Outside of Burgundy, nowhere in the world consistently produces better Pinot Noir and Chardonnay than California’s Russian River Valley. All the big California names have now bought in: Kendall Jackson, Rodney Strong and Paul Hobbs. But the very best wines, now and always have been made by small operations – like the guys from L’Oliveto.
The two winemakers behind L’Oliveto’s boutique operation bring a truckload of experience (Williams-Selyem, Robert Sinskey), but instead of laying all their cash into a single vineyard, they use their relationships to cherry pick the best vineyards each vintage without all the overhead. That means great wines every year and phenomenal prices.
2017 was the year they held all the aces. As wildfires raged, RRV was luckily spared but nonetheless, buyers were scarce. The long, hot 2017 vintage gave a few precious wineries the raw ingredients for truly exceptional wines. My favorite RRVs in 2017 came courtesy of Gary Farrell, Paul Hobbs and Merry Edwards. Just one problem, all three of those bottles will set you back a pretty penny. But for the quality to price ratio, L’Oliveto’s Pinot puts all three to shame.
The 2017 L’Oliveto is excellent and I don’t say that lightly. Well balanced, with super fresh, dark-berried fruit, a touch of earth and spice and a wonderful lingering finish. Even at its $26 release price this would be a phenomenal wine, easily worth twice the price. At today’s $18 a bottle – this is a no brainer. You’ll be enjoying this absolutely delicious Pinot Noir on Tuesday and Saturday nights alike all summer long.
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90 Points (Editors’ Choice), Wine Enthusiast
This is an attractively priced red made at high quality, aged entirely in French oak, 30% new, for nearly a year. Dark brooding fruit is accented in baking spice within a succulent palate that’s soft with earthy edges. The finish offers plenty of acidity and brightness.