2012 Joseph Swan "Trenton Estate" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

SKU #1195917 95 points Wine Enthusiast

 *Editors' Choice* Silky yet slightly grippy, this is a mineral-driven wine, with violet and spicy cardamom aromas atop bright, vibrant swathes of cherry and wild strawberry. This vineyard is where Joseph Swan himself first planted Pinot Noir, it retains all the promise and greatness of his initial discovery of this magical place along the Laguna Ridge.  (4/2016)

92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Brilliant ruby-red. Youthful, highly perfumed red and dark berry scents are complemented by deeper notes of cola, mocha and black cardamon, with a sexy floral nuance building in the glass. Smooth, sweet and expansive, offering mineral-laced black raspberry and cherry-cola flavors that become weightier with air. The supple, smoky finish is framed by velvety, slow-building tannins. Distinctly polished in style, with the depth to age. (ST)  (5/2014)

K&L Notes

Joseph Swan is a keeper of the flame for the style of Pinot Noir that made the Russian River Valley famous. Their Trenton Estate Vineyard bottling is sometimes overlooked in the flashy landscape of modern Sonoma Pinot Noir, but it is one of the true gems of the Russian River Valley and always worth a look. The vineyard is an estate monopole planted with 40+ year old, heirloom clone vines. It's in a cool little dale between rolling hills of the Russian River Valley, near where Laguna Road meets River Road. Here, too, is the origin of the "Swan clone" of Pinot Noir. Absolutely packed with underlying structure and depth, the wine has a proven capacity to cellar long-term, not just improve for several years after release.

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Price: $59.99
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Staff Image By: Joe Manekin | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 3/29/2016 | Send Email
I was reviewing my notes on this wine from exactly one year ago. As excited as I was then, I'm even more bullish now after tasting the wine with another year in bottle. This is a very good vintage of a truly awesome wine. It absolutely oozes old school Russian River Valley charm in its scrumptious, layered, berry fruit. And yet there is a freshness, a clarity and purity of fruit that brings to mind a delicious bottle of young Burgundy (without the rough edges of tough tannin or fierce acidity). This wine is delicious now and should age very well for quite a while. It has my highest recommendation for Pinot Noir for drinking and/or cellaring.

Staff Image By: Bryan Brick | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 3/23/2016 | Send Email
Anyone that knows the staff at K&L is fully aware of our love affair with the wines of Joseph Swan. The classically styled wines are full of honest flavors, vibrant acid and have proven time and time again that they develop wonderfully in the cellar. Not to mention Rod and Lynn Berglund are two of the sweetest people you'll ever meet. If you haven't been to their incredibly modest tasting room, where the wines are the centerpiece, it is a must the next time you are in the Russian River Valley. If you visit there, or have in the past, the vines around the winery are part of the Trenton Estate block which makes one of the best Pinots in the Russian River Valley if not all of California.
The 2012 is outrageously great. In fact I want to use every superlative I can think of for just how good, and how special, this wine is but that would just be superfluous, so I’ll give you the details instead. This is about the intensity and power of the vines that Joe Swan himself planted back in the late 60’s and not much else, not about oak, not about Rod’s winemaking ego, not about points, just those incredibly special and historic vines. One of the signs of a great pinot to me is that it has power, complexity, drive and structure all while having little heft. This wine is a perfect example of that. Oolong tea, pomegranate, blood orange, wet clay and crushed rock aromas are just now starting to come out of this as it is still a baby in its development. For how light and transparent this wine is it certainly packs a wallop of powerful, concentrated red fruits, exotic spice, Sevilla oranges, cranberry and clove on the palate. Tangy and full of zing on the finish this wine is anything but shy at this point but you can’t help the feeling that so much more is coming down the road. Lay this one down for a while or break it out for special occasions, or special recipes, with a long gentle decant. It will be the star of the show.

Staff Image By: Dave Genevro | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 3/23/2016 | Send Email
I love this wine! It has the purity, elegance and "swan funk" of Joseph Swan Pinots that I love, but with a bit more power and structure. This is the bottle I grab when I want that classic Swan style, but for a very special occasion. This can lay down for quite a while as well. Enjoy!

Staff Image By: Gary Westby | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 3/18/2015 | Send Email
The Trenton Estate is always top notch, but often a backward wine that needs a lot of time to show its stuff. The precocious 2012 is an exception and shows very well not, and should have the legs to age for as long as you want to cellar it. This is one of the very best California Pinot's that we have at any price, made in the old school way, with plenty of savory, brambly intrigue to go with its solid California fruit. The finish is almost endless. This is a must try for any Califoria Pinot lover.
Drink from 2015 to 2027

Additional Information:


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.

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.


- 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