Tasting Notes


2018 ~ 2017 ~ 2016 ~ 2015 ~ 2014 ~ 2013 ~ 2012 ~ 2011


2018 Wesley’s Reserve

Year after year, the center blocks of Hallberg Ranch yield some of our most dramatic expressions of Pinot Noir, and the 2018 vintage is no exception. Displaying a glorious coastal rusticity the nose offers a medley of woodsy tones, with layers of truffles, forest floor and cool, morning moss mingling with dark berry aromas and notes of sassafras, soy and maple. On the palate, the tannins are pleasantly chewy, adding depth and stately structure to the black and purple fruit flavors, with hints of anise, pecan, pine needles and earthy mushroom lingering on the multifaceted finish.  

750mL bottles ~ Magnum bottles ~ 3 liter bottles ~ 5 liter bottles

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2017 Wesley’s Reserve

96 points (Wine Review Online), 94 points (Wine Enthusiast)

From its effusive aromas of blackberry, loganberry and black coffee to its luxurious tannic profile and lush intensity, the 2017 Wesley’s Reserve possesses all of the power Hallberg Ranch can muster. On the palate, a fleshy richness and robust tannins underscore the concentrated dark berry flavors. At the same time, there is a fascinating and mature aspect to this wine that reveals itself in layers of earthy coastal forest floor, fresh-cracked black pepper, frankincense, cedar and savory spice. Though powerful and weighty, it still displays the elegance of Hallberg Ranch, and the proud stature of the man for whom it is named.

750mL bottles ~ Magnum bottles ~ 3 liter bottles ~ 5 liter bottles

Very Good

“Young bright garnet; aromas of fresh Bing and black cherry; turmeric and a hint of baking spice. Medium-full, this has ripe black fruit, moderate tannins, balanced acidity and a nicely balanced finish with good persistence. The wine lacks a distinct mid-palate, but otherwise, this is well made. Drink over the next 5 years.”

—Tom Hyland, Forbes.com, June 2020

96 Points

“At this price the expectation is a Pinot Noir that delivers in every way. Bingo! The 2017 Emeritus Wesley’s Reserve Hallberg Ranch Pinot Noir delivers, and how. Rich and lush on the palate, with beautifully integrated tannins that provide texture and nuance, this wine offers exceptional concentration and layered aromas of blueberry, black cherry and blackberry, a touch of wood spice and impressive length through a dazzling finish.”

—Robert Whitley, Wine Review Online, Jan 2021

94 Points: Superb; a great achievement
“12 of Our Favorite Sonoma Pinot Noirs”

“This is a juicy, effusive wine, made from several of the vineyard’s prized blocks year after year. Pomegranate, rhubarb and dried herb highlight a length of concentrated blackberry and rich robust tannin. Elegant from start to end, the finish is a mix of black pepper and black tea, and is earthy in forest floor.”

—Virginie Boone, Wine Enthusiast, July 2020

“Shining examples of West Coast Pinot Noir”

“Emeritus sources from estate vineyards, including the prestigious Hallberg Ranch. Its juicy, herbal and rich 2017 Emeritus Wesley’s Reserve Pinot Noir is a special selection.”

—Rich Mauro, The Colorado Springs Gazette, May 2021

2017 Emeritus Wesley’s Reserve Pinot Noir

“This estate-grown wine from the Russian River Valley exemplifies the ideal climate for pinot noir. Unfined and unfiltered, it provides a pure expression of pinot noir: generous aromas of blackberries and espresso with a velvet texture and dark fruit flavors with hints of forest floor and cedar.”

