2019 Peay Vineyards Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

2019 Peay Vineyards Pinot Noir

Sonoma Coast

Cloverdale, CA

Regular Price: $44.99

Sale Price: $34.99

By all accounts, Pinot Noir is a persnickety grape. It needs sunshine to ripen, but too much can scorch the thin grapeskin. It needs water for nutrition, but too much bloats the grape, washes out flavor and promotes mildew. It likes to ripen slowly, speedy ripening due to too much heat results in insipid flavors and harsh acidity…or too much sugar and high unbalanced alcohol and unctuous cherry cola flavors. 

For these (and other) reasons, the sloping, well-draining limestone soils and temperate growing season of Burgundy have provided the optimum conditions to grow Pinot Noir and produce the sublime, long lived and elegant wine that the grape heralds. The difficulty in replicating those conditions is why the world is awash with Pinot Noir that tastes like something else.

Many non-Burgundy producers delight in referring to their wines as Burgundian, but since there is not a single defining style in Burgundy, that’s a bit ridiculous. Nor should Pinot Noir from Willamette or Lombardy or Tasmania or Mosel show like Pinot Noir from elsewhere; the whole point of making wine in different places is not to create a single ubiquitous style. Or so I think.

Anyway, Pinot Noir has been challenging for California producers as one of the virtues of California is bright and persistent sunshine. Historically, the so-called ‘cool’ growing areas of the North Coast have been at least a bit warm by the standards of the rest of the world, and growing warmer still. I’ve often complained that California Pinot Noir is fine…but lacking in elegance and finesse. That’s been fine for many, as there exists a school of thought that suggests a more viscous (bigger, heavier) wine is ‘better’ by that very fact. I beg to differ.

Brothers Andy and Nick Peay searched for years for the ‘perfect’ to plant Pinot Noir…and ended up in the north-western Sonoma Coast, just 4 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Fog and cool (cold?) breezes keep ripeness in check, but a (relatively) northern latitude allows for long days of sunshine during summer growing months. The result is wine of California, tasting of California sunshine yet with the balance and subtlety of classic, cool climate Pinot Noir. (PW)