Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Two 2007 pinots from Kosta-Browne

I’m a bit confused over the wines from Kosta-Browne. It’s always one of the most exciting visits and barrel tastings one can do in California – then the wines show great finesse and complexity, and friends of mine with great skills as wine tasters, have been very excited after these barrel tastings, and even compared them with tastings in the cellars of great domaines in Burgundy. Then, when the wines are bottled and retasted back home, it's most likely they will taste more full bodied, riper and sweeter with a notable higher alcohol compared to what you remember from the cellar tasting. I know impressions will be the same in many cases at a lot of wineries, and the explanation is (most likely) that the cellars are cooler than your dining room, therefore the wines tend to show more of their elegance, and less of oak, sweetness and alcohol.
Still I continue to buy the wines from Kosta-Browne. I want to see which way they will go with age. And, I’m happy to say that they will become more elegant with just a few years of bottle age. At the moment, I just love to drink the 2005s of Kosta-Browne. Part of being a wine writer, wine connoisseur or wine lover is to understand how a certain wine evolves with age. Now I know how to treat these wines.

Kosta-Browne is an 11 000 cases per year operation based in a custom crush winery in Sebastopol, Russian River. It’s the Pinot Noir counterpart of wineries such as Kistler, and the range of pinot wines consists of a selection each from Russian River and Sonoma Coast, 8-9 vineyard selections per year plus a top selection of the four best barrels each year, logically called Pinot Noir 4-Barrel. Alsp you will find some syrahs here.

2007 Pinot Noir Gary’s Vineyard / 90-91 p
Gary’s Vineyard is one of the finest in the Santa Lucia Highlands, and for many winemakers who buy grapes from here, that selection will be one of their best wines. This is also what I have found at Kosta-Browne in some previous vintages – but not in this one. Perhaps it’s just because the wine is young and a bit sturdy, but even after an hour in the glass, the wine didn’t open up in the way I expected. Not that this is a bad or boring wine, not at all, it’s actually a very good wine, but compared to the lovely wine from Amber Ridge Vineyard, it doesn’t show. The color is slightly paler, the nose more acidic with sour cherries rather than sweet raspberries (this is something I like), but it doesn’t have the same intensity or body.
Drink it 2010-2015.

2007 Pinot Noir Amber Ridge Vineyard / 93 p
I have often found that the Amber Ridge bottling is one of the most elegant of the pinots of Kosta-Browne. It comes from a 12.15 hectare vineyard near Windsor in one the coolest parts of Russian River, which to a great deal explains the elegance and fine acidic structure of the wine. The vineyard was planted in 2000 with the French clones Dijon 115, Dijon 667 and Dijon 777 and the soils is, as so often out here, the fine goldridge. Vinification and oak regime is the same as in the wine above, but still the oak is a bit more integrated with just a slight sweet scent of vanilla. The overall balance is absolutely fine, the quality of the fruit is impressive – although the ripeness is high which have made the texture lush and silky, there is still a nice fragrance of sweet and freshly crushed raspberries with a lighter and more aromatic quality than in the wine from Gary’s Vineyard. It’s just in the finish of the taste the almost 15 percent of alcohol strenght reveals itself, so to avoid any “problems” with that, I recommend a serving temperature of around 16 degrees Celsius. You may decant this wine if you like, but it is not necessary.
Drink it 2010-2017.


  1. Had the Amber Ridge 2007 alongside the Kanzler 2007 two weeks ago, and the Kanzler clearly was the superior wine. Amber Ridge, 92 p vs 95 for Kanzler IMO. These are big PN's for sure, and not entierly my cup of tea, but very well made, for sure.

  2. Thanks for the comment, I agree that these wines are very well made. Quite often I find Kanzler to be one of the best in the portfolio, unfortunatley I didn't open it this time.