—Tom Marquardt & Patrick Darr, South Florida Reporter, March 2020

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2016 Wesley’s Reserve

95 points (Wine Review Online), 93 points (JamesSuckling.com), 92 points (Wine Enthusiast)

Inaugural release. Year in and year out, the center blocks of our Hallberg Ranch offer up our most powerful and rich wines. Generally picked halfway through the month-long harvest, these prized blocks are the beating heart of Hallberg Ranch. In contrast to the more high-toned expressions of Pinot Noir that Hallberg Ranch is known for, this fruit is bursting with intense, dark berry flavors. For this reason, the wine stands up unflinchingly to the most flavorful barrels in our cellar. For the first time, we have bottled selected barrels of this wine to make ‘Wesley’s Reserve,’ a wine made to honor William Wesley Jones, Mari’s grandfather, Air Force Colonel and loving grandfather to many.  

 The 2016 Wesley’s Reserve displays all of the power Hallberg Ranch can muster. It’s loaded with brambly fruit and warm sweet spice aromas. It is expansive, chewy, and very long on the palate. Though it is a powerful wine with a strong tannic backbone, it nevertheless displays the elegance of Hallberg Ranch, and the proud stature of the man for whom it is named. 

750mL bottles ~ Magnum bottles

95 Points

“Wow! Talk about tension and intensity! This wine takes strawberry, cherry and rhubarb on a wild ride with bold acidity and lively oak spice making everything pop and finish with blown out flavor that keeps on coming. It’s named for owner Brice Cutrer Jones’ father Wesley, who was an Air Force Colonel. I’m guessing that this wine’s soaring flavors are a fitting tribute to the man. Rest this a while, or decant it a few hours—it’s not calming down any time soon.”

—Rich Cook, Wine Review Online, Oct 2019

93 Points: Outstanding

“Impressive forest leaves and woody notes lead to dark-cherry aromas in enticing form. The palate has a smooth, supple and easygoing feel with a core of smooth and fleshy fruit that runs fresh and pure. Drink or hold.”

—Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com, Dec 2019

92 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

“This wine is made to honor founder Brice Jones’ father and this vintage is the inaugural release. Demure in cherry and strawberry it becomes bolder and richer as it builds power on the midpalate, with a spicy undercurrent of clove and forest floor. The tannins are grippy and thick, the finish surprisingly elegant and balanced.”

—Virginie Boone, Wine Enthusiast, Dec 2019

Outstanding

“Moderate garnet color in the glass. Aromas of cherry vanilla cola and savory herbs come to the fore. A flood of blackest cherry, blackberry and Hoison flavors are framed by a healthy tannic backbone that keeps the generous fruit in balance. The wine saturates the mid palate and carries over to a boisterous finish of deep purple and black fruited goodness.”

—Rusty Gaffney, PinotFile, July 2019

“Here are 5 Russian River standouts”

“At this price you get a lot more complexity from selectively picked grapes. Black cherry flavors are supported by the mushroom notes made famous in the Russian River Valley.”

—Tom Marquardt & Patrick Darr, Maryland Gazette, Aug 2019

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2015 William Wesley

93 points (Wine Review Online)

The 2015 is the last vintage from our William Wesley vineyard following its sale in 2014. This remote vineyard is surrounded by woods sitting high above the fog and close to the Pacific Ocean. It produces wines with thrilling and unique flavors. The fruit is dark and spicy, its sweet aroma is earthy and mysterious; more like fresh mushrooms than ripe fruit. Finally, there’s an aroma that comes directly from the sea that draws you in completely. The wine needs a bit of air to soften its rustic tannins, but please do the aerating in a glass (not a decanter) so you don’t miss any of its aromatic evolution. If you can stand to hold some in your cellar your patience will be rewarded! 

750mL bottles ~ 3 liter bottlesThe Wesley Collection

93 Points

“This vineyard is near Annapolis on the Sonoma Coast, and sits above the fog line unlike Emeritus’ other Pinot Noir sources. A steep site with a lot of sun exposure gives ‘more of everything’ according to Mari Jones, and there is a great display of the sturdier tannin structure that you get from the smaller berries and thicker skins that the site’s character develops. The resulting wine shows plush black cherry, fall spice and damp earth minerality, all well integrated and finishing well into the distance. This is the last William Wesley from Emeritus, so don’t wait!”

