Based in the Livermore Valley in central California, La Rochelle (aka LaRochelle) is a boutique wine producer with vineyards all over the state. Specializing in Pinot Noir, the winery shows how California Pinot can exhibit a huge range of styles. Don’t let the minimalist label fool you: This is great stuff.
2008 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – Solid Pinot, full of tart cherry fruit, minimal herb character, and an abundance of fruit. Some wood tones on the finish. This wine is straightforward and unpretentious, and it all goes down easy as pie. A-
2008 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – Quite tart, with a little more terroir in the body than the Somona Coast rendition. There’s a bit of mint on the nose, but otherwise it’s a mild and easy Pinot, full of light cherry fruit and a bracing acidity. A-
2007 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains – Note the vintage switch here — 2007 is considered a masterpiece year for California Pinot pretty much across the state. Despite the reputation, though, this is a wine that is a bit out of balance. Slightly green and with a tannic edge, it’s a bit of a bruiser, with intense notes of incense, bramble, and earth tones. Lots of wood here. A bit of a jumble of a wine and probably a better fit with a heavy meal. B
2008 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands Sarmento Vineyard – The only single-vineyard wine in this roundup, it’s a real gem. A good balance of thick cherry and raspberry fruit with earth tones — leather and tobacco. A very odd character in the finish is evident here, and it’s hard to place: Candied violets? It’s flowery but bittersweet… and altogether engaging. A
each $48 / lrwine.com