92 Insider Points


The Bennet Valley shows up with pride again as we dive into Barbed Oak's Pinot Noir. I was a big fan of the Chardonnay released earlier this year, and here again a great selection from the family wineery. Cherry cola and strawberry aromas. Good fruit showing on a light-medium body, with black raspberry, cranberry and a dash of forest floor. 92 Points - JZ Nov '18

    Pinot Noir
    Bennett Valley, Sonoma
  • SIZE

Specificity is key in top-flight Pinot Noir. In Burgundy, Pinot’s birthplace, the difference between a Grand Cru, Premier Cru or simple village designation can be a matter of an inch or two. For domestic Pinot Noir location is just as significant. This single-block Pinot is an excellent case in point.

Start with Bennet Valley, a small appellation within Sonoma Valley hemmed in by the Sonoma, Taylor and Bennet mountains. These peaks trap heat in Bennet, but they also trap the fog rolling in from the ocean and the bay. What that means is a drastic (and beneficial) range of temperature changes from daytime to nighttime and overall—a perfectly cool climate for chill-loving Pinot. Within Bennet Valley is the tiny Zara’s Block, which is planted exclusively to heritage clones Old Swan and Calera. These vines produce an alluring, dark and spicy Pinot with supple black plum fruit and vivid floral aromatics. A single-vineyard cult wine without the fame or the correlated affectation. Just 133 cases produced.

·    Both the Wine Advocate and the Wine Enthusiast rate the 2014 vintage for Pinot Noir in Sonoma with 94 points or “Superb.”

·    The name of this winery is a combination of proprietors Barb and Ed Pascoe’s first names and also refers to the old-growth oaks that ring the site and provide housing for raptors and night owls.

·    Zara’s Block is a 4.22-acre estate-owned vineyard named after Zara, the owners’ granddaughter.

·    Before joining Barbed Oak, winemaker John Raytek was the assistant oenologist at Copain, where he co-created a host of micro-production cult wines.


From the winery:

This wine is showing bright raspberries on the nose, strawberries and black tea on the palate with a balanced touch of acidity that lets a sip end clean and refreshing.  Round chalky tannins fill out the structure.


From the winery:

Barbed Oak Vineyard is perfectly situated on 18 acres in Sonoma County’s Bennett Valley appellation. Matanzas Creek runs right alongside our property, and we neighbor the Sonoma Coast, Russian River and Sonoma Valley growing regions. Our grapes benefit from the warm days and cool nights that produce remarkable Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

We passionately craft wines that please the palate on first sip. And the wines’ complexities provide lingering aftertastes that reward the most critical connoisseur. Full of fruit, each bottle of Barbed Oak reflects the best traits of wine from the appellation.


Pair this with salmon, chicken, or especially duck.