—Rich Cook, Wine Review Online, Nov 2018

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2014 William Wesley

The 2014 vintage was a steady growing season, not too hot and not too cold, allowing the rustic character of this vineyard to shine through. The 2014 is our penultimate vintage of William Wesley and it represents the finest terroir expression of this vineyard to date. Subtle aromas of raspberry, black cherry, cranberry, blackberry, tobacco, and spice are framed by tannins that are present but not overpowering. The wine is rustic but elegant with a velvety texture and a charm distinctive of an Emeritus Pinot Noir.

750mL bottles ~ 3 liter bottlesThe Wesley Collection

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2013 William Wesley

The 2013 vintage produced graceful wines that are more feminine in nature. Although this remote vineyard produces rustic wines, 2013 molded a restrained wine that is more ballet dancer than football player. The wine oscillates between finesse and power and is unmistakability a coastal wine. Aromas of blueberry, cranberries and forest floor emerge from the glass. With a deep ruby color, this medium body wine is framed by a tannic structure characteristic of William Wesley. Beneath the frequent boldness of its tannins, a rustic charm emanates. Enjoy now or cellar for years to come!

750mL bottles ~ The Wesley Collection

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2012 William Wesley

2012 was a wonderful growing year and a bountiful harvest for Emeritus. Very little frost and warm spring temperatures made for optimum bloom time conditions. Because of the large crop and dry farming, the berries remained small. Excess clusters were thinned in a series of passes to achieve balance of fruit to canopy. The ripening of the fruit was flawless; dry farming seems to even out the maturation curve of the grapes without the dips and spikes that were seen when we irrigated our vineyards in the past. The vines ripen the grapes with lower sugar and retain acids even in a warm vintage. Mother Nature cooperated allowing time to harvest without fear of a heat spike or rain. 

2012 was the year everything came together for Annapolis. Still masculine in nature, the wine retains charm. Conditions were such that crop load and weather were in sync. This allowed for tannins to mature without rapid accumulation of sugar. The wine marries elegance and mountain ruggedness that characterize this region. The wine is unapologetically bold but underneath lies a gentleman. 

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2011 William Wesley

California usually produces extroverted wines, but the 2011 was a more subtle and introverted vintage. The 2011 William Wesley is more finesse than power, possessing a restrained character. Acidity is the life of the wine and 2011 is alive. This wine expresses the ruggedness of its Sonoma Coast mountainous origins. Beneath the firm tannins, spice, leather, and forest floor govern the palate.

Rustic in nature, the 2011 William Wesley will reveal its charm over time. Only 300 cases of this wine made!

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2018 ~ 2017 ~ 2016


2018 Pinot Hill East

Like ocean fog rolling across a cool, morning meadow, there is a misty ethereal quality to this wine that adds to its sophisticated beauty. As it unfurls in the glass, graceful layers of dried cherry and cranberry mingle with notes of rooibos tea, red apple skin, and cherry pith.

With airy tannins and a shimmering energy that envelopes a savory core of cool forest earth, dried herbs and delicate spice, this is a beautifully elegant wine, that reveals new subtleties with each sip.

750mL bottles ~ Magnum bottles ~ 3 liter bottles ~ 5 liter bottles

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2017 Pinot Hill East

94 points (Wine Enthusiast)

For the Pinot Noir grape, subtle differences between sunlight and shade, cool breezes and calm air can have a dramatic influence on the final wine. Though our Pinot Hill Vineyard typically produces very dark Pinot Noirs with higher acidity, because one side of the hill faces west, and the other east there are two remarkably unique flavor profiles. To capture this uniqueness, in 2016 we began bottling two wines from the Pinot Hill vineyard. Though both wines are grown at the same vineyard, they could not be more different, with each offering its own distinct and evocative expression of Pinot Hill.

