Someone might have wondered why the wine from a single vineyard was, ipso facto, better than one blended from multiple great sites. But then, blending from multiple great sites was not in the European tradition of chateaux, domaines and schlosses. It took the Californians, in the modern era, to do that—and to prove that a blend didn’t have to be a high-production common wine, but one that could play at the highest world level.Steve Heimoff, www.steveheimoff.com
Our family produces single-vineyard wines and appellation-based blends of equally high caliber. We craft limited quantities of site-driven wines from each of the vineyards we farm, and are immensely gratified to hear the vineyard speak distinctly through these bottlings. In addition, we carefully blend certain lots from these same vineyards to produce a wine designated Santa Lucia Highlands.
That’s right. Only fruit sourced from our estate vineyards goes into each appellation wine—a rarity in winegrowing. Which is why, as Steve Heimoff points out, appellation blends like ours can be something very special. Many appellation blended wines are made from bulk wine, hard pressings, or overcropped vineyards. Because we cultivate all blocks in each of our three vineyards to the same high standards, our cuvées—like our single-vineyard wines—speak to the best the Santa Lucia Highlands has to offer.
The Pisoni, Garys’ and Soberanes Vineyards have been honored as exceptional single-vineyard sites for their consistent quality and the character of the wines produced from their fruit. Some of the most respected wine writers and publications have counted them among the world’s “Top 10 Vineyards,” “America’s five ‘Grand Crus’” and “Best New Vineyards.” Pisoni Vineyards has also been called “the benchmark estate” and “the Grand Cru site” of the Santa Lucia Highlands. Josh Raynolds of Vinous Media calls the appellation “a veritable Gold Coast of California viticulture.”
A quick tour through our three vineyards makes it clear how this “Gold Coast” has earned its reputation. Each property is blessed with a variety of cold microclimates, chilled by the fierce winds that sweep off the Monterey Bay. During summer months, the Garys’ and Soberanes Vineyards are under fog most of the day. The Pisoni Vineyard is perched on granite soils at an elevation of 1,400 feet. Between the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines on these three sites, a dozen clones and myriad of soil types are represented. Such a wealth of raw material makes for compelling single-vineyard designated wines and blends, each of which is ultimately an expression of the land, the farming, and our family.
We are proud of our three premier vineyards and the vineyard-designated wines that express each one so well, including the site-specific 2014 Lucia Soberanes Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah offered here.
Our SLH Pinot Noir often flies under the radar. Although designated Santa Lucia Highlands, the wine is 100% estate-farmed Pinot Noir from 100% free-run wine. It receives more care than many of the single-vineyard wines on the market.Jeff Pisoni
Our Santa Lucia Highlands cuvées blended from the Pisoni, Garys’ and Soberanes Vineyards offer a beautifully complete expression of our vineyards, farming and winemaking.
Selecting the wine for these blends is a different process from the one we use for single-vineyard designations, which are chosen to showcase the specific character of each site. Like all of our wines, blends begin in the vineyards. Viticulturist Mark Pisoni surveys the blocks daily, looking for indicators of quality such as vine balance and cluster development. Winemaker Jeff Pisoni joins him during the growing season to monitor the progress of the vines.
At the winery, only the free-run wine is retained for use in any wines bottled, whether single-vineyard or blend. Jeff smells, tastes, listens to and tests barrels every day, pondering the lots to propose for the cuvées. Some barrels of wine taste good immediately and are favorites, whereas others come around slowly. Under consideration are the more approachable barrels with less tannin, or barrels he senses would benefit from being part of a blend instead of stand-alone wines.
For instance, a barrel of Pinot Noir with the high-tannin levels typical of the Big Block at Pisoni Vineyards would compliment a barrel from Garys’ Vineyard exhibiting softer tannins. Lots of three to five tons of grapes from one vineyard may meld well with lots from the other two. The flavor profile of a Pisoni Vineyards Pinot Noir lot might marry perfectly with the elegant, floral notes of a Soberanes Vineyard wine. Decisions are made when Gary, Jeff (pictured together above) and Mark sit down together to taste, contemplate, discuss and propose final selections before gently transferring the wines to a tank for blending and preparation for bottling.
