Mendocino High: Phillips-Hill Estates Pinot Noir

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PH-Oppenlander-06.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

In the world of wine as we know it, few winemakers have followed so circuitous a route to oenophilia as Toby Hill, owner/winemaker for Phillips-Hill Estates in Philo. A California native who grew up in Manhattan before returning to the Bay Area for high school, then heading back to New York to pursue a successful career as an artist and ultimately settling down in Mendocino, Hill literally began making wine on a whim when a friend gave him several bottles of unfinished wine one harvest. Several years later, the self-taught winemaker is turning heads with his extremely limited, Burgundian-style Pinots made from Mendo's emerging comptche sub-region. Read on for notes on my favorite of his current offerings.
Opulent Oppenlander: 2006 Phillips Hill Estates Oppenlander Vineyard Mendocino Pinot Noir

Tasting Note: Medium ruby in hue, this medium-bodied charmer offers lots to love on the nose, unfolding with youthful aromas of straw-cherry, dust, pomegranate seed, brown spice and prunes followed by layered low notes of saddle soap, anise, roses, black tea and sandalwood. The palate charms with bright acidity (food-ready, this Pinot!) and silky tannins alongside plush flavors of red fruits, earth, black tea, brown spice and a hint of toast. In all it's an ethereal wine with impeccable balance - which is why it scores a solid 93 points.

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