This is our third go-round with Lula Cellars, a Mendocino-based winery that produces some of the best pinot noirs you’ll find on the market today. This year we’re looking at five wines from Lula (from the 2016 and 2017 vintages), including a white and a rose. Let’s dig in to this quintet!
2017 Lula Cellars Gewurztraminer Anderson Valley – You can smell the perfume and acetone notes on this gewurz from a mile away, which might seem to indicate you’re in for a bracing, aromatic experience. But the very buttery body is at odds with the nose, though notes of white flowers, peaches, and nectarine at least give the wine something to work with — just not enough, particularly on the thin finish. B- / $20
2017 Lula Cellars Rose of Pinot Noir Anderson Valley – A vibrant rose, zippy with acidity and some floral notes. Lots of fresh lime and lemon makes this come across like a bold sauvignon blanc, complete with some grassy notes and a mineral punch. There’s some lingering sweetness on the tail end of the wine, driven by a peachy finish that pours on the fruit while keeping saccharine notes at bay. Surprisingly engaging, and more loaded up with power than you typically see in just about any rose these days. A / $20
2016 Lula Cellars Pinot Noir Anderson Valley – Bold, well-rounded pinot. Intense on the nose, with notes of cloves, blackberry bramble, dark chocolate, and graphite. The palate is intensely spicy — well beyond what one expects from pinot noir — with notes of black pepper, blackberry jam, and some fresh tobacco leaf. Probably not something I would peg as pinot if tasted blind, but while it’s atypical of the varietal, it’s certainly got a lot going on inside that merits exploration as a bizarre outlier. B+ / $39
2016 Lula Cellars Pinot Noir Mendocino County Peterson Vineyard – One of the most well-rounded expressions of pinot noir I’ve encountered from Lula to date. Bold on the attack, with notes of supple, partially dried berries, blackberry bramble, and chocolate. Lots of spice is laced throughout the experience, giving this wine a boldness that is typically seen only in pinot from regions like the Russian River Valley. A chewy earthiness informs the entire experience, with the finish seeing a rounded depth with hints of mushroomy forest floor and some menthol. Complex and on point, it’s simply an excellent wine from start to finish. A / $45
2016 Lula Cellars Pinot Noir Mendocino County Costa Vineyard – While a touch more restrained than the Peterson, this wine nonetheless bursts forth with notes of cassis and raspberry, a bold beginning that focuses fully on fruit. Hints of chocolate and vanilla manage to percolate as the finish comes along, making this a great pairing with dessert or dark chocolate. The cocoa note — definitely will into the bittersweet spectrum — lingers heavily on the delightful, but again atypical, finish. A- / $45