Friday, December 2, 2011

The 2008 Le Caprice from Peter Michael Winery

Peter Michael Winery now produces four pinots, with Le Moulin Rouge of fruit bought from the Pisoni Vineyard in Santa Lucia Highlands, as the first made (1997). The demand for pinots was one reason for them to add a few more pinots to the program, but the main reason was of course the love of Pinot Noir as a grape variety. In 2007 they started to buy grapes from the Reuling Vineyard close to Forestville in Russian River Valley (which is also classified as Sonoma Coast fruit). In this second vintage, the grapes are also sourced from that vineyard, but from 2009 they will only use fruit from their estate Seaview Vineyard far out in Sonoma Coast. With 2009 vintage, another two pinots was added to the wine list, the Clos du Ciel from the southernmost block in the vineyard with the least coastal climatic influence, and the Ma Danseuse, from the coldest block in the same vineyard.
All these wines are made in the same way, with totally destemmed grapes, four to five days of cold soak and then fermented with the indigenous yeast in small open top fermenters of stainless steel. During the fermentation and post maceration, pigeage is utilized twice a day. The wine is then transferred into 228 liter French oak barrels from Damy and Louis Latour, around 50 percent new, for malolactic fermentation and elevage during 15 months.  Alcohol levels are around 14.0 to 14.5 percent.

2008 Le Caprice / 91 p
As always with the pinots from Peter Michael Winery, this one has a quite deep cherry red color with nuances of purple, but with a slightly paler rim. On the nose, it offers a youthful, pure and intense fruit aroma, quite ripe, still fresh and lively. At first it's a bit closed, but with just 5-10 minutes in the glass, it starts to open up. However, it doesn't have the finest and most seductive notes, and no floral qualities, this is much more about sweet cherries and ripe wild raspberries, and it's delicious. Even though winemaker Nick Morlet uses 50 percent new French oak for the elevage, the oak is very well integrated, almost totally absorbed by the fruit.
However, I find a slight trace of smokiness on the nose, but by no means at a level that substantially impaired the scent. I'm quite convinced that it derives from the smoke from the bush fires that haunted the Mendocino wine growers during some weeks in August. The smoke was pushed out to the sea from southern Mendocino, but was sucked back into the coastline of Sonoma. In some coastal vineyards, one may find small traces of smoke taint, and I guess this is what I find here.
On the palate, it's medium bodied, lively and fresh and of course fruit forward and almost sweetish. Tannins are fine, ripe and silky, alcohol notable but not too strong. Again, the oak stands in the shadow of the fruit, and there's just a small spiciness from it that adds some complexity. At this stage, I find the wine to be too young to really show complexity, at least the finish is quite closed.
It didn't really open up in the glass during the 30 minutes I had it, and even though it's a lovely and quite charming, but quite rich wine, it doesn't have the fragrance of a great pinot.
I'd keep it for a year or two, and serve it at 15 degrees Celsius.
Drink it 2013-2018

1 comment: