Failla Spring 2010 Releases

FaillaFailla ( FAY-la) is a small family winery owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Ehren Jordan and Anne-Marie Failla. Founded in 1988, Failla produces outstanding handcrafted Syrah, Chardonnay, Viognier and Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir represents some 70% of Failla’s total production and consists of several vineyard designated bottlings from the Sonoma Coast and Russian River.

Failla sources most of its Pinot Noir fruit from vineyards that mainly lie along the Sonoma Coast. Until recently, its wines were made at Turley Wine Cellars, but now Ehren and Anee-Marie have their own winery and charming tasting lodge on the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley. Ehren’s winemaking regime for Pinot Noir is similar to those of California’s best Pinot pioneers like Josh Jensen (Calera) and Burt Williams (Williams-Selyem). He harvests fruit in small containers, carefully sorts bunches prior to destemming, uses open top fermenters (3-5 tons) and wild yeasts, and does punch downs of the caps. He transfers the free-run and pressed wine to French barrels, up to 1/3 of which are new.

We have reviewed many of Ehren Jordan’s wines over the years, including last year’s Spring releases and some of the magnificent Zinfandels and Petite Sirahs produced for Turley Wine Cellars. He is a talented winemaker (and pilot), and his passion for producing top quality and distinctive wines shines through in the Pinot Noir reviewed here. Failla’s wines are produced in small quantities and thus are difficult to find. To sign up for their mailing list go to

FaillaOur tasting notes and ratings of Failla’s new 2010 Spring releases are as follows:

Failla 2008 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast ($34) 89

This medium dark ruby Pinot Noir is a blend of young-vine blocks from various Sonoma Coast sources. Aged in 25% new French oak, it offers dark cherry cola and white pepper aromas. On the palate it reveals a lovely silky texture, excellent balance, firm round tannins, and a long, nicely focused finish.

Failla 2008 Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch Russian River Valley ($45) 92

The Keefer Ranch is a delicious Pinot Noir. Aged for 12 months in French barriques, 1/3 new, it offers very ripe and well focused cherry and plum fruit aromas and flavors followed by an elegantly textured palate with good concentration and perfect balance. A somewhat stronger effort than the 2007 bottling.

Failla 2007 Pinot Noir Hirsch Sonoma Coast ($65) 93

This Pinot Noir from the outstanding Hirsch Vineyard offers a dark ruby color and a complex nose of dark cherry fruit, light smoke, toast and minerals. It has a soft and lush attack with silky texture on the palate, ripe concentrated fruit flavors, excellent acidity and balance, and a long finish. A jewel of a wine, and every bit as good as the 2007 vintage.

Failla 2008 Pinot Noir Pearlessence Vineyard Sonoma Coast ($40) 90

The fruit forward dark ruby Pearlessence Vineyard exhibits ripe red cherry aromas with notes of toast and spice. Medium-bodied, it offers ripe red berry and herbal flavors on the palate. Less complex than the Pinot Noir Hirsch Vineyards, but still very flavorful.

Failla 2007 Pinot Noir Occidental Ridge Sonoma Coast ($60) 91

Dark ruby to the core, the Pinot Noir Occidental Ridge offers earthy ripe plum and dark cherry aromas and flavors with wood spice notes. It has a soft texture, excellent balance, round tannins, and a long lasting finish with pepper spice notes. It is a refined wine of bold flavors.

Written by Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler, May 2010