Tasting Notes


2018 ~ 2017


2018 Hallberg Elite

Showcasing a prized vine selection from Burgundy and cultivated on one of the most exceptional single 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.  

750mL bottles ~ Magnum bottles ~ 3 liter bottles

^ back to top ^


2017 Hallberg Elite

95 points (Wine Enthusiast)

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.

750mL bottles ~ Magnum bottles ~ 3 liter bottles

95 Points: Superb; a great achievement

“Succulent and fresh on the palate, this wine offers a depth of concentrated cherry and stone fruit flavor, with slate-like mineral edges to its core. Moderate in weight, it is complex and exuberant in style, with a long, lengthy and richly rewarding finish.”

—Virginie Boone, Wine Enthusiast, November 2021

“Here are some terrific pinot noirs we have recently tasted”

“Brice Cutrer Jones, a veteran pinot noir specialist, knocks the variety out of the park with the debut of this special wine made exclusively from the Elite Clone, a cutting from a grand cru vineyard in Burgundy. Dry-farmed, the vines go 20 feet deep in search of water. Along the way the grapes produce complex red berry aromas and bright cherry, strawberry and nectar flavors.”

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

^ back to top ^


2018 ~ 2017 ~ 2016 ~ 2015 ~ 2014 ~ 2013

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.  


2018 La Combette

This dramatic and luxurious Pinot Noir made from a single clone is grown on a prized hillside block in shallow, well-drained soils. A classic expression of the Mt. Eden Clone, it draws you in with layers of huckleberry, elderberry syrup and hints of rawhide, melted wax, open woodlands and coastal chaparral. On the palate, the tannins are both sumptuous and seamlessly integrated, offering a luxurious framework as the fruit and savory spice flavors glide to a rich, robust finish.

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

^ back to top ^


2017 La Combette

96 points (Wine Enthusiast)

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. 

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

96 Points: Superb; a great achievement

“This estate wine is a celebration of the Mt. Eden clone. It is dark and brooding in style, with smoky, meaty and spicy characteristics. The richness of the wine is revealed in stages, layering fresh flavors of black cherry and plum against pepper and baking spice accents.”

—Virginie Boone, Wine Enthusiast, Nov 2021

^ back to top ^


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. 

750mL bottles ~ Magnum bottles

^ back to top ^


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. 

This wine 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. 

3 liter bottles

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

“La Combette’ means ‘rolling hills’ in French, which is a suitable description for this Russian River Valley plot. Deep garnet; aromas of black plum and maraschino cherry. Excellent structure, rich tannins, good acidity and excellent persistence. This is in a Cote-de-Nuits style, and is especially reminiscent of a Burgundy from Vosne-Romanee. This is a serious Pinot Noir lover’s Pinot! Give time—peak in 7-10 years, perhaps longer.”

—Tom Hyland, Forbes, Feb 2019

^ back to top ^


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. 

3 liter bottles

^ back to top ^


2013 La Combette

La Combette comes from the little hill in the I Block of Hallberg Ranch, on the northern side of the vineyard. In French La Combette means little rolling hill, which is exactly what I Block is. The predominate soil is clay; over time the Goldridge sandy loam has eroded to the bottom of the hill. This gives the wine from I Block a unique character. This wine is focused, bold and tannin driven, which is typical of clay soils. The palate is rich with an earth and spice profile, including dried herbs, coffee, and toast. The fruit plays second fiddle with raspberry and blackberry flavors. Its character is assertive and rich, but not cloying and dried fruit and herb notes linger on the palate for a long finish.

^ back to top ^

2018 ~ 2017 ~ 2016 ~ 2015 ~ 2014 ~ 2013

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. 


2018 Don’s Block

Crafted exclusively from a block of Clone 115 grapes grown in deep soils in the coolest part of our vineyard, this wine builds in intensity with each sip, demanding your attention and drawing you in with beautifully focused layers of orchard cherries, yellow raspberry, honeycomb, hard candy and stone fruit blossoms. At the heart of this wine is a lovely textural quality, with acid and super-polished tannins melding on the palate to create a bright, soulful drinking experience that amplifies the flavors, while also letting the more delicate floral and spice notes shine.

