4th of JULY:
MORE PINOT NOIRS
- This label is
the work of a former professional "cork puller." Emmanuel
Kemiji was the sommelier at San Francisco's Ritz-Carlton dining
He must have had too much to drink one night, because he embarked on a
project of actually making wine. Now he's got some help from an old
college buddy who, coincidentally, was the winemaker for a Carneros winery
"Miura" name, aside from being that of a famous "boiler"
maker (famous for 'low mass boilers') and of a Japanese porno queen, refers
to a rather strong Spanish bull. Bull fighters in Spain (where
Emmanuel spent a number of years in his youth) regard the "Miura"
as the most formidable of opponents.
The famous (legendary) bull-fighter Manolete met with death in a battle
against a Miura bull in 1947.
So, Kemiji, taking the bull by the horns, has a number of wines under his
Though they make wine from some of the more famous Santa Lucia Highlands
sites, there's a cooler-climate vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands...Silacci.
The 2010 from that site is terrific and a bit more elegant.
The same crew makes a dynamite Syrah...Antiqv2s...one of the few in
California that, at times, has actually resembled a good Rhône wine!
- Currently in stock:
2010 Santa Lucia Highlands "Silacci"
Pinot Noir SALE $54.99
- This little enterprise is the work of Steve Kistler and his
daughters. Kistler is a brand famous for its Chardonnays and Pinot
Noirs. A new owner of one of their vineyard sources apparently
expressed interest in partnering with Kistler, so Steve sold him a hefty
percentage of Kistler Vineyards.
So the new chapter in Kistler's tale is a small production of Pinot Noir
in a newly-built winery in the town of Bodega, a few miles east of Bodegas
Bay and a 15 minute ride southwest of the town of Occidental.
Phelps' Freestone winery is also a few minutes' ride from Bodega.
We have a 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir from this new label/old winemaker.
The fruit comes from two vineyard sites, the Bodega Headlands and
Occidental Station vineyards. They leave the juice to macerate with
the grape skins for five days prior to the fermentation kicking
off...native yeasts...François Freres French oak barrels...60% new
cooperage. No fining or filtering...yadda yadda yadda. Sounds
Luckily it tastes good, too. The wine shows nice dark cherry fruit
and just a whiff of wood...with 60% new oak you might expect the wood to
be more prominent, but when you have good fruit, sometimes the oak is
dominated by the wine.
Currently in stock: 2012 OCCIDENTAL Sonoma Coast
PINOT NOIR $66.99
- The Peay
brothers have a cool little wine venture in the northern, coastal reaches
of Sonoma County...the northernmost vineyard site in the Sonoma Coast
From the town of Sea Ranch, you'd drive about 15-20 minutes to reach
beautiful "downtown" Annapolis, some 4 miles inland from the
And while some Sonoma Coast vineyards are above the fog in the mornings,
the Peay vineyards are often shrouded in morning fog and they routinely
get some maritime breezes, further cooling their vines.
To get grapes ripe in Annapolis, yields must be rather meager, otherwise
the fruit doesn't achieve sufficient sugar levels to make wine. It's
quite a challenging venue and it's what makes the Peay wines rather
distinctive and special.
There's been a bit of backlash from California's uber-ripe sort of wines,
spawned by wineries seeking to achieve high numerical point scores from
various critical journals. A few wine-specialist labs even offer
analysis services to help wineries guarantee 90+ point scores and to
achieve this twisted "success," relatively high levels of
alcohol are required.
One group of vintners organizes tastings and seminars to trumpet their
lower alcohol, higher acid wines. Maybe you've seen references to
"In Pursuit of Balance" events?
We have attended a few of them and found a number of scrawny, malnourished
wines which we did not find balanced in two respects:
1) lacking "soul" and masquerading as deluxe bottlings.
2) price tags that are totally out of balance considering the quality of
At these tasting events, we've found but a small percentage of the
wineries showing off their wares to be of interest.
And the Peay wines routinely shine brightly!
One of the Peay brothers handles the marketing of their wines and over the
past few years we've found the availability to be a bit
unpredictable. Sometimes they hope to restrict the sale of their
wines exclusively to restaurants with the hope consumers will be favorably
impressed, contact the winery and buy cases at top dollar, thus depleting
Other times reality sets in and they need some help finding
We currently have a lovely Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. It's a nice,
crisp Pinot Noir with some red berry/cherry notes along with a hint of
orange peel. Add to the mix a faintly earthy tone...underbrush,
perhaps. The wine is quite charming now and a good match with duck
or lamb. It can probably age well for a few years, too.
Currently in stock: 2013 PEAY Sonoma Coast Pinot
Pisoni is a nut! I remember meeting this fellow a number of years
ago. He was driving by and due to celestial alignments, stopped into
our humble wine emporium.
He poked around the shop, looking at the various wines and was unusually
delighted that we had some bottles of various wines from the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.
Pisoni told me he was growing some Pinot Noir and that I ought to stop by his
little vineyard down in Monterey. I have never taken him up on his
One day, I may have to make the trek!
Pisoni's family has owned acreage in Monterey County for many years.
The Santa Lucia Highlands features some east and south-east facing slopes
which are considered ideal for early-ripening varieties; Pinot Noir,
Mr. Pisoni, according to the legend, was roaming around Europe and had
occasion to taste one of the Romanée-Conti wines. The poor fellow
could not believe the extraordinary quality of what he was drinking.
The story is that he made his way to one of the "DRC's" vineyards
and appropriated some cuttings. These were brought back
surreptitiously and I imagine the statute of limitations has run out on him
being nailed for some kind of smuggling. The vines have been
propagated and now Mr. Pisoni is the proud owner of a modest
"domain" of Pinot Noir vines. I believe he also has planted
some Syrah, as well.
