Gary Farrell’s Alysian Wines from Russian River

Alysian Wines is the creation of veteran winemaker Gary Farrell and his long term colleague Bill Hambrecht.  Established in 2007, the winery produces small lots of cool climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from some of the finest vineyards in the Russian River Valley.  The locations of those vineyards are shown in the map reproduced at the bottom of this article.

Winemaker Gary Farrell has three decades of winemaking experience that began in the late 1970s working as a cellar rat for Davis Bynum Winery.  He later became the winemaker at Davis Bynum and developed relationships with Russian River pioneers, Tom Dehinger, Joe Rochioli, Davis Bynum, and Robert Stemmler.   In 1982 he launched his own highly successful eponymous label in Russian River and also helped produce the wines at Rochioli Vineyard.  Gary sold that winery in 2004, so he could return to his roots as a winemaker of small lots of Pinot Noir.

The focus of Gary’s passion is Pinot Noir, and his approach is to produce vibrant wines of flavor, structure, and high natural acidity.   The wines reviewed here are delicious examples of his approach. The Pinot Noirs exhibit a combination of earth and ripe red berry fruit flavors, elegant and refined structure, and crisp and lively acidity. The Chardonnays are fruit rich and mouth filling yet restrained in their use of malo and oak.  Above all, Gary’s wines are moderate in alcohol and beautifully balanced.

The Alysian winery is located in Healdsburg, CA.

Alysian Wines 2009 Pinot Noir Russian River Selection Russian River Valley ($55) 90  The Pinot Noir Russian River Selection exhibits a nose of spicy cherry and raspberry.  It is soft and elegant on a lean earthy palate with a firm structure, high acidity and lingering cherry notes.

Alysian Wines 2009 Pinot Noir Floodgate Vineyard “Rock Hill” Russian River Valley ($55) 91 The Pinot Noir Floodgate Vineyard “Rock Hill” reveals ripe raspberry and dark cherry fruit, on the nose. It is earthy, soft and fruit forward on the attack, velvet smooth on the palate with a full mouth feel, excellent balance, and firm tannins on the finish. “Rock Hill” is the rockiest knoll on the property, which was planted in 2000 to Dijon clone 777.

Alysian Wines 2009 Pinot Noir Floodgate Vineyard “Origins” Russian River Valley ($55) 92+ The Pinot Noir Floodgate Vineyard “Origins” offers a medium ruby color and aromas of red berry fruit with mineral notes. It is elegant on the palate with ripe cherry fruit flavors, excellent acidity and firm round tannins on the finish. “Origins” is one of the oldest plantings of Pinot Noir (Martini clone) in the Russian River Valley, planted in 1971.

Alysian Wines 2009 Pinot Noir Hallberg Vineyard Crossroads Russian River Valley ($55) 92   The Pinot Noir Hallberg Vineyard offer ripe cherry aromas with lush and earthy balsamic flavors.  It is also spicy on the palate with good balance, excellent acidity and lots of tannic grip.   Still quite young, the wine reveals a long finish.

Alysian Wines 2009 Pinot Noir Rochioli Vineyard “Allen-Rochioli Blocks” Russian River Valley ($65) 91+  The Pinot Noir Rochioli Vineyard “Allen-Rochioli Blocks” is elegant and refined.  It reveals black raspberry and red cherry aromas on the nose with pure dark red fruit flavors on the palate.  It is lush yet beautifully balanced and flavorful with good acidity and length on the finish.

Alysian Wines 2009 Chardonnay  Westside Farms Clone 4 Russian River Valley ($40) 92 The Westside Farms Chardonnay displays a golden straw hue and aromas of dried tropical fruit and smoky oak on the nose.  It is rich and creamy on the palate with notes of stone fruit and toasted nuts.  It has excellent acidity and freshness.

Alysian Wines 2009 Chardonnay Floodgate Vineyard  Clone 95 Russian River Valley ($40) 93  The Chardonnay Floodgate Vineyard displays a beautiful nose of tropical fruit, lemon citrus and vanilla cream.  It is soft and lush on the palate with rich nuanced flavors, excellent acidity and a long finish.

Alysian Wines 2009 Chardonnay Russian River Valley/ Russian River Selection ($40) 92  The Russian River Valley/Russian River Selection exhibits a bright yellow-gold hue and fragrant aromas of ripe melon and tropical fruit with a hint of nuts and smoke. It is lush and creamy on the palate with rich fruitiness, excellent balance and a long persistent finish.  Delicious!

Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler



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