Tasting Notes

Hallberg Elite

La Combette

Don's Block

Pinot Hill Elite

Pinot Hill Cruz


2018 Hallberg Elite

Showcasing a prized vine selection from Burgundy and cultivated on one of the most exceptional blocks of Hallberg Ranch, the 2018 Hallberg Ranch Elite is a beautifully succulent and dynamic wine that delights with its fascinating aromas of tart cherry, papaya, pastry dough, and sour plum. On the palate, an almost nectar-like quality mingles with lovely umami and spice notes, with supple, fine-grained tannins and hints of yeasty lees, salted fruit, pluots and sweet cinnamon lingering on the finish.  

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2017 Hallberg Elite

We planted our first vines at Hallberg Ranch in 2000. Twenty years later, due to our practice of dry farming, our oldest vines have roots growing deep into the ground , where they thrive off water stored in the clay subsoils. Like people, Pinot Noir vines evolve and mature, revealing more nuance, character and complexity as they age. To spotlight this evolution, and the diversity of our two vineyards, in 2017 we made three new Single Block wines. The first of these wines to be released, our Hallberg Ranch Elite comes from an exceptional block on the crest of a hill at Hallberg Ranch, and is made exclusively from a single, highly prized Burgundian clonal selection.

Made from perhaps the most uniquely aromatic clone we cultivate, our debut vintage of Hallberg Ranch Elite smells unlike any other wine we have ever produced. Enticing fragrances of red currant jelly and red cherry mingle on the nose with dazzling white wine-like hints of hibiscus and white peach. On the palate, it is beautifully precocious, with succulent acidity and a vibrant underlying energy that makes the bright red berry and nectar flavors dance. Stunning and full of surprises, this wine is a revelation with an especially long and fascinating finish.

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La Combette means rolling hill in French and perfectly describes the location of this site. It’s planted with an old California selection of Pinot Noir (Clone 37, or Mt. Eden) this small single block has a gentle southwest exposure that produces incredibly complex and complete wines.  

2017 La Combette

Crafted from the historic Mt. Eden Clone grown on a gentle south-facing slope, this wine is spectacularly deep and dark, with a near-opaque red-black color, and aromas of fresh-baked huckleberry tart, pastry dough, cassis pastilles, sweet tar and black licorice. On the palate, the tannins are supple and mouth coating, while an acid-driven freshness enlivens the rich, berry compote and anise flavors. Complex, layered and just plain delicious, this is perhaps the finest vintage of La Combette to date. 

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2016 La Combette

The year started with above-average rainfall which helped replenish soil moisture after four years of drought. Our dry farming and attention to pruning and cluster thinning prevented any mildew risk from excess moisture and warm rains. Budbreak was early because of the warm winter, and the spring and summer growing seasons were moderate. It was another year of low yields with tiny, dark clusters lending themselves to the intense color and flavors we’ve come to expect. 

The 2016 La Combette is as darkly aromatic and complex as Pinot Noir can be. Like a pot of blackberries being reduced in butter, it is at once intensely fruity and animal-like. Notes of melted black licorice and fresh porcini mushrooms give it a sweet earthiness that also carries over to the palate. The wine is incredibly plush and creamy, while remaining lithe and poised on the finish due to a succulent acid core. 

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2015 La Combette

In 2015, the growing season began with the earliest bud break to date, as it was another in a string of drought years. Cool summer months and excessive fog in 2014, meant low bud fruitfulness. This also resulted in our earliest harvest ever which yielded very small, concentrated berries leading to intense colors and flavors. Something we have come to expect and appreciate as a result of our dry farming practices. 

The 2015 La Combette initially flashes a dark, oily, and meaty character which is quickly replaced by dashes of baked wild fruits and a waxy, floral accent. The stunning deep color is the first indicator of the bursting flavors to follow. The mouthfeel is intensely flavorful, very soft, but made powerful and lengthy by a bright acidity. This wine, like our others from the 2015 vintage, will age beautifully, but if you want to enjoy it now, it’s best to decant before enjoying. 

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2014 La Combette

The 2014 growing season began early with a warm, dry spring. We were fortunate to have a temperate summer with foggy mornings which extended the hangtime on the vine creating richer flavors and more structured wines. Harvest was early and swift and despite the draught, the fruit came in balanced and as high in quality as we’ve ever seen as a result of our dry farming practices.  

This wine is dichotomous and mysterious. At first there are smoky and meaty aromas which unfold to reveal an expanse of ripe black plum and sweet sandalwood spice. But on second examination, the plummy spicy character reverts back to the savory realm. The mouthfeel remains clean pure and incredibly lively. We merely let La Combette become what it wants to become – a stunning enigma of a wine year in and year out. 

