Talisman is a winery I’ve been really excited to try.  They made it onto the list pretty late in the game when I was filling in some blanks in my calendar with wineries in Glen Ellen.  But Talisman really interested me when I read about their wines.  They make really small batches of Pinot Noir (check).  And they even make some vineyard designate wines and bottle them by clone (geeking out).

I made a reservation but they’re also open to the public.  When I walked through the door, he knew exactly who I was and what brought me to them.  There were two other small groups tasting in their lounge with me.  My tasting host poured me a taste of their 2018 Dawson Vineyard Rose of Pinot Noir.  He explained that they sought out a specific vineyard just to make their rose.  I quite liked it.  He showed me around their small facility and then let me sit wherever I wanted.

So, I sat at a long table with room for lots of glasses.  He explained that we would taste a few pre-selected wines and then pull out some other stuff based on my feedback of the previous wines.  I was excited to hear that!  And noted that I was curious about these single clone bottlings.

Talisman Wines

I’m sad to say that the style of their Pinot Noir overall was not exactly the style I prefer.  I preferred smoother, more fruit-forward pinots.  But, I can still respect the wine.

My pre-selected pours were:

  • 2016 Sadie’s Vineyard (RRV)
  • 2014 Starscape Vineyard (RRV)
  • 2015 Adastra Vineyard (Carneros)


My favorite of the three was their Sadie’s vineyard. Interestingly, it was also their least expensive – that never happens!


The subsequent pours selected specifically for me were:

  • 2015 Wildcat (Sonoma Coast)
  • 2014 Gunsalus (RRV)
  • 2014 Red Dog (Sonoma Mountain)
  • 2007 Red Dog – Pommard Clone (Sonoma Mountain)
  • 2007 Red Dog – Dijon Clone (Sonoma Mountain)
  • 2015 Sadie’s (RRV)

I really enjoyed tasting the side-by-side 2007 Red Dogs.  I found I preferred the Pommard Clone version to the Dijon Clone version if we’re splitting hairs.  If you notice, they also design their pinots to age.  The winery is even hosting a “90s dinner” next month where they’re pulling out some of their original vintages to share.  I wish I loved their wine more – I was ready to sign up for the dinner!



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