This Carmel Valley-based winery makes a collection of delicious whites plus some exceptional Pinot Noirs — about 3,000 to 5,000 cases annually. We tasted pretty much the entire current release lineup. Thoughts follow.
2011 Holman Ranch Pinot Gris Carmel Valley – Fresh, fruity, very much alive. Friendly on a summer afternoon or with dinner, offering strong floral notes atop a lemony base plus big apricots and peaches. It’s got a bigger body than most Pinot Gris offers, but that’s not unwelcome. This is a chewy, complicated wine that nonetheless offers balance, bright fruit, and enough acid to make things sing. A / $20
2010 Holman Ranch Chardonnay Estate Carmel Valley – Modest, meaty Chardonnay, typical for California with a big, chewy body and a balance that’s somewhat off. Easy to drink but difficult to love, it offers woody notes that do battle with tropical character and a strong, lemony finish. Kind of like drinking the Pinot Gris in reverse. B+ / $28
2011 Holman Ranch Sauvignon Blanc Estate Carmel Valley – Modest tropical notes and lots of acidity make this a brisk yet simple wine. Great aperitif wine, but not much to it. B / $20
2010 Holman Ranch Pinot Noir Estate Carmel Valley – Fruity but short of sweet, this Pinot Noir is a fine, if simple, example of the grape. Tart red berries, notes of black tea, and hints of earth populate the wine. The finish is short but pleasant. Not at all difficult to get down. Chill gently. B+ / $33
2010 Holman Ranch Pinot Noir Hunter’s Cuvee Carmel Valley – A definite step up, this bright and brisk Pinot offers delicious raspberry and cherry notes, studded with fresh herbs and mint character. Touches of chocolate and evergreen on the finish add complexity. Really beautiful. A / $40
2011 Holman Ranch Pinot Noir Heather’s Hill Carmel Valley – Another very good Pinot, but one with more restraint and less fruit than the Hunter’s Cuvee. The cherry and red berry notes are clear, but somewhat sweeter and less refined. Don’t go looking for that chocolate or any sense of terroir… but enjoy it before dinner. A- / $37