He sells the fruit from these vines for a hefty sum and winemakers line up
to purchase the grapes and make "Pisoni Vineyard" Pinots.
The Pisoni name has become synonymous with Pinot Noir.
Now Gary Pisoni even has his own label of Pinot, competing with the other
famous folks such as Patz & Hall and Siduri (and Miura, listed
above). The first wines were made at Peter Michael's Winery, but now
Jeff Pisoni makes them at the Copain facility in Sonoma. Interesting
that they ship the fruit so far away to make wine from their own vines!
The 2011 came and went in an instant....it was a small production in terms
We have been impressed,
too, with the Pisoni's "other" label. It's called
"LUCIA." You shouldn't make the mistake of calling this a
"second" label. The Lucia brand is found on non-Pisoni grown
- Currently in stock: 2013 LUCIA "Santa Lucia Highlands"
Pinot Noir SALE $39.99 (last bottles)
- Gary and Rosella
Franscioni are the owners of a wonderful vineyard in the Santa Lucia
Highlands of Monterey County. You may have seen the "Garys"
designation on some Pinot Noirs, he being the less "notorious" Gary,
with his neighbor Gary Pisoni being the most
Some people are willing to substitute the word "crazy" for
Both Gary's grow great Pinot Noir.
The ROAR label is the Franscioni's foray into the world of wine sales, the
wines were being made in their early days with Adam and Dianna Lee, the equally
"notorious" dynamic duo from the Siduri winery in Sonoma.
These days the winemaking is handled by a former Siduri cellar-feller, Scott
Production of ROAR wines has grown a tiny bit over the past few vintages. We've
been fans since the first vintage and the wines continue to be of good
quality and honest prices.
We typically receive a few bottles of these Pinot Noirs and are delighted to
be able to share them with our friends.
We do not ship these, as they are a 'reward' for customers who shop in the
- Currently in stock: 2014 ROAR Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
2014 GARYS' Vineyard Pinot Noir $57.99 (last bottles)
2014 SIERRA MAR Pinot Noir $51.99 (last bottles)
new property is the work of a creative fellow named Bob Davids. This
guy has an amazing story, starting off in various phases of the automotive
industry, working for General Motors. From there he grew wings and
worked for aviation mogul Bill Lear.
Later he got into electronic games and founded a company called
Radica. If you've ever seen a fishing rod "game" with an
electronic bass fishing game attached to it: That is Bob Davids' own design!
working in Hong Kong cranking out electronic games, he attended a wine event
and a bottle of 1947 Château Climens from France's Barsac region put Davids
under its spell. So enchanted by wine was he that Davids came to
California and bought a hundred acre property near the Santa Ynez
The winery gets its name from the smoke-like fog that wafts over this
property from the Pacific Ocean.
Sea Smoke currently has a lot of buzz amongst the wine geek
community. The winemaker was a young lady named Kris Curran. We
understand the current winemaker is a fellow named Don Schroeder.
- The wines we've tasted have been very showy. They are big, ripe,
deep reds with a note of Burgundian-styling, but we find them more
reminiscent of some California Syrah wines. These are dark in color
and lavishly-oaked. Notes of mocha and toasty oak are common in each
wine. Since they're new, availability is rather limited.
- Currently available: Please inquire...
- SOQUEL VINEYARDS
- The Bargetto name is etched in stone in the annals of Santa Cruz wine
We knew the Bargetto name back in the late 1960s as they were the best
source of fruit wine in the state of California.
The family always seemed to want to be held in high regard for wines made of
A couple of the Bargetto clan, a set of twin brothers, founded this competing
brand called Soquel Vineyards, back in 1987. Peter and Paul Bargetto
teamed up with an old school friend of theirs (Jon Morgan) and this little
enterprise is making some nice wines these days.
We've found a couple of Pinot Noirs to be worthy wines and have brought in their
2014 Estate Bottling of their Partner's Reserve.
It comes entirely from their small estate in Soquel and we like it for a variety
1. It smells and tastes like Pinot Noir.
2. There's a nice touch of oak (80% new French oak, but it's not
3. It's well-priced so we can afford to drink it more than
4. It's under 14% alcohol (13.8%).
- Currently in stock: 2014 SOQUEL VINEYARDS Santa Cruz Mountains
"Estate" PINOT NOIR "Partners' Reserve" SALE
WAXWING WINE CELLARS
- Here's a label you probably have not heard of.
Winemaker Scott Sisemore has a number of interesting enological notches on
his belt...he started his winemaking journey at McDowell Valley Vineyards in
Mendocino and later spent time at Rosenblum Cellars and Ravenswood. He
was affiliated with our friends at the Pellegrini Family winery where they
specialize in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Some Pinot producers are challenged to make numerous small lots, buying
fruit from vineyards scattered around the state (or beyond). Scott has
been making Pinot Noir and Syrah from fruit grown in Sonoma, though he's
dipping his toe in the Santa Cruz Mountains' pool and exploring that region.
Waxwing's 2012 Pinot offers a nice cherry-like fruit note and there's a bit of
earthiness here along the lines of "forest floor" tones. It's
from the Spring Hill Vineyard, a windy site near the Petaluma Gap...it's so
windy, in fact, they don't have to do any leaf-thinning for managing the
canopy of the vines; the wind shreds the leaves allowing a bit of sunlight
to hit the grapes!
The wine is medium-bodied and supple on the palate, so it's beautifully
drinkable now. You could set some bottles aside for a year or two or
three...but it's very attractive now.
Scott is increasing production and this wine tallied to all of four or five barrels, a big increase from the two he made
at the start of his Waxwing adventure!
- Currently in stock: 2012 WAXWING Russian River "Spring Hill
PINOT NOIR $34.99 (last bottles)
OREGON (PINOTS, etc. )