To write the great American novel is the millstone that hangs around the necks of many authors in that country. The inimitable Hugh Johnson—himself just visiting—writing in 2015 about great American Pinot Noir, had no such angst. Declaring his admiration for the wines of the extreme Sonoma Coast, he pointed to the singular revolutionary wines of Hirsch, describing them as ‘Pinot Noir of a kind I had never seen, and didn’t expect to see, in California. Nor in Burgundy, for that matter.’
Founded in 1980, today David Hirsch works alongside his daughter Jasmine to produce some of the finest Pinot Noirs in the world. In this collection we’ll look at the 2017 vintage as well as 2015 and 2014 releases to illustrate not just the differences in terroir, but also vintage variation and a little bottle age.
In this six-bottle collection you’ll find one bottle each of the following:
Hirsch Vineyards San Andreas Fault Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2017
Hirsch Vineyards West Ridge Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2017
Hirsch Vineyards Block 8 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2017
Hirsch Vineyards East Ridge Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2015
Hirsch Vineyards Raschen Ridge Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2015
Hirsch Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2014
A homage to the great fault line near Hirsch, this pinot has a brambly, rich array of red cherries and some blue-fruit notes with fresh, sappy, forest aromas, too. The palate has plenty of punchy tannin and forthright, fresh, unwavering drive.
93 points, JamesSuckling.com (September 2019)
Starting off the 2017s, the 2017 Pinot Noir San Andreas Fault Estate is another relatively large production cuvée by this estate's standards, with just under 4,000 cases. A perfumed, medium-bodied, beautifully elegant Pinot Noir, it has classic Sonoma Coast aromas and flavors, with lots of spiced cherries, strawberries, sappy herbs, and floral notes defining the bouquet. As with all of Hirsch's Pinot Noirs, it's more mid-weight, yet it still carries a vibrancy and tension that's going to age beautifully.
93 points, JebDunnuck.com (July 2020)
Pale to medium ruby, the 2017 Pinot Noir San Andreas Fault has a delicately played nose with touches of cinnamon stick, dried leaves, perfumed earth and a mineral vein plus rose petal perfume, red berries and black fruit sparks. The palate is light to medium-bodied with delicate intensity and well-balanced fruit and earth character, knit by grainy tannins and juicy freshness, finishing long and nuanced.
92 points, Erin Brooks, Wine Advocate (December 2019)
There’s a wealth of fresh, brambly red cherries and berries here with faint, grassy and forest woody notes, too. This is strikingly pure and vibrant pinot. The palate has a succulent, lithe, juicy and seductively fine feel with such pristine red cherries, delivered in an enlivened, focused mode. Fresh and powerful Pinot at just 12% abv.
94 points, JamesSuckling.com (September 2019)
More lightly hued, with a translucent ruby color, the 2017 Pinot Noir West Ridge Estate spent 16 months in oak (although I have no idea how much new or used). Beautiful Burgundian notes of spiced red fruits, flowers, sappy herbs, bouquet garni, and smoked earth all emerge from the glass, and this medium-bodied beauty offers a seamless texture, nicely integrated acidity, and a great finish. It's a whopping 12% alcohol yet packs terrific intensity, depth, and length. It's a beautiful wine.
94 points, JebDunnuck.com (July 2020)
Pale to medium ruby, the 2017 Pinot Noir West Ridge is softly scented of fresh strawberries and raspberries, Earl Grey tea leaves, forest floor and woodsmoke with notions of dried lavender and amaro. Light to medium-bodied, it gives restrained, earthy fruit in the mouth, with a soft frame of grainy tannins and good freshness to lift the finish.
90 points, Erin Brooks, Wine Advocate (December 2019)
The iron-rich soils of this single parcel deliver a strikingly spicy and seductively complex nose with a wealth of ripe red cherries and wildflowers in play. So much going on here. Fleshy and attractively juicy cherries on the palate. Very polished, long and defined tannins really impress.
96 points, JamesSuckling.com (September 2019)
Lots of savory redcurrants, dried strawberries, violets, black tea, and flowery incense notes emerge from the 2017 Pinot Noir Block 8 Estate. This quintessentially Burgundian Hirsch Pinot Noir is medium-bodied and has a vibrant, silky texture, the firmer (yet ripe) tannins of the vintage, terrific balance, and a great finish. A sun-kissed beauty with loads of character, it’s going to drink brilliantly for 15+ years or more. This was a difficult vintage for Sonoma, but this ranks with the top releases.
95 points, JebDunnuck.com (July 2020)
The 2017 Pinot Noir Block 8 has a pale to medium ruby color and open nose with scents of crunchy cranberry fruit, fresh strawberry and raspberry with accents of garrigue, lavender, pink peppercorn, rose petal, perfumed earth and meaty touches. Light to medium-bodied and silky textured, the palate is delicately intense with mineral-tinged fruits, fine-grained tannins and great freshness, finishing long and layered.
93 points, Erin Brooks, Wine Advocate (December 2019)
The 2015 Pinot Noir Estate East Ridge is a dark, powerful wine – similar to the Raschen Ridge – but with a greater backbone of structure. Black cherry fruit, leather and spice are some of the many nuances that build as this powerful, dense wine shows off its bold personality. I would prefer to cellar the 2015 to allow some of the tannin to melt away. This is an impressive showing.
94 points, Vinous (April 2018)
The 2015 Pinot Noir Estate Raschen Ridge is one of the most flamboyant wine I have ever tasted from Hirsch. A rush of super-ripe black cherry, tobacco, spice and new leather fleshes out in a creamy, supple Pinot that captures all of the natural exuberance of the year. Silky tannins and voluptuous fruit add to the wine's considerable appeal. Even with all of its intensity, the 2015 retains terrific freshness and cut. Some of the Hirsch 2015s are subtle. That is not the case here. The Raschen Ridge is decidedly bold. It is also flat-out gorgeous.
93 points, Vinous (April 2018)
Effusive black-cherry and raspberry aromas lead to more tightly wound rhubarb and red-cherry flavors in this attractively restrained, medium-bodied and fascinating wine that has the nervy energy to age well. It has a good sense of balance due to firm acidity and light tannins that keeps it refreshing sip after sip. Best afer 2022.
93 points, Jim Gordon, Wine Enthusiast (November 2018)
The 2014 Pinot Noir Estate Reserve is a blend of old-vine fruit from various parcels around the Hirsch property. The Reserve is quite powerful and deep, but naturally it does not speak with the singularity of most of the other wines in this range. There is certainly plenty to like in the Reserve. I find greater focus and direction in some of the other wines. Scents of dried cherry, mint and crushed flowers linger on the close.
92 points, Vinous (March 2017)
Pretty tight nose but the palate has more expressive style with rhubarb and cranberry fruit and brisk acidity. Appreciably more concentrated than their San Andreas Fault bottling, and deserving of more bottle age to unfurl.
17+ points, JancisRobinson.com (March 2018)
A rather light-garnet color doesn't keep this wine from displaying plenty of flavor concentration, a smooth texture and nice layers of complexity. Red cherry and sour cherry dominate the palate while the mouthfeel is nicely dry and lightly tannic. Best after 2020.
92 points, Jim Gordon, Wine Enthusiast (October 2017)