Forge Cellars 2011 Pinot Noir

Posted February 3, 2014 by Lenn Thompson in Regions

forge-2011-pinot-noirI try to learn something from every wine I put into my mouth. Sometimes the revelations are bigger than others. Sometimes they are subtle reminders.

Forge Cellars 2011 Pinot Noir ($25) reminded me why I taste wines the way I do (when I’m reviewing them, anyway) and why some reviewers are doing it all wrong.

Upon opening, this cooler-vintage pinot is waif-like in its delicate aromas of red cherry, dried strawberry, Earl Grey tea and faint spice. Similarly, the palate is very light bodied, with a core of red berries, dried flowers and just a touch of earthy dried leaves.

Fast forward to the next day — after the bottle had been open for around 15 hours — and the waif fills out some and gets markedly curvier, though still elegant and refined. Both the nose and palate blossoms some with distinct notes of cinnamon, cumin seed and dried flowers emerging.

While it remains light bodied, mouthfeel is a bit broader, with more texture and concentration.

This wine is a great example of why scoring wines based on a 30-second experience with them may not be the best way to go.

Producer: Forge Cellars
Finger Lakes
Harvest Date(s): 
September 25-26
ABV: 12.5%
Production: 150 cases
Price: $24

(3.5 out of 5 | Very Good, Recommended to Outstanding and Delicious, Highly Recommended)



    My excitement over this collaboration means that I cannot resist giving a little more background. Forge Cellars is a collaboration of Hector Wine Company and Louis Barruol from Chateau St. Cosme (pronounced “comb”) in the Rhone Valley. While many people including me, were probably not familiar with Louis, his wine from Gigondas was # 2 on the Wine Spectator Top 100 for 2012. His family goes back 14 generations to 1416, and they continue to use Gallo-Roman vats carved into stone. Just like Paul Hobbs is not just some winemaker from Calif., and Johannes Selbach is not just some winemaker from Germany, Louis Barruol is not just some winemaker from France. (not implying you said this, Lenn – but I’ve heard it several times). The Finger Lakes is attracting the best of the best, because the wines are already so good!

    Rick Rainey

    Michael – Your ohhh so close – it is a collaboration between Rick Rainey, Justin Boyette and Louis Barruol. The wines are made at Hector Wine Co. and Justin also happens to be a partner there as well and though we ARE one big happy family, the partners are Rick, Justin and Louis.

    The project had been in the works since 2008/2009…give or take.

    Your insight of the wine was dead on…thanks for having the patience to let it unfold.

      Dana Estep

      Rick – I was about to ask if you are going to be able to place it in PA as with your riesling. Decided to check the PLCB website and there it is. Unfortunately not currently at a store on my side of Pittsburgh. I hold out a bit to see if the store near me that has the riesling will get in the pinot. If not, a small road trip will be in order. enjoyed the riesling so look forward to trying the pinot – especially after reading Lenn’s review.

        Brent Means

        It appears Pa now only carries Forge 2011 Pinot as a special order (min. order is a case). However, the Forge 2012 Pinot is available in 19 stores in Pa. If you’re interested in 2012, I’d ask the closest store manage to transfer code 31892 to avoid a drive. The free transfer option has worked for me and I’ve enjoyed the Forge 2012 immensely. Good luck.

          Rick Rainey

          Brent – thanks for the tutorial.

          Dana – I gave PA a small allocation of both the Pinot and the Riesling 2012…the 2011 was a special order through the wholesaler but that has long been sold out. Actually, the wholesaler doesn’t have any 2012 Pinot so the only place to buy it is through PA.

          Best of luck.

          Dana Estep

          Thanks for the comment Brent. What’s been your experience with how long it takes for the free transfer? The one time I wanted to have something transferred, the clerk I talked to said it can be pretty random as to how long it would take. I opted to pay the couple bucks per bottle to have the transfer done immediately. In my case, the transfer was cross-state where this would be cross-town so maybe the free wouldn’t take long.

            Brent Means

            The time frame for a free transfer can be unpredictable and long (the clerk was correct). Depending on the situation, the wait may outweigh the cost of shipping a case.


      Rick: Always appreciate your thoughts on anything we’re doing here on the site. So thank you.

      But, this is how I treat EVERY wine I taste. I taste it on the first day, take notes. Wait until the next day and taste it again. And — usually with reds — I’ll try to taste it a third day as well. I also try to have most wines with and without food.

      I think it’s important to taste wine the way that the bulk of my readers will drink the wine — not within 30 seconds or in a vacuum.

    Stan Witkowski

    Lenn I concur with rushing to judgement on some of these wines from winemakers that have it down. Having been on the receiving end of some long opened bottles and trying to be patient on bottles opened at home, that 30 second taste is not really all these wines have to offer. Patience with not finishing the bottle with the meal has led to some amazing discoveries and a further appreciation of the fruit of the winemakers (and vinyard managers) labors.

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