2009 Le Caprice Pinot Noir Peter Michael



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Average critic rating : 94.0 points

94

94

The 2009 Pinot Noir La Caprice is a 464-case cuvee made from field selections from Vosne-Romanee and grafted onto the low producing and yielding root stock called Riparia Gloire. Its deep ruby color is followed by a layered, rich wine that still reveals some tannin as well as loads of raspberry and black cherry fruit intermixed with hints of spring flowers and forest floor. Yields were less than one ton of fruit per acre. This impressive 2009 can be drunk now or cellared for another 10-15 years. ||The Peter Michael estate has grown considerably with their vineyards in the Fort Ross-Seaview region of the Sonoma Coast region producing some remarkable Pinot Noirs, and their Chardonnay vineyards in Knights Valley having been at the top of the qualitative hierarchy for many years. Add to that their proprietary Bordeaux blend called Les Pavots, their remarkable Sauvignon Blanc and their Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend. Additionally, they have purchased a great parcel of vines in the Oakville Corridor near the well-known Dalla Valle property. Owned by Sir Peter Michael, this estate has employed a bevy of brilliant winemakers over the years, the current being the two Morlet brothers from the Champagne district in France. Nick Morlet is employed full-time as the main winemaker, and his brother, Luc, consults at Peter Michael. Both have brought French savoir-faire and applied it to extraordinary vineyard sites to produce world-class wines of extraordinary richness, intensity and complexity. Readers looking for some of the best Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Sauvignon Blancs, Sauvignon/Semillon blends, and Bordeaux proprietary red blends can do no better than the wines from the Peter Michael Winery. Since I had not visited this estate in several years, I asked to do a complete retrospective of the last three vintages of Chardonnay and the last four vintages of Pinot Noir. The result was one of the most remarkable tastings I experienced over the last several years. First, Nick and Luc Morlet gave me a summary of their vintages. They were staggered by the quality of 2013 after what was clearly a great vintage in 2012. The three previous years were among the most challenging in recent years. Following one of the hottest years they had ever experienced, 2008, 2009 produced a small crop because of a cool year, 2010 was another small crop because of some rain issues, and 2011 was the most difficult vintage since 1998. Extremely cool, with no heat spikes, the 2011's microscopic crop had to be harvested extremely late, with many vineyards not finished with their harvest until the end of October or early November. The brilliance and flexibility exhibited by the winemaking team at Peter Michael has brought in a treasure trove of wines that readers will adore. All of the following Chardonnays are bottled without fining or filtration. From the hillside stony soils of La Carriere, the three Chardonnay vintages I tasted have a kinship to a great Burgundy grand cru from Chevalier-Montrachet or Corton-Charlemagne because of the wines- minerality. I hope these notes persuade a lot of readers of just what an extraordinary winery owned by the visionary Englishman, Sir Peter Michael, sits up in Knights Valley. From the beginning, Peter Michael has made Pinot Noir from grapes purchased from the Pisoni Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands, south of San Francisco. They also planted three manually cultivated parcels on incredibly steep sites on the second ridge in from the Pacific Ocean in the Fort Ross-Seaview area. These were planted with clonal material taken from famous vineyards in Vosne-Romanee as well as with the Calera clone from California-s Central Coast. Peter Michael has invested millions of dollars in this Pinot Noir project, and it appears to have finally reached pay dirt as these are some of not only California's, but the world-s greatest Pinot Noirs. Tasting through four vintages of the Pisoni Vineyard proves that this site seems to have far more irregularity and crop size variations than the Sonoma Coast sites.||Tel. (707) 942-3200 Wine Advocate.December, 2013

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