Santa Lucia

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  • Lucia Garys’ Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014


    “Bright ruby-red. Heady, floral- and spice-accented aromas of ripe red and dark berries, vanilla and incense, lifted by a smoky mineral quality. Sappy, impressively deep and pure, offering alluringly sweet black raspberry, cherry cola, and candied rose flavors and a hint of star anise that builds in the glass. The floral and vanilla notes come back emphatically on the finish, which hangs on with superb tenacity and lingering sweetness. Drinking window: 2019-2025. 94 points

    Mark and Jeff Pisoni, along with their father Gary, have been taking their estate vineyards and wines to an even higher level of quality in recent vintages, as this year’s set of releases makes clear. The Lucie wines, made by Jeff at the family’s winery up north in Santa Rosa (Mark oversees the vineyards), are heady and seductively perfumed across the portfolio, offering intense fruitiness, serious heft and deft use of new oak. They’re also balanced and structured to age, if one can resist their youthful allure. The Pisoni Vineyard supplies—or has supplied—fruit to a number of California’s premier Pinot Noir producers, including Central Coast wineries like Testarossa, ROAR, Miner and Bernardus, and also to others based in northern California, such as Siduri, Patz & Hall, Peter Michael, Kosta Browne, Capiaux, Flowers and Miura. The 40-acre vineyard is split into 20 different parcels, virtually all Pinot Noir except for a tiny bit of Syrah that’s used to make the Lucie Susan’s Hill bottling. The Pinot is what is called the Pisoni clone, whose origins, according to legend, lie somewhere in Vosne-Romanée. That clone is also planted in the 35-acre Soberanes Vineyard (essentially 27 acres of Pinot Noir and 8 of Chardonnay but also including a bit of Syrah), which was established in 2008 in partnership with the Franscioni family (ROAR), who are long-time friends and neighbors of the Pisonis. The Pisonis are also partners with the Franscionis in the 50-acre Garys’ Vineyard, which they planted in 1996.”

    Josh Raynolds, Vinous (10/16)

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  • Lucia Pinot Noir 2019


    “Deep, shimmering magenta. An expressive bouquet evokes black raspberry, cherry-cola, candied flowers, oak spices and smoky minerals. Sweet, seamless and expansive on the palate, showing very good depth and energy to its sappy red and dark berry, mocha and spicecake flavors. Closes smooth, seamless and quite long, with harmonious tannins sneaking in late. This wine is made from fruit from three different estate vineyards: 52% Pisoni, 30% Soberanes and 18% Garys’; 20% whole clusters and 40% new French oak. Drinking window: 2023-2032. 93 points

    The Pisoni family needs no introduction to California wine lovers and neither do the outstanding Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that many of the State’s best wineries have long been producing from their fruit. Gary Pisoni’s sons, Mark and Jeff are fully in charge here now, as grower and winemaker respectively. This is their own label, and it comprises a collection of wines that are made from estate fruit. Quality is consistently as high as at any other winery on the west coast. From the 2019 vintage, the Pisonis have made an especially strong set of wines built for aging, and at least as good as their superb 2018s. What is especially exciting, for me, is the rapid progress that Syrah is making here. These 2019s are in the upper tier of New World examples of the variety, and there is no shortage of great Syrah being made outside of the Rhône Valley these days. There’s nothing shy about any of the Lucia wines, but I have never found them to be over the top, either. They definitely lead with fruit, while the highest quality new oak is used liberally, but carefully, making the wine highly appealing early on. Regardless of variety, these are wines that are built to age and improve while doing so.”

