2012 J. Rochioli, Pinot Noir, River Block, Russian River Valley.
The seriously luxurious 2012 River Block Pinot Noir from Rochioli is one of California’s Grand Cru bottlings with amazing depth and richness, it shows the classic estate character that makes these wines so compelling and sought after, displaying black cherry, raspberry, plum and fig fruits, along with a sweet/smoky kiss of toasty French oak, rose petals, tea spices, cola bean and a lingering touch of tangy blueberry. This wine has a real purpose and presence in the glass and the bit of age has brought out more complexity and allowed the wine and wood elements to become integrated and seamless, the satiny mouth feel is complete seductive, it is a wine that is everything you’d want from a pure California legend. While there are a whole cast of new generation stars and wine that may have more delicacy and nuance, Rochioli still is as good as it gets, these single vineyard or single block wines are incredibly sexy, especially this River Block with its sensual palate and hedonistic fruit density. I find they need almost tens of age to fully reveal their inner beauty and balance, and this 2012 is just starting to unwind and give its best, I can imagine this vintage drinking well if not utterly brilliant for another decade with ease. Originally known as Fenton Acres, the Rochioli names came into being in 1983 as Tom took over the winemaking here and in 1987 they released the first estate wine, the 1985 Rochioli Pinot Noir and the rest they say is history, going on to be one of America’s greatest estates, know primarily for these Pinots, but also with fabulous Chardonnays, an old vine Sauvignon Blanc and even still producing a Valdeguié (once known as Napa Gamay), which I absolutely love and covet.

Joe and son Tom Rochioli are second and third generation Italian farmers and pioneers of Russian River Pinots, they have always believed it was the grapes and individual sites that make the best and most intriguing wines here on their historic estate that sits on sloping hillsides on the bench lands above the near by Russian River, which sucks in the cool Pacific Ocean air, not far from Healdsburg on the famous Westside Road. Because of, the winery notes, the diverse terroir across their 140 acres under vine, Tom, now at the helm here, and his winemaking team ferment each block separately in traditional fashion using a mainly hands off approach, they firmly believe the wine is made in the vineyard and it should not be messed with in the cellar. While this is a common practice in Burgundy, and in California in modern times, Rochioli was one of the first premium Pinot Noir house to employ this a micro-batch hand crafted method. Tom, like his dad, believes that the unique differences between the diverse soils and clonal diversity can be tasted in every terroir here and adds to the regal distinction in each cuvee in the collection and sets their the Russian River estate apart. The River Block, dates back to the late 1980s, was planted using the original West Block selection clone, which is now regarded as a California heritage clone, was most likely the old Martini clone, but regardless it delivers a dark color, dark garnet with ruby edges and impressive structure here, as this sublime example shows. These mailing list only wines from Rochioli remain rare treasures and should be celebrated, finding them is difficult, but oh so rewarding. This winery has to be on any Pinot fans bucket list to visit when in the Sonoma County region and while not cheap, I highly recommend trying these single vineyard wines if you get the opportunity, it should be noted, they seem like remarkable values when compared to Grand Cru Burgundy!
($150 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

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