2011 Balletto Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

SKU #1131194 92 points Wine Enthusiast

 An exceptionally good Pinot, from a winery that frequently gets overlooked, perhaps because they're not charging an arm and a leg. The wine is light and silky in the mouth, with alcohol well under 14%, and marked with crisp acidity and fine-grained tannins. The flavors are classic pomegranates, rhubarbs and black cherries. Should develop over the next 4-6 years. What a great value. Cellar Selection -S.H

K&L Notes

If you're a big fan of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, you've probably drunk wine from grapes that Balletto farms. They're farmers first of all, who converted a thriving vegetable business into vineyards at the turn of this century. They've got a no-nonsense approach, and since they own the grapes, they've kept prices within everyday reach--but they keep some of the best stuff for themselves. Balletto wines are popular in Sonoma County's local markets for their price to quality ratio. This Pinot is composed of small lots of grapes from vineyard in the southwestern Russian River Valley area, and the as-yet-unofficial "Sebastopol hills" area: 36% Occidental Road, 36% Burnside Road, 14% Mill Station, 6% Sexton Hill, 4% Pierre's and 4% BCD. From Balletto's vintage notes: "This ruby-colored Pinot Noir has an intense aromatic profile that begins with equal parts bright fruit (dark cherry, tart rhubarb, floral violets) and savory elements of cola, cardamom and coffee. Then, there's a touch of dark toast and forest-floor earthliness that round out the aromas and give it extra depth. The smells are complex and ever-changing in the glass over time."

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Price: $21.99

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By: Steve Bearden |  K&L Staff Member  |  Review Date: 5/22/2013  | Send Email
This is a great find for Pinot lovers not already familiar with Balletto's tradition of crafting fine elegant wines. Not quite as rich and full as many Pinots from Russian River but very nuanced and layered with a great core of dark cherry fruit that is persistant and dry. This is very well priced for Pinot Noir of this quality.

By: Mahon McGrath |  K&L Staff Member  |  Review Date: 5/22/2013  | Send Email
This Pinot Noir has aromas of parched earth and spice in a warm, close fashion, which nicely accents the natural cherry fruit. Supple in texture, with feathery tannins, on the palate the sweet cherry fruit picks up intensity without any heaviness, and carries through to a finish of good length, which likewise demonstrates a pleasing transparency of flavor. All in all, an excellent example of a taut, well proportioned Russian River Pinot Noir!

By: Michael Jordan |  K&L Staff Member  |  Review Date: 5/22/2013  | Send Email
Balletto is a winery that we have carried regularly in our San Francisco store over the last few years. John Balletto began as one of the regions largest vegetable farmer's but in 1999 decided to move the company business towards grape growing. The Balletto Family has over 500 acres in the Russian River Valley and selects 10% from many different clones and soil types to make their wine. The 2011 Estate Pinot Noir continues a great run of excellent wines from this winery. Light and fresh red and blue fruit with hints of cedar, rhubarb, cinnamon and vanilla give it a lovely complexity.A beautiful example of Russian River excellence.

By: Patrick Cu |  K&L Staff Member  |  Review Date: 5/21/2013  | Send Email
It's hard to find a Pinot Noir at this price with this much substance. A great nose of cherry, strawberry, and light smoke is followed by flavors of dense raspberry, cinnamon spice, and oak. This is well worth the price.

Additional Information:

Varietal:

Pinot Noir

- One of France's most legendary grapes and the grape that earned Burgundy its reputation. The parent of varietals like Pinot Gris/Grigio and Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir is blue to violet to indigo in color with relatively thin skins, and it is said to have been cultivated in France for more than 2,000 years. At its best, Pinot Noir creates elegant wines that are filled with primary red fruit aromas and flavors while young, revealing with an array of secondary characteristics like earth, smoke, violet, truffle and game with age. The varietal is also known, perhaps better than any, for its ability to translate terroir, or a sense of place. While the best Pinot Noir still comes from Burgundy, it is being produced with increasing success in cooler climates around the world. In France, it is part of the trifecta of grapes that can go into Champagne, and it is also grown in Alsace, Irancy, Jura, Savoie, Lorraine and Sancerre. Outside of France it is produced under the names Pinot Nero and Blauburgunder in Italy's mountainous regions, as Spätburgunder in Germany and as Blauburgunder in Austria. In the US, Pinot Noir has found suitable growing conditions in the cooler parts of California, including Carneros, the Russian River Valley, the Anderson Valley, the Sonoma Coast, Monterey County, the Santa Lucia Highlands and Santa Barbara County, as well as in Oregon's Willamette Valley. In recent years, New Zealand has demonstrated its ability to interpret this hard-to-grow varietal, with successful bottlings coming from careful and attentive growers in Central Otago, Martinborough and Canterbury. Chile is also an up-and-coming region for Pinot Noir, creating fresh, fruit-forward, early-drinking and affordable Pinots from the coastal Casablanca Valley and the Limari Valley.
Country:

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world. Click for a list of bestselling items from the United States.
Sub-Region:

California

- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year. For our entire selection of California wines, please visit this link.
Specific Appellation:

Alexander Valley/Russian River

- Among Sonoma County's northernmost appellations, the Alexander Valley AVA acts as a gateway to neighboring Napa to the east and Mendocino to the north. It is a sprawling appellation, with pockets of distinct microclimates and soils, and as such, is home to a variety of wine grapes and styles. Nearly everything grows in the Alexander Valley, though Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are the most widely planted grapes. The Russian River Valley lies to the south of Alexander Valley, and is marked by much cooler temperatures and frequently heavy fog. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown here are some of the state's finest and most sought-after. Aromatic whites like Gewürztraminer and Riesling can also be successful, and sparkling wine production has a long history in the area.
Alcohol Content (%): 13.7