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Senior editor James Laube, Wine Spectator's expert on the wines of California, joined the magazine in 1983.
James Laube

A 96-Point California Pinot Worth the Wait

Rochioli Pinot Noir Russian River Valley West Block 2004

James Laube
Posted: May 18, 2009

A maturing wine can change dramatically from the moment it's opened. The best judgment comes after the wine has had a chance to breathe. When I uncorked this California Pinot for dinner the other night, I was a bit disappointed at first. This wine comes from a great site for Pinot, is made by long-time Russian River vintners Joe and Tom Rochioli and was stunning when I reviewed it in spring 2007.

When I opened this bottle, the initial raspberry, cherry and cranberry flavors tasted pure and direct, but not terribly complex, and it wasn't the same amazing, expansive, plush wine that I had reviewed two years ago. But just as I was beginning to think it might be an off bottle, it blossomed. It took a good 90 minutes for this wine to open up and reveal that wonderful pure mix of wild berry and raspberry fruit that danced. It kept getting better with every sip. Non-blind, it's still worthy of its 96-point rating.

WineSpectator.com members: Get the original blind-tasting review for Rochioli Pinot Noir Russian River Valley West Block 2004 (96, $75 on release)

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated California Pinot Noirs.

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