New Releases from Sojourn Cellars

Monday, July 28, 2014

I've been a fan of Sonoma-based Sojourn's Pinot Noir program for some time. They're one of the most reliably outstanding fruit-forward California Pinot Noir producers I've come across.

So I was very pleased to receive samples of their 2012s to give me an excuse opportunity to crack open some bottles early, for a window into this well-regarded vintage from a well-regarded producer. While bottles I previously purchased from their mailing list rest.

2012 California Pinot Noir has been a tricky vintage for me to get my arms around. After the 2009 vintage where Wine Spectator called it the best ever and I felt like I was throwing a bulls-eye every time I popped a bottle, 2012 has been tricky.

Crops were abundant, but a bunch of healthy fruit doesn't directly lead to wines of depth, complexity and concentration. Restraint is required in the vineyard otherwise you'll wind up with thin, non-descript wines. That's been my experience tasting through appellation wines, even from well-regarded producers I've previously enjoyed: 2012 is good, but not necessarily as good as 2009.

These 2012 single vineyard Pinots from Sojourn are well-crafted. Some are extraordinary. Here are my notes...

2012 Sojourn Silver Eagle Pinot Noir
14.2% Alcohol
325 Cases Produced
$59 Release Price

Spectacular. What Sojourn does best is site-specific yet fruit forward California Pinot Noir and this is a great example of their style. Bright light magenta in color but *full* of effortless power and finesse. Aromatically this is an amazing explosion of perfectly-ripened strawberries, briar patch, and orange peel. So light on its feet but it gets serious on the palate. The medium/slightly-full bodied mouthfeel is surprising given how light in color it is. Just brilliant across the palate and on the finish. A tremendous accomplishment here.

Classic California Pinot Noir. Wonderful.

95/100 WWP: Classic


2012 Sojourn Ridgetop Pinot Noir
14.4% Alcohol
450 Cases Produced
$59 Release Price

Dark magenta visually. About 60% opaque. This wine absolutely leaps from the glass. Strawberries, violets, orange oil and supporting woody aromatics. Lively on the palate. There's a brash vibrancy to this wine that's tremendously appealing. Kind of like a youthful prodigy where you're wondering how great they might become. 93+ for now with room for improvement with integration.

93/100 WWP: Oustanding


2012 Sojourn Campbell Ranch Pinot Noir
14.2% Alcohol
275 Cases Produced
$59 Release Price

Although this wine is free of particulates visually, there's a silky chalky aspect to this wine across the entire experience worth noting. Aromatically it's classic California Pinot Noir: Strawberries for days with supporting herbs/briar patch. But also an undeniable calcium-esque aspect even on the nose. On the palate it's very easy to enjoy with a slightly tart note on the backend that keeps it in check. A really terrific California Pinot Noir that I've got no arguments with whatsoever. It's a joy to drink. But somehow it just doesn't raise the bar in terms of excitement that some of the other 2012 single vineyard Sojourn Pinot offerings have.

91/100 WWP: Outstanding


2012 Sojourn Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.4% Alcohol
1,375 Cases Produced
$39 Release Price

Pop and pour. This flirts with greatness but a few off notes mar an otherwise very pleasant experience. I got a touch of band-aid on the nose. And a bit of a campy note on the palate. I waited a few weeks after it arrived but if I were to open another bottle soon I'd give it a couple hours of air. It may help.
89/100 WWP: Very Good


Conclusion and Recommendations


The quality of the Sojourn Ridgetop Pinot wasn't surprising. That's been one of my favorite Sojourn bottlings across a number of vintages at this point, and this 2012 is another winner.


But the Silver Eagle takes it to another level. Not necessarily because it clobbers you over the head with weight, but because it delivers intensity of flavor and depth that's almost shocking given its moderate complexion. It does what Pinot Noir - domestic or otherwise - does best: Deliver depth of flavor that would be at home in a bolder variety like Cabernet Sauvignon while carrying itself in a confident finesse-driven package.


The Campbell Ranch is solid - and an absolute joy to drink. But at $59 for California Pinot Noir I'm looking for magic. And since it's often attained I think this one struggles just a bit to support its price point.

I want to taste more 2012 appellation California Pinot Noirs before writing them off entirely. Like I said - they're good but not great in my experience. The 2012 Sojourn Sonoma Coast is solid. However, I fear the 2013s are going to be rolling in soon for a fall release and we'll be forgetting all about the 2012s soon.

For now, my gut is telling me to focus on 2012 single vineyard bottlings from well-regarded producers that I have personal experience to maintain a high batting average.

Like I said earlier in this write-up of their newly-released 2012 Chardonnays, Sojourn is a mailing list play. Psychologically they've got it figured out: Free shipping on 6+ bottles, 10% on 12+ bottles. How easy is that? Definitely sign up for their mailing list if you're not already.

Samples for review.

Question of the Day: What are some of your favorite Sojourn single vineyard Pinots historically? 

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