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

^ back to top ^


2017 Don’s Block

95 points (Wine Enthusiast)

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. 

750mL bottles ~ Magnum bottles ~ 3 liter bottles

95 Points: Superb; a great achievement

“From the producer’s own Hallberg Ranch, this is named for the founding winemaker of Emeritus, and is a complex, structured and crunchy expression of the grape. Concentrated and lush in style, it contrasts its cherry pie flavors with mouthwatering acidity and a length of baking spice-tinged oak.”

—Virginie Boone, Wine Enthusiast, Nov 2021

^ back to top ^


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. 

750mL bottles ~ Magnum bottles ~ 3 liter bottles

“25 Splurge-Worthy California Reds”

“Fresh yet concentrated, and so very lively, the acidity here paves a highway straight through the flavors of Bing cherries and pomegranate seeds, all of it kissed with tarragon and flowers.”

—Brian Freedman, Food & Wine, Nov 2019

“One of the most elegant and Burgundy-like pinot noirs…

“… we’ve tasted in a long time, this is a special for the late founding winemaker Don Blackburn. A prized block of the producer’s Hallberg Ranch vineyard, it is a layered wine with black cherry notes, dried herbs and a hint of cinnamon.”

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

“California Pinot Noir”

“If you really want a full-blown pinot noir experience, try the 2016 Emeritus Don’s Block Pinot Noir, a provocative and mind-bending wine with impressive concentration and texture.”

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

^ back to top ^


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 aromas. Tasting the wine, you’ll notice it’s anything but shy with rich concentration and a succulent mouthfeel. 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.

3 liter bottles

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

“The axiom of doing one thing and doing it well clearly applies to Emeritus Vineyards of Sonoma County. That one thing is Pinot Noir and they do it extremely well.

Hallberg Ranch is situated in a small sub-zone of Russian River Valley known as Green Valley; cool temperatures here are beneficial to a long, slow maturation of the grapes, which results in expressive aromatics and lively acidity. But the real advantage of the Hallberg Ranch is the fact that the vineyard is dry farmed, resulting in roots of the vines going deep to find nutrition. Production is limited, and on the prized Goldridge soils, this ultimately means Pinot Noirs of greater complexities and superb structure for cellaring.

Across the board the Emeritus Pinot Noirs are highly complex and beautifully made, with outstanding varietal character.

Don’s Block is named for the first Emeritus winemaker, Don Blackburn; a mere 75 cases of this wine were produced. Bright young garnet; intense aromas of wild strawberry, tea leaf and smoked meat. Rich mid-palate, tightly wound, firm tannins.”

—Tom Hyland, Forbes, Feb 2019

^ back to top ^


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. 

^ back to top ^


2013 Don’s Block

Made in honor of our first winemaker Don Blackburn, this wine is made from the middle of Hallberg Ranch’s C Block. It captures Don’s spirit with a burst of aromatics, fruit, and spice. This block creates wine that is reminiscent of his style which he characterized as charming. Don’s Block is part of the C Block at Hallberg Ranch, and has a deep layer of Goldridge sandy loam soil which creates a lean and elegant wine. This wine is acid driven bursting with fruit character. There are layers of fresh fruit complimented by rhubarb and an herbal quality. The wine embodies the cool vintage character which is more subdued with herbal and fresh fruit notes.

^ back to top ^

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.

^ back to top ^


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.

750mL bottles

^ back to top ^


 

Explore

Browse Our

Stay in touch

Thank you for your interest in our family-owned winery and dry farmed, estate grown Pinot Noirs! Joining our mailing list is the best way to stay up to date on all things Emeritus. You’ll receive notifications of new releases, events, special offers, and more. We look forward to sharing our wines with you in the future!

Privacy Policy