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2013 La Combette

Tasting Notes Coming Soon

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2010 La Combette

Tasting Notes Coming Soon

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2009 La Combette

Tasting Notes Coming Soon

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Year in and year out, our Don’s Block Pinot Noir beautifully displays the art of the slow reveal. Our founding winemaker, Don Blackburn, believed that the true appeal of a great Pinot Noir is its ability to embody charm, nuance and grace. We make this wine from a gentle sloping, south-facing block of Clone 115 on Hallberg Ranch; an area we find embodies the type of Pinot Noir Don envisioned for Emeritus. 

2017 Don’s Block

This is our most refined and classically styled Pinot Noir. Featuring a single clone, grown in one prized section of our vineyard. Smelling this wine is like walking through a cherry orchard as the blossoms swirl in the breeze. Aromas of cherry pie, hard cherry candy, peach pit and sweet, fresh-cut hay dance above the glass, along with hints of orange rind and an underlying nuttiness. On the palate, there is a graceful concentration to the focused red berry flavors. At the same time, fine crystalline tannins and a beam of vibrant cool-climate acidity provide a mouthwatering structural element, while underscoring the wine’s effortless purity. As it evolves, the cherry, orange zest and floral notes become ever-more pronounced, drawing the wine to long, shimmering finish. 

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2016 Don’s Block

The year started with above-average rainfall which helped replenish soil moisture after four years of drought. Our dry farming and attention to pruning and cluster thinning prevented any mildew risk from excess moisture and warm rains. Budbreak was early because of the warm winter, and the spring and summer growing seasons were moderate. It was another year of low yields with tiny, dark clusters lending themselves to the intense color and flavors we’ve come to expect with dry farming. 

The 2016 Don’s Block smells decidedly sweet, with aromas of candied cherry, pie crust, cinnamon and crystallized flowers emerging immediately from the glass. With some air, pretty aromas of dried dark fruit and potpourri are revealed. There is something completely comforting and classic about this wine. In the mouth, it offers gorgeous concentration, not because of over-extraction, but because all of the elements are in extraordinary balance. 

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2015 Don’s Block

In 2015, the growing season began with the earliest bud break to date, as it was another in a string of drought years. Cool summer months and excessive fog in 2014, meant low bud fruitfulness. This also resulted in our earliest harvest ever which yielded very small, concentrated berries leading to intense colors and flavors. Something we have come to expect and appreciate as a result of our dry farming practices. 

The aroma opens with pretty dried wild strawberry that picks up hints of rose petal and sweet brown spice with each swirl of the glass. Delicate layers unfold offering sometimes fruity, other times sweet and spicy aromasTasting the wine, you’ll notice it’s anything but shy with rich concentration and a succulent mouthfeelThis wine, like our others from the 2015 vintage, will age beautifully, but if you want to enjoy it now, it’s best to decant before enjoying. 

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2014 Don’s Block

The 2014 growing season began early with a warm, dry spring. We were fortunate to have a temperate summer with foggy mornings which extended the hangtime on the vine creating richer flavors and more structured wines. Harvest was early and swift and despite the draught, the fruit came in balanced and as high in quality as we’ve ever seen as a result of our dry farming practices.  

The aroma hints at things sweet and soft – wild strawberries, a meadow of wildflowers, beeswax, sun-dried linens – and these hints come in gentle waves as the wine opens up.  The aromas carry over directly to the mouth with an additional twist of mandarin orange rind to balance a creamy, soft, very lengthy finish. Don’s Block is a wine that you can contemplate for hours if you wish, but it is best when enjoyed for being what it truly is – simply delicious. 

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2013 Don’s Block

Tasting Notes Coming Soon

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2010 Don’s Block

Tasting Notes Coming Soon

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2009 Don’s Block

Tasting Notes Coming Soon

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2017 Pinot Hill Elite

This wine shows distinctive exotic fruit notes and crystalline acidity at both vineyards. On Pinot Hill’s western slope it expresses these characteristics with layers of exotic dark fruit, and cool, syrupy aromas, as well as sweet woodsy notes and hints of cold smoke. On the palate, the beautifully focused flavors are accentuated by a fascinating texture that is both creamy and crunchy, offering a weightless sense of depth and intensity that carries the wine to a complex finish.

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2017 Pinot Hill Cruz

The aromas in this wine are reminiscent of cranberry and red huckleberry. There is also a fresh earthy note that pervades the aromas with cooling layers of floral nectar and morning dew, as well as a sweet woodiness that weaves in and out of the wine.  On the palate, this wine follows suit with a bright, quenching quality. While it is enticingly light and fresh, the small, concentrated berries yield an astounding amount of flavor, which lingers throughout a long, sophisticated finish.

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