Ever wonder how empires start? Keep an eye on Bill Foley. Last I checked in with him,  he was running Foley Estates. I was drinking with his assistant winemaker in the wine cellar when he walked in. Nice guy, but I really hadn’t thought about that moment until I started writing this review.

I was a bit surprised when I discovered he had purchased the Roth winery, along with Lancaster Estate, in 2012.

Then I pulled up his bio. He now owns Chalk Hill Winery, Altvs, EOS Estate, Firestone Vineyard, Keuleto Estate, Lincourt Vineyards, Merus, and Sebastiani Vineyards. And that is just in California. He also owns Four Graces in Oregon and Three Rivers in Washington. And that is only what he owns in America. He also recently picked up Vavasour and Clifford Bay Estate in New Zealand. It’s a bit comforting that Bill and I have the same taste in wine. I just buy a case of the wine. He buys the winery.

Winemaker Jesse Katz has remained on board at Roth and Lancaster since the ownership change, and the wines are better for it. He also still keeps David Ramey on as a consultant. The major pitfall of the change is the likelihood that fruit destined for the Roth and Lancaster brands will be diverted to the better known Sebastiani and Firestone brands. My suggestion is to enjoy the 2011. I’ll let you know if the wine quality keeps up in coming years. (as an aside, it’s financial moves like this that have much more effect on wine quality than vintage)

The majority of the grapes for this Roth Estate bottling come from cooler corners of the Russian River Valley and the wine aged for a year in French oak.

The typicity of roses: it’s a good way to describe classic floral notes of this Pinot Noir. Fresh red fruit and mulled spices flesh out the aroma. This medium-bodied wine is buttressed with bracing acidity and smoked vanilla. Flavors of bing cherry and anise rise come forward in the mid-palate which forest floor and acacia notes in the finish that turn a tough brittle on the tannic finish.