Saturday, September 4, 2010
Flavors Of Monterey Bay Offered By Pietra Santa
Last week was my birthday. Don’t worry if you missed it. I try to miss it every year but it catches up to me no matter where I run.
Anyway, on my birthday I get a package from Fed Ex. I’m thinking somebody in my family was sending money toilet paper, or some other gag gift. Instead, I notice that my friends at Calhoun & Company Wine Communications had sent me a couple of bottles of vino to drink.
When I opened the package the first thing to pop out is a bunch of paint brushes. This got me to thinking I’d been gypped. This was some kind of gag gift after all!
Under the brushes, which were pretty high quality oil painting brushes by the way, I found two bottles and a press kit from Pietra Santa winery in Hollister, California. The note attached to the brushes was a quote from Chagall: “Great art picks up where nature ends”.
It seems that Pietra Santa holds quite a tradition in Monterey Bay in California. The first grapes were planted on the estate back in 1850. Zinfandel vines from 1905 are still actively grown and harvested on the site. The Blackburn family, who now owns the estate has taken the winery back to the fundamentals of tradition and quality winemaking.
Located in Cienega Valley, just 25 miles from Monterey Bay, the estate sits near enough to the coast to get the cool maritime air from in the evenings and just enough heat during the day to ripen the grapes to full maturity. The name Pietra Santa actually means “Sacred Stone”. This name is given for the limestone and granite soil that the grapes grow in on the estate.
First I opened the 2009 Estate Pinot Grigio. Grown on the steep terraced hillsides, the grapes are set to receive sun in the morning and shade in the afternoons. This produces a really long “hang time” on the vines each season, and fruit that is much more able to produce full flavors.
A beautiful golden straw color in the bottle, the wine aromas filled the air as I poured the Pinot Grigio into my waiting glass. Fully stainless steel fermented, the wine is crisp and fresh on the nose with hints of lemon zest. The flavors are citrus, with lemon and grapefruit filling the mouth, followed by minerality, and a gentle acidity that cleanses the palate. I see this wine being a fantastic pairing with oysters or with steamed mussels.
The second bottle was the winery’s 2009 Estate Pinot Noir. Grown in the benchlands on the estate, the grapes are grown at approximately 1100 feet above sea level. I have personally experienced the effect of this climate on Pinot Noir, and find the maritime air to be intoxicating. If it is nearly as good on the grapes as it is on my well being. Let’s just say that this is the “Kobe” treatment for any Pinot Noir grape.
The Pinot Noir lays in the glass with a beautiful Ruby color. A nose of fresh earthiness that I love, is layered by odors of lavender, anise, and wild strawberries. On the tongue, the flavors are rich with strawberry, cherry, raspberry, and licorice. This is a highly complex wine that I enjoyed with parchment roasted salmon and red potatoes.
With a shelf price at just under $20 I would expect to see these wines in our region in the next few months. If they don’t make it here to the east side, definitely look for them when you travel to the west side of Oregon or Washington.