No 8 on Wine Spectator's Top 100: 2012 Brewer-Clifton Sta Rita Hills Pinot Noir

Saturday, November 22, 2014

When Wine Spectator revealed the 2012 Brewer-Clifton Sta Rita Hills Pinot Noir as their Number 8 wine of 2014 I jumped right on Wine-Searcher and tracked down a half case.

The category and metrics are right up my alley: A California Pinot Noir with a proven track record. 94 WS/$40/1,226 Cases Produced.

All of Spectator's Top 100 wines are worth considering, but the Top 10 in particular are very thoughtfully selected. They always seem to have that elusive confluence of quality and broad appreciation given the vetting process Spectator employs.

And given that the winemakers behind each of the Top 10 wines is invited to New York each fall for the Spectator Wine Experience they seem to think about whether they'd, y'know, like to have the folks behind the wine "over to their house" so to speak.

Spectator's landing page for this wine captures its essence very nicely. Check out the video where James Laube describes why they selected it.

Greg Brewer is the winemaker. He's also winemaker at Melville so you may already be familiar with his style even if you haven't yet tasted Brewer-Clifton. Wines under both labels showed very well for me at this blind tasting of 2009 Pinot Noirs.

Here are my notes:

2012 Brewer-Clifton Sta Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.5% Alcohol
1,226 Cases Produced

This wine leaps from the glass with gorgeous, pure aromatics. At first they're fresh and primary. With time, ripe stem inclusion becomes evident and adds complexity. Translucent vibrant ruby color. Sweet cherries and pipe tobacco on the palate. The mouth feel reveals medium-full viscosity. Really quite spectacular and worthy of inclusion in the WS Top 10.

94/100 WWP: Oustanding

QPR-wise (though not necessarily stylistically) this wine reminds me of the 2008 Paul Hobbs RRV Pinot Noir. Great price point given the quality, and a wine that would be hard to over-purchase.

I'd highly recommend tracking some down while you still can (the Top 10 wines seem to disappear rapidly). I'm also inclined to check out other 2012 bottlings from Brewer-Clifton and Melville as well. Although 2012 was a tough vintage for California Pinot Noir overall quality winemakers like Brewer were able to produce tremendous wines. has the 2011 and 2012 Melville Pinot Noirs in stock in MA for $29.99 and $39.99 (affiliate links):

Massachusetts friends: I see this retailer has it for $44.99 and eligible for 20% as part of a mixed case purchase (add some affordable filler wines) and free shipping on $100+ orders.

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Question of the Day: Have you had any of the Brewer-Clifton or Melville 2012s? If so what did you think?


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