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Lee Prospers, Siduri Thrives Following Sale
By Robert Whitley
Mar 22, 2016
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SANTA ROSA, Calif. — There was considerable weeping and hand-wringing among Pinot Noir connoisseurs when the cultish Siduri winery was purchased slightly more than one year ago by the big bad Jackson Family Wines, made famous by the massive Kendall-Jackson wine brand.

Jackson Family Wines is certainly big, but not so bad in the eyes of Siduri founder and winemaker Adam Lee.

"They've been great, and now I have more vineyard sources than ever before," he told me during a recent visit, one year to the day after the sale closed.

Indeed, Lee continues to make the Siduri wines, and his bank account has added a few zeroes since the sale went through. Jackson Family Wines, in reality, has been an excellent steward through the years of its numerous boutique winery acquisitions, most notably Hartford Court.

On the day of my visit, Lee was in high spirits, jazzed as much by the 2013 and 2014 vintages of Pinot Noir we were about to taste as he was about the financial stability and expanded resources the sale to Jackson Family has brought to Siduri.

Lee has traditionally focused on nearby Sonoma County grapes, but more recently has reached south to Santa Barbara County and north to Oregon. The Siduri fame is built upon distinctive single-vineyard wines, but what Lee calls his "appellation" wines are striking — as well and priced below fair market value in my opinion. The standard price for a Siduri appellation wine is $34, which is a steal given the quality.

On the day of my visit I tasted a number of wines, including some fine zinfandel and pinot gris, but for the sake of brevity will focus this week on the Siduri wines that are most coveted by wine connoisseurs, the remarkably pure and delicious pinot noirs:

2013 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($34) shows bright red fruit on the palate with hints of spice. Complex, with good depth, this wine leaves a positive impression with the length and persistence of the finish. A

2013 Sonatera Vineyard Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, ($50) offers an earthy note, with nuances of forest floor and tea leaf. Very distinctive with a long, seductive finish. A+

2014 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($34) shows a firm structure with a bit of grip on the finish and lovely cherry fruit aromas. B+

2013 Keefer Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, ($55) exhibits wonderful depth with impressive weight on the palate and exceptional complexity. It shows aromas of strawberry and black cherry, with notes of spice and a touch of earthiness. A+

2013 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir ($34) offers exceptional richness for an "appellation" pinot at this price point. It delivers darker blue fruits in its flavor profile and sports surprisingly good backbone given its richness and palate weight. A-

2014 Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, ($60) speaks well for the 2014 vintage in California's Central Coast. This is a stupendous wine that combines richness and depth with elegance. It shows impressive weight on the palate, with complex red and black fruit aromas, notes of spice and a dynamite finish. A+

2013 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir ($34) delivers rich, layered fruit on the palate backed up by juicy acidity and a note of spice. Very long in the finish. A-

2013 Clos Pepe Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, ($55) offers excellent richness and density, with complex layers of raspberry and strawberry fruit. This spicy pinot has been a standout in the Siduri stable since the vineyard's first commercial vintage in 2000. A

2013 Van der Kamp Vineyard Pinot Noir, Sonoma Mountain, ($48) is earthier that most other Siduri pinots, showing darker fruits as well and hints of baking spice. B+

2013 Lingenfelder Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, ($48) serves up a bit of forest floor and fall spice with distinctive strawberry fruit notes. B+

2013 Ewald Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, ($50) is by far Siduri's most floral pinot. This wine is soft and delicate on the palate, showing notes of red raspberry and strawberry with a touch of wood spice. Beautifully balanced, it delivers maximum flavor without being heavy. The finish is long and seductive. A

2013 Parsons Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, ($50) is darkly intense and brooding, with smooth, supple tannins and excellent richness and weight without being clumsy. A

2014 Rosella's Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia highlands, ($55) shows a dollop of strawberry on the nose, with beautiful richness, supple tannins and attractive floral and spice notes. High marks for its purity. A+

2013 John Sebastiano Vineyard Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, ($50) shows notes of earthy forest floor with dark-fruited nuances and supple tannins. A-

Follow Robert on Twitter at @wineguru.