Shaped by abundant fog and the occasional rays of morning sun, our 2017 Pinot Hill East is one of the most profoundly aromatic wines we make. It is more of a savory wine, as it opens up, fascinating notes of orange-cranberry relish, acai, lemon verbena and Angostura bitters are revealed, teasing the senses and inviting a first sip. On the palate, this wine is poised, yet incredibly energetic, with a vibrancy that underscores the depth of flavors. Taut tannins and discrete whispers of oak frame layers of juicy red berry fruit that linger throughout a long and tantalizing finish.

750mL bottles ~ Magnum bottles ~ 3 liter bottles ~ 5 liter bottles

94 Points: Superb; a great achievement

“Deeply aromatic in sea spray and orange blossom, this wine is grown on an eastern-facing slope in the Sebastopol Hills. Acid-driven and cool-climate in nature, it shows elements of tension and verve, with sharp, tangy red berry and blood orange giving succulent contrast to the structure and savory intensity.”

—Virginie Boone, Wine Enthusiast, Nov 2021

Outstanding

“Deep garnet/light ruby red; aromas; aromas of beet, wild strawberry and coriander. Medium-full with a beautifully defined mid-palate. Lengthy finish, elegant tannins, very good acidity, subtle wood notes and impressive persistence and complexity. Nice sense of finesse. Enjoy over the next 3-6 years.”

—Tom Hyland, Forbes.com, June 2020

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2016 Pinot Hill East

93 points (JamesSuckling.com & Wine Review Online)

Inaugural vintage.

Pinot Noir is a fascinating grape, where subtle differences between sunlight and shade, cool breezes and calm air can have a profound influence on the final wine. Though our Pinot Hill Vineyard typically produces very dark Pinot Noirs with higher acidity, because one side of the site faces west, and the other east, the two sides create remarkably unique flavor profiles. Recognizing this, in 2016, we divided our Pinot Hill vineyard-designate into two wines in order to highlight the effects of morning fog and afternoon sun at the site. Though both wines are grown on the same rootstock and on the same slope, they could not be more different, with each offering its own distinct and evocative expression of Pinot Hill. 

Blanketed by lots of fog and the occasional ray of morning sun, our 2016 Pinot Hill East will surprise you with every sip! It is savory in character with aromas of fresh-cracked white pepper, mandarin orange rind, sea grass and celery salt. It smells like the ocean. Due to its low alcohol and high acidity, the mouth has a zesty energy, with mouthwatering twists and turns that are incredibly exciting. 

750mL bottles

Excellent
“Emeritus Vineyards – Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs of Great Esteem”

“Delicate garnet; aromas of strawberry jam, turmeric and rose petals. Medium-full with very good concentration. Very good acidity, elegant, silky tannins, impressive persistence. 5-7 years peak.”

—Tom Hyland, Forbes, Feb 2019

Points; Editors’ Choice: Superb; a great achievement

“From estate-grown grapes on the east-facing slopes of Pinot Hill Vineyard in the Sebastopol Hills, this is an inaugural release that stuns and rewards in white pepper, wild strawberry and delicate earthy layers of tea and cardamom. Lively and exotic, it unveils lithe flavors of candied orange peel on the crisp focused finish.”

—Virginie Boone, Wine Enthusiast, Dec 2019

93 Points: Outstanding

“Attractive, ripe red-cherry and sappy complexity here with a wealth of fresh fruit on the nose that flows to the palate. A succulent, juicy bed of tannin flows long and keeps the fruit really fresh. Drink or hold.”

—Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com, Dec 2019

93 Points

“Sometimes Pinot Noir presents an aroma profile where fruit isn’t evident—the focus is on other things that are part of its character. In that case, it needs to be pretty interesting to get you past the nose, as is the case here. White pepper and ironite minerality get things started, and there’s a briny note adding intrigue. On the palate, soft cherry fruit underlies the pepper and earth, allowing it to become present in the nose and come to life. Racy coastal acidity makes for a bright finish that lasts, and the fruit remains in the background. There is so much going on here that you’ll find it a pleasure to come up with a pairing that highlights the wine. I like that the Emeritus team decided that this was worth bottling separately—another shade added to a fine portfolio.”