This is how our SLH cuvées—the 2014 Lucia Pinot Noir and Lucia Chardonnay—come to be complete, distinctive wines. They are gently crafted from specific selections of our three estate-farmed vineyards.
SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS CUVÉES
The 2014 Lucia Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands, is vibrant gold in color with complex, pure, focused aromas of white peach, jasmine flower, flint, green mango and mandarin. A combination of eight low-yielding chardonnay clones (mostly “Old Wente” selections) brings great diversity and flavor to the cuvée. The wine is layered and full-bodied on the palate, while the high levels of natural acidity from the vintage imparts great intensity and focus to the finish. A light sediment forms from this unfined and unfiltered wine. Enjoy now or cellar for several years.
The 2014 vintage of Pinot Noir possesses beauty and purity with a more approachable structure than the preceding two years. The color of the Lucia 2014 Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, is deep and ruby red. It has a generous bouquet of mixed berries, red roses, plums, subtle spices and the freshness of pomegranate. Velvety tannins unfold on the palate and stretch into a broadly textured finish, a result of rugged mountain soils and phenolic ripeness of tannins. This wine will be great for drinking now or aging for several years.
The 2015 Lucy is the color of pink grapefruit. It possesses aromas of raspberry, fresh roses, spring flowers and crisp watermelon. A combination of whole-cluster pressing and the saignée method was used to produce this Lucy Rosé. Incorporating both of these traditional Rosé production techniques creates a delicate and elegant wine with intense aromatics. The texture is vibrant and energetic with hints of stone fruit and minerality in the finish. Serve chilled.
Wines from the Soberanes Vineyard tend to have a very focused aromatic profile, and the 2014 Lucia Chardonnay, Soberanes Vineyard follows suit. The wine starts with a greenish-gold color and possesses energetic aromatics that seem to leap from the glass. Vibrant citrus and floral notes weave around a subtle core of crushed stones and Anjou pear. The rocky soil of the Soberanes Vineyard gives this wine minerality and texture unique to this stony site. Select vines from the 2014 vintage were fermented à Foudre (in a large oval oak cask), which adds depth and focus. The palate unfolds into a seemingly endless plateau of texture that expands into a beautiful and crisp finish. Enjoy now or cellar for 10 years or more.
Effusive and floral, the 2014 Soberanes Vineyard Pinot Noir displays its characteristic elegance and high-toned floral notes with an underlying fruit core of boysenberry, wild strawberry, and slightly earthy notes of forest floor. Many of these aromatics are the result of the underlying rocky soil, enhanced by higher amounts of whole clusters incorporated during fermentation. On the palate the wine has rich tannins and clean acidity—combined they give it structure to age for over a decade.
The 2014 Lucia Soberanes Vineyard Syrah has an intimidatingly dark color. Yet the aromatics are vibrant and elegant: a combination achieved from the cool climate and slow growing season. Fermented at nearly 100% whole cluster, this syrah is complex and covers a wide spectrum of flavors. Initial floral and spice notes are held together with blackberry undertones and Earl Grey. Highlights of green tea give lift and intensity to the wine. The tannins are powerful and firm. For those who enjoy aging wines, this will easily hold in the cellar for two decades. We recommend decanting if the wine is opened in its youth; it will benefit from air.
To emphasize our dedication and long-term commitment to each of our
three Santa Lucia Highlands vineyards, we offer our Lucia and Pisoni wines according to the vineyard from which the grapes are sourced:
Soberanes Vineyard wines and
Lucia “Santa Lucia Highlands” cuvées
Garys’ Vineyard wines
Pisoni Vineyards wines