    Josh Raynolds, Vinous (05/22)

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  • Lucia Soberanes Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017


    “Deep, glistening red. A complex, highly perfumed bouquet evokes red berry liqueur, cherry, incense and potpourri and subtle vanilla and baking spice nuances build in the glass. Concentrated yet lithe in style, offering intense, spice-tinged raspberry, spicecake and cola flavors that are supported by a spine of smoky minerality. Finishes sweet, seamless and extremely long, with a building floral and spice qualities and harmonious tannins that come on late. Drinking window: 2022-2029. 94 points

    The Santa Lucia Highlands and the Pisoni family are so deeply intertwined as to, in some ways, seem like a single entity. Indeed, the fame and reputation of this region, for many people, rests squarely on their shoulders. Pisoni Vineyard fruit has, for years, been used by many of California’s best Pinot Noir producers to make what are, in many cases, those winery’s top bottlings. Now, the Pisonis are slowly scaling back the amount of fruit they sell off in favor of their own estate wines, which are consistently among the best of the appellation. It’s been highly satisfying to watch the development of the Soberanes vineyard, which the Pisonis co-own with the Franscioni family, through the Pisoni and ROAR wines as well as those of other producers in the region who buy fruit from the site. Syrah, in particular, looks to have great potential in this rocky, 38-acre site. For now, only 3.5 acres are planted to the variety but I have my fingers crossed that there’ll soon be more.”

    Josh Raynolds, Vinous (11/19)

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  • Pisoni Estate Pinot Noir 2017


    “Vivid red. Smoke-accented black raspberry, boysenberry, cherry cola and candied rose aromas are complicated by suggestions of star anise and vanilla. Silky, sweet and broad in the mouth; densely packed red and blue fruit and spicecake flavors show alluring sweetness and pick up floral pastille and exotic spice flourishes as the wine opens up. Youthfully chewy tannins add shape to an extremely long, focused finish that leaves behind sappy red berry liqueur, floral and Moroccan spice notes. Drinking window: 2022-2030. 94 points”

    Josh Raynolds, Vinous (11/19)

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  • Lucia Chardonnay 2019


    “The Pisoni family has long been synonymous with the Santa Lucia Highlands, and its wines and their farming roots here go back to 1952, when Gary Pisoni’s parents established their vegetable farm in Gonzalez. Gary took the initiative to plant vines in 1982, and the rest is well-known history to Pinot Noir fans. His sons are now fully in charge, with Mark watching over the family’s meticulously maintained vineyards and extensive vegetable plantings and Jeff making the wines at their facility up in Santa Rosa. The Lucia wines have long been ensconced in the upper quality tier of this region’s Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, and the 2018s extend that streak. There’s some new oak showing right now, unsurprisingly, but the wines’ intense fruit shines through clearly. While they display somewhat more restrained personalities than their 2017 siblings, these are definitely full-flavored, concentrated wines that beg for patience.”

    Josh Raynolds, Vinous (10/20)

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  • Lucia Soberanes Vineyard Chardonnay 2015


    “(45% new French oak): Pale yellow-gold. Heady, incisive aromas of ripe pear, nectarine and saffron, with ginger, vanilla and oak spice nuances that build as the wine opens up. Rich yet surprisingly energetic and focused, offering intense, mineral-laced orchard and pit fruit flavors that are given spine and lifted by a vein of juicy acidity. The floral and vanilla notes repeat strongly on an extremely long, seamless finish that shows superb clarity and power. Drinking window: 2021-2028. 94 points

    The Pisoni family needs no introduction to followers of California wines. Recent vintages of their estate-bottled lineup of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, not to mention Syrahs, continues to move steadily from strength to strength. The wines here are made by Jeff Pisoni, from fruit tended by Mark Pisoni and their father Gary Pisoni. I’d comfortably place their wines in the upper tier of United States wineries and while they are by no means cheap, in the grand scheme of the market they are pretty amazing values in the context of world-class producers. No expense has been spared in the winemaking process. The family now works with an enviable collection of fancy presses, French oak upright fermenters, barrels and foudres from Europe’s best coopers. The grapes grown by the Pisonis are legendary so it goes without saying that these wines are sourced from some of the most carefully and skillfully watched vineyards, anywhere. If you don’t believe it, book a visit and go see for yourself. The 2015s here are going to be scarce as half of the normal amount of fruit was harvested. Still, they’re more than well worth searching for.”

    Josh Raynolds, Vinous (11/17)

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