—Rich Cook, Wine Review Online, Nov 2019

“Spotlight on Emeritus Vineyards”

“This is a rich, concentrated, savory wine with heightened aromas, brisk acidity and freshness due to its proximity to the nearby ocean.”

—Marisa D’Vari, Forbes, Nov 2019

“11 Stellar Low-Alcohol Wines That Will Change How You Think About Low-Alcohol Wines”

“This inaugural vintage from the east side of Emeritus’ Pinot Hill Vineyard is bright and savory—far from thin, if that’s what you’re thinking based on the alcohol level. A fresh ocean breeze is joined by savory herbs, white pepper, and loam, followed by lively red fruit (rhubarb, cranberry, strawberry) with a kick of orange peel.”

—Sara Schneider, Robb Report, Feb 2020

Wine of the week, ★★★★½: Highly recommended

“What makes this an outstanding pinot is the purity of its fruit coupled with its savory notes. It has bright and tangy red fruit—cherry, currant and a hint of pomegranate. Herbs and white pepper are also in the mix—all riding on a breeze of crisp acid.”

—Peg Melnik, The Press Democrat, June 2019

“Pleasing aromas”

“… of black cherry, blueberry, savory herbs and balsamic. Similar to the Pinot Hill West bottling but more appealing aromatics. Mid weight in style and quite earthy in tone, with an array of black fruits. Sleek in the mouth with modest tannins and a modest finish.”

—Rusty Gaffney, PinotFile, July 2019

“Pairings: Emeritus Pinot perfect with lamb”

“What a joy it is to discover an ultra-premium pinot noir such as our Wine of the Week, 2016 Emeritus Pinot Hill East Pinot Noir, that isn’t defined, at least in part, by its high alcohol.

This one weighs in at just 13 percent, which lets nuances of aroma and flavor take center stage, as they should.

The wine is a beauty, with suggestions of peppercorns, delicate flourishes of tangerine zest, hints of celery, and a surprising splash of sea mist, evocative of the fog that washes over the vineyard on many mornings. Every sip whispers that this is a true coastal pinot noir.

As its price suggests, this is a very special wine and, although it is compatible with many foods, it warrants a special meal.”

—Michele Anna Jordan, The Press Democrat, June 2019

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2018 ~ 2017 ~ 2016


2018 Pinot Hill West

Displaying a lovely, refined opulence, our 2018 Pinot Hill West is a dazzling wine that combines drama and depth with a rich and evocative sense of place. On the nose, nectar-like aromas mingle with savory smoked charcuterie notes, as well as hints of blueberry syrup, Asian spices and exotic flowers. On the luxurious palate, soft velvety tannins and a beam of bright acidity add poise and polish to flavors of almond-cherry liqueur, grilled nectarine, peaty earth, bay leaf and vanilla, while drawing the wine to a beautifully rich and flowing finish. 

750mL bottles ~ Magnum bottles ~ 3 liter bottles ~ 5 liter bottles

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2017 Pinot Hill West

93 points (Wine Enthusiast & Modern Wine)

The West side of the vineyard has a few rays of late-day sun that mitigates the cool coastal winds that bathe the vineyard most afternoons. Our 2017 Pinot Hill West is a hedonist’s delight! Dark, sensual and super-concentrated, it is plush and viscous, coating the palate with flowing flavors of elderberry syrup, black currant, Vietnamese coffee and vanilla bean. While hints of cold-smoke and first-press ripe olives add to a sense of weightiness, there is a lithe acid-driven energy to this wine that provides focus and finesse to the luxurious finish.

