After enjoying some nice wine with dinner, we were wound up and my dad started pulling bottles from his collection to keep the vibe going. Some of the wines were more than 20, 30 years old and had been “cellared” in a closet. We poured nine down the drain before we found one that hadn’t turned. I’ve never forgotten that night because besides the fact we had so much fun being together, I felt bad pouring all that hard-earned money down the drain. My dad blamed the conditions under which he stored the wine, which might have very-well been the cause. But it got me thinking, what if those wines really weren’t “bad,” but tasted ”bad,” because at that time, I had little experience with “older” wines. What if they were like Sutton’s 2002 pinot noir, something that had changed over time into something completely different but still drinkable? There’s no doubt storage conditions affect the characteristics of wine, in positive and negative ways. Generally speaking, cabernet sauvignon ages well in bottle, as do some whites, like Burgundies and some California chardonnays. Again, generally speaking. But most white wines lose their freshness over time. So, looking back, I wonder how those wines we poured down the drain would have tasted to me now?

* The Klinker Brick Winery in Lodi had its second-quarter wine club pick up party last weekend. The food was provided by Tin Roof Barbecue and there was live music and a bean-bag toss game on the lawn. The wine club this quarter included two bottles of 2012 Dolcetto, an Italian varietal. Dolcetto means ”little sweet one” in Italian, but dolcetto is not a little, sweet wine. The almost-black-colored berries produce a dark wine with low acid. Fresh and fruity, it’s meant to be consumed within a year or two. The wine club also included a bottle of the 2011 Marisa’s Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel, one of my favorites in their lineup. Nice fruit, well-balanced, a tasty old vine zinfandel. But my family’s favorite is the Klinker Brick Farrah Syrah. It’s a big, yet approachable syrah, with spice on the nose. Great with the barbecued beef from Tin Roof.


As my wife, brother-in-law and his wife sat and ate and sipped, we wondered where everyone else was? So much fun practically in our backyard.

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      Bob Highfill

      Record Sports Editor Bob Highfill is a wine enthusiast and has earned Level 3 certification with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust of London through the Napa Valley Wine Academy. Bob will share some of his experiences from his travels to Lodi and other prime wine locales in his blog and welcomes your suggestions, reviews and wine speak.
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