Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 1, 2020

2018 Waxwing Wine Cellars, Pinot Noir, Lester Family Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains.
This new 2018 Waxwing Lester Pinot is really filling out nicely and drinking fabulously well with very crisp details forming here showing beautiful layers of black cherry, raspberry, dried cranberry and plum fruits along with a touch of sweet toasty oak, spices, mineral and orange tea. This wine has lots of personality and gains complexity in the glass as it unfolds with each sip adding some mocha and sassafras, delicate floral tones, an element of wild herb and a faint touch of tangy garden strawberries, this might be one of my favorite of Scott Sisemore’s wines to date. Sisemore, the UC Davis grad, has almost 25 years in the business and has blossomed as a winemaker after starting his own Waxwing Wine Cellars back in 2006 or so and his 2017 vintage and especially these 2018s have taken his wines to the next level, these are an exciting set of releases that show the best of the year and show off the terroir of each place exceptionally well, especially in this Corralitos Pinot Noir. The Waxwing Pinots are made with hand crafted care and with gentle techniques to express the grapes more nuanced flavors and Sisemore typically uses about 25% to 40% new oak depending on the year’s concentration. This electric ruby colored Pinot is impressive and highlights this regions quality and it goes great with fresh cuisine, I though enjoyed it with lightly smoked salmon and speck, that Alto Adige specialty cured ham that his smoked with applewood.

The Lester Family Vineyard, farmed by the hugely talented Purdy Foxx, just over the hill from Richard Alfaro’s estate about mile or so from the tiny tiny hamlet of Corralitos, it is a classic cold-climate location, very close to the Monterey Bay’s cold ocean water, with sandy, loamy soils that are well drained and bring out a deep sense of fruit. The sandy soils, as Sisemore notes, are a result of the region’s origin as an ancient sea bottom and formed by the geological activity associated with the San Andreas Fault pushing up that seabed, with that movement forming successive marine terraces, in fact that is how the Santa Cruz Mountains were originally formed. The vineyard’s cold climate, as mentioned, is due to that heavy marine influence, plus it lies at about 600ft elevation with good exposure, Lester is only 2-3 miles from the Pacific so it gets plenty of fog during the summer which are pretty warm here, so this refreshes the vines nicely. Scott says the fog can bring challenges in reaching full ripeness in colder years, but in great vintages like 2018 the marine influences makes for slow and even grape development that makes cool-climate Pinots so compelling as this one certainly is. The new Waxwings are worth your attention with Scott’s Deerheart Vineyard Pinot, this Lester Pinot and his selection of Syrahs all delivering great performances, I suggest checking out this micro winery based in Belmont, just south of San Francisco, the mailing list here has a real fun set of offerings all of which are limited bottlings.
($48 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive