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MORE PINOT NOIRS

 





MIURA
This label is the work of a former professional "cork puller."  Emmanuel Kemiji was the sommelier at San Francisco's Ritz-Carlton dining room.  

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 called Saintsbury.

The "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 "Miura" banner.    

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


 

 

OCCIDENTAL

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 good.

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

 

 

 

 


 

PEAY VINEYARDS

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 appellation.

From the town of Sea Ranch, you'd drive about 15-20 minutes to reach beautiful "downtown" Annapolis, some 4 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean.

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 the wines.

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 the inventory.
Other times reality sets in and they need some help finding customers.  

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 Noir  $43.99

 
 
 
 

 
PISONI VINEYARD
Gary 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 offer.  
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, especially.

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 of quantity...



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 wines.  


 
Currently in stock:  2013 LUCIA  "Santa Lucia Highlands" Pinot Noir SALE $39.99  (last bottles)











ROAR
Gary and Rosella Franscioni are the owners of a wonderful vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County.  You may have seen the "Gary's" designation on some Pinot Noirs, he being the less :notorious" Gary, with his neighbor Gary Pisoni being the most "notorious".  

Some people are willing to substitute the word "crazy" for "notorious."

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 concert with Adam and Dianna Lee, the equally "notorious" dynamic duo from the Siduri winery in Sonoma.  Adam, apparently, still does some consulting, but wine wizard Ed Kurtzman handles the enology and such.

Production of ROAR wines has gown a 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 store.
 
Currently in stock:  2012 ROAR Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir SOLD OUT
2012 GARYS' Vineyard Pinot Noir SOLD OUT
2012 ROSELLA'S Vineyard Pinot Noir SOLD OUT

 






SEA SMOKE

This 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!



While 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 River.  

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 history.

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 grapes, though.

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 2013 Estate Bottling of their Partner's Reserve.

It comes entirely from their small estate in Soquel and we like it for a variety of reasons:  
1.  It smells and tastes like Pinot Noir.  
2.  There's a nice touch of oak (80% new French oak, but it's not crazy-oaky).  
3.  It's well-priced so we can afford to drink it more than once-in-a-lifetime.  
4.  It's under 14% alcohol (13.7%).

 

Currently in stock:  2013 SOQUEL VINEYARDS Santa Cruz Mountains "Estate" PINOT NOIR "Partners' Reserve"  SALE  $22.99

 



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 Vineyard" PINOT NOIR $34.99

 





 

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