Wine review: Gary Farrell 2009 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

Gary Farrell 2009 RRV Pinot NoirI’ve finally comes to terms with the fact that I’m a Pinot-lovin’ woman. Call me an acid freak, but I just can’t sit down with only a glass (and no food), pop a cork on a Cabernet Sauvignon and enjoy the hell out of the experience. Nope, won’t happen. Too assaulting. Cabernet is a food wine, plain and simple — the tannins don’t allow my palate to fall backwards into its loving yet astringent arms.

But Pinot Noir is a different story. It’s the smooth operator — the wine that massages your shoulders before making its move. It guides your hand to the glass, introduces its beautiful self to your life and entertains… nay… does a lap dance on your tongue. Seduction complete.

Sure, not all Pinots possess this subtle, romantic skill. But the ones from the extraordinary 2009 vintage in Russian River Valley certainly do.

Gary Farrell, the former owner of his namesake winery, started out making Pinots in 1978. He trained under the famed Pinot elite throughout the 80s — Joe Rochioli, Robert Stemmler and Tom Dehlinger — and founded his own label in 1982. He had a good run with scores galore, then sold the brand and winery in 2004 to a corporate entity and his vineyards in 2008. A few corporate hands later is where it stands now.

Thankfully, the corporate folks didn’t muck up Gary’s legacy. They actually stayed true this laser focus on details and quality practices, as evidenced from this 2009 effort.

The 2009 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir bursts with bright, red cherry, raspberry and a smidge of dust and smoke which gives it some authenticity. Elegant and tart like a woman in a red silk gown with an acerbic sense of humor. Refreshing, lightly tannin’ed and changes constantly in the glass. Once it languished a while, the flavors floated towards black raspberry, plum and  I like to be kept guessing. Worth the extra $$.

Sweetness: 1 out of 10
Price: $42
Occasion: Sample sent by the winery
Availability: Restaurant wine lists and high end retailers. Or on their online store.
Food pairing: Drink this wine with roasted, cedar plank or smoked salmon dishes like this one; with cheeses like Truffle Tremor; or just alone!



  1. We were big fans of Gary Farrell since the early 2000s, but were really disappointed when we were there last fall. The pinots we tasted just fell flat. Sounds like the 2009 vintage might mark a comeback! Glad to hear it.

  2. In one of those rare moments of synergy, this wine was available for a bit at the PLCB (Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board) for $20. I bought a bunch since I too had been a fan for a while, but was equally concerned about the apparent unfortunate direction the new team had selected. I bought it despite this because I am at the core, an optimist as well as a straight up sucker for a good deal. I have yet to consume any, but glad to hear that they may be altering the path of back toward the past….


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