750mL bottles ~ Magnum bottles3 liter bottles5 liter bottles

93 Points: Excellent; highly recommended
“Sonoma Pinot shines bright”

“Estate-grown, this is from a western-facing slope of the property in the Sebastopol Hills. Turned earth, sage and a warming depth of cardamom coat the plush, balanced palate, developing elegant layers of black cherry and licorice. The finish is a mix of dark chocolate and vanilla bean, with acidity always at the forefront.”

—Virginie Boone, Wine Enthusiast, Aug 2020

93 Points

“Emeritus Vineyards is truly one of the rising stars of the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast, and the wines do carry accordingly hefty price tags. Most all of their wines are dry-farmed (farmed with no irrigation), which means the vines have to dig deep for water. It also means that crop yields are very low compared to irrigated vines. The deep-rooted vines deliver smaller berries with a bit more minerality than you might get from irrigated vines. Emeritus’ wines tend to have a lot of concentration and structure as well as good natural acidity, and this one is no exception. It is keenly focused, sturdy, and tangy with intense black and red currant fruit, hints of smoke and vanilla, cardamom and wild strawberry notes. It’s an impressive wine that should have a reasonably long life ahead of it.”

—Tim Teichgraeber, Modern Wine, Feb 2021

2017 Emeritus Pinot Hill West Pinot Noir

“The producers of this delicious wine discovered there was a difference between the fruit that comes from east-facing vineyards and west-facing vineyards. The west-facing vineyards get more late-day sun to mitigate the cool coastal winds that blanket the vineyards most afternoons. This wine has lush, concentrated cassis, blackberry and elderberry flavors with hints of vanilla and olive.”

—Tom Marquardt & Patrick Darr, South Florida Reporter website, June 2020

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2016 Pinot Hill West

92 points (Wine Enthusiast & JamesSuckling.com)

Pinot Noir is a fascinating grape, where subtle differences between sunlight and shade, cool breezes and calm air can have a profound influence on the final wine. Though our Pinot Hill Vineyard typically produces very dark Pinot Noirs with higher acidity, because one side of the site faces west, and the other east, the two sides create remarkably unique flavor profiles. Recognizing this, in 2016, we divided our Pinot Hill vineyard-designate into two wines in order to highlight the effects of morning fog and afternoon sun at the site. Though both wines are grown on the same rootstock and on the same slope, they could not be more different, with each offering its own distinct and evocative expression of Pinot Hill. 

Benefitting from a bit of late-day sun to mitigate the daily afternoon coastal winds, our 2016 Pinot Hill West expresses both warmth and coolness. It is super-concentrated, yet quenchingly fresh, and saturates all parts of the palate with orange nectar, star anise and sweet hay flavors. It’s a hedonist’s delight! 

750mL bottles ~ 3 liter bottles

Outstanding
“Emeritus Vineyards – Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs of Great Esteem”

“The grapes here are from western-facing slopes of the Pinot Hill vineyard, as opposed to the eastern-facing slopes of Pinot Hill East. Smoky, meaty aromas, with notes of black cherry and sea salt. Medium-full, with excellent persistence and backbone, this has rich tannins and excellent complexity. Peak in 7-10 years.”

—Tom Hyland, Forbes, Feb 2019

92 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

“This is the yin to Pinot Hill East’s yang, an exploration of east-west sides within one vineyard in the Sebastopol Hills. Winemaker Dave Lattin unearths a wealth of focused, elegant dark cherry, orange and forest floor in this balanced red, which shows integrated oak and a lasting taste of black tea.”

—Virginie Boone, Wine Enthusiast, Dec 2019

92 Points: Outstanding

“Impressive aromas of ripe darker cherries here, all dusted in sweet, fragrant baking spices. The palate has a smoothly rendered feel with fine, easygoing plums and dark cherries. Velvety texture. Drink or hold.”

—Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com, Dec 2019

“Spotlight on Emeritus Vineyards”

“The 2016 vintage was a great year, but one with small yields. This highly concentrated wine has spice, velvet tannins, and pristine freshness.”

—Marisa D’Vari, Forbes, Nov 2019

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